Procedural Posture

Plaintiffs appealed from declaratory relief granted by the Superior Court of Los Angeles County (California) that effectively dismissed breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing and fiduciary duty, and negligent infliction of emotional distress claims.

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Overview

Plaintiffs sued defendant title company after they discovered their swimming pool, deck, and appurtenant equipment were on adjoining property they did not own. The court found that while plaintiffs’ action was of a type for which jury trials normally are required, the error was harmless because the interpretation of the title insurance policy was a question of law. Furthermore, the court found that the policy was unambiguous because it applied to defects in title to their land, which was accurately described in the deed, not the physical condition of the property. The court also found plaintiffs could not establish coverage by implied waiver or estoppel.

Outcome

The court affirmed the superior court judgment because failure to grant a jury trial was harmless error where only a legal question was at issue, and the agreement was not ambiguous because it excluded loss from facts that a correct survey would disclose.