Annotations 07/2012

(contentious four-year family squabble over estate; trial court resolved issues and held hearing on attorney’s fee award; trial court granted fees without specifying reason for fees or that work benefitted estate; beneficiaries appealed; appellate court rejected argument that fees awarded were less than amount saved by estate ($9,024.75 for $9,080 savings); appellate court unable to determine any basis in record for granting award, so court unable to review; trial court’s order vacated and case remanded to trial court for new determination of attorney’s fees).

(defendant  (EPA) went beyond its statutory authority in issuing "Final Guidance" that ordered regional EPA offices to reject discharge permits for coal mining projects; SMCRA provides only limited role for EPA in reviewing state permitting programs for compliance with CWA water quality standards before approval by Interior Department; beginning with advent of Obama Administration, EPA instructed EPA field offices to deny permits for water discharges from coal mining projects not including conductivity tests measuring salinity of discharges and the water into which the discharge flowed with the result that a moratorium would be regulatorily placed on coal mining permits; such conduct amounted to usurpation of Secretary of Interior's and state's permitting authority under SMCRA; EPA's action was final agency action and was not justified by CWA; court noted that EPA free to change regulations through rulemaking process to require reasonable potential analysis before state issues permit, but could not accomplish same result by issuing final guidance which violated CWA). 

(plaintiff brought suit for compensatory and emotional distress damages after a neighbor’s dog grabbed and shook her Maltese Poodle causing its death while she watched; trial court awarded actual and intrinsic damages for the value of the “trained” dog, but dismissed her bystander claim because state law does not recognize a claim based on a relationship with a companion animal; appellate court held that it was sympathetic to the human/animal relationship, but held that the element requiring familial relationship for recovery of mental distress damages was sound and expanding scope of plaintiffs would not further public policy as statutes addressing dangerous dogs and other conduct are already applicable; also further expanding potential for bystander liability for personal property would open the door to claims for attachments to other inanimate forms of property, such as heirlooms and gifts; judgment affirmed). 

(petitioners, married couple, contributed permanent conservation easement in historic preservation facade on NYC townhouse that is designated as certified historic structure; appraiser estimated pre-easement value of property at $2.6 million and that easement reduced value by $290,000; IRS disallowed charitable contribution deduction for petitioner's failure to establish easement's value on basis that appraisal not qualified appraisal for lacking a valuation method; market data approach used to determine "before" value, but appraiser could not "properly estimate" resulting loss in value due to lack of data for comparable properties; Tax Court initially upheld IRS disallowance on basis that appraisal did not include specific basis for value under Treas. Reg. Sec. 1.170A-13; petitioners already barred from altering property under NYC law without approval from Landmarks Preservation Commission; after Tax Court's decision Second Circuit (in Scheidelman v. Comr., 682 F.3d 189 (2d Cir. 2012)) reversed Tax Court decision in similar case by holding that regulation at issue only requires that appraiser identify valuation method used and does not require such method to be reliable; on motion for reconsideration and vacation, Tax Court determines that portion of prior opinion based on Tax Court's opinion in case that was later reversed by Second Circuit should be vacated; opinion not vacated in full because taxpayer's appraisal no qualified even under the Second Circuit's view of the qualified appraisal regulation; appraisal defective do not allow IRS sufficient information to evaluate deductions claimed; whether taxpayers acted with reasonable cause to be determined at trial).

(Chapter 7 debtor was beneficiary of revocable trusts established by her parents; both trusts had spendthrift provisions; debtor’s mother died within 180 days post-petition; trustee argued debtor’s interest under trusts is property of bankruptcy estate; court held, under state law, trusts were valid inter vivos trusts enforceable according to their terms, so debtor’s beneficial interest was presumptively part of the bankruptcy estate subject to exclusion because of  spendthrift provision; court disagreed that debtor’s ability to withdraw assets automatically made trust part of bankruptcy estate because a determination of debtor’s rights and spendthrift provision is determined at time petition is filed; in this case, debtor’s mother was still alive when petition filed, so debtor had no present right to assets or income of either trust at that time; court also disagreed that mother’s death within 180 days of petition filing made bequest part of  bankruptcy estate; court held that non-testamentary inter vivos trust is not a “bequest” devise” or “inheritance” under the statute, so it did not defeat exclusion of asset by spendthrift provision; court did advise trustee he could file separate motion for specific relief due to debtor’s failure to disclose beneficial interest and lack of explanation for omission).

