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Deeds Could Cause Legal Tangle

October 04, 1987

David W. Myers' amusing account of "Her Royal Majesty Queen Rose Mary J. Windsor's" antics (Aug. 20), needs a clear statement of her potential liability.

She is committing "slander of title." That is the name given to the civil offense of claiming property to be yours that isn't.

Purporting to convey property you don't own, even to yourself, may cloud the true owner's title when evidence of that false claim is lodged with the county recorder. Future buyers are bound to be confused by what their title reports uncover in the public land records.

The true owner needs to prove actual damages. The cost of removing a false claim from the record would be sufficient. So might even the brief delay of a legitimate sale. Courts may assess punitive damages on top in these cases.

Readers moved to copycat this errant behavior may find themselves paying dearly for their whimsical deeds.

GEORGE LEFCOE

Los Angeles

Lefcoe is Henry W. Bruce Professor of Equity at the Law Center at USC.

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