Later Discovered Environmental Conditions Are Not Title Defects
By Gail Wurtzler
As is probably no surprise to lawyers and real estate professionals, a Pennsylvania appeals court held that title insurance does not protect a buyer from claims arising from the physical condition of the property such as later discovered environmental problems like asbestos, lead paint or abandoned septic tanks. In Rood v. Commonwealth Land Title Ins. Co., 936 A.2d 488 (Pa. Super. 2007), a landowner made a claim against his title insurance company thirty five years after the policy had been issued, claiming that an abandoned septic tank discovered in his yard was a “defect” under the policy. Mr. Rood asserted that the presence of the tank made his title unmarketable because he would have to disclose the presence of the tank if he tried to sell his home under Pennsylvania’s Real Estate Sellers Disclosure Law and such a disclosure might cause a reduction in the price he was able to obtain. The trial court entered summary judgment in favor of the title company.
The appellate court affirmed because title insurance insures only marketability of title. It cautioned title insurance policyholders not to confuse economic lack of marketability based on physical conditions possibly affecting property use with title marketability that relates solely to “defects affecting legally recognized rights and incidents of ownership.” 936 A.2d at 494.
Paxil Birth Defects: Yet Another Lawsuit Filed Philadelphia, PA: It seems as though GlaxoSmithKline faces an unending stream of people willing to file lawsuits alleging Paxil causes birth defects. Despite the company's insistence that discontinuing Paxil while pregnant is more dangerous than taking it, women whose babies were born with serious birth defects claim that Paxil's side effects are far more dangerous than not taking the drug.
Chinese Environmental Law Blog Here's a new blog to keep track of, if you're interested in environmental law in China: China Environmental Law This spring break I'll be renovating the site and will provide full lists of blogs, environmental programs, etc...
An Arizona Land Developer Although this is not an environmental criminal matter, it could have been. An old adage is that the only difference between an environmental crime and an environmental civil violation is who gets to your door first...