by: Patrick A. Randolph, Jr.
Professor of Law
UMKC School of Law
RECORDING ACTS; BONA FIDE PURCHASER; QUITCLAIM GRANTEE: Alabama and Missouri courts reaffirm old rule that recipient of a quitclaim deed is, by definition, not a bona fide purchaser for value. Polhemus v. Cobb, 653 So.2d 964 (Ala. 1995). Pankins v. Jackson, 891 S.W.2d 845 (Mo. App. E.D. 1995) (dicta).
In the Alabama case, the purchaser arguably had actual notice of the adverse interest in any event, but the court is unequivocal in invoking the bas generated by the quitclaim deed. It is interesting to note that the grantee received warranty deeds to nearby lots, and consequently the use of the quitclaim here does appear to connote some uncertainty about title issues.
In the Missouri case, the prior deed (also a quitclaim) was recorded. Therefore, the subsequent quitclaim grantees had constructive notice of the prior interest. Nevertheless, the case affirms earlier Missouri authority to the effect that a quitclaim grantee takes no better title than the grantor possessed:
"The fact that a grantor refuses to make a full and complete assurance of title is enough to arouse suspicion and put the grantee on notice."Comment: Most modern commentators view the concept that a quitclaim deed grantee cannot rely on the recording acts as antiquated and unfair. In both of these cases, other circumstances in the case might have led to the same conclusion reached by the court, even without application of the "quitclaim rule." Thus, it may be hard to complain about the results here. But the rule should be eradicated at some point. There are all kinds of reasons that parties may use a quitclaim device. When a party gives value for an interest, and has no actual notice of competing claims, there is no reason to elevate an unrecorded prior interest over that of the paying subsequent grantee.
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