Annotations 12/2013

(petitioner not in trade or business of being book author for year in issue; no deductions allowed for related expenses under I.R.C. Sec. 162; petitioner was full-time employee of Intel  and took four-month sabbatical to travel various parts of the world; petitioner took many pictures and made notes with intent to write book about trip, but had no experience writing or publishing books; while petitioner did have business plan and kept detailed journal and had profit intent, he had other full-time employment and had no intent to keep writing; no book income reported for year in issue; accuracy-related penalty not imposed because petitioner had good faith reliance on tax advisor with 36 years' experience). 

(plaintiffs alleged that the fence line between their property and defendants’ property was not the actual boundary line; plaintiffs filed a quiet title action asserting that they owned fifteen feet of property north of the fence; in support of their claim, plaintiffs submitted an affidavit from their attorney setting forth evidence of a survey conducted by a professional land surveyor; the district court entered summary judgment in favor of defendants, finding that the evidence supporting the plaintiffs’ alleged boundary line lacked a proper foundation; in a motion for reconsideration, the plaintiffs submitted the affidavit of the surveyor himself; the trial court denied the motion, finding that the surveyor’s affidavit was not new evidence since it was known by the plaintiffs before  the court considering the matter and that the affidavit was not timely submitted under the trial court’s scheduling order; plaintiffs appealed only the trial court’s finding that the affidavit was not new evidence; in affirming the judgment, the Idaho Supreme Court ruled that it could not consider the plaintiffs’ challenge to the judgment because the judgment would nonetheless stand on the independent, unchallenged basis that the affidavit was untimely submitted). 

(defendant, a farmer, hired plaintiff, a fertilizer company, to apply fertilizer and herbicide to three of his corn fields; at harvest, the corn in one half of a field upon which the chemicals had been applied was “damaged and stunted”; the damage was seen in a straight line through the field; the fertilizer company billed the farmer more than the amount estimated in the booking sheets; when the farmer refused to pay the remaining balance to the fertilizer company, the company sued the farmer, seeking the unpaid balance; the district court determined that the farmer owed the company $2,274, the amount owing under the booking sheets, but that the company owed the farmer $23,520 in damages for the negligent application of chemicals; on appeal, the court affirmed the determination of negligence, finding that the farmer had produced credible evidence that the negligent application of chemicals was the cause of the damage to the farmer’s corn; the court modified the amount owing to the company by the farmer to $5,098, finding that the amount of product in the booking sheets was understood by both parties to be an estimate and that the farmer was required to pay for the actual amount of chemical that the company applied to his fields).

(in 2005, plaintiffs leased the mineral rights in their property to defendants’ predecessor; one defendant had obtained all of the approvals necessary to commence drilling and had engaged in actual on-site construction activity preparatory to drilling before the expiration of the primary lease terms; actual drilling, however, did not begin until six days after the expiration of the primary lease term; plaintiffs sought judgment declaring that the leases had been extinguished and monetary damages for the wrongful extraction of oil and gas; defendants alleged that the development activity that took place before the end of the primary terms, followed by the drilling and ultimate completion of the well, were sufficient to extend the leases under the “engaged in drilling or re-working operations” language in the habendum clause; relying on Anderson v. Hess Corp., 733 F. Supp. 2d 1100 (D.N.D. 2010), aff'd, 649 F.3d 891 (8th Cir. 2011), the court agreed; the material facts in the cases were materially indistinguishable; “drilling operations” was a more expansive term than “drilling”;  it encompassed the pre-drilling activities in which the defendant had engaged, thereby extending the leases).

(in an antitrust class action brought on behalf of dairy farmers against milk cooperatives and processors, defendants asked the court  to exclude various opinions of plaintiffs' expert witness, arguing that the testimony was inadmissible under Fed. R. Evid. 702 and Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharms. Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 113 S. Ct. 2786, 125 L. Ed. 2d 469 (1993); the court granted in part and denied in part defendants’ motion, ruling first that the expert could offer opinions regarding the relevant geographic market, even if those opinions conflicted in part with plaintiffs’ alleged geographic market; the court excluded the expert’s testimony regarding his significant non-transitory increase in price (SSNIP) tests, finding that they would offer the jury confusing and contradictory opinions that appear "scientific" but yield no reliable conclusions; the court found that the expert could “opine” regarding the identity of co-conspirators and their economic incentives to participate, but he could not offer opinions about "passive conspirators" in an apparent attempt to expand the participants in the alleged conspiracy without actually testifying regarding an actual agreement to conspire; finally, the court excluded the expert’s use of the “Boston base blend price” when testifying as to damages).

