Justia U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Landlord – Tenant

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The property owners, participants in the “Section 8” federal rental assistance program (42 U.S.C. 1437f(a)), sued the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority for allegedly breaching the contracts that governed payments to the owners under the program, by failing to approve automatic rent increases for certain years, by requiring the owners to submit comparability studies in order to receive increases, and by arbitrarily reducing the increases for non-turnover units by one percent. Because Wisconsin Housing receives all of its Section 8 funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Authority filed a third-party breach of contract claim against HUD. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Wisconsin Housing and dismissed the claims against HUD as moot. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, noting that the owners’ Section 8 contracts were renewed after the challenged requirements became part of the program. “The doctrine of disproportionate forfeiture simply does not apply,” and Wisconsin Housing did not breach any contracts by requiring rent comparability studies in certain circumstances or by applying a one percent reduction for non-turnover units. View "Evergreen Square of Cudahy v. Wisconsin Housing & Economic Development Authority" on Justia Law

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In 2006, the Zoretics rented a Castilian Court condominium. Their landlord stopped paying condominium assessments and lost possession to Castilian in 2008. Castilian obtained an eviction order. The Cook County Sheriff evicted the family in January 2009. Later that day, Castilian’s agent allowed them to reenter the unit, agreeing they would sign a new lease. Zoretic never signed the lease or paid rent. After receiving no response to two letters, Castilian’s lawyers obtained a new date stamp (April 2009) from the Clerk on the September 2008 order and placed the order with the Sheriff. On June 5, deputies knocked, announced their presence, got no answer, opened the door, and entered the unit with guns drawn. They found Zoretic, put down their weapons, conducted a protective sweep, and escorted Zoretic out of the unit. Days later, Zoretic sued and was awarded possession until Castilian obtained a lawful eviction order. The family returned, continued not paying rent, and were evicted in March 2012. Zoretic sued under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The court granted the defendants summary judgment. The Seventh Circuit reversed as to Fourth Amendment claims against the deputies, but affirmed as to claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress against the owners. Zoretic failed to create a material factual dispute about whether the owners were extreme and outrageous in pursuing eviction. View "Zoretic v. Darge" on Justia Law

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In 2011 Bankers leased Chicago office space from CBRE. Another tenant, Groupon, needed more office space. CBRE asked Bankers to sublease to Groupon and relocate. Bankers and CBRE signed a Listing Agreement, including terms required by 225 ILCS 454/15-5(a), 15-75. Bankers told CBRE that it wanted to net $7 million from its deals with Groupon and the lessor of the replacement space. CBRE presented Bankers with cost-benefit analyses (CBAs), comparing the costs of leasing new space with the benefits of subleasing the old space to Groupon. A May 2011 CBA showed a net savings of $6.9 million to Bankers from relocating to East Wacker Drive. Bankers responded by subleasing to Groupon and leasing that space. CBRE’s calculation was inaccurate. It omitted Bankers’ promise to give Groupon a $3.1 million tenant improvement allowance. Had Bankers known it would profit by only $3.8 million, it would have rejected the deal; CBRE would not have obtained $4.5 million in commissions. In an arbitration proceeding, the panel issued three “final decisions,” all favoring CBRE, and awarded costs. The Seventh Circuit reversed. The panel exceeded its authority. It was authorized to interpret the contract (Listing Agreement), which did not include the CBAs or a disclaimer contained in the CBAs. View "Bankers Life & Cas/ Ins. Co. v. CBRE, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Blanchards agreed to sell Marathon County property to the Hoffmans, who paid $30,000 up front. The land contract balance was due in 2015, with an option to close early by paying off the Blanchards’ new $142,000 mortgage, obtained as part of the agreement. The parties signed a separate “rental agreement,” under which the Hoffmans paid $500 per month. The land contract was not recorded. The lender obtained an Assignment of Leases and Rents as collateral, but did not obtain an Assignment of Land Contract. The bank recorded its mortgage and the Assignment. In 2014, the Blanchards filed a bankruptcy petition. The trustee filed an adversary proceeding against the lender under 11 U.S.C. 544(a)(3), which grants him the position of a bona fide purchaser of property as of the date of the bankruptcy, to step ahead of the mortgage and use the Blanchards’ interest in the land contract for the benefit of unsecured creditors. The trustee argued that a mortgage can attach a lien only to real property and that the Blanchards' interest under the land contract was personal property. The district court affirmed summary judgment in favor of the bank. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. A mortgage can attach a lien to a vendor’s interest in a land contract under Wisconsin law; this lender perfected its lien by recording in county land records rather than under UCC Article 9. View "Liebzeit v. Intercity State Bank, FSB" on Justia Law

