Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law

by
Stigma damages are a measure of damages stemming from actual injury to property, but if remediation damages are settled and a claim on the stigma damages resulting from the actual damages is reserved, the injured party may be awarded stigma damages regardless of the partial settlement on remediation. Plaintiffs’ property was damaged from oil contamination. In a federal action, the parties entered into a partial settlement that allocated $60,000 to Plaintiffs for repair costs, intended to remedy actual damages to their property. Plaintiffs agreed to dismiss all claims against Defendants except for a reserved claims asserting the diminution of the value of their real estate due to the stigma resulting from the contamination. Plaintiffs then filed this state claim alleging negligence, trespass, and permanent nuisance. Defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing that the partial settlement barred the state action because Plaintiffs were fully compensated for the actual damages the contamination caused to their property. The circuit court dismissed the stigma damages claim, holding that Plaintiffs could not seek both the costs of remediation and the diminution in value due to stigma damages. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Plaintiffs’ claim for damages resulting from the stigma of the contamination may be recovered in addition to the settled repair costs. View "Muncie v. Wiesemann" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the circuit court’s entry of a declaratory judgment in favor of Big Sandy Company, LP, interpreting a pipeline easement agreement (the Agreement) in Big Sandy’s favor. In 2003, Big Sandy entered into the Agreement with Kentucky West Virginia Gas Company, LLC (KWVA), the predecessor in interest of EQT Gathering, LLC and EQT Production Company (collectively, EQT). EQT filed suit against Big Sandy requesting declaratory relief regarding the interpretation and scope of the Agreement. The trial court concluded that Big Sandy’s interpretation prevailed. The court of appeals reversed, holding that Big Sandy’s interpretation would be absurd and render much of the Agreement meaningless. The Supreme court reversed, holding that the trial court properly interpreted the Agreement. View "Big Sandy Co., L.P. v. EQT Gathering, LLC" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the circuit court’s entry of a declaratory judgment in favor of Big Sandy Company, LP, interpreting a pipeline easement agreement (the Agreement) in Big Sandy’s favor. In 2003, Big Sandy entered into the Agreement with Kentucky West Virginia Gas Company, LLC (KWVA), the predecessor in interest of EQT Gathering, LLC and EQT Production Company (collectively, EQT). EQT filed suit against Big Sandy requesting declaratory relief regarding the interpretation and scope of the Agreement. The trial court concluded that Big Sandy’s interpretation prevailed. The court of appeals reversed, holding that Big Sandy’s interpretation would be absurd and render much of the Agreement meaningless. The Supreme court reversed, holding that the trial court properly interpreted the Agreement. View "Big Sandy Co., L.P. v. EQT Gathering, LLC" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the opinion of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the trial court in this case filed by Plaintiff requesting that Smokey Hollow Road in Bath County be recognized as a county road, public passway, or easement. The trial court ruled that Smokey Hollow Road was a county road and a public passway and that Plaintiff had acquired an easement by prescription. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part and reinstated the order of the trial court, holding (1) the passway at issue is not a county road as a matter of law; (2) the trial court’s finding of facts were insufficient to establish an implied dedication of this portion of Smokey Hollow Road to create a public road; and (3) Plaintiff had a prescriptive easement, and it had not been abandoned. View "Ellington v. Becraft" on Justia Law

