Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law

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A property owner defaulted on his obligations, and the construction lender foreclosed the property at issue in this appeal. The general contractor had a materialman’s lien on the property. At the foreclosure sale, the purchase price for the property was significantly lower than the total amounts owed. The sole issue before the chancery court was which lien had priority – that of the construction lender, or that of the contractor. The chancery court found that the contractor’s lien had priority. Because the chancery court did not abuse its discretion in arriving at that conclusion, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. View "Whitney Bank v. Triangle Construction Company, Inc." on Justia Law

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A homeowner appealed an award of attorney fees associated with a complaint filed against him for injunctive relief to enforce a neighborhood’s restrictive covenants. The Deer Haven Owners Association filed a Complaint for Mandatory Injunction and Other Relief against Arlin George Hatfield III, claiming he had violated the subdivision’s restrictive covenants by erecting pens for various fowl without the covenants’ required prior approval, and that Hatfield’s fowl had violated the covenants’ prohibition against noxious or offensive activities by roaming around the subdivision and making loud noises. The Association sought an injunction ordering Hatfield to comply with the covenants and an award of attorney fees. According to the chancellor, the original complaint sought to have the fowl and pens removed for violations of the covenants, and the Association prevailed on that argument, therefore, fees were warranted for the Association. Hatfield appealed. Finding no reversible error, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. View "Hatfield v. Deer Haven Homeowners Association, Inc." on Justia Law

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Anita White appealed the Chancery Court of DeSoto County’s confirmation of title to certain real property located in Yalobusha County to Charles Thomas White (“Tommy”). Anita claimed the property through the residuary clause of Charles William White’s (“Bill’s”) will. Tommy claimed the property through an earlier conveyance from his father and long-time partner, Bill. The chancellor found the earlier conveyance valid. Anita appealed. Finding no error, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. View "In the Matter of the Estate of C.W. White v. White" on Justia Law

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This interlocutory appeal involves an action by Lucille Crotwell’s heirs against Richard Prestage’s successors in title. In 1973, Gilbert Lum conveyed a forty-acre tract of land by warranty deed to his daughter, Lucille Crotwell, reserving a life estate in the lands and all mineral interests owned by him. The deed recited receipt of good and valuable consideration and was filed of record. No words of inheritance were contained in the deed. A quarter of a century later, Lum attempted to reconvey one acre of the same forty-acre tract to Prestage. By special warranty deed, Prestage subsequently deeded the property from himself to himself and his wife, Sheri, as an estate by the entirety with full rights of survivorship. The Prestages then executed a deed of trust in favor of American Title Company, Inc., as trustee for Hurricane Mortgage Company, Inc. This deed of trust ultimately was assigned to HSBC Bank, USA, N.A., as trustee for Wells Fargo Asset Securities Corporation Home Equity-Backed Certificates. In 2011, Emily Courteau, as Substituted Trustee, conducted a foreclosure sale of this deed of trust. T&W Homes, Etc, LLC (“T&W”) was the successful bidder and received a Substitute Trustee’s Deed. The Crotwells filed a complaint to confirm title, remove cloud on the title, and for ejectment. The parties filed competing motions for summary judgment. The chancellor found that Lum had reserved a life estate in the land and minerals only and that he could have conveyed his reserved life estate, but that reading the conveyance as retaining the right to reconvey title in fee simple was repugnant to the granting clause in the conveyance to Crotwell. The Chancery Court granted summary judgment to the Crotwells on this issue only. T&W Homes filed this interlocutory appeal. Finding no reversible error, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. View "T & W Homes Etc, LLC v. Crotwell" on Justia Law

