Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law

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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 The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the trial court relied on outdated and otherwise incompetent evidence of the property’s fair market value.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

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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

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The parties in this case, neighboring landowners, disputed the ownership of Church Lane, an old road or passway in Gallatin County. Appellee argued that the road was owned by the County or, alternatively, was a public road. Appellants contended that the road was their private property. The circuit court determined that Church Lane was a private road. The Court of Appeals reversed, concluding that Church Lane was a public road. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court correctly determined that Church Lane had been discontinued as a public road, and the eastern portion of the road reverted back to Appellants as a private road. View "Kentucky Props. Holding LLC v. Sproul" on Justia Law

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On February 10, 2014, Landlord Bobby Turner provided his tenant, Lesley Shinkle, with written notice to vacate the premises. Eight days later, Turner filed a forcible detainer complaint against Shinkle. When the matter came before the district court on February 27, 2014, for the "inquisition" required by KRS 383.220, Shinkle moved to dismiss the complaint because Turner had failed to provide the one month's notice required by KRS 383.195 for terminating the tenancy. In recognition of the statutory deficiency, the district court deferred its consideration of Shinkle's motion and continued the inquisition until March 13, thus allowing one month to elapse from the date Shinkle first received the written notice to vacate. In the interim, Shinkle filed a formal written motion to dismiss arguing that Turner had no statutory right to commence a forcible detainer action prior to the expiration of the one-month statutory notice provision. At the March 13 inquisition, the district court denied Shinkle's motion to dismiss, reasoning that the one month statutory notice period had by then been satisfied. The court entered its verdict and judgment finding Shinkle guilty of forcible detainer. Shinkle appealed and the Circuit Court affirmed. The Court of Appeals denied Shinkle's motion for discretionary review. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, finding that by filing his forcible detainer complaint only eight days after giving Shinkle notice to vacate, Turner was claiming a right to immediate possession that he did not lawfully have. The statutory elements of a forcible detainer were not yet met since Turner had, at that time, no presently enforceable right of possession. "As required by KRS 383.195, a landlord must give the tenant at least one month's written notice to vacate, and until that period expires, no forcible detainer is being committed." The complaint filed prior to the existence of the cause of action should have been dismissed pursuant to the motion properly raising the issue. View "Shinkle v. Turner" on Justia Law

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Scotty Hedgespeth and Linda Cundiff (together, Hedgespeth) filed suit against the Taylor County Fiscal Court alleging ownership of land where a new bridge would be constructed and requesting that the trial court issue a temporary injunction to prevent the construction of the new bridge. The trial court denied the request. Thereafter, Hedgespeth requested that the Court of Appeals grant him interlocutory relief from the order pursuant to Ky. R. Civ. P. 65.07. The Court of Appeals denied the motion. Hedgespeth subsequently requested that the Supreme Court grant him interlocutory relief from the Court of Appeals’ decision pursuant to Rule 65.09. The Supreme Court denied Plaintiff’s motion for interlocutory relief, holding that Plaintiff failed to show “extraordinary cause.” View "Hedgespeth v. Taylor County Fiscal Court" on Justia Law

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Defendant owned land that was adjoined by Plaintiff’s property. In the course of cutting timber for Defendant, a logger trespassed on Plaintiff’s property and cut and sold a substantial amount of timber on her property. Plaintiff sued for trespass, seeking damages for the missing timber and the damage to the land. The trial court awarded stumpage value and damages but did not award treble damages based on its finding that Defendant had no intent to remove timber from Plaintiff’s property. The court of appeals (1) vacated the circuit court’s ruling on treble damages and remanded for additional findings and further proceedings, and (2) affirmed on Defendant’s cross-appeal. The Supreme Court (1) upheld the court of appeals in its affirming the trial court in the determination that Defendant was liable for damages for trespass; but (2) reversed the court of appeals in determining that Defendant was subject to treble damages, as there was insufficient evidence to prove that Defendant intended to convert Plaintiff’s timber for his own use. View "Penix v. Delong" on Justia Law

