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Laabs v. Chicago Title Insurance Co.

Supreme Court of Wisconsin
241 N.W.2d 434 (1976)


Chicago Title Insurance Company (Chicago Title) (defendant) issued a title insurance policy to Theodore F. and Selma Laabs (plaintiffs) and to the McKenzies, who were adjoining property owners. The policy excepted from coverage any title disputes arising before the policy’s effective date. Chicago Title provided a faulty description of the Laab property in the policy issued to the Laabs, as the policy failed to reference a lot included in the property. As a result, the deed held by the Laabs was not indexed under that lot, and the property owned by the McKenzies partially overlapped with the land owned by Laabs. The Laabs brought a quiet-title action against the McKenzies to resolve the property dispute. The trial court ruled in favor of the McKenzies. The Laabs then sued Chicago Title for damages. The Laabs claimed that Chicago Title’s negligent description of the property contained in the title insurance policy caused the Laabs harm and that Chicago Title was obligated to pay the Laabs under the policy. Chicago Title claimed that the Laabs were not covered, because the policy excepted from coverage disputes that arose prior to the date the policy was issued. The trial court ruled that the title dispute between the Laabs and the McKenzies was covered under the policy and ordered Chicago Title to pay the Laabs the reasonable value of the disputed property, plus costs. Chicago Title appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Hansen, J.)

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