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Somerset Savings Bank v. Chicago Title Ins. Co.

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
649 N.E.2d 1123 (Mass. 1995)


Facts

In 1986, Somerset Savings Bank (plaintiff) agreed to finance a construction project in Revere, Massachusetts. To protect its investment, Somerset Savings purchased title insurance from Chicago Title Insurance Company (defendant). The contract insured against loss or damage resulting from defects in title or unmarketability of title. The contract expressly excluded from coverage any restrictions on the use of the land resulting from a law or governmental regulation. At the time the contract was executed, Chicago Title Insurance advertised that it was familiar with local laws and practices. In 1988, after construction had begun, the city ordered construction halted because the state had not consented to the issuance of a building permit. State law required consent because the property had once been owned by a railroad company. Chicago Title Insurance claimed that Somerset Savings’ losses were not covered by its insurance policy. Somerset Savings filed suit, claiming breach of contract and negligence. The trial court granted summary judgment on all claims to Chicago Title Insurance, and the intermediate appellate court affirmed. Somerset Savings appealed to the state supreme court.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Lynch, J.)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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