Justia Arkansas Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court concluding that Regions Bank and Optimum Agriculture, LLC had lien priority to crop proceeds and that Optimum Agriculture, LLC was entitled to a statutory landlord lien, holding that the circuit court did not clearly err. On appeal, AgriFund, LLC, one of the three creditors in this intercreditor dispute over lien priority to the crop proceeds, argued that its lien was superior to those held by Regions and Optimum. The Supreme Court disagreed and affirmed, holding that, under the facts and circumstances of this case, the circuit court did not clearly err in finding that AgriFund did not have priority to the proceeds and that Optimum held a landlord's lien. View "Agrifund, LLC v. Regions Bank" on Justia Law

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In a certified question of law regarding the requirement for creditors to comply strictly with the Arkansas Statutory Foreclosure Act the Supreme Court held that Ark. Code Ann. 18-50-104(b)(4) requires disclosure of the specific default under the terms of the mortgage agreement. The Court by the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Arkansas certified the question of law to the Supreme Court, asking whether mere acknowledgment that a default has occurred is sufficient for the trustee's Notice of Default and Intention to Sell or whether section 18-5-104(b)(4) requires the trustee's notice of default to set forth the default for which foreclosure is made. The Supreme Court answered that the statute requires that the notice must state the specific default that occurred. View "Davis v. Pennymac Loan Services, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part the circuit court's order awarding damages under the Arkansas Civil Rights Act to Alexander Apartments, LLC and certain tenants after determining that the City of Little Rock violated Appellees' due process rights under the Arkansas Constitution, holding that the circuit court correctly found that the City violated Appellees' due process rights but incorrectly awarded damages. On appeal, the City argued that it did not violate Alexander Apartments' or the tenants' due process rights under the Arkansas Constitution. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) the circuit court was correct as a matter of law that the City violated Alexander Apartments' and the tenants' due process rights under the Arkansas Constitution; (2) substantial evidence supported the circuit court's award of damages to Alexander Apartments in the amount of $432,744.33; and (3) the circuit court erroneously considered events and circumstances that were unrelated to the City's due process violations in determining the tenants' damages awards. View "City of Little Rock v. Alexander Apartments, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court granting Walt & Lee Keenihan Foundation, Inc.'s (Foundation) motion for summary judgment and dismissing Heritage Properties Limited Partnership's (Heritage) complaint seeking to set aside an alleged fraudulent conveyance to the Foundation pursuant to a transfer on death (TOD) beneficiary designation on an account owned by Leta Keenihan, holding that the circuit court erred in deciding this case by summary judgment. Specifically, the Court held (1) the circuit court clearly had jurisdiction in the present case; (2) Heritage, as a creditor, had standing to pursue its claim under the Fraudulent Transfer Act against the Foundation as the transferee; and (3) Heritage was not required to present evidence of Keenihan's intent at the time of the TOD designation, but the evidence raised a factual issue precluding summary judgment as to whether Keenihan reasonably should have believed that she would incur debts beyond her ability to pay. View "Heritage Properties Limited Partnership v. Walt & Lee Keenihan Foundation, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the circuit court granting an improvement district's (District 84) request for foreclosure and entering judgment against TND Developers, LLC for the total of unpaid improvement district taxes and ordering all TND lands within the district sold with the proceeds applied against the improvement district's judgment, holding that Appellants' claims on appeal failed. On appeal, Appellants argued, inter alia, that District 84's lien for nonpayment of improvement taxes could only attach to individual tracts upon which taxes were actually delinquent and unpaid, and therefore, an in rem judgment could not be attached to certain tracts. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Ark. Code Ann. 14-94-118 makes clear that all unreleased property within the district is subject to District 84's tax lien; (2) because District 84's complaint plainly described the land it sought to foreclose, as well as the tracts excluded from the action, the circuit court did not err in allowing District 84 to proceed on the basis of a statutorily defective complaint; (3) District 84 did not improperly refuse prepayment of improvement taxes; (4) Appellants' claims for equitable estoppel or equitable subordination failed; and (5) the circuit court's order did not violate Appellants' due process rights. View "Bullock's Kentucky Fried Chicken, Inc. v. City of Bryant, Arkansas" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court granting Plaintiffs' motion for class certification in this action alleging that Defendant, which leased with Plaintiffs to drill and sell hydrocarbons from the leased property, improperly suspended royalty payments, holding that the requirements of numerosity and superiority were met. The complaint alleged that the royalty payments were suspended in an effort by Defendant to recoup improper deductions. Plaintiffs moved for class certification, which the trial court granted. Defendant appealed, arguing that Plaintiffs failed to satisfy the numerosity and superiority requirements. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in determining that the numerosity and superiority requirements were satisfied in this case. View "Stephens Production Co. v. Mainer" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court denying Appellants' motion to dismiss Appellees' complaint on sovereign immunity grounds but reversed the circuit court's grant of the temporary injunction, holding that the injunction failed to comply with Ark. R. Civ. P. 65. Appellees, landowners whose only property was an unpaved road that crossed property owned by the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission (AGFC), brought this action alleging that AGFC had blocked their access to their property by installing a locked gate over the road. Appellees sought enforcement through injunctive relief. The circuit court denied AGFC's motion to dismiss, concluding that AGFC was not entitled to sovereign immunity, and ordered AGFC to immediately provide a key to the locked gate and allow Appellees vehicular access using the road. The Supreme Court held (1) because the complaint alleged that AGFC acted illegally or in an ultra vires manner the complaint was not subject to dismissal under the doctrine of sovereign immunity; and (2) the temporary injunction must be dissolved for failure to comply with Rule 65. View "Arkansas Game & Fish Commission v. Heslep" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court granting a motion to dismiss filed by the Arkansas State Highway Commission and the Arkansas Department of Transportation and its director in this challenge to a contract entered into between the Department and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), holding that the circuit court correctly found that the complaint failed to state facts upon which relief could be granted. Under the contract in this case the Department would cede certain property to USFWS in exchange for a fifty-acre easement over land in the Cache River and White River Wildlife Refuges in order to build a new bridge on Highway 79. The agreement further required the Department to convey additional land to USFWS and to demolish three bridges. Appellants filed a motion for preliminary injunction and complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief, arguing that the contract was unconscionable, entered into under duress, and constituted a windfall to USFWS. The circuit court dismissed the complaint. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the complaint lacked sufficient facts to state a claim for an illegal exaction. View "Prince v. Arkansas State Highway Commission" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court's entry of a $650 deficiency judgment against the Arkansas State Highway Commission after a jury determined that the Commission owed KW-DW Properties, LLC $36,000 for just compensation in an eminent domain action, holding that substantial evidence supported the verdict, there was no error in the amount of recovery, and the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in denying KW-DW's motion for a new trial. The Commission filed a declaration taking approximately 2.36 acres of KW-DW's property for a highway project. The matter proceeded to a jury trial for final determination of the compensation due. The jury determined the final, just compensation due to be $36,000. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, while the motion for a new trial was timely, it nonetheless provided no basis for reversal. View "KW-DW Properties, LLC v. Arkansas State Highway Commission" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court the circuit court’s denial of Appellant’s motion to dismiss and grant of a default judgment in favor of Arkansas Teachers Federal Credit Union (ATFCU), holding that the circuit court did not err in granting a default judgment. On appeal, Appellant argued that the default judgment entered against him was void because he was not timely served. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that Appellant was served one day before the time for service was expired, and therefore, the circuit court properly denied the motion to dismiss and properly granted default judgment in favor of ATFCU. View "Gore v. Arkansas Teachers Federal Credit Union" on Justia Law