Justia Landlord – Tenant Opinion Summaries

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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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Grievant, a state employee and a member of a Union, was terminated after he was caught smoking marijuana. The Union contested Grievant’s termination. Concluding that complete termination of Grievant’s conduct was not the only appropriate penalty for his misconduct, an arbitrator reinstated Grievant to his employment and imposed a number of sanctions and conditions short of termination. The trial court vacated the award, concluding that there was a well-defined public policy against the use of marijuana and that the arbitrator’s award violated that policy. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court erred in concluding that reinstatement of the Grievant violated public policy. View "State v. Conn. Employees Union Indep." on Justia Law

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Freddie Mac is a privately-owned, publicly-chartered financial services corporation, 12 U.S.C. 1452, created to provide stability in the secondary residential mortgage market. Piszel began working as the CFO of Freddie Mac in 2006. Piszel with a signing bonus of $5 million in Freddie Mac restricted stock units that would vest over four years, an annual salary of $650,000, and performance-based incentive compensation of $3 million a year in restricted stock. If terminated without cause, Piszel would receive a lump-sum cash payment of double his annual salary and certain restricted stock units would continue to vest. In 2008, facing Freddie Mac's potential collapse, Congress passed the Housing and Economic Recovery Act,12 U.S.C. 4511, establishing the FHFA as Freddie Mac's new primary regulator, with authority to disaffirm any contract, after which damages for the breach would be limited to “actual direct compensatory damages.” The Act contained a limit on “golden parachutes.” Piszel alleges that he was terminated without cause and Freddie Mac “refused to provide him with any of the benefits to which he was contractually entitled.” The Claims Court dismissed his allegations of an unconstitutional taking. The Federal Circuit affirmed, noting that Piszel’s breach of contract claim remains intact despite the legislation, particularly in light of Piszel’s assertion that his contract called for “deferred compensation,” rather than a golden parachute. View "Piszel v. United States" on Justia Law

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In 2006, the Zoretics rented a Castilian Court condominium. Their landlord stopped paying condominium assessments and lost possession to Castilian in 2008. Castilian obtained an eviction order. The Cook County Sheriff evicted the family in January 2009. Later that day, Castilian’s agent allowed them to reenter the unit, agreeing they would sign a new lease. Zoretic never signed the lease or paid rent. After receiving no response to two letters, Castilian’s lawyers obtained a new date stamp (April 2009) from the Clerk on the September 2008 order and placed the order with the Sheriff. On June 5, deputies knocked, announced their presence, got no answer, opened the door, and entered the unit with guns drawn. They found Zoretic, put down their weapons, conducted a protective sweep, and escorted Zoretic out of the unit. Days later, Zoretic sued and was awarded possession until Castilian obtained a lawful eviction order. The family returned, continued not paying rent, and were evicted in March 2012. Zoretic sued under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The court granted the defendants summary judgment. The Seventh Circuit reversed as to Fourth Amendment claims against the deputies, but affirmed as to claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress against the owners. Zoretic failed to create a material factual dispute about whether the owners were extreme and outrageous in pursuing eviction. View "Zoretic v. Darge" on Justia Law

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In 2011 Bankers leased Chicago office space from CBRE. Another tenant, Groupon, needed more office space. CBRE asked Bankers to sublease to Groupon and relocate. Bankers and CBRE signed a Listing Agreement, including terms required by 225 ILCS 454/15-5(a), 15-75. Bankers told CBRE that it wanted to net $7 million from its deals with Groupon and the lessor of the replacement space. CBRE presented Bankers with cost-benefit analyses (CBAs), comparing the costs of leasing new space with the benefits of subleasing the old space to Groupon. A May 2011 CBA showed a net savings of $6.9 million to Bankers from relocating to East Wacker Drive. Bankers responded by subleasing to Groupon and leasing that space. CBRE’s calculation was inaccurate. It omitted Bankers’ promise to give Groupon a $3.1 million tenant improvement allowance. Had Bankers known it would profit by only $3.8 million, it would have rejected the deal; CBRE would not have obtained $4.5 million in commissions. In an arbitration proceeding, the panel issued three “final decisions,” all favoring CBRE, and awarded costs. The Seventh Circuit reversed. The panel exceeded its authority. It was authorized to interpret the contract (Listing Agreement), which did not include the CBAs or a disclaimer contained in the CBAs. View "Bankers Life & Cas/ Ins. Co. v. CBRE, Inc." on Justia Law

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This appeal arose from a premises liability action brought against Walter Amundson, the owner of a piece of property in Kuna (the “Property”), by David Stiles, a social guest of one of Walter’s tenants. The district court dismissed the case on summary judgment, reasoning that: (1) Amundson had neither a general duty of care nor a duty to warn with respect to Stiles; and (2) although Amundson could be liable for any injury resulting from the negligent repair of the Property, Amundson's repair was not the proximate cause of Stiles’ injury. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Stiles v. Amundson" on Justia Law