(petitioner developed software and licensed it to two companies that he had significant ownership interests in; companies developed cash-flow problems and petitioner transferred funds from his IRA to the companies; ultimately, petitioner demanded repayment, but companies could not repay and petitioner reported a bad debt deduction; court held that loan non-business bad debt because petitioner interested in protecting investment in companies rather than protect salary). 

(defendant obtained an oil and gas lease from property owners; defendant had a title opinion done for a previous lease on the tract that showed a recorded release of the rights; defendant required a second release recorded; defendant assigned his rights to plaintiff; plaintiff appeared on the tract to commence drilling and was told by landowner there may be an adverse drilling lease; plaintiff was told by the prior lessee that the release was a mistake, so plaintiff abandoned its drilling and filed suit against defendant claiming a breach of warranty of title; defendant filed summary judgment which was denied; after a trial, the court ordered damages against defendant for expenses in commencement of drilling; defendant appealed the denial of his summary judgment; appellate court held that summary judgment should have been granted as plaintiff failed to respond with more than general denials of undisputed facts; specifically court held that state law requires actual lawful claims be brought against deed holder before any claim for breach of warranty applies; in this case, plaintiff merely stopped drilling and vacated without actual claim of superior right, plaintiff failed to present any specific facts to controvert recorded releases of prior lease or production history showing lack of continued production resulting in termination of lease regardless of release, so appellate court held trial court erred in failing to grant summary judgment and reverse and remanded).

(son offered to purchase one specific trust property from his parents for agreed upon price as stated within one of the trusts and retention of life estates for parents and a sibling; deed prepared by son included purchase of all trust property for purchase price and severely limited life estates; parents signed deed without recognizing they were selling all of their properties; son began to treat parents poorly and invoked severe restrictions on their use of the property; parents filed suit for rescission of deed and constructive fraud and for damages caused to tractor by son; son brought counter-claim seeking forfeiture of life estate by sibling for failure to pay property taxes or insurance, conditions contained within deed but not conveyed to sibling; after hearing, trial court ordered rescission of deed based on breach of trust; appellate court reversed because trust stated son could purchase one of the properties for the agreed upon price so there was no breach of trust and remanded for entry in favor of son on deed; on remand, court held no constructive fraud occurred, no damages for tractor because it was in parents’ possession and no credible evidence of damages presented, and ordered damages to be paid to son by sibling for taxes and insurance, but would not forfeit life estate; parents appealed and son cross-appealed; appellate court held law of case was that no constructive fraud occurred so no review of that claim; court upheld denial of damages for tractor; court determined forfeiture would not be equitable especially considering the lack of notice of conditions and the fact damages had already been awarded).

(rancher brought suit under federal Quiet Title Act seeking easement rights over county roads leading to Yosemite Valley floor by virtue of status as abutting landowner under state law; district court dismissed claim because county’s claim for ownership of road was dismissed in previous ruling, which was not appealed, so it became final judgment; because rancher’s claim was based solely on county’s ownership, rancher had no claim or easement to road; any damage from loss of easement must be sought against county; further Homestead Act did not save claim as rancher had no specific claim to easement and all common law implied easement claims were extinguished by public grant; appellate court affirmed dismissal with prejudice; concurrence argued no claim existed for rancher separate from public access rights, which are not sufficient to bring claim under Quiet Title Act).

(son offered to purchase one specific trust property from his parents for agreed upon price as stated within one of the trusts and retention of life estates for parents and a sibling; deed prepared by son included purchase of all trust property for purchase price and severely limited life estates; parents signed deed without recognizing they were selling all of their properties; son began to treat parents poorly and invoked severe restrictions on their use of the property; parents filed suit for rescission of deed and constructive fraud and for damages caused to tractor by son; son brought counter-claim seeking forfeiture of life estate by sibling for failure to pay property taxes or insurance, conditions contained within deed but not conveyed to sibling; after hearing, trial court ordered rescission of deed based on breach of trust; appellate court reversed because trust stated son could purchase one of the properties for the agreed upon price so there was no breach of trust and remanded for entry in favor of son on deed; on remand, court held no constructive fraud occurred, no damages for tractor because it was in parents’ possession and no credible evidence of damages presented, and ordered damages to be paid to son by sibling for taxes and insurance, but would not forfeit life estate; parents appealed and son cross-appealed; appellate court held law of case was that no constructive fraud occurred so no review of that claim; court upheld denial of damages for tractor; court determined forfeiture would not be equitable especially considering the lack of notice of conditions and the fact damages had already been awarded).

