Case Summaries

(case remanded to state court because only state law claims involved; complaint alleged negligence, private nuisance and trespass actions against defendant arising from disposal of treated sewer sludge on hundreds of acres of land abutting, adjoining or otherwise nearby plaintiffs' property).  


(creates new I.R.C. §9813, effective Oct. 9, 2009; requires health insurers to maintain coverage of dependent college students for up to one year after they begin a medically necessary leave of absence). 


(plaintiff (member of state legislature), unpaid president of board of directors of day-care center, found to be personally responsible for day- care’s unpaid payroll tax liability; plaintiff had significant involvement in day-care’s financial affairs and “willfully” failed to pay taxes; court imposed penalty for willful failure to pay tax).


(landowner who obtained release of owner's lot from terms of easement may construct dwelling on lot and sell the house and lot free of easement restrictions).


(court upholds trial court order which affirmed final order of State Board of Agriculture’s decision granting application for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation Permit). 


(trucking company not liable for employment taxes for its drivers; no employer-employee relationship; company qualified for Section 530 relief because company did not treat drivers as employees).


(plaintiff not entitled to easement by necessity over federal land (in Glacier National Park) to access plaintiff's property because plaintiff still has year-round access to his property, even though such access limited to non-motorized means in winter months; defendant's regulation of access supported by rational basis).


(petitioner conducted horse breeding activity in business-like manner as determined in accordance with nine-factor test; losses at issue incurred during start-up phase and due, in part, to unforeseen circumstances; losses fully deductible).


(defendant's resolution toughening criteria for obtaining exclusion from moratorium on construction of new homes constituted permanent taking of all economically beneficial use and violated state constitutional takings provision; defendant failed to meet burden of justifying moratorium).


(defendant's decision to vacate public road not judicial in nature and is not subject to judicial review).


(case involves challenges to decedent's will, trust and a quit-claim deed).


(payment of premiums by trust settlors under split-dollar life insurance arrangement is not a gift and insurance proceeds payable to trust not included in estate of either settlor).


(pollution exclusion clause in insurance policy did not exclude coverage for damages caused by spilled home heating oil that remained contained within plaintiff's basement; policy language subject to more than one interpretation, and "petroleum products" not listed in exclusion clause language along with "smoke, vapor, soot, fumes, acids, alkalis, chemicals and waste").


(during trial involving condemnation action, defendant sought to introduce evidence of three sales at nearby subdivisions which occurred after the taking at issue; trial court refused to allow the evidence and appellate court reversed - trial court erred in making per se evidentiary ruling excluding all post-taking sales).


(defendant (poultry producer's) motion to dismiss plaintiff's claim under Packers and Stockyards Act (PSA) for price manipulation and unfair dealing denied because plaintiff need not show adverse impact on competition to prevail under PSA; defendant's motion to dismiss plaintiff's state law claim that defendant violated Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA) denied because plaintiff is a "consumer" under DTPA via relationship to overall transaction with defendant (as opposed to simply looking at the contractual relationship between the parties); plaintiff's fraud claim likewise not dismissed).


(no indirect gift of securities to children upon gift of FLP interests to which plaintiff had transferred securities eleven days earlier; 35 percent discount allowed to reflect minority interest and lack of marketability).


(plaintiffs claimed that defendants violated Clean Water Act by discharging sediment into navigable waters of U.S. without permit; settlement reached which, in part, required defendants to place 15 acres of land under permanent conservation easement, which plaintiffs claim defendants failed to do in accordance with settlement agreement; court upholds settlement agreement and orders imposition of permanent easement).


(plaintiff claims that defendant's decision to retain specified creek on state list of waters deemed environmentally impaired under the Clean Water Act was arbitrary and capricious; defendant's motion to dismiss granted).


(contract case involving defendant's alleged agreement to buy plaintiffs' shares of patron preferred stock at "reasonable price"; case proceeds to trial on numerous contract issues).


(court affirms Tax Court decision which sustained IRS determination of plaintiffs' deficiency and disallowed an adjustment to AMTI; rules for calculating NOLs for regular income apply to AMT NOLs and plaintiffs improperly calculated their alternative tax NOL).


