Case Summaries

(plaintiff, based on evidence, entitled to rebuttable presumption that land at issue was not wild or unoccupied; thus, presumption of permissive use of road and surrounding land not applicable; case remanded to trial court with defendant having opportunity to present rebuttal evidence).


(defendant has authority to fine indirect sources of pollution under defendant's "indirect source review" rules; fact that housing development does not emit pollutants is what causes the development to be an indirect source of pollution).


(plaintiff's claim that EPA illegally took private land (mining site near Redding, CA) by cleaning up Superfund site in 1980s dismissed; plaintiff claimed that clean-up efforts diminished value of plaintiff's property; claim filed late and court without subject matter jurisdiction; in any event plaintiff could not claim Fifth Amendment taking unless EPA action was legal in the first place - plaintiff's allegation that EPA's action was not legal undermined Fifth Amendment claim).


(reliance by IRS on I.R.C. Sec. 469(h)(2) to treat members of LLCs as automatically limited partners for passive loss purposes misplaced; general tests for material participation apply and petitioners (married couple) determined to have materially participated in charter fishing activity for tax year at issue - petitioners participated more than 100 hours and their participation was not less than the participation of any other individual during tax year; follows prior opinions in Garnett and Thompson).


(residence of plaintiff's janitor owned by plaintiff not tax-exempt; state statute only provides tax exemption for property that is used as an integral function of the church; church custodian not integral to function of church).


(petitioner liable for tax deficiency resulting from sale of family-owned almond business; sale transaction involved exchange of shares through foreign corporations and trusts for private non-taxable annuities which resulted in recognition of gain; accuracy-related penalty applied).


(petitioner, a lawyer who worked as a contract attorney during the tax year at issue, cannot deduct certain business expenses under I.R.C. Sec. 162(a); petitioner's activity not regular and continuous).


(creditor failed to prove that claim against debtor (husband of couple engaged in farming) should  be excepted from discharge; creditor failed to prove that debtor made fraudulent financial representations).


(case involves challenge to Louisville's animal-control ordinance; portion of law allowing city to keep dog that has been seized because of inhumane treatment, even if owner is ultimately found to be innocent of the charge, is unconstitutional; likewise, provision allowing city to take away dog license for any state or federal crime (even if unrelated to animal) is unconstitutional).


(plaintiff, same-sex partner of decedent who was named as agent under medical power of attorney for decedent, failed to state claim under Florida law for negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress or breach of fiduciary relationship for alleged damages arising from hospital staff's failure to provide updates on decedent's medical situation; evidence showed that hospital staff consulted with plaintiff about critical emergency medical decisions for decedent and that further information or visitation within discretion of hospital staff).


(decedent's 95% limited partner interest in FLP discounted 32.5% for lack of marketability and 11.1% for minority interest; valuation discount allowed for various items of artwork; deduction allowed under I.R.C. Sec. 2053 for interest expense on two loans incurred during administration of estate; FLP created for legitimate business reasons and decedent received FLP interests proportionate to value of property contributed to FLP - bona fide sale exception applicable).


(compensatory and punitive damages awarded to plaintiff for defendant's non-permissive use of plaintiff's property to transport construction materials onto defendant's property; defendant cut down plaintiff's trees, planted non-native trees and enlarged a pond; treble damages not awarded because plaintiff did not present sufficient evidence concerning stumpage value).


(plaintiff's allegation that when USDA's Risk Management Agency declined to approve proposed sale of certain crop insurance assets to Rain and Hail LLC it rendered the assets valueless resulting in a categorical taking in violation of the Fifth Amendment dismissed; plaintiff did not have a recognizable property interest for Fifth Amendment purposes; district court decision affirmed).


(IRS challenge to disposition of estate that was put in trust to divert assets away from family member who was liable for unpaid taxes dismissed; IRS had no claim to assets that were not inherited; IRS did not raise state statute which allows for annulment of state court judgment).


(taxpayer not liable for accuracy-related penalties for engaging in Son-of-Boss tax shelter (involving transfer to a partnership of assets with significant liabilities) because taxpayer reasonable relied on tax opinion of law firm).


(petitioner liable for tax deficiency from underreporting of gambling income which increased amount of petitioner's social security benefits included in petitioner's income; no accuracy-related penalty imposed because petitioner acted in good faith).


(taxpayer did not have cancellation of debt income in 2006 as a result of foreclosure of taxpayer's home in 2000; IRS failed to meet burden of production under I.R.C. Sec. 6201(d) of showing that debt actually discharged in 2006). 


