Ginsberg and Ginsberg, LLC v. Alexandria Estates, LLC
The concept of the chain of title is well explained in the Connecticut Standards of Title, standard 2.2: "[t]he chain of title' concept is a principle of case law, developed to protect subsequent parties from being charged with constructive notice of the existence and contents of those recorded instruments which a title searcher would not be expected to discover by the customary search of land records…" Ginsberg & Ginsberg, LLC, trustee of the Wiyot Trust, brought this action to foreclose a mortgage against various defendants including Alexandria Estates, LLC, a mortgagor, and John Neubig. Neubig claimed entitlement to $35,000 for each lot that might be developed on the mortgage premises, by virtue of an agreement between Neubig and Dale Constructions 01, LLC, recorded on the land records. The trial court rendered judgment for Neubig holding that Neubig's interest in the land mortgaged to the plaintiff was prior to the plaintiff's lien. The plaintiff appealed. The majority of the Appellate Court panel reversed the judgment of strict foreclosure and remanded the case for the determination of lien priorities. Essentially, the plaintiff contended, first, that Neubig's claimed interest could not be prior to the plaintiff's mortgage because Neubig's interest represented only a personal contract or covenant rather than a "real covenant," which could run with the land. The second issue was that the document by which Neubig claimed an interest was not in the plaintiff's chain of title. The majority found that whether Neubig's agreement was in the plaintiff's chain of title and is a real covenant running with the land, depended necessarily upon a review of the pertinent deeds. If the deed of conveyance from Neubig to Alexandria Estates made the conveyance subject to the Neubig-Dale Construction agreement, it would bear on the issue of whether the Neubig agreement is prior to the plaintiff's mortgage. The deed was not in the record. Without it, the majority found that the matter could not be reviewed and the trial court did not properly determine priorities. Judge Espinosa concurred and dissented, in part, agreeing that the judgments should be reversed. But, he would direct the court on remand to grant the plaintiff priority over Neubig and not look beyond the grounds properly relied on by Neubig and the specific claim of error alleged.