(plaintiff class, current and former adult entertainers at defendant nightclub, claimed employee status (rather than independent contractor status) under Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) so as to be entitled to minimum wages and overtime compensation; court held that plaintiffs were "employees" under FLSA based on multiple factors - defendant exercised great degree of control over plaintiffs including standards for work "attire" and conduct on stage and that DJ would select music that would be performed to, and rules were enforced; no equal sharing of profit and loss opportunities - club bore overhead costs and both risk of loss and potential for profit greater for defendant; defendant invested more than plaintiffs on personnel and equipment; plaintiffs required little skill and no formal training required - court noted that, "Taking your clothes off on a nightclub stage and dancing provocatively are not the kinds of special skills that suggest independent contractor status"; plaintiffs' services were integral part of defendant's business; transient nature of workforce insufficient to invalidate employee status under FLSA).

(an owner of agricultural property, including hog buildings and a utility shed, challenged a decision from the Indiana Board of Tax Review, which upheld the county official’s assessment of his property at $274,500, rather than the $218,262 assessed amount he claimed; on review, the court affirmed, finding that the Board’s determination was based upon substantial evidence and consistent with  the law; it was not error to find that the taxpayer’s evidence under an allocation approach, a cost approach, an income approach, and a market data approach lacked probative value).

(the plaintiff sued a cantaloupe grower, grocers, an auditing company, and others, seeking damages for injuries he suffered after eating a cantaloupe contaminated by listeria; before the listeria outbreak, the grower had contracted with the auditing company to provide auditing services related to its food safety practices; plaintiff alleged that the auditing company was negligent in issuing the grower a “superior” rating, thereby failing to prevent the alleged failures that led to the outbreak; in granting the auditing company’s motion to dismiss, the court ruled that the auditing company owed no duty to the plaintiff when it conducted its safety audit; plaintiff’s allegations were insufficient to establish that his injuries were the foreseeable result of a negligent audit; the connection between the audit and plaintiff’s illness one month later was too remote in time and circumstance; plaintiff was not a third-party beneficiary to the auditing contract because he did not establish that the performance of the contract was expressly for his benefit; plaintiff also failed to show a causal connection between the allegedly negligent audit and his injury).

(petitioner, based on facts involved, not considered "payee" or "distribute" of IRA under I.R.C. Sec. 408(d)(1) and need not include in gross income distributed amounts and not liable for penalty tax on early distributions under I.R.C. Sec. 72(t); petitioners former spouse submitted false withdrawal requests and forged petitioner's signature on distribution checks and deposited checks in joint account that petitioner did not use and that former spouse used for personal benefit).

(petitioner, IRS agent, claimed FTHBC of $7,500 via I.R.C. Sec. 36 on new home purchased with girlfriend even though, at time of purchase, petitioner, owned interest in condominium; condo purchased in 2005, but petitioner moved out of condo in 2005 an moved in with girlfriend and allowed girlfriend's sister to live in condo rent-free; new home purchased in 2008; on loan application, petitioner listed condo address as current address and claimed mortgage interest and real estate taxes on 2006 Form 1040; IRS denied FTHBC because petitioner used condo as principal residence in prior three years; court disagreed with IRS based on fact that condo hadn't been petitioner's principal residence since mid-2005 and petitioner satisfied requirement of not owning home in prior three years). 

(petitioner, personal service corporation of physician, not allowed business deductions for vacation home costs that was leased to physician for hunting purposes; home deemed an entertainment facility and expenses non-deductible under I.R.C. Sec. 274; other hunting-related hunting expenses also disallowed because not related to business of corporation; other purported business expenses not allowed for lack of business purpose; Sec. 179 deduction disallowed for vehicle used on hunting trips, but could be depreciated for single month it was in service). 

(plaintiff purchased his property in 1976; defendant purchased his adjoining property at a public auction in November of 2003; defendant recorded his deed on January 9, 2004, which contained an improper description stemming from a mistaken land survey; on January 5, 2011, plaintiff filed an action asserting that defendant’s tract encroached upon his property and that he was entitled to recover the profits attributable to the disputed three-acre tract; defendant asserted the defenses of laches and adverse possession; the trial court entered judgment in favor of plaintiff in the amount of $2,628, finding that the disputed area was contained within plaintiff’s tract and that defendant had failed to prove adverse possession or tacking; on appeal, the court affirmed; defendant could not assert adverse possession under color of title because he filed his deed within the seven-year statutory period for adverse possession under Tenn. Code Ann. § 28-2-102; the trial court’s credibility determinations regarding the finding that defendant did not exercise possession of the disputed property before  recording his deed were entitled to weight; defendant failed to prove gross laches because he was aware that the boundary line was disputed when he purchased the property).