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In a matter of first impression, the Mississippi Supreme Court addressed testamentary provisions in a contract. A provision in a lease stated that upon the lessor’s death, the lessor’s rights (primarily the right to receive lease payments) transferred to the lessor’s daughter, who was not a party to the lease. The lessor died, and the question presented under the facts of this case was whether the provision of the lease or the provisions of the lessor’s will determined the owner of the lease payments. The distinction turns on whether the instrument conveys any present interest to the grantee. The relevant question was when the interest vests in the grantee and whether it may be modified during the grantor’s life, not who has the right to prevent any interest from vesting. Because the grantee lacked a vested right, the provision at issue here was testamentary in nature and treated as a will. The parties agree the lease failed to comply with the statutory formalities required of a will, so the Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals’ decision to reverse the chancellor’s decision finding the provision enforceable. View "Estate of Rose Greer v. Ball" on Justia Law

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Thomas L. Swarek and Thomas A. Swarek (father and son) appealed a Chancery Court’s finding that no binding enforceable contract existed between the Swareks and Derr Plantation, Inc. (DPI) for the lease and purchase and sale of Derr Plantation to the Swareks, thus denying Swareks’ equitable-relief request for specific performance. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed the chancery court. View "Swarek v. Derr Plantation, Inc." on Justia Law

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After the Mississippi Supreme Court held in "Jones County School District v. Mississippi Department of Revenue," (111 So. 3d 588 (Miss. 2013)), that a school district was not liable for oil and gas severance taxes on royalties derived from oil and gas production on sixteenth-section land, the Chancery Court of Wayne County held that Wayne County School District (WCSD) was owed interest by the Mississippi Department of Revenue (MDOR) on its overpayment of severance taxes at the rate of one percent (1%) per month. The chancellor determined, based on Section 27-65-53 of the Mississippi Code, that the payment should have started on June 5, 2013, ninety days after the Jones County decision. Finding that the chancellor correctly applied the statute, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the chancery court. View "Wayne County School District v. Morgan" on Justia Law

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Thomas Saul and Jon Swartzfager initially reached a verbal agreement for Saul’s purchase of a piece of property located within a larger tract of land Swartzfager owned. But another person came along and offered Swartzfager a significant sum to buy the whole tract. Swartzfager approached Saul and asked if he would forego their original land deal and in exchange accept a separate parcel within a different tract of land. Saul agreed to Swartzfager’s new offer, and Swartzfager reduced their agreement to writing, stating that for “good and valuable consideration” already received, he would transfer the second parcel to Saul upon request. However, Swartzfager later backed out and never transferred any land to Saul. Saul filed suit against Swartzfager seeking damages and specific performance. The chancellor found a valid contract existed between Saul and Swartzfager, and awarded him damages, attorney’s fees, and prejudgment interest. After review, the Supreme Court found the chancellor correctly ruled that Saul and Swartzfager had a contract, and Swartzfager was equitably estopped from denying the land deal. Furthermore, the Court found the chancellor’s awards for intentional infliction of emotional distress and attorney’s fees are supported. But Court found the chancellor erred in awarding prejudgment interest, because Saul did not plead a request for prejudgment interest. View "Swartzfager v. Saul" on Justia Law

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After a nearby ditch began to erode causing significant property damage and mold-related health issues, Plaintiffs John and Patsy O’Callaghan filed an inverse condemnation action under the Takings Clause of the Mississippi Constitution, requesting that the City of Tupelo compensate the couple for both personal injuries and significant property loss. The City presented an interlocutory appeal challenging the County Court’s order denying its motion for summary judgment on the matter. Finding that personal injuries were not recoverable in a claim under the Takings Clause and that the three-year limitations period under Mississippi Code Section 15-1-49 was applicable to takings claims, the Supreme Court reversed the lower court’s ruling, rendering a decision for the City. View "City of Tupelo v. O'Callaghan" on Justia Law

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In the early-morning hours of New Year's Day 2012, sixteen-year-old Devin Mitchell was shot to death outside the apartment of his cousin, Queenie Walker, at Ridgewood East Apartments in West Point. Mitchell’s family sued Ridgewood East, alleging, inter alia, premises liability. The Circuit Court granted summary judgment to Ridgewood East. Agreeing that no genuine issue of material fact existed with regard to whether Mitchell’s murder was foreseeable to Ridgewood East Apartments, the Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court's judgment. View "Mitchell v. Ridgewood East Apartments, LLC" on Justia Law