(grain payments made to member of farmers' cooperative and eligible non-member patrons are PURPIMs and for purposes of computing cooperative's Sec. 199 deduction, cooperative's QPAI and taxable income are to be computed without regard to any deduction for grain payments to members and eligible non-member patrons).


(plaintiff sued alleging that defendant engaged in false and misleading labeling and advertising in violation of state law with respect to sales of "Nature Valley" crunchy granola as "100% natural" even though product contained high fructose corn syrup; plaintiff's state law claim not barred by "field preemption" of FDA; plaintiff's claims not impliedly preempted by doctrine of conflict preemption because FDA has deferred taking regulatory action with respect to the term "natural"; application of primary jurisdiction doctrine inappropriate; but, plaintiff has not pleaded fraud with the required particularity under Rule 9(b); plaintiff's complaint dismissed without prejudice).


(federal government must compensate two regional water authorities for diversion of water for alleged environmental preservation purposes because such diversion breached existing water contracts between Bureau of Reclamation and water districts; contracts only allow government to deliver less water than contractually required only when circumstances are beyond control of federal government and Act of Congress (1992 Central Valley Project Improvement Act) is within control of the federal government; court did not rule on whether government must compensate water contractors for underdeliveries resulting from attempts to protect endangered species).


(will construction case; will contained latent ambiguity and decedent intended to devise only 43-acre tract of farmland). 


(Canadian retirement account containing holdings in U.S. corporations not subject to U.S. estate tax; Canadian mutual funds holding stock in U.S. corporations are deemed to be Canadian corporations under the I.R.C. Sec. 301 regulations).  


(plaintiffs' common law nuisance claim against defendant energy and utility companies that they have allegedly contributed to "global warming" which has allegedly diminished the Arctic sea ice that protects the Kivalina coast from winter storms dismissed for lack of standing and barred under the political question doctrine). 


(plaintiff challenged decision of National Appeals Division under Administrative Procedures Act and filed motion for summary judgment  on issue of whether they were overpaid by insurance company on their crop loss claim; insurance company placed in liquidation and claim transferred to Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC) which determined that plaintiff had been overpaid; NAD upheld overpayment decision and plaintiff argued that FCIC had no authority to revise claim determinations made under private insurance contract; court disagreed and held that NAD has jurisdiction).  


(breach of contract case involving construction of soybean biodiesel plant). 


(plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction concerning Pennsylvania Dog Law denied; plaintiff alleged that certain provisions of the Dog Law require the promulgation of additional regulations).


(construction of pond was single act the created a continuing trespass; four-year statute of limitations inapplicable).


(petitioner did not satisfy the material participation test for passive loss purposes with respect to losses incurred in horse breeding and raising activity; accuracy-related penalty applied).


(parent corporation's redemption of stock held by subsidiary not subject to excise tax because parent and subsidiary not part of unitary business relationship).


(court refused to certify class of plaintiffs that claimed defendant (insurance company) provided them with negligent tax advice connected with defendant's conversion from mutual insurance company to stock insurance company; certification allowed on other non-tax claims).


(taxpayer not given extension of time to make mark-to-market election under I.R.C. Sec. 475(f); request for relief filed late and lateness gave taxpayer benefit of several months of hindsight to review and consider whether results of securities trading transactions would benefit from the election).


(petitioner failed to substantiate deductible vehicle expenses as required by I.R.C. Sec. 274(d) and 280F(d)(4)).


(petitioner subject to accuracy-related penalties related to underpayment of tax attributable to unreported income resulting from failure to report income IRA distributions; reliance on information obtained by Google search not substantiated so no reasonable cause for failing to report income from distributions).


(helicopter used in production agriculture for aerial surveillance and pollination may qualify for farm machinery and equipment exemption from retailers' occupation tax under 86 Ill. Adm. Code Sec. 130.305).


(taxpayer not given extension of time to make mark-to-market election under I.R.C. Sec. 475(f); request for relief filed late and lateness gave taxpayer benefit of several months of hindsight to review and consider whether results of securities trading transactions would benefit from the election).


(while debts arising from willful and malicious injury by the debtor are not dischargeable, debtor did not damage plaintiff's interests as fellow heirs because debtor's father had deeded oil and gas interests to debtor during his lifetime).


(buyer of farm property failed to carry burden of proof to show lawful and beneficial use of water, or due and sufficient cause for non-use; substantial evidence existed that prior owner had failed to use without cause for statutorily required five-year period).


