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Property Keyed to Sprankling
Riordan v. Lawyers Title Insurance Corp.
Citation:393 F.Supp.2d 1100 (2005).
Riordan and other property owners (the plaintiffs) were issued an insurance policy insuring their title to the property by Lawyers Title Insurance Corporation (the defendant). The property was an “in-holding” (land surrounded by federally owned land) in the middle of the Sandia Mountain Wilderness of the Cibola National Forest near Albuquerque, New Mexico. The property was 2.5 miles from the nearest paved road but was accessible by the Piedra Lisa Trail, a hiking and horse trail unsuitable for vehicular access and maintained by the United States Forest Service (USFS). When the plaintiffs purchased the property in 1995, the prior owner and USFS employees told them that several roads accessed the property, including some that were accessible by jeep. The insurance policy issued by the defendant stated that it covered “lack of a right of access to and from the land.” After purchase of the land, the plaintiffs discovered there was no vehicular access to the property and filed a suit against the federal government to declare a vehicular right of way to the property. The suit was dismissed after the plaintiffs sold the property for a significant profit. Plaintiffs then made three demands for payment under the insurance policy, and all were refused by the defendant.
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