Justia U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law
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Plaintiffs filed suit challenging four amendments to the Village of Pomona's zoning law as violations of federal and New York law. The district court dismissed Tartikov's complaint in part and later resolved certain claims in defendants' favor. The remaining claims concluded with a verdict in favor of Tartikov. Defendants appealed the final judgment and Tartikov appealed the earlier orders dismissing certain claims. The Second Circuit held that Tartikov lacked Article III standing to pursue its free exercise, free speech,and free association claims under the federal and New York constitutions, Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) substantial burden and exclusion and limits claims, Fair Housing Act (FHA) claims, and common law claims related to the Berenson doctrine claims. Therefore, the court vacated the judgment with respect to those claims, remanding for instructions for dismissal. In regard to the remaining claims that went to trial, the court reversed the district court's judgment to the extent the claims invoke two of the challenged laws and affirmed insofar as the claims invoked the remaining two. Finally, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the as-applied challenges and challenges to the RLUIPA equal terms and total exclusion provisions. View "Congregation Rabbinical College of Tartikov, Inc. v. Village of Pomona" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit held that a landlord may be liable under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) for intentionally discriminating against a tenant who complains about a racially hostile housing environment that is created by and leads to the arrest and conviction of another tenant. In this case, the landlord allegedly refused to take any action to address what it knew to be a racially hostile housing environment created by one tenant targeting another, even though the landlord had acted against other tenants to redress prior, non‐race related issues. In holding that a landlord may be liable in those limited circumstances, the court adhered to the FHA's broad language and remedial scope. The court also held that post-acquisition claims that arise from intentional discrimination are cognizable under section 3604 of the FHA. Accordingly, 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 82. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "Francis v. Kings Park Manor, Inc." on Justia Law

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At issue in this civil forfeiture appeal was whether the district court erred by exercising subject matter jurisdiction over a foreign state's property or abused its discretion by rejecting defendants' statute‐of‐limitations defense sua sponte. The Second Circuit held that the district court had jurisdiction because the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) does not foreclose in rem civil‐forfeiture suits against a foreign state's property. In this case, however, the district court abused its discretion by sua sponte resolving the statute‐of‐limitations issue without providing defendants notice or an opportunity to defend themselves. Finally, an accompanying summary order considered and rejected defendants' additional challenges. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "United States v. Assa Co. Ltd." on Justia Law

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The United States filed a civil action seeking forfeiture of property owned by the claimant. The jury ultimately found for the government and the district court entered judgment ordering forfeiture of the claimants' property. The Second Circuit held that the district court abused its discretion by denying the claimants' motion for discovery on their statute-of-limitations defense and erroneously granted the government's motion for summary judgment on the timeliness issue; the district court erroneously denied claimants' motion to suppress by incorrectly concluding that the exclusionary rule's good‐faith exception forgave the warrant's defects and by applying the wrong legal standard for the inevitable‐discovery exception; and the district court abused its discretion in its orders forbidding the former Alavi board members from testifying at trial, allowing the government to play the videotaped Fifth Amendment invocations, and prohibiting the claimants from mounting their preferred defense. Accordingly, the court reversed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "In re 650 Fifth Avenue & Related Properties" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's order granting in part and denying in part Pangea's motion for a writ of execution upon the proceeds from the sale of a property previously owned by a divorced couple. Pangea, a judgment creditor of husband, claimed that the district court erred in declining to award it the entirety of the proceeds, arguing that its interest in the property took priority over the interest awarded to wife in a divorce judgment. The court certified the question to the New York Court of Appeals, which held that wife's interest vested upon entry of the divorce judgment and did not render her a judgment creditor of husband. The state court held that legal rights to specific marital property vest upon the judgment of divorce and the dissolution of a marriage involving the division of marital assets does not render one ex‐spouse the creditor of another. Rather, the judgment of divorce was, as the Federal District Court explained, a final settling of accounts' between marital partners with an equitable interest in all marital property. Therefore, C.P.L.R. 5203(a), by its plain terms, has no application here, and Pangea can claim no priority. The court held that this holding was binding and dispositive of the case. View "Pangea Capital Management, LLC v. Lakian" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a claim. Plaintiff sought recovery of a painting by Pablo Picasso that has been in the Metropolitan Museum of Art's possession since 1952, but once belonged to plaintiff's ancestors who sold it in 1938 to a private dealer. Plaintiff alleged that her ancestors sold the painting under duress because they needed funds to flee fascist Italy after having already fled the Nazi regime in their native Germany. The court held that the Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery Act of 2016 did not preempt the Met's laches defense and plaintiff's claims were barred by laches. The court held that the delay in this case was unreasonable and the Met has been prejudiced by the more than six decades that have elapsed since the end of World War II. View "Zuckerman v. The Metropolitan Museum of Art" on Justia Law