(petitioners, a married couple, operated cutting horse training business including breeding activities intended to produce horses that could compete in for-pay events; losses sustained in first five years and trainers quit; business emphasis shifted to breeding rather than training; written business plan utilized and records maintained and operation conducted in business-like manner; cumulative losses exceeding $8 million sustained from 1996-2008 ($3 million of which occurred in 2006-2008); IRS took position that losses not deductible on basis that activity was a hobby, resulting in tax liability of $1.2 million for 2006-2008 and additional 20 percent penalty; court agreed with IRS determination primarily on basis of history of sustained losses; while business conducted in business-like manner, no experts consulted, substantial personal and recreational aspects of activity present, expectation of appreciation related to investment nature and not business activity, no history of success in similar ventures).

(each ruling involves treatment of GSTT trust for 2010 decedent where estate executor elected out of estate tax; rulings are identical and each likely involves identical trust for each of decedent's three grandchildren; decedent allocated portion of annuity to trust with payout over term tied to decedent's life expectancy at time of death; trust called for current distribution of payments to beneficiary, and if beneficiary did not survive term, remainder to be distributed to beneficiary's descendants or, if none, to siblings; trustee had invasion power over principal in accordance with ascertainable standard; executor elected out of estate tax by filing Form 8939; death-time basis allocated among assets and unused GSTT exemption allocated to other trusts, but not to any of the GSTT trusts such that resulting inclusion ration was 1; IRS determined that transfer to trust was direct skip, tax on direct skip was zero (because GSTT rate was zero), and distributions to beneficiary not a taxable distribution based on I.R.C. Sec. 2653(a); no taxable distributions or terminations unless beneficiary failed to survive annuity term).

(plaintiff, cotton grower, leased land from an irrigation district and then entered into an agreement with a farming company to plant and harvest cotton; the farming company  entered into a joint venture with a lender’s sister company to obtain financing; the plaintiff, irrigation district, and joint venture company then signed a subordination agreement granting the lender first priority in the cotton and proceeds thereof; after the cotton was harvested and sent to the processing company, the plaintiff, lender and joint venture company all claimed an interest in the proceeds; the processing company filed an interpleader action, and the trial court ordered the release of the funds to the lender; plaintiff appealed, and the court affirmed, finding that the lender was not required to file a claim in the interpleader action to get relief and that the security agreement was enforceable, even though the plaintiff did not sign it because the plaintiff had executed the subordination agreement that granted the lender a first priority lien).

(decedent, before death, bought  life insurance policy for $12,000 with proceeds assigned to create irrevocable trust; trustee was to pay funeral expenses if bill presented within 45 days of death; one month later, decedent gave son over $4,000 and applied for Medicaid benefits the following months; state Medicaid agency determined that funds used to purchase policy was uncompensated transfer and imposed a disqualification period penalty; court rejected argument that transfers were for funeral expenses and were, therefore, exempt because no burial contracts existed in accordance with 305 IL Comp. Stat. Ann Sec. 5/3-1.2 and because the trusts were structured such that trust funds could pass to decedent's children rather than being used to pay funeral expenses). 

(petitioner entered into settlement agreement arising from personal non-physical personal on-the-job injuries; settlement agreement did not indicate that parties intended petitioner to receive settlement proceeds in exchange for settling claim under Iowa Workers' Compensation Act (IWCA); and only included vague reference to workers' compensation claim where agreement conditioned on petitioner settling workers' compensation claim; court determined that such vague reference not sufficient to establish that petitioner paid proceeds in exchange for settling claim under IWCA; petitioner's lawyer also failed to offer any documents relating to petitioner's claims under IWCA; burden of proof is on petitioner to establish exclusion from income for amount to compensate petitioner for personal injuries in accordance with I.R.C. Sec. 104(a) and Treas. Reg. Sec. 104-1(b); petitioner's lawyer also failed to argue either at trial or on briefs that any portion of settlement proceeds related to medical care for petitioner's emotional distress - such amounts are excludible from income in accordance with I.R.C. Sec. 104(a)(2); 20 percent underpayment penalty imposed). 

