Property Law Developments

Trespass to use mineral rights one property to extract minerals from a neighboring parcel.

The West Virginia Supreme Court held that a mineral owner or lessee that has the right to use the surface of one parcel to extract minerals or oil or gas from that parcel does not have the right to use that access to take minerals from neighboring parcels whose owners conferred no such rights. EQT Production Co. v. Crowder,2019 W. Va....

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Civil law or natural flow rule interpreted to allow artificial drainage of subsurface water

While the "free use" rule generally allows an owner to expel surface and subsurface water without liability, the civil law or "natural flow' rule imposes liability on an owner who artificially captures and expels such waters, especially if done in a direction different from the watercourse or the natural direction of water flow. However, interpreting a state statute codifying the civil law rule, (S.D. Codified Laws §...

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Owner seeking special permit has burden of showing it will not harm neighbors

A zoning board granted a special permit to au auto body shop after placing the burden of proof on neighbors to show that the shop would release harmful chemicals into the air. The Court of Appeals reversed because the owner seeking the special permit (the auto shop) should have the burden of proving that its operation would not significantly decrease air quality. Fish v. Accidental Auto Body, Inc.,2019 WL 2236279, 95 Mass.App.Ct. 355(Mass. App. Ct. 2019). In addition, the Court found that there was evidence that... Read more about Owner seeking special permit has burden of showing it will not harm neighbors

Trademark Act provision disallowing registration of marks that are immoral or scandalous violates the first amendment

The Supreme Court has held, inIancu v. Brunetti, — U.S. — (2019), that the Constitution prohibits statutory distinctions between commercial speech based on its "viewpoint." The provision of the Trademark Act taht prohibits federal registration of marks that are "immoral or scandalous," 15 U.S.C. §1052(a) is thus unconstitutional. While several Justices would have interpreted the provision narrowly to outlaw speech based on... Read more about Trademark Act provision disallowing registration of marks that are immoral or scandalous violates the first amendment

Supreme Court opens federal courts to a floodgate of takings cases

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court overruled Williamson County Regional Planning Comm'n v. Hamilton Bank of Johnson City, 473 U.S. 172 (1985) and held that owners aggrieved by state regulations they believe took their property without just compensation can immediately sue for relief in federal courts under 42 U.S.C. §1983 even if state law would have provided just compensation through administrative procedures....

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External stairway encroachment on neighboring land by one foot is allowed to remain with damages only for the trespass victim

A Massachusetts court has found that a one foot encroachment on neighboring property by a new external stairway on a building is de minimus because the alley is hardly used, and the encroachment is both small and necessary to make the stairway consistent with the building code. Krieger v. Lanark LJS LLC, 2019 Mass. App. Unpub. LEXIS 345, 2019 WL 1976015...

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Nonjudicial foreclosure requires appraisal to ensure foreclosure price is close to fair market value

The Massachusetts Appeals Court has held that nonjudicial foreclosures must be conducted in a fair manner and that the burdens on the party who is foreclosing are greater precisely because the auction sale is not be supervised or conducted by judicial officials. Prop. Acquisition Group, LLC v. Ivester, 2019 Mass. App. LEXIS 44,...

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Washington Supreme Court reaffirms its finding of sexual orientation discrimination by florist

On remand in light of the Supreme Court ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colo. Civil Rights Comm'n,  the Washington Supreme Court unanimously reaffirmed its ruling in State v. Arelene's Flowers, 389 P.3d 543 (Wash 2017), as modified by 2017 Wash. LEXIS 222 (Wash. 2017). Lambda Legal, ...

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