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Trimboli v. Kinkel

New York Court of Appeals
123 N.E. 205 (1919)


Facts

Aaron Clark and Harriet Anderson owned certain property as tenants in common. Clark died with a will granting the power to sell the land and divide the proceeds to the executor of his estate. The executor conveyed Clark’s undivided interest to Anderson in exchange for an interest in another property. Anderson conveyed the property in question to Frederick Grimme and the property was eventually conveyed to the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs hired the defendant, an attorney, to conduct a title search for the property. The defendant conducted a title search and told the plaintiffs that the title was marketable. However, the power to sell property and distribute the proceeds from the sale is not the same as the power to exchange property for other property. As a result, the executor’s exchange was invalid, a flaw in the title that the defendant did not report. The plaintiffs, unaware of the flaw, purchased the property and subsequently attempted to sell the same. Upon the purchasers’ title search, the purchasers found the flawed title and refused to consummate the sale. The plaintiffs sued the defendant for negligence. The defendant argued that the title flaw was cured by adverse possession. The plaintiffs noted, however, that the defendant had never previously mentioned or supplied evidence of adverse possession. The trial court dismissed the plaintiffs’ complaint. The appellate court reversed, finding that the defendant was negligent. The defendant appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Cardozo, J.)

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