(appellants had a longstanding relationship with respondent bank, which had granted appellants financing for the their farm business and hay-cubing operation; appellants failed to make a payment on their outstanding loans after the bank denied their request for new financing; when appellant failed to bring the loans current and pay the outstanding balance on a matured loan, the bank sought foreclosure; appellants asserted six counterclaims, and the district court granted summary judgment for the bank in all respects; on appeal, the court affirmed; the bank, which was a federal savings bank was not a “system institution” subject to restructuring requirements under the Farm Credit Act, and no private right of action existed for the bank’s alleged failure to obtain written approval from the Business and Industrial loan administering agency before commencing the foreclosure; even assuming the existence of a fiduciary relationship, there was no evidence that the bank breached any fiduciary duty;  evidence that the bank may have disclosed private information to seven individuals was insufficient to establish the requisite publicity element of the publication of private facts tort).

(petitioner not allowed to deduct  costs associated with obtaining MBA degree under I.R.C. Sec. 162(a); petitioner graduated from college in 2007 and enrolled in MBA program in 2009; petitioner had various employers in 2009, none of which required him to obtain MBA; petitioner not in established trade or business before enrolling in MBA program, thus expenses not deductible; while petitioner qualified to engage in trade or business of selling pharmaceutical products, petitioner did not actually carry-on such business before enrolling in MBA program). 

(plaintiffs granted an oil and gas lease to defendant’s assignor, which drilled several nonproductive gas wells on the property; after the assignment of the lease to defendant, defendant inadvertently failed to pay an annual “shut-in fee” required to extend the lease; believing it still had a valid lease on the property, defendant tested a well and constructed a gravel pit; upon discovering that defendant was still working on the property, plaintiffs attempted to renegotiate the lease; when the negotiations failed, plaintiffs filed an action alleging trespass, nuisance, unjust enrichment, and conversion of natural gas; the trial court granted compensation to the plaintiffs for the amount of natural gas flared off while defendant tested the well, but granted summary judgment for defendant on the majority of the claims; in affirming, the court ruled that plaintiffs had failed to present any evidence supporting its claims of unjust enrichment and trespass and nuisance stemming from the alleged dumping of thousands of gallons of brine water on plaintiffs’ property). 

(plaintiffs were inter-related companies in the business of processing corn and feed ingredients and brokering grain between buyers and sellers; defendant grain company entered into a written corn marketing agreement (CMA) with one of the plaintiff companies, which was 98% owned by another of the plaintiff companies; plaintiffs, alleging that defendant breached the agreement by failing to provide profit and loss statements and depriving plaintiffs of profits, sued defendant for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and other claims; defendant filed seven counterclaims, also alleging breach of contract; on cross-motions for summary judgment, the court ruled that, as a matter of law, a joint venture existed between the plaintiff party to the CMA and defendant; the fact that the parties called their agreement a “merchandising agreement” rather than a partnership did not preclude them from possibly forming a partnership as well; the court bifurcated plaintiff’s accounting claim (equity claim) from the remaining issues at law and set a bench trial for the accounting claim first, followed by a jury trial on the breach of contract and breach of good faith and fair dealing claims). 

(partnership that becomes disregarded entity when one partner becomes an employee files income taxes as sole proprietorship, but must use EIN of former partnership when filing employment tax forms in accordance with Rev. Rul. 2001-61; all business activity of former partnership treated as sole proprietorship of remaining "partner" and reported on Schedule C). 

(plaintiff charged defendant grain elevator with violation of local ordinances prohibiting excessive noise and nuisances; elevator challenged ordinances as void for vagueness in proscribing conduct; appellate court agreed that ordinances failed to provide defined and objective standard for prohibited conduct and held ordinances unconstitutional; on further review, Kansas Supreme Court affirmed the portion of the court of appeals’ ruling holding that the noise ordinance challenged by a grain elevator was unconstitutionally vague as applied;  the ordinance's lack of an objective standards for making the determination as to whether the noise was “excessive” or “unnecessary” readily promoted varying and somewhat unpredictable bases for enforcement; this vagueness constituted an impermissible delegation of basic policy matters to actors for resolution on an ad hoc and subjective basis; the court reversed the portion of the court of appeals’ decision finding that the city nuisance ordinance was unconstitutionally vague; the court found that the ordinance conveyed to the grain elevator sufficient definite warning and fair notice as to the prohibited conduct in light of common understanding and practice; the ordinance was precise enough to adequately protect against arbitrary and discriminatory action by those tasked with enforcing it). 

