Justia Corporate Compliance Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law
Takiguchi v. Venetian Condominiums Maintenance Corp.
Venetian Condominiums Maintenance Corporation was a condominium project with 368 condominium units in the University Town Center area of San Diego. It was a nonprofit mutual benefit corporation governed by the California Nonprofit Mutual Benefit Corporation Law. Ali Ghorbanzadeh owned 18 units at the Venetian. He was elected to Venetian’s board of directors in 2008. In 2009, Ghorbanzadeh appointed his son Sean Gorban to the board. They controlled the three-member board continuously from 2009 through at least 2021. Guy Takiguchi was elected as the third director in 2015. From 2009 to 2021, the board repeatedly failed to hold annual elections, either due to the absence of a quorum or for other reasons. Ghorbanzadeh’s seat was up for re-election at the 2020 annual meeting, and there were two other candidates for the seat, including Nishime. The Ballot Box, Inc. contracted as the Venetian's inspector of elections, declaring there was no quorum for the meeting because Ballot Box had only received 166 ballots, and the quorum was 188. Nishime participated in the January 20, 2021 meeting remotely by computer and took multiple screenshots of the participants. Nishime was able to identify eight members who were present (representing 37 units). Had those units been counted with written ballots, there would have been a quorum of 203 present at the meeting. The eight participating members who represented units for which no ballot had been submitted included Ghorbanzadeh (representing 18 units), his son Sean Gorban (representing one unit), his other son Brian Gorban (representing three units), and an ally of Ghorbanzadeh’s who was also running for the director’s seat (representing one unit). An allegation asserted Ghorbanzadeh and his allies did not submit their ballots “in a deliberate and tactical effort to not reach quorum so they could remain in power another year or two.” Venetian submitted no evidence refuting this accusation. The Court of Appeal concluded the trial court properly ordered Venetian to hold a meeting for the purpose of counting the 166 written ballots cast for its January 20, 2021 annual member meeting and election. Substantial evidence supported the trial court’s finding that there was a quorum present for that meeting. By adjourning the meeting based on the purported absence of a quorum, Venetian failed to conduct the scheduled meeting or cover the noticed agenda items, which included counting the ballots and determining the results. View "Takiguchi v. Venetian Condominiums Maintenance Corp." on Justia Law
Bourhis v. Lord
Plaintiffs, including a California corporation (Corporation), filed a lawsuit for property damage against Defendants. Before trial, Defendants learned the state had suspended Corporation's corporate powers for nonpayment of taxes. A jury returned a verdict in favor of Defendants. Plaintiffs, including Corporation, appealed. On December 1, 2011, Defendants filed separate motions to dismiss Corporation's appeals because its corporate powers were still suspended. Corporation presented documentation showing its corporate powers had been revived on December 8, 2011 and argued that this revival made its appeal effective. The court of appeals denied the motions. Defendants petitioned for review. At issue was whether a corporation that files notices of appeal while its corporate powers are suspended may proceed with the appeals after those powers have been revived, even if the revival occurs after the time to appeal has expired. Relying on precedent, the Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the appeals may proceed. View "Bourhis v. Lord" on Justia Law
People v First Am. Corp.
This appeal arose out of an action commenced by the New York State Attorney General against defendants, seeking injunctive and monetary relief as well as civil penalties for violations of New York's Executive Law and Consumer Protection Act, Executive Law 63(12) and General Business Law 349, as well as the common law. The primary issue on appeal was whether federal law preempted these claims alleging fraud and violations of real estate appraisal independence rules. The court held that the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act (FIRREA) governed the regulation of appraisal management companies and explicitly envisioned a cooperative effort between federal and state authorities to ensure that real estate appraisal reports comport with the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP). The court perceived no basis to conclude that the Home Owners' Loan Act (HOLA) itself or federal regulations promulgated under HOLA preempted the Attorney General from asserting both common law and statutory state law claims against defendants pursuant to its authority under Executive Law 63(12)and General Business Law 349. Thus, defendants' motion to dismiss on the grounds of federal preemption was properly denied. The court also agreed with the Appellate Division that the Attorney General had adequately pleaded a cause of action under General Business Law 349 and that the statute provided him with standing. Accordingly, the order of the Appellate Division was affirmed. View "People v First Am. Corp." on Justia Law
LHC Nashua Partnership, Ltd. v. PDNED Sagamore Nashua, LLC, et al.
