Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law

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The County of Maui’s land use regulations did not constitute a regulatory taking of property owned by Plaintiffs. Plaintiffs brought suit against the County arguing that the County’s land use regulations and restrictions prevented them from building a family house on their beachfront lot. Plaintiffs asserted that the County’s actions constituted a regulatory taking for which they were entitled to just compensation. The jury delivered a verdict in favor of the County. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there was evidence to support the jury’s verdict in favor of the County; and (2) the circuit court’s order granting in part and denying in part the County’s motion for costs was not in error. View "Leone v. County of Maui" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the portion of the intermediate court of appeals’ (ICA) judgment denying without prejudice Philip Kozma’s request for attorneys’ fees related to his appeal but vacated the portion of the ICA’s judgment denying costs. The appeal was related to a foreclosure action brought by Deutsche Bank National Trust Company. The circuit court granted Deutsche Bank’s motion for summary judgment and decree of foreclosure. On appeal, the ICA vacated the circuit court’s judgment and remanded for further proceedings. Upon Kozma’s request seeking attorney’s fees and costs related to his appeal, the ICA determined that Kozma was not a “prevailing party’ at this point in the proceeding. The Supreme Court held (1) the ICA did not err in denying Kozma’s request for attorney’s fees because there was no “prevailing party” entitled to such fees under Haw. Rev. Sat. 607-14; but (2) the ICA incorrectly concluded that Kozma was not entitled to costs pursuant to Haw. R. App. P. 39. View "Deutsche Bank National Trust Co. v. Kozma" on Justia Law

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The circuit court and the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) did not err in determining that the State obtained an easement over and across the cement path atop a seawall (the Seawall) by common law implied dedication. For approximately sixty-five years, residents and visitors of O’ahu have walked along the Seawall on or near seaward boundaries of certain property to access the beach, shoreline, and ocean. After the State disclaimed any duty to maintain the Seawall, Plaintiffs commenced this lawsuit to require the State to maintain and keep the Seawall in good and safe condition. The circuit court ruled that the State had obtained an easement for public use over and across the seawall by virtue of common law implied dedication. The ICA affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed in light of Hawaii’s long-standing principles of common law, the historical significance and roots of implied dedication in the jurisdiction as evidenced by nearly 150 years of Supreme Court precedent, and the undisputed evidence in this case. View "Gold Coast Neighborhood Ass’n v. State" on Justia Law

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An appeal of an order confirming sale is moot when the appellant does not post a supersedeas bond to obtain a stay of the proceedings prior to the sale of the property to a bona fide purchaser. In this case R. Onaga, Inc. (Onaga) and The Bank of New York Mellon FKA the Bank of New York (BONY) each initiated foreclosure proceedings against property once owned by Robert and Marlyn Marquez. Both entities claimed to have a first priority lien. The circuit court concluded that BONY had a first priority lien and granted summary judgment in favor of BONY. Onaga moved to stay BONY’s foreclosure proceeding, and the circuit court ordered Onaga to post a supersedeas bond in order to stay the proceedings. Onaga did not post a bond. In the meantime, Lyle and Linda Ferrara were the highest bidder at the foreclosure sale, and the circuit court confirmed the sale. The intermediate court of appeals (ICA) vacated the circuit court’s grant of summary judgment. The Supreme Court reversed the ICA’s judgment and affirmed the circuit court’s judgment, holding that because Onaga failed to post a supersedeas bond as required by the circuit court, its appeal of the foreclosure proceeding was moot in light of the Ferraras’ certificate of title. View "Bank of New York Mellon v. R. Onaga, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed its decision in Narayan I, in which the court held that Plaintiffs, a group of individual condominium owners, could not be compelled to arbitrate claims arising from the financial breakdown of a condominium project. Specifically, the court held in Narayan I that the arbitration clause was unenforceable because the terms of the documents at issue were ambiguous with respect to Plaintiffs’ intent to arbitrate and that portions of the arbitration clause were unconscionable. The United States Supreme Court vacated and remanded Narayan I for further consideration in light of its recent decision in DIRECTV, Inc. v. Imburgia, 577 U.S. __ (2015), which held that state law must place arbitration agreements on equal footing with all other contracts. After recognizing this principle, the Hawaii Supreme Court held that that the arbitration clause at issue in the present case was unconscionable under common law contract principles. View "Narayan v. Ritz-Carlton Development Co." on Justia Law

