Justia Virginia Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Real Estate Law
Clifton v. Wilkinson
In 1957, special commissioners, appointed in a partition suit, conveyed to Wilkinson an 18.35-acre tract adjoining Route 704 in Washington County. In 1961, the State Highway Commissioner instituted condemnation, acquiring a 3.83-acre strip of land through the tract for construction of Interstate Highway I-81, leaving a 4.88-acre parcel north of I-81 that retained frontage on Route 704 and a 9.64-acre parcel south of I-81 that became landlocked. Condemnation commissioners awarded Wilkinson $1450 for the land taken and $2450 for damages to the residue property. After the condemnation, Wilkinson gained access to the landlocked tract for farming purposes by renting a neighboring 18-acre tract now owned by the Cliftons. In 2006, Wilkinson discontinued farming and ceased to rent the Clifton property. In 2008, the Cliftons, having failed to reach an agreement with Wilkinson’s widow for a purchase of the landlocked parcel, terminated her permissive use of the access lane and blocked it. Wilkinson sought a declaratory judgment that she had an easement by necessity. The trial court ruled that she was entitled to an easement by necessity. The Virginia Supreme Court reversed, reasoning that the tract did not become landlocked by a conveyance from a former owner severing a former unity of title, so no implied grant of a right of ingress and egress arose. View "Clifton v. Wilkinson" on Justia Law
Martin v. Garner
James and Christine Garner filed an amended complaint seeking a declaration for determination of title to a private alley running between their property and property owned by H. Curtiss Martin and Virginia Drewry (Martin). The circuit court (1) determined that the Garners held fee simple title up to the centerline of the portion of the alley abutting Martin's property; and (2) dismissed Martin's cross-claim against other abutting property owners seeking a determination as to ownership of the remaining length of the alley because there was no justiciable controversy as to the abutting owners. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court (1) properly ruled that the Garners owned in fee simple up to the centerline of that portion of the alley abutting Martin's property; and (2) did not err in ruling there was no justiciable controversy with regard to Martin's claim of ownership of the remaining length of the alley, as Martin failed to allege that the abutting property owners had asserted an ownership interest in the alley.View "Martin v. Garner" on Justia Law
Posted in: Real Estate Law
Martin v. City of Alexandria
James and Christine Garner sought side and rear yard variances in connection with a proposed single family home on their property. The City Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) voted to approve the Garners' application and grant the variances. H. Curtiss Martin and Virginia Drewry, whose property adjoined the Garners' property to the west, appealed. The circuit court upheld the decision of the BZA. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court erred in its judgment because the BZA's decision was contrary to law. Specifically, the Court held that none of the conditions asserted by the Garners to justify their request for a variance satisfied the requirements of section 9.18(b) of the City Charter, which enumerates the conditions and justifications the property owner must show in order for the BZA to authorize a variance. View "Martin v. City of Alexandria" on Justia Law
The Falls Church v. Protestant Episcopal Church in the U.S.
The parties to this complex dispute were Plaintiffs, the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Virginia (the Diocese) and the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America (TEC), and Defendants, seven local congregations, including The Falls Church (collectively, the CANA congregations), Appellant in the present case. After The Falls Church disaffiliated from TEC, Plaintiffs filed complaints asserting that all personal and real property held by the CANA congregations was actually held in trust for TEC and the Diocese. The trial court found that Plaintiffs carried their burden of proving they had contractual and propriety interests in the church property at issue and granted relief to Plaintiffs. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part, holding (1) Plaintiffs had a proprietary interest in the properties, and therefore, a constructive denominational trust should be imposed in the properties; (2) the trial court correctly ordered Appellant to convey the property to Plaintiffs; and (3) the trial court erred in its disposition of personal property acquired by Appellant after the vote to disaffiliate. View "The Falls Church v. Protestant Episcopal Church in the U.S." on Justia Law
Henderson v. Ayres & Hartnett, P.C.
Appellant retained Law Firm as his counsel in two cases filed against Appellant by his brother. The parties settled. Thereafter, the circuit court (1) ordered Appellant to pay $130,000 to his attorney from proceeds deposited with the circuit court pursuant to the settlement agreement; (2) denied Appellant a jury trial on the attorney's fee issue; and (3) refused to allow an appeal bond pursuant to Va. Code Ann. 8.01-676.1(C), which would have suspended execution of its award. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court (1) had jurisdiction to resolve Law Firm's fee dispute with Appellant; (2) did not err in overruling Appellant's jury trial request; and (3) erred in refusing Appellant's request to post an appeal bond and suspend the award, but because the court's award to Law Firm was proper, the error was harmless.View "Henderson v. Ayres & Hartnett, P.C." on Justia Law
Glasser & Glasser, PLC v. Jack Bays, Inc.
Jack Bays, Inc. did site work on the construction of a new church (New Life). Jack Bays contracted with several subcontractors, eleven of which were parties to this action. New Life obtained additional funds for the project through three lenders. The Lenders were listed on the deed of trust for the new financing. After New Life stopped making to Jack Bays due to lack of funding, Jack Bays recorded its memorandum of mechanics' lien against New Life and terminated the construction contract. All Contractors timely filed complaints against the Lenders. The circuit court ordered that the property be sold at public auction with the proceeds to be applied in satisfaction of the mechanics' liens in the following order of priority: Subcontractors, Jack Bays, and Lenders. The Lenders appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that the circuit court (1) did not err in finding that Jack Bays' lien was valid; (2) was not plainly wrong in determining that the Contractors' liens had priority over the Lenders' deed of trust; but (3) erred in approving the sale of the entire parcel of land to satisfy the Contractors' liens, where no evidence was introduced to support this decision. Remanded.View "Glasser & Glasser, PLC v. Jack Bays, Inc." on Justia Law
D.R. Horton, Inc. v. Bd. of Supervisors
A real estate developer (Developer), purchased property contained within a proposed sudivision. The County issued to Developer a total of fifty-two building permits, for which Developer paid a proffer fee of $12,000, which was $4,000 more than Developer expected to pay. In 2007, Developer filed an action asking the trial court to declare that the County could not lawfully assess the $4,000 fee. In 2011, after the fee had been paid on all fifty-two permits, the court found that the $4,000 fee was unlawful. In 2008, Developer instituted a restitution action seeking reimbursement of the fees. The trial court consolidated this restitution action and the declaratory judgment action for a bench trial. After ruling in Developer's favor in the declaratory judgment action, the court ruled in the restitution action that Developer was barred from being awarded reimbursement of the unlawful fees because it paid them "voluntarily" within the meaning of the voluntary payment doctrine. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not err in holding that Developer's action for reimbursement of the disputed fees was barred under the voluntary payment doctrine.View "D.R. Horton, Inc. v. Bd. of Supervisors" on Justia Law