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B. Todd Crutcher and his brother, James Donald Crutcher, owned and possessed thirty-six acres of land bordering a 500-acre tract of land owned by Harrod Concrete and Stone Co. While mining its property for limestone, Harrod trespassed and removed approximately 164,000 tons of limestone from 300 feet below the surface of the Crutchers’ land. A jury awarded the Crutchers $36,000 in compensatory damages and $902,000 in punitive damages. The trial court sustained the compensatory award but reduced the punitive damages to $144,000. The Court of Appeals partially reversed and vacated the circuit court’s decision. The Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals’ decision, vacated the jury verdict and damages, and remanded, holding (1) the jury instructions in this case contained errors that tainted the jury’s finding of recklessness and the amount of damages awarded as a result; (2) the Crutchers may recover damages under either an innocent trespass instruction or a willful trespass instruction, but not both; and (3) punitive damages are not afforded in mineral trespass cases. View "Harrod Concrete & Stone Co. v. Crutcher" on Justia Law

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In 1994, C. Barr and Joann Schuler subdivided their property, thereby creating the Woodlawn Springs Subdivision. Each phase of development was subject to a Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (Declarations). The Schulers also incorporated the Woodlawn Springs Homeowners Association, Inc. (Association). The Schulers borrowed money from Your Community Bank, Inc. (Bank) to finance the construction. After the Schulers died, First Bankers Trust Company (First Trust) executed a deed in lieu of foreclosure conveying fifty subdivision lots to the Bank and a written Assignment and Assumption of Developer Rights (Assignment) in favor of the Bank. In 2011, the Association demanded that the Bank pay $15,000 in Association fees on the subdivision lots it acquired. The Bank refused to pay the fees and filed a declaration of rights action. The circuit court granted summary judgment for the Bank. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, pursuant to the deed in lieu of foreclosure and the Assignment, the Bank had succeeded to all of the Developer’s rights under the Declarations, and therefore, was exempt from paying the Association fees. View "Your Cmty. Bank, Inc. v. Woodlawn Springs Homeowners Ass’n, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, several lot owners in Sandy Beach Subdivision, filed a petition for declaration of rights seeking a declaration that Sandy Beach Lane, a subdivision roadway, was a private roadway. Plaintiff also sought to enjoin Defendants, the developers of two separate subdivisions, or other lot owners in those subdivisions from installing driveways or culverts onto Sandy Beach Lane. The trial court concluded that Sandy Beach Lane was a private road for the sole use and benefit of the lot owners in Sandy Beach Subdivision. The court of appeals reversed, determining that Sandy Beach Lane was a public roadway dedicated by estoppel involving plat. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Sandy Beach Lane is a private roadway for the use and benefit of lot owners in the Sandy Beach Subdivision; and (2) the easement for use of Sandy Beach Lane may not be extended or enlarged by allowing property owners in nearby, more recently-developed subdivisions to build driveways or culverts opening onto the road because this increased access to the road by adjacent landowners was not contemplated by the parties. View "Kircheimer v. Carrier" on Justia Law

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The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government Board of Adjustment (Board) filed a motion for a temporary injunction pursuant to Ky. R. Civ. P. 65.04 seeking to enjoin Boone Creek Properties, Inc. (Boone Creek) from operating certain commercial recreational activities on property in Fayette County. The circuit court granted the temporary injunction, finding that the activities were in violation of a zoning ordinance and a conditional use permit issued by the Board. The court of appeals concluded that the circuit court had properly granted the injunction. Boone Creek appealed, arguing that the Board failed to satisfy the “irreparable harm” prong of rule 65.04. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) when a governmental entity charged with enforcement of a civil law seeks an injunction restraining an ongoing violation of the law, irreparable harm is presumed; and (2) under the circumstances of this case, the circuit court did not abuse its discretion by granting the requested injunction. View "Boone Creek Props., LLC v. Bd. of Adjustment" on Justia Law