(excavator cut electrical and telephone lines while digging fencepost holes which created an electrical "surge" and caused damages to an adjacent business - a tanning salon; excavator liable on negligence per se theory for violation of state statute which required excavators to notify Ohio Utilities Protection Service (OUPS) before digging; statute not intended for sole benefit of OUPS and imposes a specific, non-delegable duty on excavators with purposes of protecting the public and underground utilities; trial court judgment against landowner for $13,378.50 in compensatory damages and $500 in punitive damages upheld, but trial court judgment finding excavator not liable reversed and case remanded).


(buyer of farm property failed to carry burden of proof to show lawful and beneficial use of water, or due and sufficient cause for non-use; substantial evidence existed that prior owner had failed to use without cause for statutorily required five-year period).


(defendant's signs declaring "Thank God for dead soldiers" and "Fag troops" displayed at funeral of Marine killed in Iraq are protected speech under the First Amendment - statements were rhetorical hyperbole that could not reasonably be interpreted as factual; court unanimously vacated trial court's $5 million verdict against defendant).


(60-foot emergency public access and utility easement over defendant's property is valid and enforceable against defendant, and Notice of Invalid Easement filed in Recorder's Office is invalid and of no legal effect).


(decedent created a trust and "pour-over" will; trust divided into two trusts upon death for benefit of surviving spouse; upon death of surviving spouse remaining assets of trusts combined with 50% passing in trust to the then-living descendants of the decedent's two children; however any descendant who married outside of the Jewish faith or whose non-Jewish spouse did not convert to Judaism within one-year of marriage would be deemed deceased as of the date of the marriage and such share would revert to such descendant's parent (child of the decedent); clause language upheld - decedent entitled to distribute his property as he deemed appropriate and favor grandchildren who made choices of which the decedent approved).


(IRS considering application of automobile standard mileage rate rules to motorcycles).


(plaintiff failed to show, by preponderance of the evidence, that enforceable contract existed between parties for sale of 25,000 bushels of soybeans pursuant to hedge-to-arrive contract; plaintiff failed to timely send confirmatory memo memorializing telephone conversation, and defendant did not admit existence of contract).


(indebtedness secured by interest in entity that owned real estate is deemed to be secured by the real estate under I.R.C. Sec. 108(c)(3)(A); debt must be allocated between qualified acquisition debt and non-qualifying debt).


(debtors (married couple) opened Section 529 Education Savings Plan for daughter and deposited $14,500 into account; daughter's grandmother later added $40,000 to account with debtors filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy two weeks later; debtors did not list the account in Schedule B or on their exemptions; debtors held to have a legal interest in account as of petition date and account was property of bankruptcy estate and not excluded under 11 U.S.C. Sec. 541(c)(2) because that exception concerns restrictions on transfer "of a beneficial interest of the debtor in a trust" and there was inadequate proof of a qualifying trust interest of debtors; even if debtors had a contingent interest in the account due to potentially becoming a beneficiary, account does not contain requisite anti-alienation and anti-assignment provisions required under non-bankruptcy law that is recognized by 11 U.S.C. Sec. 541(c)(2); account also not excluded under 11 U.S.C. Sec. 541(b)(6); because that provision only excludes Sec. 529 accounts on a sliding scale - contributions made more than 720 days before filing are excluded and contributions made between 365 and 720 days before filing are excluded to extent below $5,475, and any amounts contributed within one year are not excluded; $40,000 contributed by daughter's mother also estate property - exclusion from estate for certain Sec. 529 funds based on timing of contribution rather than source of contribution). 


(non-refundable child tax credit is not exempt property under Colorado law; debtor's claimed exemption for child tax credit disallowed and debtor ordered to turn over prepetition portion of 2008 income tax refund to bankruptcy estate).


(plaintiff, environmental activist group, challenged adequacy of environmental impact statement issued by defendant, state Department of Natural Resources involving reactivation of taconite mine and tailings basin on grounds that EIS failed to address impact of reactivation on “climate change” among other things; court affirmed trial court’s validation of EIS because no reliable model of measuring greenhouse gas emissions existed).


(plaintiff foreclosed on its security interests in defendant's farm collateral and sold the collateral at auction; statute of limitations did not bar foreclosure, no subrogation to superior lien position in some of the equipment warranted, attorney fees awarded to plaintiff).


(based on all of the facts and circumstances, petitioner's horse-breeding and boarding operation was an activity engaged in for profit under I.R.C. Sec. 183 for the years at issue). 


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