Associate Nicole C. Salerno wins summary judgment dismissal of a plaintiff’s Complaint in a professional negligence matter venued in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, in Hudson County. Plaintiffs, beneficiaries of an estate, were seeking the equitable relief of unwinding two bona fide conveyances of title. She handled the matter under the supervision of partner Gregg Weinstock.
Plaintiffs asserted the improper sale of certain property contrary to the Last Will and Testament of a certain decedent by the Executrix, as well as the professional negligence of title insurers and attorneys. Plaintiff specifically alleged that the title company involved in the second transfer of the property failed to exercise reasonable care in searching title and reviewing the Will prior to issuing a title commitment and policy.
Judge Jeffrey Jablonski granted Mrs. Salerno’s motion for summary judgment dismissal of plaintiffs’ Complaint against the title company involved in the second conveyance of the property. The judge dismissed the plaintiffs’ Complaint based on that fact that the title company involved in the second conveyance of the property owed no duty to the beneficiaries of the estate. The judge further found that a title company’s liability is limited to the policy with its insured-buyer and that the company is not liable in tort for negligence in searching records, unless the title company agrees to conduct a search and provide the insured with an abstract of title, which was not alleged here. The judge further reasoned that the plaintiffs’ Complaint should be dismissed as a matter of law, because it failed to allege any contractual argument against the title company involved in the second transfer of the property. Because plaintiffs were not an insured or intended third-party beneficiary under its contract with the underwriter, any contractual argument asserted lacked merit.