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Slander of Title Based on a Recorded Lis Pendens

In our previous blog posts, Schorr Law discussed the effect of a lis pendens and slander of title claims. In this post, we specifically discuss the ability of a party to bring a slander of title claim based on the recording of a lis pendens.

In many types of real property lawsuits affecting title, parties record a lis pendens against the subject property to provide the world with notice that litigation affecting that property is pending. This generally causes an interference with any pending sale or refinancing transaction, even if the claim does not have any merit, because it is essentially a litigation lien that clouds title.

Because a lis pendens is recorded as part of litigation, it is considered protected activity under the litigation privilege. Indeed, a lis pendens does not need to even have evidentiary merit to be protected by the litigation privilege. (Cal. Civ. Code § 47(b)(4); Civ. Code § 405.20; La Jolla Group II v. Bruce (2012) 211 Cal.App.4th 461.) As a result, because a slander of title requires an unprivileged publication that negatively affects title, ordinarily, a property owner cannot bring a slander of title action based a lis pendens – though there are ways to expunge the lis pendens even while the litigation is pending. (See Truck Ins. Exchange v. Bennett (1997) 53 Cal. App. 4th 75; Stalberg v. Western Title Ins. Co. (1994) 27 Cal. App. 4th 925; Wilton v. Mountain Wood Homeowners Assn. (1993) 18 Cal. App. 4th 565.)

However, in certain situations, recording a lis pendens is not protected by the litigation privilege. This usually occurs where the notice fails to identify “an action previously filed with a court of competent jurisdiction.” For example, a lis pendens stating that a building was the subject of arbitration proceedings is not protected by the litigation privilege. (Manhattan Loft, LLC v. Mercury Liquors, Inc. (2009) 173 Cal.App.4th 1040.)

The attorneys at Schorr Law are well versed in real property claims that involve disputes involving a recorded lis pendens and slander of title. To inquire about a free 30-minute consultation, contact us by phone at (310) 954-1877 or by email at info@schorr-law.com.

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