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Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 102506
Experience:  Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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I am wondering if I have a potential civil suit against a title

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I am wondering if I have a potential civil suit against a title search company (Suffolk County, NY). I recently went through a divorce. During the divorce proceedings, my attorney obtained a title search on our jointly owned residence (Guaranteed Search for Attorneys) - At that time, the title company reported they ran a search from 4/17/2002 through 02/07/2012 and reported NO judgments or liens on the property. We used this reporting during negotiations to obtain the marital residence in the settlement.
Prior to signing my divorce documents (16 months later), I personally obtained ANOTHER title search from the same company as I wanted to obtain title insurance on the property to cover my asset. The company reported some issues which I needed to resolve. However, again, their initial reporting came back NO judgments or liens on the property. After obtaining their reporting, I signed my divorce submission papers so that my estranged husband would sign over the deed.
On the day of my closing, another search was done and I was informed that my ex-husband has a $90,000 judgment on the property from 2010, a time frame they indicated was covered in the search.
I now negotiated settlement on an asset that has a huge liability and tremendously diminishes the value of what I received. Do I have a suit against the title company?
Hello friend. My name is XXXXX XXXXX welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: (1) this is general information only, not legal advice, and, (2) there may be a slight delay between your follow ups and my replies.

I am very sorry for your situation. The answer is likely yes, there may be a cause of action.

To sue in a state court, one needs to have a "cause of action." There are numerous causes of action, such as "breach of contract," "negligence," "fraud," "unjust enrichment," etc., as well as causes of action rooted in statutory law. Every state has their own although they are very similar to each other in every state because they all stem from the same common law. A pleading in Court needs at least one cause of action, although it is not unusual to have more than one.

Here, this may be a case for negligence. The elements necessary to a cause of action in negligence are: (1) the existence of a duty on defendant's part as to plaintiff; (2) a breach of this duty; and (3) injury to the plaintiff as a result thereof. Akins v. GLENS FALLS CITY DIST, 53 NY 2d 325 - NY: Court of Appeals 1981 citing Prosser.

The argument here may be made that the title company had a DUTY to provide proper, reasonable service, they failed, and their failure to do so has caused injury to your interests.

In addition, this may also qualify as a (second) cause for breach of contract along with negligence.

So there may very well be a suit, indeed. Good luck.

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