(dairy applied to Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for a Wisconsin Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit in preparation for its construction of a dairy facility housing 4,300 cows and 250 steers; the dairy also sought a permit to construct two high capacity wells in the county that already contained more than 90 high capacity pumping wells; the DNR conducted an environmental assessment (EA) of the two proposed wells and determined that an environmental impact statement was not required for their construction; plaintiffs challenged that decision on the grounds that the EA did not demonstrate that the DNR considered the cumulative effects of high capacity groundwater pumping in the region; in reversing the portion of the circuit court order finding that the DNR properly considered the cumulative effects, the court ruled that Wis. Admin. Code § NR 150.22(2)(a)2 required the EA to include an analysis of the cumulative environmental effects of past, present, and “reasonably anticipated” similar and related activities; the record demonstrated that the DNR focused exclusively on the effects of just the two wells, rather than the cumulative effects of the two wells in conjunction with other past and existing high capacity wells in the region). 

(appellants lived near property for which the Ohio Power Siting Board had granted a certificate of construction for a wind farm; appellants claimed the Board’s order was unlawful because the Board had denied appellants' procedural due process;  specifically, appellants argued that the Board denied them the opportunity to cross-examine staff members who were responsible for drafting sections of the Board’s staff report and that they were prohibited from presenting evidence at the evidentiary hearing; in affirming the Board’s order granting the certificate, the court ruled that the Board’s order was neither unlawful nor unreasonable; no law or rule required the staff members to testify and thus be subject to cross-examination; appellants could have compelled the staff members’ testimony through subpoena or objected to their absence at the hearing). 

(defendant state 4-H officials barred plaintiff 4-H member from showing livestock at 4-H exhibitions after finding that she had allegedly misrepresented her ownership of a winning entry at the state fair; member alleged due process and First Amendment violations; after an appeal to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, the court granted summary judgment for the officials as to the 4-H member’s claims for monetary relief against the officials; on that claim, the officials were entitled to qualified immunity because the 4-H member failed to show that her right to association and right to procedural due process were “clearly established”; defendants’ motion for summary judgment was denied as to the 4-H member’s claims for injunctive relief against the officials in their official capacities; no “clearly established” requirement applied to claims for injunctive relief). 

(debtor entered into a contract with plaintiffs for the sale of hay shortly after filing a Chapter 12 bankruptcy petition; debtor did not tell plaintiffs that he had filed the bankruptcy petition or that a state court had just declared void his lease for the property on which he was growing the hay at issue in the contract;  plaintiffs filed a motion to the convert the Chapter 12 case to a Chapter 7 case on the grounds of fraud, and the debtor filed a motion to dismiss; the court granted the motion to convert the case, and the debtor filed counterclaims alleging “fraud on the court” by plaintiffs, alleging inter alia that plaintiffs had created a fictitious Facebook profile under which they found pictures to impeach debtor’s evidence supporting a continuance; finding no basis or support for any of the relief sought by the debtor, the court dismissed the counterclaims).

(petitioner, an attorney, did legal work for brother for which reimbursement was anticipated in current year but didn't occur until several years later; petitioner incurred expenses related to brother's business during tax years 2001-2005 and deducted per diem expenses in 2006-2007 when reimbursements paid; deductions disallowed because petitioner on cash basis and expenses only deductible in year(s) incurred). 

(case involves federal government's power to regulate "greenhouse gases" from fixed sources; Circuit Court substantially upheld EPA regulatory decisions and held that EPA did not need to establish minimum threshold of risk or harm before determining whether air pollutant endangers the climate; bulk of regulations did not injure any motor-vehicle-related petitioner, and no non-motor vehicle-related petitioner had shown injury in-fact; EPA lacked discretion to defer promulgation of Tailpipe Rule; U.S. Supreme Court granted review on sole issue of whether EPA permissibly determined that regulation of "greenhouse gas" emissions from new motor vehicles triggered Clean Air Act (CAA) permitting requirements under CAA fro stationary sources that emit "greenhouse gases"). 

(plaintiff was a potato farmer that insured his crops under an insurance policy written by the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation; plaintiff obtained insurance from defendant insurer after discussing options with two of defendant’s agents; when insurer denied coverage after plaintiff suffered a loss caused by adverse weather conditions, plaintiff filed a breach of contract , negligence, and estoppel action against the insurer and its agents; defendants sought to remove action to federal court, arguing that the claims were controlled by the Federal Crop Insurance Act (FCIA); in granting plaintiff’s motion to remand, court ruled that removal was appropriate only where state law claims were subject to “complete preemption”; the FCIA did not completely pre-empt state law claims; as such, the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to hear the claims). 

