Case Summaries

(grant of land use application for construction of wind farm upheld; defendant could consider application because terms of option agreement conferred on permit applicant the necessary property interest required by state law; defendant did not err in granting applicant waiver from screening requirement of local ordinance because such denial would require construction of 200-foot high fence around wind turbines which would have frustrated their effect, obstructed wind flow and provided little or no additional benefit to the community).

(boundary between adjacent properties determined to be current thread of stream; appellee failed to prove that an avulsive event occurred that fixed location of boundary even though stream moved).

(plaintiff environmental groups lack standing to challenge "salvage timber" sales by USFS; 1992 law required USFS to subject forest land projects to notice and comment, but USFS decided to not submit projects with minimal environmental impact to notice and comment procedures; plaintiffs sued and Ninth Circuit allowed case to proceed on basis that plaintiffs had right to provide input on environmental impact of logging and timber sales on 238 acres of burned forest land; Supreme Court reversed, noting the plaintiffs could not show the logging or sales would interfere with their right to enjoy the forest; court also noted that plaintiff failed to show specific intent to comment if opportunity to do so was restored, and failed to show a specific plan of any of their 700,000 members to visit a specific site; without concrete injury, no right to sue present and no right to sue simply because some procedural right taken away).

(settlement agreement between buyer of defective grain-moving system manufactured by defendant and dealer that sold defective product to buyer only releases manufacturer from joint and several liability if the original parties to the settlement agreement manifested such an intent, or if the injured party receives full compensation for the damages sought against the other tortfeasors; factual dispute remains regarded whether buyer was fully compensated as a result of settlement with dealer, thus trial court's grant of summary judgment for manufacturer reversed). 

(water rights can be obtained by adverse possession through seven years of continuous, uninterrupted, hostile and notorious adverse use if the seven year period is completed prior to 1939 change in applicable law).

(state water engineer has authority to implement a fixed water year in administration of plaintiff's storage rights).

(trial court's judgment that plaintiffs' claims for personal injuries arising from hayride accident barred by doctrine of primary assumption or risk associated with a recreational activity reversed; fact issues remain and doctrine of res ipsa loquitor available; but trial court's grant of summary judgment on negligent entrustment claim affirmed). 

(rental real estate losses not per se passive because taxpayer was a real estate professional; taxpayer satisfied material participation test by being a full-time real estate agent at a Century 21 brokerage; novel IRS argument that real estate agent is not in "brokerage" business rejected).

(state water engineer has authority to implement a fixed water year in administration of plaintiff's storage rights).

(taxpayer's property was properly disqualified from farm use special assessment because owner is hobby farmer who farms sporadically and is not engaged in bona fide profit-seeking farming operation because he consumes much of what he grows).

(stipends paid to medical residents are not scholarships or fellowships that are exempt from tax; but, lower court's holding that student exemption from FICA doesn't apply to residents vacated and case remanded for further proceedings regarding student exemption).

(transfer by trustee of multi-million dollar tree farm to trust in which trustee named as sole beneficiary which was then subsequently sold violated fiduciary duties, required court approval and violated clear and unambiguous terms of trust; proceeds of sale ordered to be repaid with interest).

(Idaho's ban on political payroll deductions constitutional even though payroll deductions for union dues permissible). 

(successor-in-interest to defunct ethanol plant not entitled to subsidy payments owed to predecessor; 2008 statutory change prohibiting state from making ethanol subsidy deficiency payments to an entity that does not produce ethanol on commercial scale upheld as constitutional; defendant's motion to dismiss granted).

(EPA's regulations involving coarse and fine particulate matter and distinguishing rural and urban areas upheld as reasonable; burden on parties challenging regulations to prove that regulated operations are not harming the environment or the public). 

(individual can be a "migratory bird preservation facility" for purposes of prosecution under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act).

(debt collector does not violate federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act when it accurately states the amount owed, but breaks down the principal and interest in an arguably false manner). 

(plaintiffs not entitled to easement over driveway for ingress and egress; plaintiffs only entitled to express easement granted in deed for access from a different point). 

(upon payment of federal estate tax in installments under I.R.C. Sec. 6166, the lien against the property subject to the election may not exceed the amount specified in I.R.C. Sec. 6324(b)(2), but may be less that that amount).

(case involves existence of purported driveway easement; deed which referred to existence of easement found to be part of sales contract and ran with the land).

(plaintiff's property, separated by state highway, valued for tax purposes as separate parcels rather than as a single farm; property on east side of road not entitled to agricultural use assessment because it did not meaningfully contribute to the west side's property farm production).

(property owner entitled to erect gate across dirt road over which other party had easement; owner acted reasonably in erecting gate to prevent dumping and offered easement holder a key to the gate to allow them use of the easement; burden on easement holder negligible). 

(defendant's sentence for marijuana possession upheld; no reasonable expectation of privacy in trailer where defendant spent the night, and trailer used occasionally as a place to sleep while performing farm chores does not constitute a "home" for purposes of establishing Fourth Amendment protection in curtilage of home).

(preliminary injunction barring state of California from enforcing state law which became effective January 1, 2009, that bars selling of pork for human consumption derived from butchered hogs that are too sick to stand on their own; Federal Meat Inspection Act preempts state law; federal law requires veterinarian to be on site at time of slaughter and prohibits slaughter of "downer" livestock).

(trial court granted preliminary injunction barring state of California from enforcing state law which became effective January 1, 2009, that bars selling of pork for human consumption derived from butchered hogs that are too sick to stand on their own; Federal Meat Inspection Act preempts state law; federal law requires veterinarian to be on site at time of slaughter and prohibits slaughter of "downer" livestock; trial court order vacated on appeal - state law not preempted and all such animals must be immediately euthanized; states not simply limited to excluding animals from slaughter on a species-wide basis).