(PA Supreme Court held that provisions of PA Oil and Gas Act (a.k.a. Act 13) that preempted local regulation of oil and natural gas drilling unconstitutional based on provision in PA Constitution  (Environmental Rights Amendment) imposing limitation on legislature's ability to limit local governments' ability to protect local citizens; Court determined that local officials have constitutional authority to protect residents from impacts of drilling). 

(wage and hour dispute in which plaintiff, who was employed at defendant’s hatchery, alleged he was entitled to overtime under Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA); on competing summary judgment motions, court decided issue of whether hatchery’s occasional use of fertilized eggs from outside sources defeated hatchery’s agricultural exemption; FLSA provides that hatchery engaged solely in procuring eggs for hatching and selling chicks is agriculture; court held this was primary agricultural activity for which no “regularity” standard applied, so the use of fertilized eggs from other operations was irrelevant under the statutory definition of "agricultural employee"; summary judgment granted for hatchery and plaintiff’s claims dismissed with prejudice).

(by a 4-3 majority, court overturned portions of new PA law that regulates Marcellus Shale development on basis the offending portions that gave the state decisionmaking authority over local drilling decisions violated constitutional due process requirements and impermissibly gave PA Dept. of Environmental Protection power to make legislative policy judgments; court noted that 150 unconventional wells had been drilled inside boundaries of several municipalities and portions of law prevented local governments from taking action to protect health and safety of citizens, and required localities to amend existing zoning laws; distinctions in law that treated oil and gas differently from other extraction industries constitutional because distinction based on legitimate differences that justified different zoning classifications).

(plaintiff brought post-judgment motion to enforce earlier ruling granting her easement over property of two individuals to access her 15 acre farm; motion contained rambling complaints against prior parties, including claims against the city, which had been dismissed previously, and non-parties; trial court had dismissed entire motion; on appeal, court held that claims against non-parties to earlier action were properly dismissed; claims against the city were properly dismissed; case remanded for a hearing on claims regarding improper signage and intimidation of plaintiff blocking access to easement; court advised plaintiff that claims against nonparties for damage to her car, abuse of process, and other threats could be brought in separate tort action).

(court reverses lower court takings award worth millions of dollars; plaintiff, during life, had acquired Nevada ranch in 1978 and received permission from USFS and BLM to use 752,000 acres of adjoining federal land to graze cattle; takings case filed in 1991 and lower court determined that government took plaintiff's water rights by fencing off springs and streams and barring streambed maintenance; lack of evidence that government's actions barred plaintiff from using water for cattle and plaintiff lacked ownership interest in range improvements). 

(in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, creditors claimed security interest in debtor’s 1,000,000 Christmas trees on mortgaged land; state law requires only enough information to enable third party to locate where collateral is growing; only crops grown on land were Christmas trees; both security agreements included “trees” and “permanent plantings” within their description; court held security agreements sufficiently identified Christmas trees and their proceeds as collateral because descriptions were enough to put a third party on notice).

(petitioner inherited IRA from her mother and rolled the funds into her own IRS within 60 days; rollover triggers income because petitioner was not spouse of decedent and no trustee-to-trustee transfer occurred; no substantial compliance allowed because I.R.C. Sec. 408(d)(3)(C) expressly denies rollover treatment to inherited IRA).

(plaintiffs were successors in title to land with oil and gas rights that defendant also claimed rights to; mineral rights determined to be insulated from Federal Farm Loan Act of 1916 five-year limitation and U.S. Supreme Court had also construed 6 C.F.R. Sec. 10.64 as giving blanket permission to Federal Land Banks to hold mineral rights more than five years; defendant's motion to dismiss granted). 

