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Denise Wright was abducted and robbed at gunpoint by two unknown assailants in a common area of an apartment complex (Wellspring) in which she resided. Wellspring was owned by Respondent Franklin Pineridge Associates and operated by Respondent PRG Real Estate Management, Inc. Respondent Karen Campbell was Wellspring's property manager and an employee of PRG at the time of the incident. Wright sued Respondents for negligence, alleging Respondents voluntarily undertook a duty to provide security to residents of Wellspring and breached this duty, thereby causing her damages. She also alleged Respondents were negligent in failing to properly maintain shrubbery and lighting on the premises. The circuit court granted summary judgment to Respondents on Wright's negligence claim. A divided court of appeals affirmed. The South Carolina Supreme Court granted Wright's petition for a writ of certiorari to review: (1) whether Respondents voluntarily undertook a duty to provide security services to residents; (2) if such a duty existed under the facts of this case, whether there was a genuine issue of material fact that Respondents breached the duty; and (3) whether there was a genuine issue of material fact that any such breach proximately caused Wright's damages. The Supreme Court concluded the court of appeals erred in affirming the circuit court’ grant of summary judgment in favor or Respondents. The matter was remanded back to the circuit court for trial. View "Wright v. PRG Real Estate Management" on Justia Law

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This case arose out of disputes between the parties involving a twelve year commercial lease of office space in Baltimore, Maryland. The Fourth Circuit held that the district court misconstrued the lease agreement and misapplied Maryland law in concluding that Montgomery Park had a duty to endeavor to relet the premises and minimize its damages as a condition precedent to recovering against NCO. The panel held that the lease agreement's language incorporated the common law mitigation-of-damages doctrine, which holds that a plaintiff cannot recover damages which it could have reasonably avoided. Therefore, Montgomery Park's recovery should only have been reduced by the amount of rent that NCO could demonstrate would have been recovered by reasonable efforts to re-let the space. The court also held that the district court, in evaluating the commercial reasonableness of Montgomery Park's mitigation efforts, applied the wrong standard. The court held that reasonable commercial efforts to mitigate damages did not require Montgomery Park to favor NCO’s space over other vacant space in the building, but rather, commercial reasonableness only required Montgomery Park to reasonably market NCO's space on an equal footing with the other spaces that it was seeking to rent. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's judgment and remanded for further proceedings. View "NCO Financial Systems, Inc. v. Montgomery Park, LLC" on Justia Law

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Skydive Myrtle Beach, Inc. brought this lawsuit alleging Horry County, the Horry County Department of Airports, and several of their individually named employees improperly attempted to remove Skydive from the space it leased at Grand Strand Airport in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The circuit court dismissed Skydive's claims against the individually named employees pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure, without allowing Skydive leave to amend its complaint. The court of appeals affirmed in an unpublished opinion. Finding that the circuit court should have allowed Skydive an opportunity to amend its complaint pursuant to Rule 15(a), the South Carolina Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals and remanded the case to the circuit court to allow Skydive an opportunity to file its amended complaint. View "Skydive v. Horry" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Natalie Anderson appealed a circuit court judgment entered in favor of defendant Adam Robitaille on her petition seeking damages and other relief pursuant to RSA chapter 540-A. Defendant was the general manager of the Homewood Suites by Hilton hotel in Nashua. In November 2015, plaintiff and her husband began residing at Homewood. According to plaintiff, she and her husband shared a full-size apartment with a fully-equipped kitchen, a separate bedroom, separate bathroom, living room, and a dining area, for which they were charged $84 per night plus tax for the unit. Their stay was originally intended to last approximately one year. Plaintiff asserted their stay was extended until May 2017. According to plaintiff, on or about January 4, 2017, defendant informed her by e-mail that her stay would not be extended past January 6. Plaintiff contended that the deadline was later extended to January 10, but was told that if she and her husband did not leave on January 10, the police would be called. Plaintiff brought the instant petition under RSA chapter 540-A on January 9, requesting, in addition to statutory damages, that the trial court enjoin the defendant from ejecting her and her husband from their residential unit. At a January 18 hearing, the parties agreed that the dispositive issue before the court was whether plaintiff and her husband were “tenants” entitled to remedies under RSA chapter 540-A. They further agreed that the court could decide the matter based upon the parties’ pleadings. The trial court found in favor of defendant, concluding that plaintiff and her husband were not “tenants” entitled to RSA chapter 540-A remedies. Plaintiff unsuccessfully moved for reconsideration. The New Hampshire Supreme Court agreed with the circuit court: plaintiff and her husband were not tenants entitled to remedies under RSA chapter 540-A as a matter of law. View "Anderson v. Robitaille" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the decision of the district court finding for Tenant in the underlying eviction proceedings brought by Landlord and concluding that Landlord had breached the covenants of habitability, holding that a tenant asserting a common-law habitability defense in an eviction proceeding is not required to follow the procedures for an action under the rent-escrow statute, Minn. Stat. 504B.385. In response to Landlord’s action, Tenant raised the common-law habitability defense. The district court agreed with Tenant and ordered retroactive and prospective rent abatement until Landlord’s habitability violations were fixed. On appeal, Landlord argued that a tenant must follow the statutory procedures, including written notice, for a rent-escrow action under section 504B.385. The court of appeals held that Tenant was not required to do so. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that written notice is not required before a tenant raises a common-law habitability defense to an eviction proceeding. View "Ellis v. Doe" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the Court of Special Appeals affirming the judgment of the circuit court granting summary judgment in favor of Respondent in this action brought by Petitioners seeking to collect real estate brokerage commissions allegedly due after the tenant of the property exercised its option to renew a lease that Petitioners had procured for a prior owner, holding that the lower courts’ judgments were correct. Specifically, the Court of Appeals held (1) even if Petitioners qualified as third-party beneficiaries, that only gave them the right to sue whomever was liable; (2) because Respondent was not a party to the lease its assignors also were not parties; and (3) in the assignment of the lease the assignors had expressly rejected any obligations of the lease, and therefore, Respondent was not liable. View "Cushman & Wakefield of Maryland, Inc. v. DRV Greentec, LLC" on Justia Law

