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Greenberg v. Stewart Title Guaranty Co.

Wisconsin Supreme Court
492 N.W.2d 147 (1992)


Facts

Martin Greenberg (plaintiff) purchased four condominium units. Before acquiring the properties, Greenberg obtained title commitments from Stewart Title Guaranty Company (Stewart Title) (defendant) through Stewart Title’s agent, Southeastern Wisconsin Title Company (Southeastern) (defendant). A title commitment is a document that describes the property as the title insurer is willing to insure it and contains the same exclusions and exceptions as will later appear in the title insurance policy. Stewart Title then issued owner’s title insurance policies. Greenberg purchased the condominiums and used them as collateral to secure loans from several banks. When Greenberg was unable to sell the condominiums because of an alleged defect in title, the lending institutions foreclosed on the properties and deficiency judgments were rendered against Greenberg. Greenberg then sued, making claims both under the contract and in tort for negligence. The trial court ordered further briefing on the contract claim. However, the trial court held that the relationship between the parties involved a contract and the only possible liability was contractual. Therefore, no tort liability existed. Greenberg appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Bablitch, J.)

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