(plaintiff filed class action against defendant claiming that defendant’s pension plan violated ERISA as being underfunded in violation of Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA); ERISA exempts “church plans” which are plans established by employees of a church, a church  or convention or association of churches; while defendant conceded it is not a church, it claimed that 1980 amendment provided that a plan could be a church plan if the plan is maintained by tax-exempt non-profit entity controlled by or associated with church or convention or association of churches; defendant is tax-exempt associated with Roman Catholic Church; court determined that “church plan” must be a plan established by a church or convention of churches and not a church-affiliated organization; plaintiff is a healthcare organization and not a church; IRS private letter rulings purportedly supporting plaintiff’s position only applicable to person or entity requesting ruling and not entitled to judicial deference). 

(class action brought against USDA on claims involving Conservation Security Program(CSP); plaintiff, holder of CSP contract, seeks damages associated with declining enhancement payments for conservation practices over life of contract, improper calculation of CSP payments, mutual mistake and contract reformation;  also alleged is contractual right of renewal that government breached with enactment of 2008 Farm Bill prohibiting execution of new CSP contracts or the renewal of existing CSP contracts after Sept. 30, 2008; insufficient evidence present to raise genuine issue of material fact as to existence of mutual mistake  and defendant entitled to summary judgment on claim; plaintiff failed to identify contractual provision entitling plaintiff to additional payments; no right of renewal; plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment denied and defendant’s motion of summary judgment granted; class certification issue moot because all of plaintiff’s claims dismissed). 

(petitioners, married couple, were victims of fraudulent investment scheme that seek refund of taxes based on losses sustained in scheme; petitioners claim deductible theft loss of over $2.5 million resulting in tax refund of over $300,000; operator of investment scheme (broker) would buy large block of stock in companies and artificially inflate price which would encourage customers to buy then operator would sell stocks and trigger gains for the broker, but losses for the clients; court determined that some of claimed losses not deductible because reasonable expectation of recovery remained; while summary judgment denied for government, court noted that some of claimed losses will not ultimately be deductible because stock at issue not purchased as part of fraudulent investment scheme; petitioners also denied summary judgment because material facts remained concerning whether petitioners had reasonable expectation of recovery with respect to other losses on stocks involved in scheme). 

(plaintiffs entered into an oral lease agreement with defendant  under which plaintiffs used defendant’s property to operate a cow-calf operation; the parties also entered into an oral agreement under which plaintiffs cared for defendant’s cattle, in exchange for one-half of the net calf sale proceeds ; when a dispute arose between the parties and defendant refused to allow the October sale of his cattle, plaintiffs served upon defendant an agister’s lien for continuing to care for the cattle; plaintiffs obtained a court order to sell the cattle in February, and the district court ruled that although plaintiffs entitled to ½ of the sales amount, the agister’s lien was “invalid as under the terms of [an] implied contract”; in reversing, the South Dakota Supreme Court ruled that the plaintiffs acquired a valid agister’s lien when defendant refused to sell his cattle in October, as he had always done; under SDCL 40-27-1, plaintiffs were entitled to impose a lien, retain possession of the cattle, and continue caring for them until the February sale; prejudgment interest was also mandatory,  not discretionary). 

(bankruptcy court determined that lessors’ letter stating that “as a result of your material breach,” we have “voted to terminate” your lease was not a proper termination of a lease for a Christmas tree farm; under VA law, lessors were required to make an actual demand for payment of past due amounts before the lease could be terminated; forfeitures were never favored in law, and to enforce a forfeiture without a prior demand would be “grossly inequitable”). 

(defendant owns beefalo herd and orally agreed with plaintiff to keep plaintiff’s herd on defendant’s ranch; ultimately, plaintiff claimed existence of lien  and defendant sued and jury determined that plaintiff converted defendant’s herd, but that plaintiff had lien on herd via Wyo. Stat. Ann. §29-7-101, et seq.; plaintiff motioned for new trial due to inconsistent verdict; court determined that finding plaintiff entitled to lien inconsistent with finding that plaintiff also liable for conversion;  plaintiff entitled to new trial and case remanded). 

