By Art Macomber
Spokane, WA. December 28, 2018. In Washington State, there is a type of lawsuit called a quiet title action. A lawsuit to quiet title is sometimes necessary if the original description of the property was incorrect, or if there are multiple parties who claim ownership to the same parcel. Sometimes a mortgage is not released, even after being paid. The goal of the lawsuit is to settle all known and unknown claims, thus “quieting” the title in a specific owner or owners.
Quiet title cases require a judge to figure out what is fair between the parties given all the circumstances, and to balance the benefits and potential harms of their decision. This is called making an equitable judgment. A judgment in equity is different than a judgment in law. A judgment in law does not account for what may be fair or unfair, but simply and strictly follows the law and lets the chips fall where they may. A legal judgment may follow the specific wording of a statute, or the specific wording of a contract, but whatever the judgment is the parties have to live with it.
In a quiet title action, a court using its powers of equity will evaluate the circumstances that may have occurred in the lives of the people involved, as opposed to simply following the statute or the contract. Therefore, if someone claims to have an easement, or claims a fence is a boundary, or claims their uncle deeded the property to charity, then a court can exercise its equitable power to quiet the title.
Note: This post is not legal advice, and should not be relied upon as such. Different sets of facts will likely lead to different legal conclusions. If you need assistance with real property matters, call Macomber Law, PLLC at 866-511-1500 for a forty-five minute, no charge consultation to see if we can help.