(bankruptcy distributions to a creditor bank were a nondeductible return of equity rather than damage payments; trustees may not take a deduction for unpaid state taxes until federal tax liability is assessed).

(case involves Bivens action against local Farm Service Agency County Supervisor who allegedly failed to perform duties mandated her position, knowingly made false representations and concealed improper actions; motion for default judgment against defendant Farm Services Agency for damages caused by defendant's failure to follow specific precautions required by federal law when plaintiff farmers became 180 days delinquent on their debt granted in part and denied in part).

(estate may not avoid its state tax obligations on a property transfer by electing not to claim a state tax credit on its federal return; Illinois estate taxes are due as the credit would have been computed and allowed under I.R.C. Sec. 2001).

(taxpayers permitted to make an I.R.C. Sec. 179 election without Commissioner's consent on amended return for tax years beginning after 2007 and before 2011; follows Rev. Proc. 2008-54, 2008-38 I.R.B. 722).

(U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers has authority to issue valley fill permits under the Clean Water Act for mountaintop coal mining activities that result in discharges into downstream sediment treatment ponds without undergoing more-extensive environmental reviews; reversal of district court opinion).

(private gate installed across unpaved rural road ordered to be removed; road determined to be county road inasmuch as road's entire length contained in easement specifying that no private party was allowed to obstruct).Annotation

(Ag Adjustment Act provision contained in 7 U.S.C. Sec. 1359dd(b)(2)(E)-(F) unambiguous and USDA's regulatory interpretation not entitled to deference; under Act, "processor" is an entity who processes sugar and Act requires USDA to eliminate processor's sugar marketing allocation when processor permanently terminates operations; Pacific Northwest Sugar Company permanently terminated operations before sale of assets to plaintiff and USDA erred in approving transfer of allocation to another sugar company; subject sugar marketing allocation must be redistributed pro rata among all sugar processors).

(married couple not liable for cancellation of indebtedness income relating to repossession of their vehicle by lender; neither lender nor IRS could substantiate validity of Form 1099-C and value of repossessed vehicle same as cancelled debt at time of repossession; once accuracy of Form 1099-C challenged, burden of proof shifted to IRS under I.R.C. §§ 7491(a)(1) and 6201(d)).

(defendant willfully and deliberately infringed plaintiff's seed patent by saving seed; plaintiff awarded $44,220.00 for patent infringement damages, $9,977.14 for prejudgment interest; $44,200.00 for attorneys' fees, $19,555.18 for costs, and $44,220.00 for enhanced damages).

(one-year notice not required to terminate oral lease because relationship between parties was a periodic tenancy).

(defendant's condemnation of private property for easement to lay underground electricity lines for wind farm project upheld; condemnation satisfied "public use" requirement of Constitution because wind farm would create jobs, provide infrastructure and possibly stimulate new private sector economic development).

(state right-to-farm law bars nuisance lawsuit against defendant for alleged damages caused by dust emissions from defendant's grain elevators; plaintiff bears burden to establish that defendant did not follow generally accepted agricultural practices and failed to do so in this case).

(debtor's pre-petition disclaimer as trust beneficiary of $34,000 interest in family trust does not qualify as a "transfer of an interest of the debtor in property" under the federal fraudulent conveyance provision in the Bankruptcy Code).

(10-acre parcel qualified for tax assessment as agricultural property; farming activities has remained unchanged and clerical error caused plaintiff to miss deadline to challenge reclassification).

(plaintiff not liable for injuries sustained by farm tenant in auto accident that occurred off the farming premises; parties not in partnership and plaintiff not vicariously liable for tenant's negligence; tenant not acting within scope of farming duties at time of accident).

(defendant's motion to dismiss denied; plaintiff class alleged that defendant falsely labeled defendant's "Healthy Choice" pasta sauce as being all natural when it actually contains high fructose corn syrup; plaintiffs' claims not preempted by Nutrition Labeling and Education Act or Federal Food, Drug Cosmetic Act (FDCA); no implied preemption).

(insufficient evidence present to establish acquisition of title via adverse possession).

(prosecution sufficiently established and probable cause present that defendant committed animal torture and failed to provide adequate care to horses; prosecution not required to prove that defendant intended to harm the animals).

(plaintiff farmers must disclose Schedule F tax filings to defendant seed companies so that seed companies can determine amount of seed purchases; public disclosure of tax returns relevant to subject matter of case and information contained in returns not otherwise readily available; if additional tax return information necessary, defendant may file later request for those items).

(neither ownership of livestock nor intent to graze necessary to qualify for grazing permit under Taylor Grazing Act; BLM has no duty to determine that property was to be used for grazing before issuing a permit because BLM’s duty only arises after issuance of permit).

(trial court’s grant of summary judgment for horse owner in case involving injuries sustained by rider while on trail ride on one of owner’s horses reversed; issues of material fact remained as to whether risk of vine wrapping around horse’s flank was inherent risk in trail riding activity, and horse owner not necessarily well aware of rider’s knowledge of horse riding).

(recording of oil and gas lease, statement in late father's will and payment of property taxes on subject property did not establish ownership by adverse possession).

(defendant farmer liable to plaintiff for damage to plaintiff's broccoli crop caused by aerially applied pesticides; crop dusting held to be inherently dangerous activity which is an exception to the general rule of nonliability of an employer for an independent contractor's negligence).

(discount for built-in-gains tax for S corporation stock was 17.4 percent (farmland and marketable securities were primary assets); discount for built-in-gains tax on stock in second corporation containing marketable securities was 23.6 percent).