Mistakes in Fairview Heights land survey prompt title company to sue

By Kelly Holleran | Apr 27, 2010

A title company claims a surveying company wrongly marked the boundaries of property belonging to Big Bear Properties in Fairview Heights, forcing it to pay Big Bear more than $70,000 because of diminished value.

Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Company filed a lawsuit April 16 in Madison County Circuit Court against Bright Surveying doing business as RGB Surveying.

Commonwealth claims it hired RGB to prepare an ALTA/ACSM land title survey at the request of Big Bear Properties in March 2003. The land survey concerned property at 5326 North Illinois St. in Fairview Heights and should have shown the property's boundary lines, according to the complaint.

The results of the survey marked the boundaries as being 209 feet square, enticing Big Bear to purchase the property for $410,000 on Oct. 23, 2003, the suit states. When Big Bear purchased the property, Commonwealth issued an owner's policy of title insurance to Big Bear, the complaint says.

On Dec. 4, 2007, Commonwealth received a notice of claim from Big Bear. In the claim, Big Bear stated that property owners of lots 62 and 63 in the Chateau Meadows Subdivision to the back of the property claimed ownership of a strip of land measuring 40 feet by 144 feet, Commonwealth alleges.

Subsequently, Commonwealth discovered the mistake of RGB's survey and found that the disputed parcel of land did not belong to Big Bear as it had originally believed, according to the complaint.

"Big Bear Properties purchased the property and paid money for the property believing the disputed parcel was part of what it was purchasing," the suit states. "Big Bear Properties relied on the survey in deciding to purchase the property and pay the price that it did for the property believing that the property it purchased included the disputed parcel. The fair market value for the disputed parcel on or about November 1, 2008, was $72,500."

Because the land did not belong to Big Bear, Commonwealth had to pay the company $72,500, the complaint says. In return, Big Bear granted it a release of claim, Commonwealth alleges.

In its lawsuit, Commonwealth seeks the money it paid to Big Bear, plus costs, attorneys' fees and other relief the court deems just.

Shawn T. Briner and David P. Renovitch of Martin, Leigh, Laws and Fritzlen in St. Louis will be representing it.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 10-L-431.

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