Mistakes in Legal Documents Signed By Plaintiffs Are Not Inherently Undiscoverable

In 2001, the Dunmores bought two adjacent lots (Lots 8 & 9) in Lancaster, Texas from Rolene Long, but the Deed of Trust, the Warranty Deed and other related documents only referenced Lot 9.   Eight years later, in 2009, a slew of local taxing authorities sued Long to collect back taxes on Lot 8, which they assumed she had just failed to pay.  The Dunmores and Chicago Title Insurance (the title insurer for the 2001 transaction) were joined in the lawsuit, and the Dunmores filed cross-claims against Chicago Title for breach of contract, negligence, DTPA violations, and breach of fiduciary duty.  As of the appeal, these two were the only parties left in the lawsuit.

The trial court granted Chicago Title’s motion for summary judgment on its statute of limitations’ affirmative defense, and the Dunmores appealed. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision.  In doing so, it held that the four-year statute of limitations for the Dunmores’ causes of action had run and that the Dunmores could not be rescued by their argument that the limitations period was tolled because Chicago Title’s mistakes were undiscoverable.  To the contrary, the Court of Appeals made clear that they were charged with knowledge of the contents of those legal documents as of 2001, and, as such, the mistake was not inherently undiscoverable.

Dunmore v Chicago Title Ins Co

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