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A landlord may be liable under the Fair Housing Act of 1968 (FHA) for failing to take prompt action to address a racially hostile housing environment created by one tenant targeting another, where the landlord knew of the discriminatory conduct and had the power to correct it. The Second Circuit adhered to the FHA's broad language and remedial scope, holding that the FHA reaches conduct that, as here, would constitute discrimination in the enjoyment of residence in a dwelling or in the provision of services associated with that dwelling after acquisition. Furthermore, HUD's 2016 Final Rule, HUD's other implementing regulations, and the views expressed in its amicus brief only reinforce the court's textual interpretation that a landlord may be liable under the FHA for failing to intervene in tenant-on-tenant racial harassment of which it knew or reasonably should have known and had the power to address. In this case, plaintiff alleged that defendants had actual knowledge of the tenant's criminal racial harassment of plaintiff but, because it involved race, intentionally allowed it to continue even though defendants had the power to end it. Therefore, the court vacated the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's claims under the FHA and analogous New York State law, as well as his claims under 42 U.S.C. 1981 and 1982. The panel remanded for further proceedings. The panel affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's remaining claims. View "Francis v. Kings Park Manor, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the circuit court affirming the judgment of the district court in favor of Landlord on Landlord’s suit against Tenant seeking to recover unpaid rent that it claimed Tenant owed from 2008, holding that actions for back rent under residential leases are subject to a three-year period of limitations regardless of whether the lease includes provisions that purport to convert it into a contract under seal. In 2007, Tenant entered into a residential lease for an apartment. In 2015, Landlord brought suit seeking to recover unpaid rent it claimed Tenant owed from 2008. Tenant claimed that Landlord had not filed suit within the three-year period of limitations in Md. Code Ann. Cts & Jud. Proc. (CJ) 5-101 that applies to action seeking back rent. The district court entered judgment for Landlord, concluding that the lease qualified as a “contract under seal” and that the twelve-year statute of limitations set forth in CJ 5-102 applied. The circuit court affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the three-year period of limitations set forth in CJ 5-101 governs actions for back rent under residential leases, regardless of whether the lease includes provisions that purport to convert it into a contract under seal. View "Smith v. Wakefield, LP" on Justia Law

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The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) administers the project-based Section 8 housing program using Housing Assistance Payments renewal contracts. The landlords own publicly-assisted housing in Yonkers and allege that the government breached the renewal contracts, resulting in money damages. The trial court determined that it had jurisdiction, found the government liable for breach of contract, and awarded $7.9 million in total damages. The Federal Circuit vacated, finding that the trial court lacked jurisdiction because the parties were not in privity of contract. The contracts at issue were executed in a two-tiered system. First, HUD contracted with a public housing agency (New York State Housing Trust Fund Corporation), which contracted with the Landlords. Neither contract explicitly named both the government and the Landlords as directly contracting parties. View "Park Properties Associates v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court vacating an award of fees incurred during agency proceedings under a fee-shifting provision in Division II of the Davenport Civil Rights Ordinance for a housing discrimination violation charged under Division III that lacked a corresponding fee-shifting remedy, holding that that the district court correctly denied an award of attorney fees. A tenant filed a complaint with the Davenport Civil Rights Commission alleging discrimination based on familial status in violation of the Davenport Civil Rights Ordinance and the Federal Fair Housing Act (FHA). An administrative law judge found that the landlord committed a Division III fair housing violation and award the tenant both damages and attorney fees and costs. The Commission approved the ALJ’s decision. The district court reversed the damages award and vacated the fee award. The court of appeals reinstated the fee award. The Supreme Court held that the court of appeals erred in awarding attorney fees because (1) the fee-shifting provision in Division II of the Ordinance was inapplicable to the fair housing violation in Division III; and (2) the Commission could not award fees under the FHA. View "Seeberger v. Davenport Civil Rights Commission" on Justia Law