Justia Landlord - Tenant Opinion Summaries
EDC Investment, LLC v. UTGR, Inc.
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the superior court granting a motion to dismiss filed by Defendant and dismissed this complaint alleging, among other things, breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract, holding that the complaint was properly dismissed.In 2000, Plaintiff and Defendant entered into a lease agreement whereby Plaintiff rented space from Defendant. In 2011, the parties entered into a termination of lease and release agreement providing Plaintiff with a buyout. Plaintiff later brought this action. Defendant want moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing that Plaintiff released all claims against Defendant in a release. The hearing justice granted the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the hearing justice did not err in dismissing Plaintiff's claims of breach of fiduciary duty and breaches of contract and the covenant of good faith and fair dealing. View "EDC Investment, LLC v. UTGR, Inc." on Justia Law
55 Oak Street LLC v. RDR Enterprises, Inc.
The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the superior court affirming the judgment of the district court that denied Landlord's forcible entry and detainer (FED) action to oust Tenant from possession of Landlord's property, holding that Tenant's breach of the terms of its lease entitled Landlord to issuance of a writ of possession.The district court concluded that Landlord was not entitled to possession of the subject property because Tenant's failure to pay its rent was at least in part excused by the force majeure clause in the parties' lease. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment, holding that Tenant's breach of the terms of its lease entitled Landlord to issuance of a writ of possession. View "55 Oak Street LLC v. RDR Enterprises, Inc." on Justia Law
Caswell, et al. v. AHTNA, Inc.
A miner signed a 20-year lease with a corporate landowner for an easement allowing him access to his limestone-mining operation. The lease included an option to extend it for up to three additional 10-year terms as long as the miner was not in default and gave prior written notice of his intent to extend. At the close of year 19, the miner sent a check prepaying the final calendar year, plus the six weeks following the lease’s expiration date. And after the expiration date the miner sent another check prepaying the next year (year 21) without ever providing the express notice of intent to extend required by the lease. The corporation accepted both of the rent checks. Five months later the corporation sued the miner and his company, contending that he was in breach and the lease had expired. The corporation later amended its complaint to add a claim for forcible entry and detainer seeking to recover possession of the premises by court order, and shortly afterward served the miner with a notice to quit. The court held a hearing nearly 11 months later and granted the forcible-entry claim. Appealing, the miner contended the parties’ dispute was too complex to be resolved through forcible entry and detainer proceedings with limited opportunities for discovery; that the forcible entry and detainer proceeding was unlawful because at the time the claim was asserted the corporation had not yet served the notice to quit; and that the miner’s company was improperly named as a defendant and included in the forcible entry and detainer judgment. Finding no reversible error, the Alaska Supreme Court affirmed the superior court's judgment. View "Caswell, et al. v. AHTNA, Inc." on Justia Law
Trenton Indian Housing Authority v. Poitra, et al.
Lisa Poitra appealed an order of eviction, arguing the district court lacked jurisdiction to enter the eviction order because the Trenton Indian Housing Authority (“TIHA”) constituted a dependent Indian community, and a contract provision required the eviction to be handled by the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians Tribal Court. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the record supported the district court’s finding that TIHA was not a dependent Indian community, the court’s determination that it had subject matter jurisdiction, and the finding TIHA did not have a contractual obligation to bring the eviction action in the tribal court. View "Trenton Indian Housing Authority v. Poitra, et al." on Justia Law
Horizon Ventures of W. Va., Inc. v. American Bituminous Power Partners, L.P.
The Supreme Court reversed the business court's orders in this rent dispute, holding that the business court erred in granting summary judgment to either party.American Bituminous Power Partners, LP (AMBIT) and Horizon Ventures of West Virginia, Inc. created a contractual relationship with a lease agreement. The current rent dispute involved the relationship between the lease, a 1996 settlement agreement, and a 2017 order of the business court. Without resolving the relationship between those documents the business court granted summary judgment to AMBIT on Horizon's claims and summary judgment to Horizon on AMBIT's claims. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that summary judgment was improper because the various agreements were ambiguous and the parties' intent was not clear. View "Horizon Ventures of W. Va., Inc. v. American Bituminous Power Partners, L.P." on Justia Law
Association of Village Council Presidents Regional Housing Authority v. Mael, et al.
