Ten Years After Colorado’s Adverse Possession Amendment: a brief look backwards and forwards

In response to national outrage over an infamous adverse possession case in Boulder, Colorado, in which a lawyer and a judge intentionally took their neighbors’ undeveloped land through adverse possession, the Colorado legislature amended the state’s adverse possession statute (C.R.S. § 38-41-101) to make the claim significantly harder to prove.  It did this because it believed “there were insufficient ‘obstacles’ to establishing a claim for adverse possession under the existing law.”[1]  Effective July 1, 2008, the amendment created a heightened burden of proof, additional element requirements, and the possibility of a losing defendant recovering money from successful plaintiffs for the value of the land they took and the taxes the defendant had paid on that land.… Read More »

Author: Luke Mecklenburg | Leave a comment Tagged , , , , , , ,

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Wait, You Want An HOA?! Restricting Implied Common-Interest Communities

By: Neal McConomy

While the butt of many jokes and a thorn in the side of some property owners, homeowners associations (“HOAs”) serve the vital function of collecting and disbursing funds to care for and maintain common areas of residential developments. Without HOAs, neighborhood open spaces, parks, and other amenities risk falling into disrepair through a type of tragedy of the commons, wherein residents use such amenities but refuse to subsidize care and maintenance for these common areas believing someone else will pony-up the funds. HOAs, when properly organized and managed, avoid this problem by ensuring everyone pays their fair shares for the common areas.… Read More »

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Cybersecurity on Your Project: Why Not Follow National Security Strategy?

By Rick Erickson

In its recent Cybersecurity Strategy, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) defined “cyberspace” as “the independent network of information technology infrastructure, including the Internet, telecommunications networks, computers, information and communications systems, and embedded processors and controllers.”  To DHS, protecting cyberspace includes threats against “federal and nonfederal information systems.”  In other words, both private and public interests are at risk.  In his 2018 National Defense Strategy, U.S. Department of Defense Secretary, Jim Mattis, essentially concurred in declaring cyberspace a “warfighting domain” and promising to “invest in cyber defense, resilience, and the continued integration of cyber capabilities into the full spectrum of military operations.”

The construction industry is a key player in cybersecurity because contractors, designers and owners are responsible for building and delivering projects providing critical public services like national defense, health care, law enforcement, transportation, and utilities.… Read More »

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Who says you can’t choose between liquidated damages or actual damages?

In Colorado, courts enforce liquidated damages provisions if three elements are satisfied: (1) the parties intended to liquidate damages; (2) the amount of liquidated damages was a reasonable estimate of the presumed actual damages caused by a breach; and (3) at the time of contracting, it was difficult to ascertain the amount of actual damages that would result from a breach. But what happens when a contract gives a party a right to choose between liquidated damages or actual damages? This seems troublesome because it allows a party to set the floor for their damages without limitation if actual damages exceed the contractual amount.… Read More »

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Orchestrating Bias: Arbitrator’s Undisclosed Membership in Philharmonic Group with Pauly Shore’s Attorney Not Grounds to Reverse Award in Real Estate Dispute

By:  Lyndsey Torp

The California court of appeal recently issued an unpublished decision in Knispel v. Shore, 2017 WL 2492535, affirming a judgment confirming an arbitration award in a real estate dispute involving Pauly Shore.  The court of appeal held that the arbitrator’s failure to disclose her membership in the Los Angeles Lawyers Philharmonic Group with the attorney representing Pauly was not grounds to overturn the judgment.

The underlying arbitration involved a dispute between Michael Scott Shore, on the one hand, and his brother, Pauly, among others, on the other hand, regarding certain residential property located on Sunset Boulevard near The Comedy Store in West Hollywood (owned and operated by their mother, Mitzi Shore).… Read More »

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Federal Court Issues Permanent Injunction and Permanently Shuts Down Santa Ysabel’s Desert Rose Bingo

By: Anthony J. Carucci

On December 12, 2016, Judge Battaglia of the United States District Court for the Southern District of California issued the Court’s long-awaited ruling on the State of California and Federal Government’s motions for summary judgment in the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel tribe’s (the “Tribe”) Desert Rose Bingo case. The State of California argued that the Tribe’s Internet bingo website, Desert Rose Bingo, offered a Class III game—as classified under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (“IGRA”)—to patrons in violation of the Tribe’s Tribal-State Compact with the State. Both the State and the Federal Government also argued that the Tribe’s Internet bingo operation violated the federal Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (“UIGEA”) by allowing patrons to participate off-reservation.… Read More »