(petitioner, Schedule C taxpayer with aerial photography business began selling light aircraft and reported the expenses of that activity also on the Schedule C with a reported combined loss of approximately $90,000 and only $10,000 of income; losses not deductible because light aircraft sale business in start-up phase during tax year in issue - $5,000 deduction with excess costs amortized over 15 years).

(taxpayers, married couple, not entitled to casualty loss deduction for water damage to home; taxpayers did not prove amount of damage claimed; penalties applicable because failure taxpayer's negligently failed to maintain records or substantiate claims).

(appeal of granting of summary judgment finding defendant’s automobile accident was not proximate cause of second accident in which decedent was killed; on review, court found important that second accident occurred 2.5 hours after defendant’s accident and three miles away; decedent was determined to be “at-fault” for second accident due to following too closely; many other drivers were able to come to a complete stop without incident prior to decedent’s accident; decedent driver was intervening force and cause of his accident; trial court opinion affirmed).

(Chapter 11 case; debtors lived on 11 acres on which they also raised livestock and operated trucking business; livestock sold and trucking business still operated at time petition filed; debtors' proposed plan included reduction in interest rate on mortgage on acreage from 7.5 percent to 5 percent and longer payoff date; plan not confirmable because acreage contained debtors' principal residence and creditor (bank) claim only secured by mortgage on acreage (under 11 U.S.C. Sec. 1123(b)(5) specifies that under such situation, plan cannot modify creditor's rights; fact that debtors operated business on property had no impact on creditor's rights). 

(petitioners, married couple, could not exclude CODI associated with credit card debt; no proof of insolvency or evidence of vale of assets before discharge). 

(court granted motion to dismiss portion of plaintiffs’ lawsuit for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted; plaintiffs paid a lot of money to hunt and kill an endangered goat in Middle Eastern countries; plaintiffs consider their actions “conservation” because local tribal leaders prevent others from killing the animals due to the money to be made from willing hunters; despite their “conservation” contribution, plaintiffs were unable to bring their animal carcass “trophies” of endangered animals into the United States; plaintiffs brought an action alleging United States Fish and Wildlife Service’s failure to perform a five-year status review of the goats; deprivation of their due process rights; and violations of federal statute; plaintiffs acknowledge these claims are no longer at issue, but refused to remove them from their pleadings; district court ordered removal of claims in plaintiffs’ amended complaint).

(Chapter 7 case; debtor's wife died and debtor entered into family settlement agreement with remaining heirs which left cattle ranch to heirs, subject to debtor retaining right to use profit from land and cattle for personal living expenses; after debtor failed to pay creditor for hay, creditor awarded judgment; debtor filed bankruptcy petition and trustee claimed that probate estate and others owed debtor funds for cattle-related expenses and for land rent; bankruptcy court rejected trustee's claim for unjust enrichment under 11 U.S.C. Sec. 542(a) because such claim beyond statute's scope; 11 U.S.C. 542(a) also required that probate estate have present possession, custody or control or property that trustee sought recovery for, and possible possession at end of debtor's life estate did not satisfy statute). 

(horsebreeding activity not engaged in with requisite profit intent - losses deductible only to extent of income from activity; but rent payment to S corporation owned by petitioner's sons were deductible).

(self-generated, handwritten records insufficient to substantiate I.R.C. Sec. 162 deductions; accuracy-related penalty imposed). 

(LLC members had to recognize distributive share of capital gain income from sale of partnership accounts and customer lists in accordance with partnership agreement; partner whose partner status terminated in year before sale still entitled to proceeds in liquidation of partnership interest and he remained partner for tax purposes until interest completely liquidated). 

(plaintiffs, meat industry representatives, challenged EPA regulation that exempts ethanol plants where construction commenced on or before Dec. 19, 2007, from requirement that ethanol, to be considered a "renewable" fuel be produced from a plant that achieves at least a 20 percent reduction in "greenhouse gas" emissions; exemption part of governmental mandate requiring transportation fuel sold in U.S. to contain specified levels of ethanol; plaintiffs challenge rule on basis that it was ambiguous as to whether plants deemed to be in compliance for only 2008 and 2009 or indefinitely; EPA adopted latter interpretation; plaintiffs claim that such interpretation inconsistent with statutory text of Energy Independence Act of 2007 and base standing on basis that more ethanol production will occur under such interpretation than otherwise which will lead to higher corn prices and cause injury to plaintiffs; standing not established because, in court's view, plaintiffs failed to show "substantial probability" that qualifying ethanol plants would reduce their ethanol production as a result of adoption of other interpretation of regulation).

