Case Summaries

(defendant failed to offer evidence to establish that access route to landlocked parcel was the "only practicable way" to reach plaintiff's property; trial court's award of summary judgment for defendant reversed).


(plaintiff permanently injured in fall from horse that tripped on loop of exposed, non-live grounding wire attached to power pole maintained by defendant; grounding wire associated with installation of water pipeline on easement other defendants had obtained from the government; trial court granted summary judgment for all defendants on plaintiff’s negligence claims – plaintiff failed to show breach of duty owed to him; defendants did not have actual or constructive knowledge that unsafe condition existed and sufficient time to remedy situation; no heightened duty of care because wire not live; no evidence presented that water pipe installation disturbed grounding wire or rod; no evidence of causal connection).


(debtors entered into lease of cropland and hay ground with landlord’s conservator with annual rent payable in April and December; debtors filed bankruptcy in November, and the following March rejected the lease; conservator requested full amount of December rent be treated as administrative expense and court held that rent due post-petition and pre-rejection could be allowed as an administrative expense only for the time of the debtor’s post-petition use of the premises with interest at 12 percent per annum (as provided for in lease for unpaid rent). 


(Case involves legal issues arising from oral farm partnership between brothers).  


(Tax Court’s decision dismissing taxpayer’s petition for lack of jurisdiction because taxpayer had not received notice of deficiency upheld, and Tax Court could not transfer case to Federal District Court because U.S. Tax Court is not a “court” under I.R.C. §1631 as the term is defined by I.R.C. §610).


(jury verdict for plaintiff whose children became ill after eating meal at defendant's franchisee; plaintiff was police officer and was served food with "special sauce" reserved just for police officers and their families consisting of urine and saliva).


(plaintiff’s motion for preliminary injunction against defendant’s “over 30-month” (OTM) rule which opened Canadian border to imports of live cattle born after March 1, 1999, and beef products from Canadian cattle of any age granted in part; case remanded to defendant to promptly provide notice and comment on OTM beef provisions and to revise any provisions of OTM rule deemed necessary; remainder of plaintiff’s case stayed during administrative proceeding required by remand).


(under §202(a) of Packers and Stockyards Act, plaintiff must show that defendant’s practice injured, or was likely to injure, competition; case remanded by Circuit Court for trial court to determine whether plaintiff proffered sufficient proof; but, defendant’s chicken production contracts found to violate state law proscription against unconscionable contracts and jury returned verdict of $21,141,975 against defendant; defendant’s motion for new trial denied even though court stated that economic testimony of plaintiff’s expert (Robert Taylor of Auburn University) was “little more than gussied up wealth redistributive theory of probable Marxist origin”); jury verdict reduced to $14,511,935 and plaintiff given until July 13, 2008, to consent to reduced award in lieu of new trial on damages); on appeal court affirmed; U.S. Supreme Court denied to hear the case).


(easement case involving 1901 easement over large tract of land upheld as valid).


(sufficient evidence produced for court to determine that farm could be partitioned; trial court’s determination that farm indivisible and must be sold reversed).


(issues of fact remain concerning whether decedent intended to make gift of John Deere track loader to defendant and whether constructive delivery occurred). 


(foundation to plaintiff’s home “broke” two years after purchase and was condemned; home built on top of abandoned underground coal mine; plaintiff sued home builder, developer of subdivision and subsidiaries of developer on numerous theories; summary judgment granted for defendants on plaintiff’s duty to disclose claim (i.e., constructive fraud) – information regarding presence of underground mines readily available on publicly available websites and plaintiff and purchase agreement (which plaintiff declined to read) disclosed that mining had occurred in the area and that mine subsidence insurance was available (which plaintiff did not purchase); summary judgment for defendant denied on plaintiff’s breach of implied warranty of habitability claim – defendant builder impliedly warranted that the home would be structurally fit for habitation, and defendant developer impliedly represented that the land on which home built was suitable for residential homebuilding; summary judgment granted for defendants on plaintiff’s claim of breach of warranty of quiet enjoyment – plaintiff did not claim she did not receive good title or that title was impaired).


(under §202(a) of Packers and Stockyards Act, plaintiff must show that defendant’s practice injured, or was likely to injure, competition; case remanded by Circuit Court for trial court to determine whether plaintiff proffered sufficient proof; but, defendant’s chicken production contracts found to violate state law proscription against unconscionable contracts and jury returned verdict of $21,141,975 against defendant; defendant’s motion for new trial denied even though court stated that economic testimony of plaintiff’s expert (Robert Taylor of Auburn University) was “little more than gussied up wealth redistributive theory of probable Marxist origin”); jury verdict reduced to $14,511,935 and plaintiff given until July 13, 2008, to consent to reduced award in lieu of new trial on damages). Decision reached on appeal by Been v. O.K. Industries, Inc., 2010 U.S. App. LEXI 21131 (10th Cir. Okla., Oct. 13, 2010)


(non-materially participating individual partner’s distributive share of the interest expense of partnership engaged in trade or business of trading securities is subject to investment interest limitation of I.R.C. §163(d)(1) and is a trade or business deduction that is deductible in determining AGI; accordingly, amount includible on Schedule E, Part II, Line 28, column (a)).


