Case Summaries

(commercial demonstration cellulosic ethanol production plant will be eligible for additional first-year bonus depreciation for qualified cellulosic ethanol plant property if requirements of I.R.C. Sec. 168(l) and (k) satisfied).


(cars, light general purpose trucks, and vehicles that share characteristics of both cars and light-duty trucks are like-kind for purposes of I.R.C. Sec. 1031).


(bank's security interest in debtor's cotton crop not seriously misleading, and defendant had notice of bank's prior perfected security interest in crop).


(trial court does not have subject matter jurisdiction over a private claim for declaratory and injunctive relief arising from activity regulated by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM); case involves landowners near a proposed confined feeding operation for which IDEM had issued permit).


(amounts paid to cooperative members are PURPIM and the cooperatives DPAD, taxable income and QPAI is computed without regard to any deduction for amounts paid to members for grain delivered to cooperative).


(plaintiff granted preliminary injunction against defendant to get more time to argue its case and avoid immediately paying $120 million to defendant; dispute between parties arose from sale-in- lease-out (SILO) transaction established between the parties in 2002 as a tax shelter for the defendant, but deal soured when a partner had its credit rating downgraded; court characterized transaction as a “sham” and “without economic substance”).


(defendant’s decision disqualifying 3.95 acres of plaintiff’s land from farm use special assessment for 2008-2009 tax year reversed; personal factors beyond plaintiff’s immediate control caused absence of animals from property in spring of 2008, and such factors satisfy statutory exception to active farming requirement to receive special assessment).


(conversion case involving buying and selling of cattle).


(defendant’s diversion of water across portion of property originally purchased by plaintiff’s deceased parents constituted inverse condemnation; case remanded for determination of value of taking).


(member of Town Board allegedly concealed his relationship with wind energy company and disregarded conflict of interest when he voted to approve proposed wind energy facility which included a wind turbine on his property; suit seeks removal of member’s removal from Board, but removal not granted due to (based on the record) lack of evidence of self- dealing, corrupt activities, moral turpitude, or intentional wrongdoing).


(oil well lease contained in pool of producing properties expired and legal issue was whether expiration of lease removed the minerals from the pool and bars costs incurred before termination; trial court determination that is did reversed – pooling agreement did not depend on continuation of underlying leases, and equitable right of reimbursement for improvements not necessarily extinguished by termination of lease).


(court revives plaintiff’s request to block $565 million merger of two organic groceries; court did so reluctantly, noting that plaintiff offered “at best, poorly explained evidence”; while trial court was correct in focusing on market definition, trial court erred by analyzing the product market differently; relevant market should be those consumers who are committed to premium, natural and organic supermarkets).


(defendant’s diversion of water across portion of property originally purchased by plaintiff’s deceased parents constituted inverse condemnation; case remanded for determination of value of taking).


(court has jurisdiction to review petition certified from superior court on issue of whether State can permit construction and operation of wind turbines for energy production in the state without authorization from county in which the turbines will be placed; held that governor properly exercised authority under Energy Facilities Site Locations Act to approve the site certification for the wind energy project at issue).


(defendant’s decision excluding certain persons employed by plaintiff from voting on United Farm Workers of America’s (UFW) petition to represent plaintiff’s agricultural employees reversed in part and affirmed in part where (1) nephew of plaintiff’s owners did not fall under the regulation excluding the owner’s children from voter eligibility; (2) based on the evidence presented, defendant correctly concluded that the individual who maintained the lawn area around the dairy was not an agricultural employee; (3) it was appropriate for defendant to apply a substantiality test in determining whether an individual who engaged in childcare and cleaning was an agricultural employee; and (4) substantial evidence supported defendant’s conclusion that the two individuals with supervisory duties were supervisors and thus ineligible to vote).


(court reversed denial of writ of mandamus and defendant ordered to complete assessment concerning public health impacts of state rule requiring large confined animal facilities to choose from a variety of mitigation measures with the goal of reducing VOC emissions, where: (1) rule was adopted without conducting an adequate assessment of its impact on public health, as required by state law; (2) the state law requirement was intended to address the district’s failure to meet federal and state ambient air quality standards for ozone and does not regulate ammonia emissions produced by large confined animal facilities; and (3) the trial court’s findings were not arbitrary and capricious).