(law firm awarded state court judgment against debtor in 2000; non-party bank received federal court default judgment against same debtor in 2001; both judgments properly recorded; bank promptly sought sheriff’s sale of property; property sold and redeemed; ten years later law firm sought sheriff’s sale of same property; landowners who redeemed property in bank action sought stay of sheriff’s sale in district court in which law firm’s judgment was entered pending outcome of quiet title action in district court in which real property is located; district court denied stay of sheriff’s sale finding landowners lacked standing and denied their motion to intervene in law firm’s lawsuit; landowners appealed; appellate court held landowners did have standing because as owners of property they have a protectable interest in the property that must be heard before a judicial ruling clouds their title; appellate court also held district court abused its discretion by failing to stay proceedings until quiet title matter resolved; of particular concern to court was law firm’s unexplained ten year delay in seeking to execute).

(defendant did not act arbitrarily and capriciously under Clean Air Act in setting one-hour concentration of sulfur dioxide at no more than 100 parts per billion even though such standard based on unpublished, nonpeer-reviewed study and where defendant ignored published, peer-reviewed study suggesting that lower standard would pose no harm to human health; decision whether to utilize only peer-reviewed studies at discretion of defendant and defendant explained that study submitted too late in rulemaking process to be evaluated; challenge to rulemaking procedure not within court's jurisdiction and is dismissed).

(mint farm signed promissory note to plaintiff; note unpaid and plaintiff accelerated entire outstanding balance, which also was unpaid; plaintiff brought suit to recover balance and interest according to terms of note; trial court granted summary judgment to plaintiff and awarded principal of note plus 12 percent interest from 2008 and attorney fees; mint farm appealed and argued a question of fact existed that it qualified for business compulsion (duress) defense; court disagreed and held pressure was not placed on mint farm by plaintiff, but rather existed because mint farm needed to address its indebtedness, so summary judgment affirmed; court also affirmed award of attorney fees as promissory note provided for payment of attorney fees).

(plaintiff filed suit alleging various theories of recovery for damages to plaintiff’s ranch by hunters who paid a fee for permission to be on land; original petition dismissed for pleading deficiencies; amended petitions filed as well as reconsideration of order on pleadings sufficiency; court ordered hearing regarding lack of prosecution of case, of which neither plaintiff nor his attorney claimed to receive notice; case was dismissed; plaintiff appealed; appellate court held notice by mail was sufficient and statement regarding possibility of dismissal for failing to appear was valid; appellate court affirmed dismissal).

(Tax Court's partial summary judgment to respondent affirmed on reconsideration- contribution of facade easement did not comply with the enforceability-in-perpetuity requirements of Treas. Reg. Sec. 1.170A-14(g)(6); cash payments to charity that accepted facade easement remained conditional at end of 2003 and are not deductible, but cash payments made in 2004 are deductible; facade easement not protected in perpetuity because donee organization not guaranteed proportionate share of proceeds in event of casualty or condemnation as required by Treas. Reg. Sec. 1.170A-14(g)(6)(ii); accuracy-related penalty applicable for deduction of cash payments in 2003; on appeal, appellate court vacated on basis that interpretation of regulation at issue by IRS and Tax Court was unreasonable and inconsistent with Congressional intent; while lender retained priority to insurance proceeds, petitioner had no power to make lender give up such protections; tax liens could potentially trump donee's right to funds upon extinguishment of easement and, thus, regulation's reference to "entitled" cannot be reasonable construed to give donor an absolute right to any proceeds; court's opinion now calls into question Tax Court opinions in Wall v. Comr., T.C. Memo. 2012-169 and 1982 East, LLC v. Comr., T.C. Memo. 2011-84).

(new law lists what an agent acting under a duly executed power of attorney can do on the principal's behalf; specified actions include preparing, signing, and filing tax returns at the federal and state level and taking all other tax actions necessary on behalf of the principal). 

