Bridgeport Airport, Inc. v. Title Guaranty & Trust Co.

Decision Date02 June 1930
Citation150 A. 509,111 Conn. 537
PartiesBRIDGEPORT AIRPORT, INC., v. TITLE GUARANTY & TRUST CO.
CourtConnecticut Supreme Court

Appeal from Superior Court, Fairfield County; Carl Foster, Judge.

Action by the Bridgeport Airport, Inc., against the Title Guaranty &amp Trust Company to recover money expended in the purchase of a judgment lien and tried to the court. Judgment for defendant and plaintiff appeals.

Error and judgment set aside, and case remanded, with directions.

Richard S. Swain, of Bridgeport, for appellant.

Elbert O. Hull, of Bridgeport, for appellee.

Argued before WHEELER, C.J., and MALTBIE, HAINES, HINMAN, and BANKS JJ.

MALTBIE, J.

The defendant is engaged in the business of searching and certifying land titles in and about Bridgeport. The plaintiff alleged in its complaint that it engaged the defendant to examine the record title to a certain tract of land and to report to it thereon and that the defendant " undertook to carefully examine said records and to render a report thereon to the plaintiff and to give the plaintiff its opinion as to the condition of said title" ; that in the certificate of title given to it by the defendant a judgment lien was set forth as the first incumbrance upon the land; that, in reliance upon this certificate, the plaintiff purchased the judgment lien through a third party, but that, when foreclosure proceedings were brought, it was discovered that the lien was invalid, all to the damage of the plaintiff. A copy of the certificate was annexed to the complaint. It stated that Dora B. Stavola was the owner of record of the land, that the defendant was " of the opinion that said Dora B. Stavola has a good indefeasible estate therein as appears by said Records, and that the same is free from all incumbrances whatsoever as appears by said records, except as hereinafter set forth" ; then follows a description of an attachment of the land and a judgment lien, Carmela Stavola to the Schwartz Brothers Company, dated February 18, 1925, and July 16, 1925, respectively, a savings bank mortgage covering this and other lands executed by Antonio Dalessio, dated February 8, 1926, and a lis pendens of a foreclosure action based upon the mortgage and certain unpaid taxes. The allegations of the complaint so far referred to are all admitted by the answer. At the trial, as the court has found, it was proven that the lien was invalid because the attachment was made and the lien filed after the property had been conveyed away by Carmela Stavola. The trial court gave judgment for the defendant, holding that it rendered the plaintiff a truthful statement as to the recorded instruments affecting the title to the land, and that it had never agreed to submit an opinion as to the legal effect of any such instrument nor had it warranted or guaranteed the title of Dora B. Stavola to the land or the title of any one to the lien or any other interest in the property.

The admitted undertaking of the defendant was more than merely to report to the plaintiff the facts of record affecting the title to the property, and the terms of the certificate actually go beyond such an undertaking. It undertook to and did give its opinion to the plaintiff as to the condition of the title of Dora B. Stavola to the property; it assumed to give and did give, not a bare abstract of the facts of record, but a certificate as to the title. Had it undertaken the former obligation and simply reported to the plaintiff the dates of the various instruments affecting the title from the time when Carmela Stavola acquired it, the defect in the judgment lien would have been apparent. Instead, it gave its opinion that Dora B. Stavola had a good indefeasible title to the premises, free from all incumbrances except those stated the first of which was the judgment lien. This certificate, delivered as it was by the defendant, must be given such meaning as the plaintiff would reasonably and naturally give to it. So read, it undoubtedly carried the meaning that the lien was an existent incumbrance of record against the property. As a matter of record this could only be so if the conveyance of the property by Carmela Stavola was made after it attached. The date of that conveyance, as appears from a stipulation of the parties made at the trial, and the facts in which we add to the finding on the plaintiff's motion, was a matter of record which was or ought to have been known to the defendant. The defendant therefore unintentionally, no doubt, misrepresented the title to the property in a respect with which it was chargeable with knowledge. Whatever limits there may be to its obligation under its agreement with the plaintiff, certainly an incorrect statement of such a nature was a breach of that undertaking. Jacobsen v. Peterson, 91 N.J.Law, 404, 103 A. 983; Dorr v. Massachusetts Title Ins. Co., 238 Mass. 490, 131 N.E. 191. As was said in Renkert v. Title Guaranty Trust Co., 102 Mo.App. 267, 270, 76 S.W. 641, 642: " But the company undertook to inform him [the plaintiff] concerning the state of the title, in order that he might buy intelligently, and furnished a document purporting to inform him. The document left off a judgment lien, which...

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17 cases
  • Columbia Town Ctr. Title Co. v. 100 Inv. Ltd. P'ship
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • February 2, 2012
    ...of the agreed upon undertaking, rather than the negligent search. The Corcoran Court also cited Bridgeport Airport, Inc. v. Title Guaranty & Trust Co., 111 Conn. 537, 150 A. 509, 510 (1930), where the court held that an action brought against a title company for including an invalid judgmen......
  • Sadtler v. Jackson-Cross Co.
    • United States
    • Pennsylvania Superior Court
    • March 28, 1991
    ...theory of breach of contract for damages resulting from negligence in performance of title report); Bridgeport Airport, Inc. v. Title Guaranty & Trust Co., 111 Conn. 537, 150 A. 509 (1930) (action against title examiner for negligent breach of duty in examining title lies in contract); Sick......
  • Kaplan v. Merberg Wrecking Corp.
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • February 25, 1965
    ...a contract. See cases such as Hickey v. Slattery, 103 Conn. 716, 719, 131 A. 558 (surgeon); Bridgeport Airport, Inc. v. Title Guaranty & Trust Co., 111 Conn. 537, 541, 150 A. 509, 71 A.L.R. 345 (title searching company); Loveland v. Aymett's Auto Arcade, Inc., 121 Conn. 231, 235, 184 A. 376......
  • Dean v. Hershowitz
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • January 21, 1935
    ... ... Marcil v. A. H ... Merriman & Sons, Inc., 115 Conn. 678, 163 A. 411. It is ... true ... 337, 82 A ... 577, and Bridgeport Airport, Inc., v. Title Guaranty & ... Trust ... ...
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