(appellate court affirmed Court of Federal Claims’ finding that federal government did not physically take a flowage easement over plaintiffs’ property; plaintiffs’ property was in flood control basin of a Corps of Engineers’ dam; the Corps expected that certain modifications it made to the dam would raise the maximum inundation line on plaintiffs’ property by ten feet, from 556 feet to 566 feet; the Corps placed  surveyor markers on the 566-foot line, and the city rezoned the property below the 566-foot line for “passive recreation and open space use”; although plaintiffs argued that the rezoning and threat of flooding largely destroyed the value of their property, the court ruled that because there had been no invasion of plaintiffs’ property by flooding or otherwise, no physical taking occurred). 

(Medicaid case focuses on definition of "estate" under state law for purposes of Medicaid lien; married couple owned home in tenants-by-entirety; husband resided in nursing home and received Medicaid benefits; upon wife's subsequent death, state placed lien on marital home to recover Medicaid benefits paid to pre-deceased husband; estate argued that definition of "estate" did not include tenancy-by-entirety property for purposes of Medicaid recovery; court noted that state had adopted definition of "estate" that included non-probate assets; court upheld validity of lien on basis that definition of "estate" contained in Wyo. Stat. Ann. 42-4-206 was expansive and reached any type of non-probate survivorship interest).

(plaintiffs filed a putative class action against defendant food companies, alleging that defendants misbranded their products containing evaporated cane juice (ECJ), including soymilk, almond milk, and yogurt products; on defendants’ motion to dismiss, the court found that plaintiffs’ ECJ and yogurt claims were barred by res judicata because plaintiffs were class members in a Florida action, Singer v. WW Operating Co., No. 13-cv-2132 (S.D. Fla. 2013), in which a Florida district court approved a class settlement; the court ruled that plaintiffs’ claims (alleging that the terms “soymilk” and “almond milk” were misleading to customers) were preempted by the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act because plaintiffs were attempting to impose new requirements concerning the “standard of identity” for milk; the court also found that plaintiffs’ claims were implausible as a matter of law because a reasonable consumer would not confuse “soymilk” or “almond milk” with dairy milk).

(plaintiff filed a putative class action  against, defendant, a packaged food company, alleging that the defendant misrepresented to consumers via product labels that its products contained evaporated cane juice (ECJ), even though ECJ is actually sugar, not juice; specifically, plaintiff asserted that the company violated the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, Fla. Stat. §§ 501.201-501.213 (FDUTPA) by employing unfair, deceptive, and misleading practices; plaintiff alleged that the company’s practices related to its ECJ products constituted a per se violation of the FDUTPA; defendant filed a motion to dismiss, and the court granted the motion, but only as to those products the plaintiff had not actually purchased; the court found that plaintiff’s claims were not preempted by the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) because they were not based upon a  violation of the FDCA, but the FDUTPA; whether ECJ was misleading to consumers was a factual issue that could not be resolved on a motion to dismiss; the court refused to invoke the primary jurisdiction doctrine and defer the question to the FDA because this was not a case of first impression, and the FDA’s expertise was not required to determine the proper identification of ECJ).

(before marriage to petitioner, wife owned own home and used it as primary residence; after marriage, petitioner and wife lived in home as primary residence; two years later, in 2008, couple separated and wife continued to live in home; couple then purchased another home in 2009 and closed on it on 4/10/09; petitioner claimed first-time homebuyer credit on second home on 2008 MFJ return in accordance with I.R.C. Sec. 36(g); IRS disallowed credit; couple married at time second home acquired and wife's ownership of other home within prior three years attributed to petitioner; consequently, petitioner not a first-time homebuyer within meaning of I.R.C. Sec. 36(c); accuracy-related penalty imposed). 

(owners were not required to obtain a building permit to build a horse barn because it qualified as an “agricultural building,” entitled to an exemption under township’s uniform construction code; the planned horse born, including stables for horses and a riding ring to exercise the horses, was not open to the general public, but accessible only to invited guests; a building could be both an “agricultural building” and a “commercial building”; the court also found that horses, regardless of their use, constituted “livestock”). 

(petitioner’s brother purchased home with title taken in brother’s name; petitioner ultimately pays approximately $28,000 in mortgage interest and claims interest deduction; brother received Form 1098 and IRS denied deduction to petitioner; petitioner did not have legal title and did not have any indicia of beneficial ownership of home; while not addressed by court, transaction likely implicated gift tax). 

