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Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. Wins Supreme Court Summary Judgment for Title Company, Defeating Plaintiffs’ Claims That an Issue With an Easement for Driveway Access Should Be Covered by the Title Insurance Policy

In Pierot v. Chicago Title Insurance Company, Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. won a motion for summary judgment in Westchester Supreme Court in favor of the defendant title company, in defeating the plaintiffs’ claims that an issue with an easement for driveway access should be covered by the Policy of Title Insurance.

The main issues in the action were (1) a lost original title policy; (2) legal access to the plaintiffs’ property; (3) marketability of title based upon an alleged lack of access; (4) whether Chicago Title had a duty to defend/indemnify the plaintiffs in about eleven different civil actions; and (5) whether alleged misrepresentations by the plaintiffs’ closing attorney, who was also a principal of the issuing abstract company, may be attributed to Chicago Title.  Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. defeated all claims.

The plaintiffs purchased their home in Scarsdale, New York, and received a title policy from Chicago Title containing exceptions to the extent that the plaintiffs’ driveway encroached upon their northerly neighbors’ property, which was a vacant lot.  The plaintiffs had unobstructed vehicular access to their property for eight years, using the full length of the driveway for ingress, egress, and parking. When the northerly neighbors moved in, however, they observed the encroachment and agreed to give the plaintiffs a written easement to drive in and out over that portion of the driveway. The plaintiffs’ relationship with the neighbor subsequently broke down, and the neighbor then blocked the plaintiffs’ driveway using vehicles and other debris.

The plaintiffs filed a title claim for coverage, which was denied on the basis that the plaintiffs possessed legal access to their property from the other side, and, to the extent that their driveway encroached upon their neighbor’s property, the encroachment was an exception to the policy. The plaintiffs then sued Chicago Title for breach of contract and a declaratory judgment seeking coverage, and Chicago Title hired Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. to defend.

After extensive investigation and discovery, Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. prepared a bulletproof motion for summary judgment arguing that no material issues of fact exist because the unambiguous terms of Plaintiffs’ ALTA (10-17-92) Owner’s Policy bar the plaintiffs’ claims, as a matter of law. Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. strategized and argued, among other things, that the plaintiffs possess a legal right of access to their property from the other side and the encroachment was an exception to the policy. Despite strong opposition, Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. prevailed in showing the court that the plaintiffs were attempting to create title insurance coverage where no coverage exists, and, in a decision and order from the Honorable Joan B. Lefkowitz, J.S.C, summary judgment was granted in its entirety in favor of the title company.

The Title Litigation Group at Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. won this case for the Title Company, with Colin E. Kaufman and Jackie Halpern Weinstein representing the firm.

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