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Avoiding Lender Liability for Credit-Related Actions in California

By: Anthony J. Carucci

Aside from general statutory prohibitions on lender discrimination, there are certain circumstances under California law in which lenders may be held liable for credit-related actions, such as negotiating or denying credit. See generally 11 Cal. Real Est. § 35:3 (explaining that the business of lending money is subject to the Unruh Civil Rights Act, Cal. Civ. Code § 51 et seq., the Fair Employment and Housing Act, Cal. Gov. Code § 12900 et seq., the Federal Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3601 et seq., and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1691, et seq.Read More »

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Common Law Indemnity Claim Affirmed on Justifiable Beliefs

By Rick Erickson https://www.swlaw.com/people/rick_erickson

Yesterday, the Arizona Court of Appeals issued an interesting opinion in Hatch Development v. Solomon. Hatch illustrated two key points in real estate and construction litigation: (1) a contractor’s indemnity does not always require an expressly written obligation; and (2) when facts are undisputed that a contractor is solely at fault for a construction defect, a property owner can be indemnified after paying a neighboring property owner for damages caused by the contractor’s defective work.

Hatch was a homeowner who hired Solomon to install sewer lines. After installation, heavy rain led to muddy water in the sewer lines, suggesting a defect in the installation. … Read More »

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California’s One-Action Rule May Apply to Federal Lenders

By: Anthony J. Carucci

California’s one-action rule provides that “[t]here can be but one form of action for the recovery of any debt or the enforcement of any right secured by mortgage upon real property or an estate for years therein . . . .” Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 726(a). In other words, the one-action rule prescribes that the only process for recovery of a debt secured by a mortgage or deed of trust is to foreclose on the lien. The rule aims to prevent a multiplicity of actions and vexatious litigation, and to force a beneficiary to look to all of the security as the primary fund for payment of a debt before looking to the trustor’s other assets.… Read More »

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Eminent Domain: Be Careful What You Ask For

By:  Richard Herold and Patrick Paul

The condemnation[1] of property for public works may not always be as clean and easy as the government would like.  Although local governments are often critical players in the cleanup and redevelopment of contaminated properties, contaminated property can: (1) trigger disclosure requirements; (2) lead to environmental liability, for example, under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (“CERCLA” or “Superfund”) (42 U.S.C. §9601, et seq.) or an analogous state statute;[2] and/or (3) impact the ultimate valuation of the property.

Local governments can be liable under CERCLA as any one of the following:

  • A current owner or operator of the contaminated property
  • An owner or operator of the property at the time of contamination
  • A party who arranged for the disposal of contamination
  • One who transported the hazardous substances to the property

Condemning authorities can, however, avail of Superfund’s bona fide prospective purchaser defense by engaging in all appropriate inquiry in advance of condemnation and/or taking reasonable post condemnation steps with respect to any known or discovered contamination.… Read More »

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Lenders Should Contract for the Right to Recover Lost Goodwill Proceeds when Commercial Property is taken in Eminent Domain

By: Anthony J. Carucci

Business Goodwill Generally

In California, the “goodwill” of a business “consists of the benefits that accrue to a business as a result of its location, reputation for dependability, skill or quality, and any other circumstances resulting in probable retention of old or acquisition of new patronage.” Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 1263.510(b). Put another way: “Goodwill is the amount by which a business’s overall value exceeds the value of its constituent assets, often due to a recognizable brand name, a sterling reputation, or an ideal location. Regardless of the cause, however, goodwill almost always translates into a business’s profitability.” People ex rel.Read More »

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Property Taxes: A Shopping Center May Not Always be a Shopping Center

By:  Rick Herold, Craig McPike & Ben Reeves

In the world of real property taxes, Valuation + Classification = Assessed Valuation.  Sounds simple, right?  The County Assessor determines the first factor, valuation (subject to certain guidelines under applicable Arizona law).  The Arizona State Legislature determines the second factor, the property’s legal classification and corresponding assessment ratio (i.e., tax rate).  Given the wide disparity in assessment ratios, classification can be a major issue for taxpayers.