(former treasurer, CFO and legal secretary for Catholic Diocese of Cleveland convicted on six charges of conspiracy to defraud IRS and filing false tax returns; could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison).


(I.R.C. §409A rules only applicable to taxpayers earning more than $186,000 for the school year).


(boundary line case involving riparian bottomlands in lake; Government Land Office plat serves as underlying basis for determining thread line, but thread line depended on shoreline as determined by all available evidence rather than meander lines alone; rule under state law is to equitably apportion useful riparian rights to riparian owners).


(court lacked jurisdiction to consider petitioner’s pro-se motion for reconsideration of Tax Court decision; motion untimely because post-mark date on envelope was more than 90 days after entry of Tax Court’s decision; under I.R.C. §7502(a)(1), postmark date on envelope is deemed to be the date of delivery to Tax Court).


(Tax Court’s award of summary judgment to government in tax protestor case upheld, but IRS not entitled to award of sanctions due to government’s failure to provide adequate factual support).


(boundary line case involving riparian bottomlands in lake; Government Land Office plat serves as underlying basis for determining thread line, but thread line depended on shoreline as determined by all available evidence rather than meander lines alone; rule under state law is to equitably apportion useful riparian rights to riparian owners).


(oral farm partnership formed between family members; family dispute occurs and partnership dissolved and accounting sought).


(defendants installation of gate on right-of- way located on defendant's property but used by plaintiff to access plaintiff's land permanently enjoined; gate not necessary for defendant's safe use and enjoyment of defendant's property and plaintiff had prescriptive easement).


(arrest of defendant not within curtilage of home and, therefore, not within home’s umbrella of Fourth Amendment protection; while arrest occurred within close proximity of home, area not enclosed by fence or any form of enclosure and defendant did not engage in activities in front of home in which he engaged in private areas of home; area in which arrest occurred observable from highway).


(evidence indicated that defendant had prescriptive easement over driveway at issue in case). 


(estate had right of indemnification from defendant for value of property owned by decedent that was foreclosed upon and sold, and the proceeds applied against a debt for which defendant was obligated).  


(I.R.C. does not impose dollar limitation on de minimis fringe benefits excludible from gross income for those fringes listed in Treas. Reg. §1.132-6(e)(1)). 


(bankruptcy of qualified intermediary used to facilitate I.R.C. §1031 exchange disqualifies taxpayer from achieving tax-deferred exchange status for transaction).


(U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service does not have an enforceable duty promptly to withdraw a threatened species from Endangered Species Act protection after a five-year agency review required by ESA determined that the species does not fit into one of several types of population categories protected under the ESA). 


(Court refused to decide whether fisherman who sued over the Exxon Valdez oil spill are entitled to collect interest on the punitive damages award of $507.5 million; case remanded to Ninth Circuit).


(application of passive loss limitations to partnership losses do not violate partner’s due process rights; application of the passive loss rules not impermissibly retroactive).


(tribal member mortgaged tribal fee land to bank which was subsequently deeded to bank in lieu of foreclosure; bank leased property to defendant with option to buy, but defendant could not exercise option; bank then sold land to non-tribal members; tribal members sued in tribal court and tribal court found that bank had discriminated against tribe by selling land to non-members on more favorable terms with tribe awarded damages and option to buy portion of land; Eighth Circuit affirmed and U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari; U.S. Supreme Court reversed – tribal court lacked authority to adjudicate discrimination claim; bank had standing to raise jurisdictional challenge; case not within Montana exceptions to general rule that Indian tribe lacks authority to regulate activities of non-members; and tribe’s limited authority to regulate non-member activities on reservation did not permit tribe to regulate sale of non-Indian fee land).  


(quiet title action; description of disputed parcel in 1816 deed was sufficient to convey title, and plaintiff had acquired title by adverse possession even if it was not the record owner of the parcel). 


(water pollution case against dairy operation; plaintiff not entitled to bring enforcement action under state law against dairy without first establishing that dairy was significant contributor of pollution; mere fact that dairy was a Concentrated Dairy Animal Feeding Operation insufficient, by itself, to support finding that dairy was significant contributor of pollution; however, other factors supported finding that dairy was significant contributor of pollution; penalty upheld as reasonable and plaintiff’s decision as to penalty amount not arbitrary and capricious).