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Pangea challenged the district court's order granting in part and denying in part the company's motion for writ of execution upon the proceeds from the sale of a property previously owned by appellees. The Second Circuit certified questions of New York law for which no controlling decisions of the New York Court of Appeals exist: (1) If an entered divorce judgment grants a spouse an interest in real property pursuant to D.R.L. Section 236, and the spouse does not docket the divorce judgment in the county where the property is located, is the spouse's interest subject to attachment by a subsequent judgment creditor that has docketed its judgment and seeks to execute against the property? (2) If the answer to Question (1) is "no," then: If a settlor creates a trust solely for the purpose of holding title to property for the benefit of himself and another beneficiary, and the settlor retains the unfettered right to revoke the trust, does the settlor remain the absolute owner of the trust property relative to his creditors, or is the trust property conveyed to the beneficiaries? View "Pangea Capital Management, LLC v. Lakian" on Justia Law

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This appeal involved an intra‐family dispute over who owns a residential house. The Second Circuit held that the district court properly granted defendants' motion for summary judgment on the pleadings with respect to plaintiffs' adverse possession claim where the affirmative complaint did not contain any affirmative facts that plaintiffs did anything that constituted a distinct assertion of a right hostile to defendants. However, with regard to the constructive trust claim, the court held that there may be a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether an implied promise was made and as to whether defendants' refusal to honor this promise unjustly enriched them. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Jaffer v. Hirji" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, individually and on behalf of others similarly situated, filed suit against defendant, alleging violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. 1692 et seq. Plaintiff alleged that defendant failed to provide the "amount of the debt" within five days after an initial communication with a consumer in connection with the collection of a debt, as required by section 1692g. The court declined to hold that a mortgage foreclosure complaint was an initial communication with a consumer in connection with the collection debt. In this case, the court concluded that neither the Foreclosure Complaint nor the July Letter were initial communications giving rise to the requirements of section 1692g(a). The court held, however, that the August Letter was an initial communication in connection with the collection of a debt, and that the Payoff Statement attached to the August Letter did not adequately state the amount of the debt. The Payoff Statement included a "Total Amount Due," but that amount may have included unspecified "fees, costs, additional payments, and/or escrow disbursements" that were not yet due at the time the statement was issued. The court explained that a statement was incomplete where, as here, it omits information allowing the least sophisticated consumer to determine the minimum amount she owes at the time of the notice, what she will need to pay to resolve the debt at any given moment in the future, and an explanation of any fees and interest that will cause the balance to increase. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded for further proceedings. View "Carlin v. Davidson Fink LLP" on Justia Law

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Claimants-Appellants appealed an award of summary judgment which forfeited to the United States various claimants’ interests in multiple properties, including a 36‐story office building located at 650 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, real properties in Maryland, Texas, California, Virginia, and New York, and the contents of several bank accounts. Also at issue is the September 9, 2013 order denying a motion to suppress evidence seized from the Alavi Foundation’s and the 650 Fifth Avenue Company’s office. The court vacated the judgment as to Claimants Alavi Foundation and the 650 Fifth Ave. Co., of which Alavi is a 60% owner because there are material issues of fact as to whether the Alavi Foundation knew that Assa Corporation, its partner in the 650 Fifth Ave. Co. Partnership, continued after 1995, to be owned or controlled by Bank Melli Iran, which is itself owned or controlled by the Government of Iran, a designated threat to this nation’s national security; the district court erred in sua sponte considering and rejecting claimants’ possible statute of limitations defense without affording notice and a reasonable time to respond; in rejecting claimants’ motion to suppress evidence seized pursuant to a challenged warrant, the district court erred in ruling that claimants’ civil discovery obligations obviate the need for any Fourth Amendment analysis; and the district court erred in its alternative ruling that every item of unlawfully seized evidence would have been inevitably discovered. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded for further proceedings. View "In re 650 Fifth Avenue and Related Properties" on Justia Law