A boiler exploded in a home owned by a nonprofit regional housing authority, severely injuring a man who lived there. He sued the housing authority in both contract and tort, claiming that his lease-purchase contract included a promise that the authority would inspect the boiler, which it failed to do with reasonable care. After the man dismissed his contract claim, the housing authority asked the court to decide as a matter of law that a breach of a contractual promise could not give rise to a tort claim. But the superior court allowed the man to proceed to trial on his tort claim, and the jury awarded over $3 million in damages, including over $1.5 million in noneconomic damages and separate awards to several of his family members for negligent infliction of emotional distress. The court reduced the man’s noneconomic damages award to $1 million because of a statutory damages cap, but it excluded the family members’ awards from the amount subject to the cap. The housing authority appealed, maintaining it should have been granted a judgment notwithstanding the verdict because the contract did not create a continuing legal duty to inspect the boiler with reasonable care. It also argued it should have been granted a new trial because it had established that the boiler explosion was caused by a product defect rather than negligent inspection. Finally, the authority argued the family members’ damages for negligent infliction of emotional distress should have been included in the amount subject to the statutory damages cap. The man cross-appealed, arguing that the damages cap violated due process because it failed to account for inflation or the severe nature of his physical injuries. After review, the Alaska Supreme Court found no reversible error and affirmed the superior court's judgment on all issues. View "Association of Village Council Presidents Regional Housing Authority v. Mael, et al." on Justia Law
McKeeman v. Duchaine
The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the district court that characterized the court's prior order on Appellants' motion for a preliminary injunction as a ruling on the merits and entering a final judgment without holding a hearing, holding that the court's order violated Me. R. Civ. P. 65(b)(2).Appellants filed this complaint alleging violations of the statutory warranty of habitability and an illegal eviction and seeking injunctive and declaratory relief. After a hearing, the court entered an order granting in part and denying in part Appellants' request for a preliminary injunction. Thereafter, Appellants filed a request for default judgment. The court denied the request and then entered the order as a final judgment. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment below, holding that the order, which treated the hearing on the motion for a preliminary injunction as a consolidated hearing on the motion and on the merits, violated Me. R. Civ. P. 65(b)(2) and offended due process. View "McKeeman v. Duchaine" on Justia Law
Natal v. GMPM Company & al.
Defendants GMPM Company and 479 Maple Street, LLC, appealed a circuit court order granting the petition for wrongful eviction filed by plaintiff Melissa Natal. On appeal, defendants argued the circuit court erred by determining that its property was not a “shared facility” as defined by RSA 540-B:1 (2021). Specifically, defendants argued RSA 540-B:1 did not require that an owner occupy the premises, but, rather, only that an owner have access to the common areas for the purposes of cleaning, maintaining, and monitoring the premises. The New Hampshire Supreme Court concluded that, for property to qualify as a shared facility under RSA 540-B:1, the owner had to reside at the premises with the occupants. Accordingly, judgment was affirmed. View "Natal v. GMPM Company & al." on Justia Law
Holcomb, Dunbar, Watts, Best, Masters & Golmon, P.A. v. 400 South Lamar Oxford Mad Hatter Partners, LLC, et al.
Holcomb, Dunbar, Watts, Best, Masters & Golmon, P.A. (“Holcomb Dunbar”), was the tenant and 400 South Lamar Mad Hatter Partners, LLC (“Mad Hatter”), was the successor landlord to the property at issue in this case. Mad Hatter sued Holcomb Dunbar for breach of the lease due to its failure to pay rent for the remaining eighteen months of a three-year lease. After discovery, Mad Hatter moved for summary judgment, which the trial court granted. Mad Hatter was awarded $133,900 in unpaid rent. The trial court also denied Holcomb Dunbar’s motion for partial summary judgment and motion to amend its counterclaim, while granting Mad Hatter’s motion to quash certain subpoenas. Holcomb Dunbar’s remaining counterclaims went to trial, and the jury found against it. Holcomb Dunbar appealed the trial court’s rulings on these four motions. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s judgment and the Mississippi Supreme Court granted certiorari. Finding no reversible error in the trial court's grant of summary judgment, the Supreme Court affirmed its judgment. View "Holcomb, Dunbar, Watts, Best, Masters & Golmon, P.A. v. 400 South Lamar Oxford Mad Hatter Partners, LLC, et al." on Justia Law
Fountain v. Fred’s, Inc., et al.
The South Carolina Supreme Court granted review of a court of appeals' decision affirming a trial court's finding that Respondents Fred's, Inc. (Fred's) and Wildevco, LLC (Wildevco) were entitled to equitable indemnification from Petitioner Tippins-Polk Construction, Inc. (Tippins-Polk). Respondent Fred's was a Tennessee corporation that operated a chain of discount general merchandise stores in several states, including South Carolina. Respondent Wildevco is a South Carolina limited liability company that owned a tract of undeveloped commercial property in Williston, South Carolina. In February 2005, Wildevco and Fred's entered into a lease agreement in which Wildevco agreed to construct a 16,000-square-foot commercial space located in Williston, South Carolina, according to Fred's conceptual design specifications. In turn, Fred's agreed to lease the property for ten years. In April 2005, Wildevco entered into a contract with general contractor Tippins-Polk for the construction of the Fred's store and adjoining strip center. Pursuant to the lease agreement between Wildevco and Fred's, Wildevco was the party responsible for "keep[ing] and repair[ing] the exterior of the  Premises, including the parking lot, parking lot lights, entrance and exits, sidewalks, ramps, curbs," and various other exterior elements. Fred's was responsible for maintenance of the interior of the premises. Five years after the Fred's store opened, on a sunny day in March, Martha Fountain went to the Williston Fred's to purchase light bulbs. Her toe caught the sloped portion of the ramp at the entrance of the store, causing her to trip and fall. Fountain sustained serious injuries to her hand, wrist, and arm and has undergone five surgeries to alleviate her pain and injuries. Fountain and her husband filed a premises liability suit against Fred's and Wildevco, alleging Respondents breached their duty to invitees by failing to maintain and inspect the premises and failing to discover and make safe or warn of unreasonable risks. Pertinent to this appeal, Tippins-Polk argued the court of appeals erred in finding a special relationship existed between it and Fred's and in finding Respondents proved they were without fault as to the Fountain premises liability claim. Because the Supreme Court found Respondents failed to establish they were without fault in the underlying action, judgment was reversed. View "Fountain v. Fred's, Inc., et al." on Justia Law