(in determining whether any river basin, sub-basin or reach is fully appropriated, defendant (State Department of Natural Resources) may, pursuant to the Nebraska Groundwater Management and Protection Act, consider a geographic area located in one river basin that is hydrologically connected to a second basin when determining that the second basin is fully appropriated).


(plaintiff's attempt to lease grazing lands from State of Idaho rejected even though plaintiff highest bidder at auction because plaintiff had ties to conservationists and was a Washington corporation attempting to enter the Idaho grazing market; plaintiff's equal protection rights violated and defendant otherwise violated clearly established law).


(plaintiffs' claim that defendant deprived them of their constitutional rights by failing to maintain county road dismissed to extent it involves violation of equal protection clause of 14th Amendment or due process clause; state law claims for declaratory judgment and nuisance remanded to state court).


(in determining whether any river basin, sub-basin or reach is fully appropriated, defendant (State Department of Natural Resources) may, pursuant to the Nebraska Groundwater Management and Protection Act, consider a geographic area located in one river basin that is hydrologically connected to a second basin when determining that the second basin is fully appropriated).


(defendant’s diversion of water for wildlife protection purposes (endangered steelhead) constitutes compensable taking – plaintiff, not state of California, owns the water at issue; defendant’s argument that water was not taken but was merely regulated, rejected; however, plaintiff must pay for installation of fish ladder as part of operational and maintenance costs of running the diversion in accordance with prior contract; estimated that water right at issue worth $80 million).


(adverse possession case; statutory requirements satisfied).


(defendant infringed on plaintiff’s patent for grain sweep uploading device, but stopped infringing after plaintiff filed suit; plaintiff entitled to pursue injunctive relief and defendant failed to make it absolutely clear that infringement could not reasonably be expected to recur before the matter is rendered moot; but, defendant entitled to summary judgment that subsequent designs of sweep uploader do not infringe on plaintiff’s patents).


(taxpayer’s payment to three states in settlement of antitrust suit under federal and state law is a non-deductible fine or penalty under I.R.C. §162(f)).


(defendant’s diversion of water for wildlife protection purposes (endangered steelhead) constitutes compensable taking – plaintiff, not state of California, owns the water at issue; defendant’s argument that water was not taken but was merely regulated, rejected; however, plaintiff must pay for installation of fish ladder as part of operational and maintenance costs of running the diversion in accordance with prior contract; estimated that water right at issue worth $80 million).


(plaintiffs’ claim against defendants, makers of certain agricultural pesticide, for genocide and crimes against humanity based on allegation that pesticide caused male sterility and low sperm counts dismissed; plaintiffs did not allege that defendants acted with specific intent as required for genocide claim, and did not allege that defendants’ conduct occurred within context of a State or organizational policy as to crimes against humanity claim).


(bankruptcy debtor’s right to voluntarily dismiss a Chapter 13 case under 11 U.S.C. §1307(b) is not absolute, but is qualified by an implied exception for bad-faith conduct or abuse of the bankruptcy process; bankruptcy court did not err in finding bad faith conduct in present case, and even though court failed to provide debtor with adequate notice and hearing before converting Chapter 13 case to Chapter 7, debtor failed to show prejudice).


(bankruptcy trustee claimed that check received by farmer from debtor in replacement of dishonored check constituted payment made within 90-day period before bankruptcy filing and, thus, was prohibited preference under 11 U.S.C. §547(b); court held that because replacement check resulted in release of farmer’s security interest in collateral, it was a contemporaneous exchange for new value falling within exception to trustee’s avoidance powers).


(plaintiff condemned 7.5 acres of defendant's farm adjacent to state highway; amount of compensation determined, deposited with trial court and defendant withdrew the award; seven years later, jury determined that award should be substantially reduced and court ordered that defendant refund the difference with interest; reduced award upheld).


(grant of "customary and traditional" use permit to harvest moose to tribal community that was more permissive than state's stricter hunting regulations upheld; "customary and traditional" use permit does not limit nonsubsistence use, but merely allows for subsistence use). 


