SBQ 10-02508-03-001

March 26, 2013


Cutler, J.


In this action the Plaintiff, Margarita Alvarez (“Alvarez”), petitions this court under G.L. c. 185, § 114 to “correct error in entering a certificate of title” issued for a parcel of registered land located in Somerville, MA, shown as Lot 2 on Land Court Plan 2508B (the “Subject Parcel” or “Lot 2”). Alvarez filed her “S-Petition” [Note 1] on March 8, 2010, claiming that title to the Subject Parcel was incorrectly certified in Defendant Gina Figueiredo (“Figueiredo”) and in her predecessors, due to an error committed at the Middlesex South Registry District (the “Registry District”) in 1997. Alvarez requests that this court: (1) cancel Figueiredo’s certificate of title insofar as it certifies her title to the Subject Parcel; (2) strike Figueiredo’s deed, which was submitted for registration, insofar as it purports to convey title to the Subject Parcel; (3) order that certain mortgage encumbrances favoring Interested Parties Countrywide Home Loans, Inc. and Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., be stricken insofar as they purport to encumber the Subject Parcel; and (4) order that Alvarez be permitted to submit for registration her 2002 deed to the Subject Parcel. On August 11, 2010, Figueiredo filed her answer, asserting defenses of laches, estoppel, waiver, and failure to state a claim upon which the requested relief can be granted. [Note 2]

On August 25, 2011, Alvarez filed her Motion for Summary Judgment. She contends that, despite an obviously ambiguous property description contained in a deed submitted for registration in 1997, the transfer certificate issued to Figueiredo’s predecessors erroneously included the Subject Parcel. Permitting such an error to go uncorrected, Alvarez argues, is inconsistent with the purpose of the Registration Statute. Alvarez further argues that correction of the error is, moreover, not inconsistent with the Defendant’s statutory protections as a certificate holder because the error would have been apparent to Figueiredo if she had fulfilled her duty as a purchaser of registered land to investigate the registration record.

On September 22, 2011, Figueiredo filed her Opposition and Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment, in which she argues that, as a purchaser for value and in good faith, her title is protected by G.L. c. 185, § 46, even if, as the Plaintiff contends, a mistake was made by the Registry District in 1997. Figueiredo also argues that the doctrine of laches bars Alvarez’s claim. Alvarez replied to Figueiredo’s Cross-Motion, by arguing that her action is not barred by laches because any delay in bringing the instant proceeding was reasonable in light of the circumstances, and because the Defendant has not suffered any prejudicial or irreparable harm as a result of the six-year delay. [Note 3] A hearing on the parties’ cross-motions was held on February 2, 2012.

On March 26, 2013, a Decision was entered in this case, concluding that the Defendant is a holder of a certificate of title purchased for value and in good faith, and that, as a matter of law, her certificate of title is not subject to amendment by the court without her consent.

Accordingly, it is hereby ORDERED, ADJUDGED and DECLARED that the Plaintiffs’ S-Petition is hereby DISMISSED.

By the Court. (Cutler, J.)


[Note 1] A so-called “S-Petition” or “Subsequent Petition” is a petition under Sections 114 and 115 of G.L. c. 185, seeking to amend the registration book subsequent to the issuance of the original registration judgment.

[Note 2] The Interested Parties did not file an answer with the court but did participate in the Case Management Conference Joint Statement, in which they asserted that their security interests should attach to such real property as is held by Figueiredo under her certificate.

[Note 3] Defendant Figueiredo also moved to strike Exhibit 28 of Alvarez’s Summary Judgment Appendix. Exhibit 28 is a copy of Figueiredo’s title insurance policy, covering the Subject Parcel. Figueiredo argues that such evidence is irrelevant, prejudicial, and inadmissible, and therefore should be stricken from the record. Exhibit 28 is not relevant to the status of the Defendant’s title; therefore, the Motion to Strike is ALLOWED.