(cattle owner filed action against investigative officer, alleging due process violations and malicious prosecution after the officer arrested owner for theft of livestock; owner’s cattle were impounded because they were roaming on the road; owner took subject cattle from impound yard without paying impound fee; officer arrested owner, asserting that sister’s owner had stated that cattle did not belong to owner; in affirming district court’s granting of summary judgment to officer, court of appeals ruled that a reasonable officer could have concluded that the owner took the cattle without legal authority; owner had taken the cattle without permission, without establishing ownership, and without paying the impound fee; the officer was entitled to official immunity as to the malicious prosecution claim because he could have concluded that probable cause existed). 

(payments made by taxpayer to veterinary corporation in course of taxpayer’s trade or business must be reported to IRS in accordance with I.R.C. §6041 if in amount of $600 or more annually;  under Treas. Reg. §1.6041-3(p)(1), corporations engaged in providing medical and healthcare services are not exempt from reporting requirement; corporation providing veterinary services is “engaged in providing medical and healthcare services” and is not exempt from information reporting  requirement of I.R.C. §6041 as corporate payee). 

(case involved determination of scope farm stand statute, ORS 215.283(1)(o), as implemented by OAR 660-033-0130(23); county issued permit to organic farming company, allowing company to operate farm stand and sell farm products, "incidental" retail items, and "prepared food"; county then granted company a modified permit to allow, inter alia, farm-to-plate dinners and small-scale gatherings; opponents challenged the permit, and, after a hearing officer ruling, the land use board of appeals (LUBA) issued a decision; on appeal by both sides from LUBA’s decision, the court determined that LUBA erred when it concluded that outdoor promotional dinners were not an allowed promotional activity; LUBA did not err in concluding that "structures," as used in the farm stand statute, did include tents; food carts were "structures" allowed to be used for the sale of farm crops and some “incidental” items; LUBA correctly concluded that birthday parties and other small-scale uses could be activities to primarily promote the sale of products at the farm stand; LUBA also correctly remanded to the county to ensure that the sale of non-farm crops from the food stands, including prepared food, would be no more than "incidental.")

(plaintiff dairy farmer filed a breach of contract action against defendant, alleging that his corn crop failed because defendant, which plaintiff hired to spray his crop, either sprayed the crop improperly or used defective products in doing so; defendant filed a motion to dismiss, alleging that plaintiff’s claim sounded in tort and was thus barred by a two-year statute of limitations; in denying defendant’s motion, the court ruled that plaintiff had set forth enough facts to state a claim for breach of contract; the general rule was that when a complaint could be construed as either sounding in tort or contract, it would be presumed to be on contract if the tort action was barred by the two-year statute).

(petitioner claimed $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit; petitioner's cousin obtained title to home and then transferred title to FLP of which petitioner owned 47 percent interest; petitioner not entitled to credit because legal title originally not in petitioner and, hence, petitioner did not acquire interest in home and did not benefits and burdens of ownership in home in accordance with I.R.C. Sec. 36(c)(3); transfer to FLP also does not entitle petitioner to credit because only natural persons are eligible for credit and FLP is not a natural person; accuracy-related person not imposed). 

(U.S. Supreme Court reversed a decision from the Federal Circuit and held that government-induced flooding could qualify as a Fifth Amendment taking, even if it was temporary in duration; the Court found that a determination of a temporary taking, however, was subject to a “more complex balancing process”; on remand from the Supreme Court, the court of appeals reexamined the decision from the court of federal claims and affirmed its finding of a taking; the court of appeals determined that the government’s water release practices between 1993 and 2000 did constitute the taking of a temporary flowage easement over plaintiff’s property, resulting in the destruction of a substantial amount of valuable timber; in so holding, the court found that evidence supported the lower court’s finding that the flooding was foreseeable and that the flooding was a sufficiently severe invasion to support a takings claim; the property’s lengthy growing-season flooding was unprecedented and clearly tied to the government’s water release practices). 

(a boundary dispute arose between owner one and owner two; the county moved its improperly located quarter-section monument, and the parties discovered that a boundary fence erected by owner two 19 years earlier was in the wrong location; owner one sought a declaration of interest in real property, and owner two alleged titled by adverse possession and acquiescence; the court ruled that owner two did not prove adverse possession because he had not shown the required 20-year possession; owner two could not “tack” his time of possession to that of the prior owner because owner one and owner two acquired their property from a common grantor; title by acquiescence did not apply because the fence was not erected to solve a boundary dispute, and owner two did not rely upon a survey in erecting the fence).