by
The court of appeals did not err in reversing the circuit court’s judgment that Anne Talley and Daniel Paisley were to share equally in the proceeds of sale of their jointly owned real property based on their respective ownership percentages and irrespective of Paisley’s discharge of mortgage liens encumbering the property. After Paisley and Talley sold their jointly owned residence, Paisley proposed that the proceeds be divided based on the parties’ proportionate contribution and to reflect that he had contributed more to the residence. The trial court ordered the equity in the residence to be divided equally between the parties. The court of appeals reversed, holding that, as a matter of law, Paisley was entitled to be proportionately reimbursed by Talley for payments he made during their joint tenancy. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, under Kentucky law, joint tenants are entitled to proportionate reimbursement for the payment of liens and other encumbrances on the property. View "Talley v. Paisley" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court vacated the opinion of the court of appeals ruling that the circuit court prematurely granted specific performance of an option contract because disputed issues of fact material to that form of relief had been left unresolved in the circuit court. The circuit court granted the motion for specific performance of a real estate option contract between AEP Industries, Inc. (AEP) and B.G. Properties, Inc. (BG). The court of appeals determined that the circuit court had not adequately addressed the threshold issue of whether, as alleged by BG, AEP had first violated the option agreement with a faulty appraisal and thus was barred from seeking specific performance. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that BG’s execution and delivery of a general warranty deed without an express reservation of rights and its acceptance of stated consideration for the transfer precluded its further challenge to the enforcement of the option agreement. View "AEP Industries, Inc. v. B.G. Properties, Inc." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the trial court’s grant of summary judgment to a subdivision developer (Developer) in this suit filed by the Majestic Oaks Homeowners Association (HOA) to stop Developer’s continued use of a purportedly terminated easement in gross. The HOA claimed that its adoption of an amendment to a declaration of covenants, conditions, and restrictions and the relinquishment by Developer of any ownership rights in the “property” rendered the easement ineffective. The lower courts disagreed with the HOA. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the defeasible easement principle applied to the easement for ingress and egress retained by Developer to terminate it when a majority of HOA members voted to do so, as allowed by the express terms of Developer’s recorded subdivision plat. View "Majestic Oaks Homeowners Ass’n v. Majestic Oaks Farms, Inc." on Justia Law

by
With respect to the division of proceeds from the sale of jointly-held property when the cotenants have no agreement regarding how sale proceeds would be split, to the extent that one tenant contributed more than his or her half to the discharge of encumbrances, liens, and taxes, that tenant is entitled to contribution from the other. The Court of Appeals did not err in reversing the circuit court’s judgment that Daniel Paisley and Anne Talley were to share equally in the proceeds of sale of their jointly owned real property based on their respective ownership percentages and irrespective of payments of liens and other encumbrances on the property Paisley made during their joint tenancy. The Court of Appeals held, as a matter of law, that Paisley was entitled to be proportionately reimbursed by Talley for his payments. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) under Kentucky law, joint tenants are entitled to proportionate reimbursement for the payment of liens and other encumbrances on the property; and (2) Paisley did not expressly or implicitly waive any right to contribution, or intend his contributions to be a gift to Talley. View "Talley v. Paisley" on Justia Law

by
In an effort to replace its aging middle school building, the Paducah Independent School District initiated condemnation proceedings against real property owned by Defendant. The property was officially taken after an award of $96,000 to Defendant, but both sides were dissatisfied. After a bench trial, Defendant was awarded $115,000 in compensation damages. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the trial court relied on outdated and otherwise incompetent evidence of the property’s fair market value. The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals and reinstated the trial court’s judgment, holding that the trial court’s approach was both legally sound and properly grounded in the record. View "Paducah Independent School District v. Putnam & Sons, LLC" on Justia Law

by
Developer intended to develop real property into single-family residential lots and secured financing through Bank. Insurer provided a surety bond to the Planning and Zoning Commission. Insurer executed three Bond Agreements as surety for Developer. Developer later defaulted in its loan. In lieu of foreclosure, Developer deed the property to Bank’s property management company. Bank transferred the property to another internal holding company. The Commission subsequently complied with Bank’s request for the Commission to call Developer’s bonds and place the proceeds in escrow for the purpose of reimbursing Bank for completion of the necessary infrastructure projects required by Developer’s approved plat. Developer filed a declaratory judgment action alleging that the bonds were not callable and that payment on the bonds would result in Bank receiving an unjust enrichment. The trial court granted summary judgment for Defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Developer was liable under the bond; and (2) Developer’s claims of error during discovery were unavailing. View "Furlong Development Co. v. Georgetown-Scott County Planning & Zoning Commission" on Justia Law