(case involves question of whether defendant has right to prohibit use of human sewage as fertilizer on agricultural land in light of state Nutrient Management Act which established uniform standards for the regulation of the application of sewage sludge and animal manure to agricultural land; because Attorney General filed for summary relief, no evidentiary record presented on which factual finding that “sewage sludge” is a “normal agricultural operation” and not “industrial waste disposal, as asserted by the defendant could be made; plaintiff’s request for summary relief denied). 


(adverse possession case; plaintiff met statutory requirements; fact that normal farming practices required land to lay fallow for periods of time did not negate satisfaction of continuity requirement and defendant’s argument to the contrary meritless).


(government's position that medical residents are categorically not "students" under I.R.C. § 3121(b)(10) and, therefore, not exempt from FICA tax as a matter of law rejected; case-by-case analysis required to determine whether medical residents qualify for statutory exemption from FICA tax).


(partnership losses suspended under I.R.C. Sec. 465 by virtue of language in closing agreement remain subject to I.R.C. § 469 limit on passive activity losses against income from non-passive activity because closing agreement did not indicate that I.R.C. Sec. 469 would not apply to the suspended losses).


(plaintiff not entitled to refund for 1999 tax year on basis of purported retroactive election of the mark-to-market method of accounting under I.R.C. §475(f) because election was untimely under Rev. Proc. 99-17 and petitioner was not entitled to an extension of time).


(residential tenant sued landlord for carbon monoxide poisoning allegedly caused by landlord’s failure to keep rental house in good repair; defendant, landlord’s insurance carrier, defended suit but filed declaratory judgment action requesting determination of non-liability; pollution exclusion clause unambiguously excluded tenant’s claim from coverage – nothing in clause language limited term “pollution” to what is commonly or traditionally considered environmental pollution).


(regulations reducing commercial salmon season in Alaska did not deprive commercial salmon fishers of their property rights; plain language of Limited Entry Act supported conclusion that entry permit not property, but rather a mere privilege that does not require compensation when modified; in addition, state constitution does not grant salmon fishers an exclusive private property right in the state waters).


(case involves challenge to EPA pesticide tolerance levels, and petition for review is granted in part and reversed in part and case remanded to EPA where: (1) Food Quality Protection Act requires EPA to set pesticide tolerance levels at ten times (10x) reduction absent reliable data that a higher tolerance will be safe for infants and children; (2) EPA data was reliable for avoiding the 10x reduction on four of seven challenged pesticide tolerances, but (3) EPA failed to explain its data for avoiding the 10x reduction for tolerances of three pesticides).


(commercial fishermen cannot sued for economic losses incurred due to defendant’s pollution of waters; plaintiffs did not have recognizable property right in fish and claims for negligence and strict liability barred by economic loss doctrine).


(use of land outside easement (but consistent with language of easement) and construction of additional pipelines within easement do not constitute a taking that requires condemnation proceedings; easement enforceable and not against public policy).


(defendant deducted assessments from gross proceeds owed to apple orchards from which it purchased apples, but did not remit assessments to plaintiff and used the assessments to pay other expenses; plaintiffs’ conversion claim fails because state Agricultural Commodities Marketing Act provides exclusive remedy for violation of the Act).


(plaintiff acquired sixteen oil and gas leases at sale by defendant which specified that rental payments for subsequent years were due before the beginning of the next lease year, and specified that leases would terminate unless there was a well currently being drilled, a producing well or a shut-in well; plaintiff failed to pay annual rents before beginning of next lease year and failed to have producing wells, wells that were being drilled or shut-in wells; provision providing for automatic termination of leases upheld).


(secured creditor’s lien on PACA trust assets does not constitute a transfer of the assets beyond the reach of PACA protected creditors).


(I.R.C. §162(k) precludes a deduction for petitioner’s payment to its ESOP in redemption of its preferred stock, where the proceeds were distributed to employees terminating their participation in the plan; court’s decision contrary to Boise Cascade Corp. v. United States, 329 F.3d 751 (9th Cir. 2003), but is consistent with Conopco, Inc. v. United States, No. 2:2004cv06025, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52306 (D. N.J. Jul. 17, 2007); and General Mills, Inc. v. United States, No. 06-3547, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3196 (D. Minn. Jan. 14, 2008)).


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