Does It Matter if the Government Makes a Real Estate Mistake? Not Necessarily….

by Isaac Benmergui, Esq on March 18, 2014

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Regulations are key. Don’t get me wrong. They have to be followed. However, believe it or not, sometimes such failure to comply with regulations lose relevancy over the bigger picture – and this is specifically the case with the government and authorities. Now I’m not preaching, though, that big government corporate can be above the law in any case, but you have to look at the law chronologically. This is the case of Darling International, Inc. and their dilemma with the plaintiff, the heir of H.S. Carter, the original owner of 95 acres governmentof land owned in Bacon County. Read on….

Real estate law is tricky – and chronological, really. The fact remains, though, about a seizure of parcels through eminent domain back in 1973, that property from Carter to Bacon County – about 2.5 acres of land – was transferred to Lake Alma for a public recreation project. That’s fine up until that project was actually cancelled. The law stated that upon cancellation of such a project, the original owners were entitled to their parcels of land as mandated by the General Assembly’s amendment to OCGA 36-9-3. Here’s where it gets shady….

The legislature apparently failed to notify the original owner, in this case the Carter heir, of the parcel rightfully owned. Now consider that a mistake if you like, because that’s what it is; however, the heir of Carter, or anyone for that matter, never actually took the proactive approach to address the issue. Without even realizing the neglect of the notification, the City of Alma filed a quitclaim deed, conveying that parcel to one Darling International, Inc., not even thinking about the heir of Carter and the right to that parcel originally.

It was only then that the plaintiff discovered the problem – Carter than filed for a quiet title and claim for ejection, and while the trial court agreed, the Supreme Court didn’t. They still had to recognize the immediate conveyance to Darling International. While they neglected to inform the rightful heir of property or parcel, it didn’t constitute a ‘reversal’ or retroactive rewind, I guess, of the conveyance that was already on record. So there’s a lesson to be learned here – pay close attention to property dealings when it concerns you!

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