(tax deficiency in amount of $2,719 discovered against inventor of backwashing device for use in showers; inventor sought to include additional Schedule C manufacturing losses in amended return, including additional costs for his vehicle, office costs, supplies, and deductible meals; court allowed additional substantiated losses in amount of $2,946; section 179 depreciation expenses not allowed because election untimely; increased cell phone costs not allowed to account for personal use and depreciation for company truck  not substantiated because no basis provided or prior depreciation amount taken).

(defendants attempted to sell property consisting of 314 acres, buildings, and a home in South Dakota through a two-step auction process; two highest bidders after closed bidding came to make final bids at attorney’s office; defendants sought to assign a high portion of purchase price to value of home to avoid capital gains taxes; plaintiffs objected to amount assigned in draft purchase agreement and were told it could be negotiated; after placing highest bid, agreement could not be reached on value of home and when negotiations fell apart plaintiffs canceled transfer of all earnest money; plaintiffs brought suit for specific performance of contract; defendants sought summary judgment; court held plaintiffs claim for partial performance was denied as no performance occurred by them when earnest money transaction canceled by plaintiffs; summary judgment denied as to whether sufficient terms were agreed to in auction setting to defeat statute of frauds; court also unable to determine whether allocation of price of home was essential term upon which to agree in order to establish binding contract for sale).

(state attorney general claimed that defendant's regulations of intensive animal agriculture were preempted by state law; regulation at issue regulated land uses involving "intensive animal agriculture" and applies to larger-scale operations and CAFOs; ordinance at issue required landowner to satisfy bond or insurance requirement, setback requirements and minimum lot size and adopts state Nutrient Management act (NMA); court determined that ordinance not preempted by NMA due to manner in which issue pleaded; site-plan requirement of ordinance did not violate NMA due to no conflict; ordinance did violate NMA as to requirement of odor management plan because it was in excess of NMA requirements; set-back requirements invalidated as more restrictive than NMA; water management portion of ordinance invalidated as conflicting with state Water Resources Planning Act; court could not determine if ordinance preempted by state Ag Area Security Law for lack of present application; ordinance did not violate state right-to-farm law because ordinance simply defines permissible land uses while the right-to-farm law would bar defendnat from declaring certain farming operations a nuisance).

(Chapter 13 case; post-petition tax refunds are generally to be treated as projected disposable income subject to debtor's Chapter 13 plan; no exceptional circumstances present that made it known that it was a certainty that refund would or would not be received). 

 (Tax Court held that taxpayer's information technology consulting company (conducted in her home in West Des Moines, Iowa) determined to not be a qualified personal service corporation, and taxpayer's cat breeding activity not conducted as a trade or business resulting in non-deductible expenses; Tax Court made numerous other findings: taxpayer's business cannot deduct under I.R.C. Sec. 162(a) amounts related to cat-breeding activity that were treated as reimbursements to taxpayer and her personal partner as well as amounts paid for taxes and licenses, and such amounts must be included in gross income as constructive dividends; Tax Court determined that taxpayer cannot deduct amounts for home mortgage interest and real estate taxes, and that taxpayer's corporation cannot deduct amounts paid into investment fund maintained for the business; Tax Court disallowed any deduction allowed for premium amounts paid on account of health insurance policy purchased for taxpayer; on appeal, 8th Circuit determined that Tax Court had properly assessed deficiencies and penalties insomuch as cat-breeding activity operational costs were not legitimate trade or business expenses; funds spent by company to operate cat-breeding activity were taxable to taxpayer as constructive dividend and funds spent by business for taxpayer's health insurance not deductible or excludible by taxpayer because arrangement not health insurance plan; but, company can deduct contributions to profit-sharing plan for particular years insomuch as such contributions did not constitute constructive dividends).

(petitioner, construction worker, not entitled to deduct costs of $23,121 of $23,802 of claimed costs associated with traveling to five temporary work sites; evidence failed to establish that any of temporary work sites was outside Cincinnati metro area (petitioner's primary work area), and petitioner failed to prove that his residence was principal place of business or that petitioner maintained office in the home).

(cattle owner sued feedlot owner after large number of cattle died from Rumensin poisoning; feedlot owner submitted complaint to insurer; insurance company denied coverage under “care, custody, or control” exclusion; policy also had “custom feeding endorsement”; district court granted summary judgment finding custom feeding endorsement superseded exclusion; on appeal court held Minnesota court had determined same policy and found endorsement did not apply to situations in which insured suffered loss versus third party damages; relying on Minnesota decision, appellate court held no coverage existed and reversed; case remanded for entry of summary judgment in favor of insurance company).