(defendant's conviction and sentence for taking migratory birds by aid of bait in violation of 16 U.S.C. Sec. 703 upheld; USFWS testimony that milo field at issue had not been harvested was credible and testimony of farm employee to the contrary was not credible and court would not disturb trial court's witness testimony credibility determination; testimony that use of stripper header to harvest milo did not establish that such practice was a normal agricultural practice; defendant's testimony that he could not reasonably be expected to know field was baited because he was not a farmer was not credible - defendant failed to inspect field and unharvested milo clearly present near defendant's duck blind and decoys). 


(land qualified for agricultural status and Green Acres tax benefits because land primarily devoted to agricultural use; land used for purpose of growing trees as well as weeding, mowing, spraying and overall maintenance for agricultural use).


(evidence sufficient to support elements of adverse possession; title to disputed strip quieted in plaintiffs).


(quitclaim deed of remainder interest in farm from mother to son with life estate reserved by mother; son predeceased mother and son’s interest in farm belonged to son’s estate (thereby subject to state intestacy statute) and did not revert to mother upon son’s death because deed did not contain clear and unambiguous language that remainder interest ended upon son’s death). 


(decedent’s heirs entered into voluntary cleanup agreement with State to clean up site contaminated by lead bullets and other contaminants to be deposited in soil at firing range on the property, and sued estate to recover costs; decedent’s personal liability insurance policy motioned for summary judgment on basis that it had no duty to indemnify estate because any judgment against estate not indemnifiable because not a product of a “suit” nor an “award of damages”; motion granted – plaintiffs voluntarily assumed response costs and contamination tied to business pursuits of the insured which is excluded under the policy).


(county constructed outdoor shooting range for firearms training purposes for local law enforcement prohibited by local zoning and anti-noise ordinances; shooting range only ancillary to law enforcement building and building’s normal use was for firearms training and support; thus, outdoor shooting ranges not indispensible for building’s indoor training and support because indoor training could be conducted without the outdoor shooting ranges being located next to the building). 


(cooperative patron may not count qualified payment received from cooperative in patron’s I.R.C. §199 computation whether or not cooperative keeps or passes through I.R.C. §199 deduction; the only way a patron can claim an I.R.C. §199 deduction for a qualified payment from a cooperative is for the cooperative to pass-through the I.R.C. §199 amount in accordance with the provisions of I.R.C. §199(d)(3); but, net proceeds distributed on patronage basis qualify as per-unit retain allocations because they were distributed with respect to products that the cooperative markets for its patrons and patrons receive payments based on quantity of product delivered to the cooperative and are not based on cooperative’s net earnings).


(grant of special exception from zoning ordinance allowing construction of horse stable and accessory facilities affirmed; neighbor’s testimony about odors, well water contamination and flies merely speculative).


(trial court judgment for parents against son (the farm tenant) upheld; son signed one-year lease for 2004 stating that the parties would not pursue any legal action against the parties or related family members for anything related to the farm, farm equipment, or the farm's operation; no partnership created; and son's claim that he signed lease under duress raised for first time on appeal).


(dissenters' rights statute invoked upon sale of seven-generation, closely-held, family farming corporation located on Potomac River; trial court properly determined fair market value of dissenting shareholders' shares of stock; 6 percent simple interest to be applied).


(defendant violated state environmental policy by approving marine biotechnology firm’s request to import GMO algae to facility on state land; no adequate environmental assessment provided, and environmental studies provided were outdated and did not discuss impact of large-scale algae production).


(proposed operation or rock mining quarry for production of gravel held to be a public nuisance because local roads inadequate to safely handle required truck traffic; case remanded to trial court to “balance the equities” in determining how to abate the anticipated nuisance).


(subdivision lot owners sued for declaratory and injunctive relief against successors in interest to subdivision developer for enforcement of rights they claimed they were entitled pursuant to subdivision’s restrictive covenants and plat; court held that covenants did not grant lot owners right to connect to water system developed by successor-in-interest or to central livestock facilities located in common area – covenants neither expressly or impliedly create those rights).


(class action lawsuit brought against Southern Marketing Agency (formed by Dairy Farmers of America, Inc.) for alleged conspiracy to suppress prices paid for raw milk while simultaneously raising prices to the region's retailers in violation of the Sherman Act; defendant's motion to dismiss for failure to state claim on basis that Capper Volstead Act provides immunity denied because such defense cannot be resolved through a motion to dismiss).


(no constructive trust imposed against plaintiff's daughter over farm and farmhome; plaintiff deeded farm to daughter and claimed that she would be allowed to live on the farm "until her death"; evidence showed that deed of farm intended as gift to daughter; no mistaken belief present relating to effect of execution of warranty deed).  


(trial court’s award of specific performance of option contract for sale of land upheld; option contract not ambiguous and no issues of fact existed as to whether consideration given for option contract). 


(plaintiffs' action for injunctive relief against defendant for nuisance per se, private nuisance, violation of state environmental law and claim that state right-to- farm law does not protect commercial composting dismissed for lack of standing; defendant had not yet engaged in any on-farm composting and no evidence presented that defendant proposed on-farm composting would violate state law).


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