(proceeds from sale of house that wife brought into marriage included in marital estate because husband contributed significantly to improvement and operation of house along with the farming operation).


(property transferred to a grantor trust before death is not eligible for a basis step-up under I.R.C. Sec. 1014 unless the property is included in the decedent's gross estate for federal estate tax purposes).


(irrigation permits required for withdrawal of water for agricultural purposes from side channel of Bitterroot River, and public access allowed up to high-water mark; court utilized expansive definition of “natural” in reaching decision which  term was not limited to artificial or manufactured).


(irrigation permits required for withdrawal of water for agricultural purposes from side channel of Bitterroot River, and public access allowed up to high-water mark; court utilized expansive definition of “natural” in reaching decision which  term was not limited to artificial or manufactured).


(trial court properly reformed deed that had conveyed real property; parties produced clear and convincing evidence that seller had intended to convey an access easement at time of sale and owner of burdened land believed that an access easement was to be conveyed).


(U.S. Navy's use of "mid-frequency active" (MFA) sonar during integrated training exercises in waters off southern California permitted; Navy's need to conduct realistic training with active sonar to respond to enemy submarine threats plainly outweighs interest of plaintiffs in protecting marine mammals).


(intervivos transfer to revocable trust for daughter is not a per se violation of the surviving spouse's statutory, elective right to a percentage of the deceased spouse's net estate under state law).


(review denied of defendant's finding that plaintiffs violated the Horse Protection Act by transporting and entering in a horse show a "sore" horse; defendant had substantial evidence to support findings that (1) plaintiffs liable for transporting a horse; (2) one plaintiff liable for entering the horse in a horse show; and (3) defendant's Horse Protection Operating Plan did not limit its ability to impose legal sanctions on plaintiffs).


(neighbors of couple who operate a small grass airstrip can operate their own airstrip so long as both airports follow the defendant's special traffic guidelines; defendant did not act arbitrarily and capriciously in adopting guidelines).


(estate granted refund on basis that written and oral communications between executor and IRS constituted valid, informal refund claim that was later perfected by formal claim).


(because defendant's festival was a "state fair," receipts from the sale of admission tickets were exempt from tax, but subject to license tax for privilege of conducting non-agricultural exhibits, displays and shows).


(spousal joint revocable trust containing community property of the spouses became irrevocable upon death of first spouse, and surviving spouse's withdrawal of her share of community property after death of first spouse improper without consent of remainder beneficiaries; defendant, a remainder beneficiary not precluded from making request for attorney fees on remand).


(IRS not entitled to relief from automatic stay to offset an overpayment and economic stimulus payment against debtor's tax debt because IRS had already made the payments to the debtor and, as such, lost the right to offset).


(action against farm for development on farm land that changed amount of surface water flowing onto plaintiff's land which damaged plaintiff's land and crops dismissed; plaintiff failed to plead negligence and failed to prove that discharge of surface water was negligent - water continued to flow in same natural drainageway that it did before construction activity).


(debtor lacks standing to challenge $57 of finance charges not disclosed by lender at loan closing; lender's non-disclosure within tolerance range of Truth-In-Lending Act).


(farm deeded to daughters properly petitioned; grandson living on farm did not acquire ownership interest via adverse possession because possession lacked hostility).


(case involves sale of farm held in trust for family members; trust language contained language permitting trustee to manage or sell the property in the trustee's discretion).


(action against farm for development on farm land that changed amount of surface water flowing onto plaintiff's land which damaged plaintiff's land and crops dismissed; plaintiff failed to plead negligence and failed to prove that discharge of surface water was negligent - water continued to flow in same natural drainageway that it did before construction activity).