(petitioners, via their LLC, donated permanent conservation easement on approximately 1,700 acres of LLC land to Wetlands America Trust (WAT) (a tax-exempt organization founded in 1985 to expand mission of Ducks Unlimited); deed transferring property specified that "both parties have as a common purpose the conservation and protection in perpetuity of the property as a relatively natural habitat under Code Sec. 170(h)(4)(A)(ii) and regs"; deed also specified that the transfer granted to WAT affirmative rights for the protection of the protected property and was intended to be a "qualified conservation contribution" under I.R.C. Sec. 170(h)(2)(C); deed also recited that LLC freely and unconditionally donated to WAT, and its successors and assigns, the easement over the protected property, which was to run with the land and protect the property in perpetuity; WAT did not send donor acknowledgement letters to LLC members (the LLC passed the donation through to the members), but letters not necessary because deed contained recitations of property's conservation value, specified that there were no other values involved, stated that the gift was unconditional, and stated that the deed was the entire agreement between the parties regarding the conservation easement; deed satisfied I.R.C. Sec. 170(f)(8) substantiation requirement).

(80-acre parcel held in joint tenancy with rights of survivorship between two cousins; shortly before his death, cousin quitclaimed property to himself in attempt to sever joint tenancy; deed given to attorney for recordation; attorney mailed deed to county recorder’s office; cousin died one day before deed received and recorded; trial court decided on summary judgment that quitclaiming deed self sufficient to sever joint tenancy and delivery to attorney for recordation was valid delivery; appellate court affirmed holding effective delivery of quitclaim deed by joint tenant to himself, when there are only two joint tenants, severs survivorship and creates tenancy in common; deed was effective upon delivery to self, so actual recording after death did not bar conveyance).

(tenant-in-common to property partitioned was also owner of adjacent property; no legal filings were made in partition action other than estate; after buyer had survey done indicating fence was not located properly, adjacent owner filed action to quiet title to disputed strip through adverse possession and boundary by agreement; summary judgment filed and court held for buyer finding adjacent owner who did not bring direct appeal challenging property description could not bring collateral action to partition action for description of property; adjacent owner appealed; decision affirmed by court of appeals and Supreme Court).

(plaintiffs brought suit for injuries caused by a hitching rail that fell on plaintiff’s foot after two horses became agitated while strapped to the rail; defendant’s filed summary judgment motion claiming state equine immunity law shielded it from liability; trial court agreed and plaintiff appealed; plaintiff argued a falling rail was not an “inherent risk of equine activities”; but the appellate court disagreed that the equine act did not protect all activities involving horses; plaintiff also argued the rail was defectively constructed, so the claim was outside the equine act; court held no evidence presented showed any knowledge of a latent defect; the trial court’s order was affirmed).

(township enacted ordinance prohibiting land application of sewage sludge by corporations and regulating application by individuals; state attorney general brought petition for judicial review of ordinance as violating state agricultural code, which preempted local authority; township sought summary judgment in action; court denied motion holding agricultural code did not violate state constitution because local government authority not protected in constitution, attorney general could bring action under code without affected complainant, and community’s bill of rights were essentially same as ordinance challenged, so could be nullified).

(information memorandum issued by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; memo details that traditional Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) mandatory work requirements contained in Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 that must be satisfied before TANF welfare benefits can be received can be waived or overridden by so-called Sec. 1115 waiver authority under the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. Sec. 1315); memo takes position contrary to 2001 Congressional Research Service Report that work requirements in TANF cannot be waived because they are not specifically listed in Sec. 1115 of Social Security Act and the Congress included only one of 35 sections of TANF as waivable which does not include the work requirements). 

(petitioners, married couple, not entitled to Sec. 162 business expense deductions for expenses associated with publications purchased as supposedly necessary to husband's work at university; lack of substantiation). 

(limited partnership and affiliate sought to acquire same property via reverse like-kind exchange; party successful in completing exchange eligible for deferral under Sec. 1031 even though both parties used same exchange accommodation titleholder).