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This appeal arose from a judicial decree of foreclosure granted in favor of U.S. Bank N.A. (Plaintiff) and against Joseph and Chanelle Meneses (Defendants). The intermediate court of appeals (ICA) affirmed the judgment of the circuit court, concluding that the circuit court properly granted Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment and decree of foreclosure. Defendants appealed, arguing that Plaintiff lacked standing to foreclose. The Supreme Court vacated the ICA’s judgment on appeal and the circuit court’s order granting Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and decree of foreclosure, holding (1) there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC had the authority to sign a second assignment of mortgage to Plaintiff; and (2) in the judicial foreclosure context, a third party unrelated to a mortgage securitization pooling and servicing agreement lacks standing to enforce an alleged violation of its terms unless the violation renders the mortgage assignment void, rather than voidable. View "U.S. Bank N.A. v. Mattos" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a complaint against Attorney alleging that Attorney failed properly to advertise and conduct non-judicial foreclosure sales of their properties in violation of duties under Plaintiffs’ mortgages, statutory law, common law, and the consumer protection statute. The circuit court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that dismissal was appropriate where (1) the statutory requirements of former Haw. Rev. Stat. 667-5 and 776-7 do not give rise to a private right of action against a foreclosing mortgagee’s attorney; and (2) an unfair or deceptive acts or practices acts or practices claim against Attorney as the foreclosing mortgagee’s attorney was not recognized. View "Sigwart v. Office of David B. Rosen" on Justia Law

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Court had discretion to permit government-condemnor to withdraw a portion of deposit of estimated just compensation. Three parcels of privately-owned property were condemned for a public park. In the owner’s appeal, the Supreme Court of Hawaii held that the presence or lack of physical unity is not dispositive of whether a condemnee is entitled to severance damages. A deposit of estimated just compensation does not become conditional, and blight of summons damages do not begin to accrue, when a condemning authority objects to a condemnee’s motion to withdraw funds based on the fact that the condemnee’s entitlement to such funds is unclear. The court in an eminent domain proceeding has discretion to permit a governmental entity to withdraw a portion of a deposit of estimated just compensation when the deposit has not been disbursed to the landowner, the government acted in good faith in seeking to adjust the estimate to accurately reflect the value of the property on the date of the summons, and the adjustment will not impair the substantial rights of any party in interest. View "County of Kauai v. Hanalei River Holdings Limited" on Justia Law

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Bank of America, N.A. filed a complaint seeking to foreclose on Homeowner’s property. Homeowner asserted numerous defenses, including that the Bank was not the lawful holder of the note and mortgage and therefore was not entitled to foreclosure. Homeowner also asserted four counterclaims. The circuit court granted Bank of America’s motion to dismiss Homeowner’s counterclaims. Thereafter, the court granted Bank of America’s motion for summary judgment, finding that the Bank was the “current holder” of the note and mortgage and was therefore entitled to foreclosure of the mortgage and sale of the property. The intermediate court of appeals (ICA) affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated the ICA’s judgment on appeal and vacated the circuit court’s judgment to the extent it granted summary judgment to Bank of America, holding (1) the circuit court erred in granting Bank of America’s motion for summary judgment; and (2) the ICA erred in determining that it did not have jurisdiction over the circuit court’s order granting the Bank’s motion to dismiss Homeowner’s counterclaims. Because the ICA did not reach the merits of Homeowner’s appeal with respect to the dismissal of her counterclaims, the case must be remanded to address the merits of Homeowner’s appeal of the dismissal of her counterclaims. View "Bank of America, N.A. v. Reyes-Toledo" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was a non-judicial foreclosure conducted pursuant to Haw. Rev. Stat. Chapter 667 Part I, which was repealed by the legislature by Act 182. Russell Hungate, the property owner, filed a complaint and first amended complaint alleging that Deutsche Bank National Trust Company (Deutsche Bank) and David B. Rosen and his law office (collectively, Rosen), the attorney hired by Deutsche Bank to conduct the foreclosure of Hungate’s property, violated statutory, contractual, and common law duties and committed unfair or deceptive acts or practices. The circuit court granted Rosen’s motion to dismiss and then granted Deutsche Bank’s motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court vacated in part the circuit court’s orders, holding (1) the circuit court erred in dismissing the majority to Hungate’s claims alleging Haw. Rev. Stat. Chapter 667 Part I violations against Deutsche Bank; (2) Duetsche Bank must use reasonable means to obtain the best price for a foreclosed property; and (3) the circuit court erred in dismissing Hungate’s unfair or deceptive acts or practices claim against Deutsche Bank, but property dismissed Hungate’s claim against Rosen. View "Hungate v. Rosen" on Justia Law