(defendants, small capacity well owners, challenged plaintiffs' application for conditional water rights and augmentation plan for 205 wells to support five new residential subdivisions; trial court approved defendant's application for two of the subdivisions and Supreme Court affirmed because defendants did not prove the existence of unappropriated water for the conditional ground rights in three of the subdivisions or a non-injurious augmentation plan sufficient to protect the vested ground water rights of small domestic well owners who divert water from the aquifers between the proposed three subdivisions and the surface waters of the creeks at issue).


(permits for three of five proposed subdivisions canceled due to plaintiff's failure to provide plan concerning how water that subdivisions would use would be replenished).


(defendants, small capacity well owners, challenged plaintiffs' application for conditional water rights and augmentation plan for 205 wells to support five new residential subdivisions; trial court approved defendant's application for two of the subdivisions and Supreme Court affirmed because defendants did not prove the existence of unappropriated water for the conditional ground rights in three of the subdivisions or a non-injurious augmentation plan sufficient to protect the vested ground water rights of small domestic well owners who divert water from the aquifers between the proposed three subdivisions and the surface waters of the creeks at issue).


(takings claim of property owner whose cabins were mistakenly enrolled in Bureau of Land Management's Adopt-A-Cabin program dismissed; private citizens took the plaintiffs' equipment not the federal government and plaintiffs failed to establish a property interest in the cabin or other structures on the land since at least 1997 due to non-compliance with BLM regulations).


(business concepts falling outside “machine-or-transformation” test for patentability are not patentable; but precise contours of machine implementation or when recitation of a computer suffices to tie a process claim to a particular machine left unresolved (i.e., tax strategy patents)).


(IRS appraisal valuation of facade easement upheld; penalty applied for gross valuation misstatement).


(above-median Chapter 13 debtor's plan must extend for five years; bankruptcy court erred by confirming debtor's plan as a four-year plan; court's holding is opposite the holding in In re Kagenveama, 541 F.3d 868 (9th Cir. 2008))


(Tennessee laws governing the wine industry are an unconstitutional violation of the dormant commerce clause and are affirmed in part, and vacated in part where; portion of laws banning the direct shipment of alcoholic beverages to consumers, including wine, upheld; but Tennessee's Grape and Wine Law is discriminatory on its face; case remanded to fashion an adequate remedy and to allow in-state wineries an opportunity to intervene).


(defendant's issuance of conditional use permit mining permit, approval of rezoning, certification of environmental impact report and approval of cancellation of Williamson Act contract for part of private ranch to be used as hard rock quarry improper; defendant failed to analyze adequacy of mitigation measures to address impacts on water, adequacy of mitigation measures with respect to traffic, cumulative impact on noise levels; and cumulative impacts in general).


(deductions denied for various business and personal expenses due to lack of substantiation, and expenses for which taxpayer’s wife could have received reimbursement from her employer are not deductible; use of portion of residence both for personal and business purposes does not meet exclusive use test; alleged farming activity did not constitute trade or business).


(two separate real estate purchase and sale agreements not enforceable for failure to violate the statute of frauds; inadequate legal description).


(court affirms state Department of Agriculture's order suspending plaintiff's livestock dealers license; plaintiff failed to maintain proper records for infected hogs, made false and misleading statements regarding the health of hogs and failed to disclose the health and physical condition of the hogs).


(Arabian horse breeding activity not engaged in for profit, thus losses not fully deductible; taxpayer had no experience in caring for and riding horses and no experience in the buying, selling or showing of horses and presented no evidence that she had consulted anyone regarding the economic or business aspects of breeding, training or showing horses; taxpayer paid both personal and horse activity expenses from same two or three personal checking accounts; no written business plan created; no financial projections maintained; no expectation of future increase in value of assets; taxpayer had high income as a physician and received a great deal of personal pleasure from the activity).


(defendant has right to clear an 80- foot swath of mature pine trees on plaintiffs' property in order to maintain natural gas pipeline pursuant to 1947 easement even though easement not utilized since 1947).


(case involves road improvement project; plaintiff's claim for damage to fence and vegetation not permitted because deed by which plaintiff obtained title to the property did not convey land within the road right-of-way; but defendant denied summary judgment on plaintiff's claims that project changed certain field access roads and driveway).


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