This litigation arose out of a contract between the parties in which PDNED agreed to transfer its rights to LHC to purchase shopping mall property from a third party. LHC alleged that, based on representations made by PDNED, LHC expected to lease the property to Lowe's Home Improvement. PDNED subsequently appealed a judgment entered on a jury verdict in favor of LHC. As a preliminary matter, the court held that it need not resolve the choice-of-law question where the parties agreed that, with a few exceptions, no material differences existed between New Hampshire and Texas law with regard to the case and the court's conclusions would be the same under either state's law. The court held that the purchase and sale agreement (P&S Agreement) precluded LHC's promissory estoppel claim because the agreement itself controlled the extent of PDNED's binding promises with regard to the purchase and sale of the property. The court also held that the district court did not err when it denied PDNED's motion to dismiss LHC's negligent and fraudulent misrepresentations claims as a matter of law where the evidence presented at trial was sufficient to support finding PDNED liable for negligent and fraudulent misrepresentations. The court also held that the jury's out-of-pocket award was the appropriate measure to compensate LHC for reliance costs but that lost profits were not an appropriate measure of damages for the fraudulent misrepresentations in this case. The court finally held that PDNED could not be considered the prevailing party in this litigation for purposes of the P&S Agreement's attorneys' fees provision. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's judgment against PDNED on LHC's promissory estoppel claim and the jury's award in lost profits. The court affirmed the district court's judgment and the jury's award of out-of-pocket damages and the denial of PDNED's motion for attorney's fees. View "LHC Nashua Partnership, Ltd. v. PDNED Sagamore Nashua, LLC, et al." on Justia Law
Hofmann v. EMI Resorts, Inc.
Plaintiff joined a suit alleging violations of state and federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. 1961-68, laws against defendants. EMI Resorts and DMK appealed the district court's entry of an agreed order appointing a receiver-like "monitor" to oversee defendants' financial and business assets. The court held that because defendants failed to demonstrate facts sufficient to nullify their consent to the district court's appointment of the "monitor" and to its waiver of jurisdictional objections, the court declined to vacate the district court's order. View "Hofmann v. EMI Resorts, Inc." on Justia Law
Stokes v. Southern States Cooperative, Inc.
Plaintiff appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendant on his claim of malicious prosecution under Arkansas law. The district court held that plaintiff failed to present evidence sufficient to withstand summary judgment on two of the five elements necessary to sustain his claim. The court held that the district court erred in holding that the evidence was insufficient as a matter of law to sustain plaintiff's claim that defendant brought suit against him on the guaranty without probable cause. The court also held that a jury must decide what was defendant's motive or purpose in suing plaintiff if it in fact understood it had no reasonable chance of prevailing on the merits of its claim against plaintiff. View "Stokes v. Southern States Cooperative, Inc." on Justia Law
BP America Prod. Co., et al. v. Marshall, et al.
This case involved two related oil and gas mineral lease disputes that were jointly tried. At issue was whether limitations barred the Marshalls' (respondents and lessors) fraud claim against BP America Production Co., et al. (the lessee and operator), and whether Vaquillas Ranch Co., Ltd., et al. (lessors) lost title by adverse possession after Wagner Oil Co. (successors-in-interest) succeeded to BP's interests, took over the operations, and produced and paid Vaquillas royalties for nearly twenty years. The court held that because the Marshalls' injury was not inherently undiscoverable and BP's fraudulent representations about its good faith efforts to develop the well could have been discovered with reasonable diligence before limitations expired, neither the discovery rule nor fraudulent concealment extended limitations. Accordingly, the Marshalls' fraud claims against BP were time-barred. The court further held that by paying a clearly labeled royalty to Vaquillas, Wagner sufficiently asserted its intent to oust Vaquillas to acquire the lease by adverse possession. View "BP America Prod. Co., et al. v. Marshall, et al." on Justia Law