Title Policy Exceptions Enforced to Defeat Disgruntled Property Owner
The Plaintiff purchased a property and obtained a title policy which contained certain exceptions to coverage regarding a driveway, a portion of which encroached onto a private street. The plaintiff used that driveway and also had access to a public street which abutted his property. Subsequently, the adjacent property, which included the private road, was sold and that owner and the plaintiff had several disputes regarding the use of the driveway which the owner had used without incident prior to purchase by an adjacent property which encompassed the driveway area. These disputes led to no less than nine court actions over a two year period. Plaintiff sought to have the title company not only pay for his litigation costs but his purchase price as well contending that the house was landlocked and unsaleable. The title company disclaimed coverage and after repeated attempts to get the title company to change its mind, the Plaintiff commenced suit. Ultimately, the title company moved for summary judgment which the lower court granted and the Appellate Division, Second Department affirmed on appeal. In affirming, the Appellate Division noted that a title policy is based on contract law and when, as here, the exceptions were clearly delineated, they should be enforced. Moreover, in so doing, the court rejected the feigned issues that the Plaintiff raised in an attempt to defeat summary judgment, such as he did not receive a copy of title at the closing, a pre-title report indicated the driveway should be insured, and that notwithstanding access to the public road, such use was inconvenient.
The Title Company was represented by Jeffrey R. Metz on appeal and by Jackie Weinstein in the trial court of Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C.