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Court Rules for Mortgage Association in Property Dispute with Squatters

Case Study

Court Rules for Mortgage Association in Property Dispute with Squatters

March 23, 2020
Marc W. Brown

A property dispute involving a family who moved into a northeast New York house conveyed to them by someone who no longer owned it has ended with the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division, Third Department, affirming as titleholder the property’s actual owner, a mortgage association, represented by Goldberg Segalla.

The summary judgment, a victory for Goldberg Segalla partner Marc W. Brown, concludes a case complicated by conflicting prior New York Supreme Court rulings and the squatters’ decision not to hire an attorney but to represent themselves pro se.

The case arose out of a 2017 “quiet title” action by which the mortgage association, which bought the property for $216,000 at a foreclosure sale in April 2014, sought to “quiet” challenges to its ownership when it learned that a couple and their children moved in and were claiming to be the owners.

The family, which received the house from the foreclosed borrower and former owner of the property, had no legal claim to it, according to the quiet title action. The Third Department agreed. In its March 2020 ruling, the appeals court found that the defendants abandoned their prior appeal of a December 2017 Supreme Court order denying their motion to dismiss the mortgage association’s complaint, and that the defendants failed to meet their burden to create a triable issue of fact precluding summary judgment.

The outcome amounts to another success for Marc, a member of the Real Estate and Title Litigation  team, who focuses his practice on business and commercial litigation.

Marc is an experienced commercial litigator and one of the foremost real estate title litigation and coverage attorneys practicing in New York State. He has extensive appellate experience, having argued approximately 20 appeals across three of the four New York State Supreme Court Appellate Divisions. In addition, Marc is the immediate past chair of the American Bar Association Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section Title Insurance Litigation Committee. He is widely regarded as among the top title insurance litigators, with a reputation built on handling seven-, eight-, and nine-figure title disputes involving large commercial real estate projects in the nation’s hottest construction and development markets.


Goldberg Segalla offers a full range of real estate litigation services to help property owners, lenders, and title insurance companies protect their interests and advance their goals in today’s volatile real estate market. With experienced real estate attorneys across our footprint, the firm has significant experience advising and defending both owners and lenders under title and other insurance policies.