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Roland Riemers twice sued Heidee Hill, her husband, Jason Hill, and her three children, Hannah Hill, Ashley Roesler, and Hailey Marie Hill, for unpaid rent, late fees, property damage, and punitive damages arising out of a lease agreement signed by Heidee Hill for a house in Emerado. Only Heidee Hill signed the lease agreement, but Heidee and Jason Hill were both identified as applicants on the agreement and the three children were listed as "others who will be sharing the house." The Hill family moved to dismiss Riemers' complaint for failure to state a claim and sought attorney fees. They asserted the property was uninhabitable and had been condemned by the Grand Forks Public Health Department in July 2013. They also counterclaimed for abuse of process, alleging Riemers' claims for unpaid rent and property damage were "so outrageous and ridiculous" to rise to the level of abuse of process. They claimed that despite the property being condemned in July 2013, Riemers sued them for structural damage to the house that was clearly Riemers' responsibility and Riemers had an ulterior motive to harass and embarrass them with a lawsuit void of any factual or legal basis. Riemers appealed the judgment awarding him $8,245.87 from Heidee Hill for unpaid rent and property damage and ordering him to pay Ashley Roesler $10,164 for abuse of process. After review, the Supreme Court concluded the district court erred in granting summary judgment on the liability issue of the abuse-of-process claim. Accordingly, the Court affirmed in part and reversed the summary judgment on that claim and remanded for further proceedings. View "Riemers v. Hill" on Justia Law

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In 2013, Plaintiff, a participant in the Section 8 Federal Housing Choice Voucher Program, listed among her assets a trust that had been established in 2010 to hold Plaintiff's proceeds from a series of tort settlements. The Brookline Housing Authority (BHA) subsequently determined that Plaintiff was “over-income” for continued participation in the Program, as locally administered by the BHA. Plaintiff appealed, requesting that the BHA exclude at least some of these trust disbursements from its income calculation in reasonable accommodation of her disability. The BHA reaffirmed its determination. Thereafter, Plaintiff sued, alleging that the BHA had violated state and federal law by incorrectly calculating her income under the relevant federal regulations and by engaging in disability-based discrimination. The district court ruled in favor of BHA. The First Circuit (1) reversed the district court’s ruling on Plaintiff’s 42 U.S.C. 1983 claim brought under the Housing Act, holding that the BHA misconstrued federal regulations in calculating Plaintiff’s income; (2) vacated the district court’s ruling on Plaintiff’s state and federal discrimination claims and remanded with instructions to dismiss those claims as moot; and (3) affirmed the district court’s denial of Plaintiff’s remaining claims. Remanded. View "DeCambre v. Brookline Housing Auth." on Justia Law

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At issue in this appeal was whether, and under what circumstances, a court may decline on equitable grounds to enforce a provision in a long-term ground lease giving the lessor the right to terminate the lease and reenter the premises in the event of a default. Plaintiff Mongeon Bay Properties, LLC (MBP) sued defendant Mallets Bay Homeowner’s Association seeking to void a multi-year ground lease for property abutting Lake Champlain on account of alleged breaches of the covenants in that agreement. After a bench trial, the trial court concluded that the Association had violated its obligations under the lease by failing to reasonably maintain the embankments abutting Lake Champlain to protect them from erosion. However, the court declined to enforce the forfeiture clause in the lease against the Association, and awarded MBP damages to enable it to undertake the necessary restoration and bank protection. The Association appealed the ruling that it breached the lease, and MBP appealed the trial court’s award of damages in lieu of forfeiture. After review of the particular facts of this matter, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s determination that the Association breached the lease, but reversed its refusals to declare termination of the lease and to issue a writ of possession to MBP. The case was remanded for reconsideration of MBP’s remedy. View "Mongeon Bay Properties, LLC v. Mallets Bay Homeowner's Assn." on Justia Law

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After defendant bought the commercial building housing plaintiffs‘ rug cleaning business, disputes developed. The tenants complained that landlords behavior interfered with their business operations and amounted to a campaign of harassment and retaliation. The tenant obtained a preliminary injunction, enjoining landlord‘s construction activities exceeding a stated decibel level during business hours. Three consumer reviews criticizing tenant’s business subsequently appeared on the Internet site Yelp.com posted from different online aliases. Tenant suspected landlord was responsible and amended the complaint to allege defamation. Landlord successfully moved in limine to exclude the evidence related to the Yelp reviews on hearsay and authenticity grounds. The trial court later granted landlord a directed verdict on the defamation cause of action. A jury found that, although landlord had breached the lease agreement, no damages resulted. The trial court deemed landlord the prevailing party and granted his request for attorney‘s fees. The court of appeal reversed, holding that the exclusion of the Yelp evidence and the resulting disposition of the defamation cause of action was error and it is not clear that the outcome on the contract-based causes of action would have remained unaffected by the presentation of evidence on the alleged defamation. View "Kinda v. Carpenter" on Justia Law