Annotations 04/2008

(defendant has statutory authority to proceed with legalization of road – process of conducting a survey and issuing order to eliminate doubts as to road’s location and its lawful establishment as a county road; plaintiff’s request for injunction denied).

(sole member of LLC personally liable for payroll taxes; LLC was disregarded entity because owner failed to elect to have it treated as a corporation under the check-the-box regulations).

(Zoning Board’s approval of local Planning Board’s decision to grant master plan approval for cluster development of residential subdivision upheld; involves development of farmland which has been in the same family for over 300 years).

(plaintiff's pre-petition tax liabilities not dischargeable because plaintiff willfully attempted to evade or defeat payment of taxes). 

(deeds to property executed in 1967 that reserved a life estate, held to be valid even though deeds not recorded prior to death and subsequent will attempted to devise subject property to different person than grantees; will not offered for probate; deeds delivered to some of the grantees constituted constructive delivery to other; placement of deeds in safety deposit box to which grantor had no access showed grantor’s intent to divest self of title to property upon execution of deeds, thus transfers effective).

(creation of irrevocable trust by community spouse and funding part of trust with institutionalized spouse’s funds did not cease to make trust assets countable resources for purposes of institutionalized spouse’s Medicaid eligibility; trustee had discretion to make distributions to institutionalized spouse).

(case involves title dispute to farm property; decedent died intestate in 1995 owning 120-acre farm, but had executed power of attorney in 1978 concerning the farm; decedent added agent (decedent’s caretaker) as joint-tenant owner of farm in 1992 and agent added spouse as joint-tenant to farm later in 1992; decedent’s heirs challenge to POA fails because agent had power to “manage” the property just as the principal would; but heirs’ breach of fiduciary duty and undue influence claims remanded because trial court improperly ruled such claims barred by 3-year statute of limitations; actions involve attempt to quiet title and 15-year statute of limitations applies).

(party asserting ownership of property by adverse possession via prescriptive easement does not bear the burden of proving that use not with implied permission of true owner; trial court wrongly interpreted prior caselaw and case remanded to trial court for entry of appropriate judgment).

(contract dispute involving calculation of royalty payments under oil and gas leases; method used by defendants to calculate royalty payments proper).

(trial court’s decision ordering partition and sale of farm property rather than partition in-kind upheld where partition in-kind would greatly prejudice one owner; evidence demonstrated that property odd-shaped, portion of property much more productive, and farming operations would be much more difficult with partition in-kind).

(Medicaid case; state law disallowing otherwise available exclusions for assets from being deemed “available” assets for Medicaid eligibility purposes violates state Constitution’s equal protection clause; Medicaid applicant may use post-eligibility income to pay nursing home care expenses incurred before Medicaid eligibility achieved).

(innocent spouse relief under I.R.C. §6105 only available if joint return filed for year in question; while taxpayer faced joint liability under state community property law, plain language of I.R.C. §6105 provides relief only to spouses who file a joint return).

(Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ordered to reconsider its decision to allow construction of wind farm near site of new Las Vegas Airport; evidence indicated that turbines would interfere with airport radar systems and that FAA determination arbitrary and capricious).

(USDA decision to deny eligibility of tree-farm operation for Conservation Security Program is contrary to the evidence, arbitrary and capricious, and not entitled to deference; regulation defining, in part, eligible agricultural land as forest land if an incidental part of the agricultural operation could not be read so as to deny forest land from CSP eligibility in situations where the forest land is the agricultural operation itself).

(state partition statute vesting courts with equitable powers in partition actions does not include the power to order one party to buy out the other party’s share of jointly owned property; case remanded to determine whether personal property involved can be partitioned without great prejudice to the parties involved).

(U.S. Sup. Ct. decision in United States v. Atlantic Research Corp., 127 S. Ct. 2331 (2007) allowing private parties to recover environmental clean-up cost has overruled 9th Circuit’s prior opinion in Pinal Creek Group v. Newmont Mining Corp., 118 F.3d 1298 (9th Cir. 1997); potentially responsible parties under CERCLA may seek contribution and cost recovery from other potentially responsible parties).

(operation of equine facility on 6.4 acre tract began in 1973; zoning regulations revised in 1984 and use became nonconforming; property owner sought permission to construct 12,000 square foot indoor riding arena; such proposal held to constitute a change to defendant’s permitted use of the property requiring special permit to be filed and public hearing held).

(Illinois 10-year construction statute of repose applies to construction-related improvements to real property; coal mine is an improvement to real property, but defendant coal company sued in its capacity as owner of the mineral estate for negligent failure to provide adequate subjacent support; as such, coal company not protected by statute of repose and trial court’s grant of summary judgment reversed and case remanded).

(injury sustained by farm worker while grinding corn to feed farm owner’s cattle was incurred during scope of employment and was covered by farm owner’s liability policy that covered occurrences to “farm employees”; insurer had duty to defend and indemnify the insured). 

(defendant’s taking of easement via eminent domain for laying of telecommunication cable on farmland proper; defendant vested with discretion for determining necessity for taking of land for public purposes, and plaintiff failed to establish prerequisites for injunctive relief and lawful public purpose existed for taking).

(sawmill operation not “farming” for purposes of state ad valorem property tax exemption; however, yarding tractor used to harvest trees is exempt farm equipment).

(action involving cost-share agreement between government and plaintiff for implementing conservation practices in mushroom waste recycling facility; court affirmed dismissal of plaintiff's action seeking indemnification from government for costs incurred in defending and settling third party claims). 

(case involves dispute over defendant’s methods used to control deer population within city limits; ordinance banning deer feeding on private property upheld as well as trapping and relocation program). 

(debtor’s transfer of one-half interest in farmland to mother within five months of filing bankruptcy does not constitute actual fraud under11 U.S.C. §548(a)(1)(A), but is constructive fraud under 11 U.S.C. §548(a)(1) (B); debtor had interest in the land, voluntarily transferred it to his mother within a year of filing bankruptcy, received less that equivalent value for the deed and became insolvent as a result of the transfer; bankruptcy trustee entitled to sell the farmland to pay mother for her interest and also entitled to debtor’s share of CRP payments related to the farmland).

(tractor/dump truck collision case; while defendant negligent in causing collision, plaintiff contributorily negligent; issue of last clear chance should not have been submitted to jury due to lack of evidence that defendant had time and means to avoid the injury; trial court’s judgment reversed and defendant entitled to judgment).

(University of Minnesota entitled to refund of FICA taxes paid on medical residents’ stipends because payments qualify for student exclusion from FICA taxation; amended regulations disqualifying residents from the exclusion have been held invalid).