Saturday, December 28, 2013

Lick Mill Creek Apartments v. Chicago Title Insurance Co. case brief

Lick Mill Creek Apartments v. Chicago Title Insurance Co. case brief summary
283 Cal. Rptr. 231 (1991)

CASE SYNOPSIS
Plaintiff apartment buildings and plaintiff development company appealed a California Superior Court's judgment, which dismissed, without leave to amend, the demurrer of (D) title insurance companies in (Ps') action to recover for the costs involved of removing hazardous substances.

CASE FACTS
(P) apartment buildings and (P) development company had appealed from a judgment of dismissal that was entered after the trial court sustained, without leave to amend, the demurrer of (D) title insurance companies to (Ps') first amended complaint. The trial court ruled that title insurance policies that were issued by (Ds) did not provide coverage for the costs of removing hazardous substances from (Ps') property.

DISCUSSION

  • On appeal, the court rejected the plaintiffs' contentions that since the presence of hazardous substances on the property impaired its marketability, the (Ds) were obliged to pay cleanup costs, as they amounted to a lien upon the property. 
  • The court found that there was a distinction between the marketability of title and the market value of the land itself. 
  • The court ruled that the plaintiffs could not claim coverage for the physical condition of the property under the clause of the policies of the title insurances.
CONCLUSION
The denial of coverage that existed under title insurance policies was affirmed by the court because the language of the insuring clauses of the policies had unambiguously gave coverage to plaintiffs only for defects that related to title, and the policies made no reference to the physical condition of the land.

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