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Right to Jury Trial in Quiet Title Cases

schorr-law.com | July 21, 2014

There are few things in the law that people perceive as inviolate as the right to a jury trial.  However, the right to a jury trial is only a matter of right in a civil action at law, but not in equity.  (C & K Engineering Contractors v. Amber Steel Co., Inc. (1978) 23 Cal.3d 1, 8.)  This is based on whether the gist of the action is legal or equitable.  In other words, whether a jury trial must be granted is based on a detailed analysis of the nature of the rights involved in the particular case.  Although pleadings may provide some indication whether the action is of a legal or equitable nature, they are not conclusive.  (C & K Engineering Contractors v. Amber Steel Co., Inc., supra, 23 Cal.3d at 9.)

Although quiet title generally seeks declaratory relief, due to the broad relief available under the quiet title statute, quiet title claims can be both equitable and legal in nature.  Therefore, whether a party is entitled to a jury trial depends on a detailed analysis of the nature of the quiet title cause of action.

In a simple action to quiet title when the possession of the property is not at issue, it is an equitable action.  (Thomson v. Thomson (1936) 7 Cal.2d 671, 678.)  For example, this situation usually occurs where the plaintiff is in possession of the property, but wants to remove cloud from his title based on adverse claims for money recorded against his property.

However, where a suit should have been, and in substance is, an action for the recovery of possession of land, the action is legal in nature and can be tried before a jury.  (Thomson v. Thomson, supra 7 Cal.2d at 678.)  For example, this situation occurs where the plaintiff is out of possession of the property and seeks to recover from a defendant who is encroaching on plaintiff’s property or seeking to adversely possess plaintiffs’ property.

In situations where plaintiff is in possession of the property, and defendant seeks to eject plaintiff from property and recover possession, the action involves both equitable and legal issues.  (Thomson v. Thomson, supra 7 Cal.2d at 678.)  Specifically, plaintiff’s claims are equitable, like in the first scenario) and defendant’s claims are legal, like in the second scenario.


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CFLA was founded by the Nation's Leading Foreclosure Defense Attorneys back in 2007 to serve the Foreclosure Defense Industry and fight pervasive Bank Fraud. Since opening our virtual doors, CFLA has rapidly expanded to become the premier online legal destination for small businesses and consumers. But as the company continues to grow, we're careful to hold true to our original vision. For us, putting the law within reach of millions of people is more than just a novel idea—it's the founding principle, just ask Andrew P. Lehman, J.D.. With convenient locations in Houston and Los Angeles, you can contact Our National Account Specialist and General Manager / Member Damion W. Emholtz at 888-758-2352 for a free Mortgage Fraud Analysis or to obtain samples of work product, including cutting edge Bloomberg Securitization Audits, Litigation Support, Quiet Title Packages, and for more information about our Nationally Accredited and U.S. Department of Education Approved "Mortgage Securitization Analyst Training Certification" Classes (3 days) 24 hours for approved CLE & MCLE Credit (Now Available Online).

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