Justia U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Landlord – Tenant

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The apartment building, constructed in 1912, was used first as a factory, before it was abandoned. Goldtex purchased the the building in 2010 and hired KlingStubbins to design a plan to convert the entire building into rental apartment units and retail space. The building was almost gutted for conversion into a residential building with 163 apartment units and ground floor retail space that began accepting tenants in 2013. A housing advocacy group filed suit alleging violation of the design and accessibility requirements of the Fair Housing Act (FHA), 42 U.S.C. 3604(f)(3)(C). The district court dismissed, citing HUD’s interpretation of the provision—which exempts converted buildings from the accessibility requirements if they were constructed prior to March 13, 1991. The Third Circuit affirmed, finding the agency’s interpretation entitled to deference. The interpretations are reasonable and reflect a legitimate policy choice by the agency in administering an ambiguous statute. View "Fair Hous. Rights Ctr. v. Post Goldtex GP LLC" on Justia Law

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Bare Exposure operates “Atlantic City’s Only All Nude Entertainment.” HMS, a private corporation, leases expressway service plazas from the South Jersey Transportation and New Jersey Turnpike Authorities to operate restaurants and convenience stores. The Authorities are not involved in day-to-day operations or management, but only perform long-term maintenance to parking areas, building exteriors, and lobbies. HMS entered into a contract, allowing CTM to install and service brochure display racks in plaza lobbies. HMS “must approve all brochures or publications” before placement. The Authorities were not a party to the CTM contract. HMS discovered a Bare Exposure brochure in a CTM display rack. HMS instructed CTM to remove all Bare Exposure brochures. HMS did not consult with or receive any direction from the Authorities and did not consider the New Jersey Administrative Code. The Authorities never directed HMS to take any actions regarding the brochures. Bare Exposure contends that the Authorities placed government signs and photographs in lobbies and filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 alleging that HMS violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The Third Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of HMS. HMS did act not “under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State,” absent direct involvement by state authorities either in the decision to remove the brochures or in general plaza operations. View "P.R.B.A. Corp. v. HMS Host Toll Roads, Inc." on Justia Law

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In 2000 the Port Authority signed a 30-year lease for the largest marine terminal at Port Elizabeth (445 acres including structures and berthing) with Maher, which handles cargo. The Lease requires “Basic Rental,” (in 2012, $50,413 per acre, totaling $22,433,612) plus “Container Throughput Rental,” based on the type and volume of cargo at Maher’s terminal. For eight years, Maher was exempted from Throughput Rental. Since 2008 the first 356,000 containers are exempted; for containers 356,001 to 980,000, Maher paid $19.00 per container in 2012; and for each additional container, Maher paid $14.25. Maher must handle a minimum amount of cargo to maintain the Lease and pay an annual guaranteed minimum Throughput Rental. Maher paid $12.5 million in Throughput Rental in 2010, and expected the 2012 amount to be $14 million. Maher claims the Port Authority profits from the Lease and uses the revenue to fund harbor improvements and projects unrelated to services provided to Maher or vessels. In 2012 Maher sued, alleging violations of the Constitution’s Tonnage Clause; the Rivers and Harbors Appropriation Act, 33 U.S.C. 5(b); and the Water Resources Development Act, 33 U.S.C. 2236. The Third Circuit affirmed dismissal, agreeing that Maher lacked standing to bring its Tonnage Clause and RHA claims because it was not a protected vessel and did not adequately plead that fees imposed on vessels were not for services rendered. Maher’s WRDA claim failed because Maher had not shown that the Authority imposed fees on vessels or cargo and because the WRDA did not prohibit use of Lease revenue to finance harbor improvements. View "Maher Terminals LLC v. Port Auth. of NY" on Justia Law

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Revel opened an Atlantic City resort-casino, costing $2.4 billion. Revel entered into a 10-year lease with IDEA to run two nightclubs and a beach club. IDEA contributed $16 million of the projected cost of construction in addition to monthly rental payments. The Casino did not turn a profit. Revel filed a “Chapter 22” bankruptcy, seeking permission to sell its assets free of all liens and interests (including leases). The Bankruptcy Court approved and set an auction date. IDEA, concerned that the proposed sale would eliminate the value of its lease notwithstanding its $16 million investment, filed objections. No qualified buyer appeared. The court postponed the auction. A month later, Revel closed the Casino’s doors and barred tenants, IDEA gave notice that it intended to continue operating its beach club and nightclub and expected Revel to honor its obligations to provide uninterrupted utility service. In the meantime Polo agreed to buy the Casino for $90 million. Days before the sale hearing, Revel replied to IDEA’s objections. IDEA appealed an unfavorable order and sought a stay pending appeal, noting that, if the decision were not stayed, its appeal would be moot under 11 U.S.C. 363(m) once the sale closed. The district court denied the motion. The Third Circuit reversed, staying that part of the order that allowed Revel to sell the Casino free of IDEA’s lease. View "In re: Revel AC Inc" on Justia Law

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A 2010 fire at an apartment in Erie, Pennsylvania took the lives of a tenant and her guest. The third-floor bedroom purportedly lacked a smoke detector and an alternate means of egress, both of which are required under the Section 8 housing choice voucher program (42 U.S.C. 1437f) in which Richardson participated. The district court rejected a defense of qualified immunity in a suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 by the estates of the deceased. The Third Circuit reversed. State officials’ approval and subsidization of the apartment for the Section 8 program, even though the apartment allegedly failed to comply with Section 8’s standards, did not constitute a state-created danger toward the apartment’s tenant and her guest in violation of their constitutional substantive due process rights. View "Henry v. City of Erie" on Justia Law

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In 1999, I-4 leased Florida land to Lazy Days, with an option to purchase, prohibiting assignment without written consent. In 2008, Lazy Days notified I-4 of its intention to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and assign the lease to LDRV. The parties negotiated a settlement agreement in 2009. I-4 consented to assignment. Lazy Days agreed not to “argue against the Bankruptcy Court abstaining from consideration of Lease interpretation issues ... except to the extent necessary in connection with the assumption and assignment of the Lease.” The agreement provided that “there is no intent to, nor is the Lease modified in any respect,” but did not state whether the purchase option survived. The Bankruptcy Court confirmed a reorganization plan incorporating the agreement and closed the case in 2010. In 2011, LDRV attempted to exercise the option. The parties each filed state court lawsuits and LDRV moved to reopen in Bankruptcy Court, which held that the anti-assignment provision was unenforceable and that refusal to honor the option violated the agreement. The district court vacated. The Third Circuit reversed, holding that the Bankruptcy Court properly exercised jurisdiction; the agreement’s exception applied because the proceeding was “in connection with ... assignment of the Lease.” The court rejected arguments that the parties agreed to waive application of 11 U.S.C. 365(f)(3) and that the Bankruptcy Court committed an unconstitutional taking and denied I-4 due process. View "In Re: Lazy Days' RV Ctr., Inc." on Justia Law