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Great Lakes, which automotive service stores throughout the Midwest, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The unsecured creditors’ committee filed an adversary action against T.D., which had leased two oil-change stores to Great Lakes. Great Lakes had negotiated the termination of the leases 52 days before it declared bankruptcy, and the creditors’ committee contends that the termination was either a preferential (11U.S.C. 547(b)) or a fraudulent (11 U.S.C. 548(A)(1)) transfer of the leases to T.D. The bankruptcy judge rejected that claim. The Seventh Circuit reversed and remanded for determination of the value of Great Lakes’ transfer to T.D. and whether T.D. has any defenses to the creditors’ claims. View "In re: Great Lakes Quick Lube, LP" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, residents of privately-owned Chicago building, received housing vouchers from the Chicago Housing Authority to enable them to rent apartments. They claimed that the Authority is complicit in and responsible for a deprivation of their constitutionally protected privacy by the building owners. The owners require their tenants to be tested annually for illegal drugs; passing the test is a condition of a tenant’s being allowed to renew his or her lease for another year. The requirement applies to all tenants, not just those who might be suspected of using illegal drugs. The district court denied a preliminary injunction on the ground that the drug-testing policy was private rather than state action. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. None of the plaintiffs had requested transfer from the drug-testing building in which he or she currently resides to a building that does not require drug testing. A CHA representative testified that his agency would have approved such a request. That the CHA may encourage or even request testing does not constitute state action. View "Stubenfield v. Chicago Hous. Auth." on Justia Law

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The owners of multifamily housing rental projects in Wisconsin that are assisted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development program under Section 8 of the Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. 1437f sued the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA), alleging WHEDA breached certain Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) contracts by failing to approve annual rent increases,as required by federal law, and by requiring the owners to submit rent comparability studies as a prerequisite to receiving rent increases. WHEDA filed a Third-Party Complaint against HUD, alleging that, if WHEDA is found to have breached the HAP contracts, then those breaches resulted from WHEDA following congressional and HUD directives. The district court dismissed for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. The Seventh Circuit reversed, noting that the district court’s order was entered without the benefit of the parties’ full briefing on jurisdiction. While state law may create the breach-of-contract causes of action, the only disputed issues involve the proper interpretation of Section 8 and HUD’s implementing guidance. The issues are “capable of resolution in federal court without disrupting the federal-state balance approved by Congress.” View "Wis. Hous. & Econ. Dev. Auth. v. Castro" on Justia Law

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Whitaker, formerly employed by Milwaukee County, alleged that she was discriminated against in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. 12101 when the county failed to accommodate her disability by refusing to extend her period of medical leave, refusing to transfer her to another position, and then terminating her for reasons related to her disability. The district court granted the County summary judgment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, upholding the district court’s conclusion that the complaint impermissibly went beyond the scope of the EEOC charge and that the County was not her “employer” under the statute. Although Milwaukee County was Whitaker’s official employer and was responsible for her compensation, it had no involvement in the principal decisions that she claims violated the statute and no authority to override those decisions, made by the State Department of Health Services. With respect to whether the County is liable for any of its own actions,. Whitaker’s allegations on these matters were outside the scope of her EEOC charge, and, therefore, not subject to judicial consideration. View "Whitaker v. Milwaukee Cnty." on Justia Law

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Menzies, an air cargo handling business, leased CenterPoint’s 185,280-square-foot warehouse near O’Hare Airport. Another tenant used the building to store airplane parts until 2006. Under the lease, Menzies is responsible for repairing the “floor,” while CenterPoint is responsible for repairing the “foundation.” CenterPoint constructed improvements costing $1.4 million, at Menzies’ request, including increasing the number of dock doors from two to 38 and installing 45,000‐pound dock levelers. When Menzies began moving its operations into the building in November 2007, the six‐inch concrete slab did not exhibit any visible damage. By January 2009, the slab had begun to deteriorate. The damage was not consistent with typical wear and tear. The slab could not support Menzies’ equipment. CenterPoint paid $92,000 for repairs, then stopped doing so and did not submit an insurance claim. The slab is so damaged that it must be replaced, at an estimated cost of $966,000 to $1.23 million. Menzies sued CenterPoint for breach and CenterPoint counterclaimed. The district court held that neither party was entitled to recover because the slab had a “dual nature as both floor and foundation,” but “the damage at issue was related to the slab’s function as a floor.” The Seventh Circuit affirmed. View "Aeroground, Inc. v. CenterPoint Props. Trust" on Justia Law

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The Debtor leased a building and, during liquidation in bankruptcy, assumed the lease, 11 U.S.C. 365, and sold the leasehold interest (and other assets) to Tenant. The bankruptcy judge approved the transaction in 2007, after Landlord did not object to the Debtor’s assertion that Landlord did not have any outstanding claim against the Debtor. The approval barred any claims based on pre‐sale events. The lease requires Tenant to maintain the roof. In 2010 the Landlord sued Tenant in state court, based on that obligation. By motion in the closed bankruptcy proceeding, Tenant asked the bankruptcy court to interpret the 2007 order as blocking the claim. The bankruptcy judge concluded that the order did not affect continuing obligations such as the duty to keep leased premises in good repair; Landlord requested a prospective remedy, not damages. The district court disagreed, ruling that Landlord can enforce the good‐repair clause only to the extent that defects in the roof first occurred after the lease’s assumption in bankruptcy. The Sixth Circuit dismissed an appeal for lack of jurisdiction, because the district court did not enter an injunction. The court expressed hope that the bankruptcy judge or the district judge will attend to several issues inherent in both opinions. View "Harrison Kishwaukee, LLC v. Rockford Acquisition, LLC" on Justia Law