Recently, the Court of Appeals confirmed that a shopping center for valuation purposes may not be a shopping center for classification purposes.  Scottsdale/101 Associates LLC v.Read More »

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Successful Laches Defense Becoming Commonplace in Colorado

By: Neal McConomy

Boiler plate language in responsive pleadings often includes “Plaintiff’s claims are barred by the doctrine of laches” (or “The doctrine of laches bars Plaintiff’s claims” if you prefer the active voice).  However, litigation of a laches defense is fairly rare, and a defendant successfully arguing a laches defense is something of a legal Haley’s Comet, only less reliable. Often, courts refuse to consider a laches defense if a statute of limitations applies. See e.g., Ivani Contracting Corp. v. City of New York, 103 F.3d 257 (2d Cir. 1997); and Lyons P’ship v. Morris Costumes, Inc., 243 F.3d 789 (4th Cir.… Read More »

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Arizona Chamber of Commerce Forms Policy Group for Real Estate and Community Development Issues

By:  Bob Henry

The Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry has formed a new policy committee for “Real Estate and Community Development Issues.”  The Arizona Chamber’s policy committees—now 16 different committees that cover policy areas ranging from “Budget & Government Reform” to “Workplace, Workers Compensation and Insurance”—are actively involved in supporting and opposing legislation on issues that are of particular importance to the Arizona business community.  The Arizona Chamber’s formation of a new policy committee focusing specifically on real estate and community development issues should thus be welcome news to those who do business in the real estate industry in Arizona. … Read More »

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Governmental Power and Property Lines

By: Neal McConomy

On May 27, 2014, the Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Town of Dillon v. Yacht Club Condos. Home Owners Ass’n, 2014 CO 37.  Overturning the rulings of both the trial court and the Colorado Court of Appeals, the Colorado Supreme Court reaffirmed the long-standing deference Colorado law shows to state legislative bodies exerting their police powers.  This opinion reminds Colorado property owners that property rights and interests end at the property line and no one should rely on the ability to use public land around their property in the future.

Between 1965 and 1967, a developer constructed the Yacht Club Condominiums in Dillon, Colorado, consisting of three buildings and fifty condominium units. … Read More »

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Seller Liability for Disclosures (or Non-Disclosures), Part 2

May 12, 2014

By:  Kevin J. Parker

In our blog post dated April 29, 2013, Matthew Fischer discussed the case Lerner v. DMB Realty, LLC (Arizona Court of Appeals, November 27, 2012).  In that case, the Arizona Court of Appeals addressed, among other things, the viability of a claim wherein a buyer of residential real estate alleged that the seller had an obligation – under the facts of that case – to disclose that they were selling because of the presence of a registered sex offender next door.

The complicating factor was that Arizona, by statute, expressly states that sellers are not obligated to disclose the existence of registered sex offenders in the vicinity. … Read More »

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A Compilation and Summary of Real Estate Related Legislation Enacted by the 51st Arizona Legislature

On Friday June 14, 2013, at 12:59 a.m., on the 152nd day of the regular legislative session, the 51st Arizona Legislature adjourned sine die, or “without assigning a day for a further meeting or hearing.”  Generally, except as otherwise noted in the act itself, legislation in Arizona is not effective until 90 days after the regular session adjourns sine die.  Accordingly, on Friday, September 13, 2013, the vast majority of legislation enacted by the Arizona Legislature in the 2013 legislative session went into effect.

Although real estate related bills certainly did not dominate the legislative landscape this past session, they still held their own. … Read More »

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The Risk of Intent in Your Letter of Intent

By:  Richard Herold

Although the press frequently reports cavalierly on the execution of a “letter of intent” (“LOI”), as if it is a meaningless document, a LOI can be enforced if the parties intend to be bound, which turns primarily upon a close review of the language of the LOI and, sometimes, the surrounding facts and circumstances.

 First and foremost, under Arizona’s statute of frauds at A.R.S. §44-101(6), to have an enforceable agreement to sell real property, it must be in writing and signed by the “party to be charged” (i.e., the party you want to sue or hold accountable under the agreement).… Read More »

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