Mentally Ill Man Steals a Baseball Stadium

Wednesday, December 30, 2015 by Elliot Schon, Esq.

This saga was first reported in the San Diego Tribune.

"Derris Devon McQuaig took legal title to the downtown ballpark away from the City and the Padres two years ago by walking into the San Diego County Recorder’s Officer and submitting a properly filled-out deed transfer...Jeff Olson, chief of assessment services for the San Diego County Assessor’s Office, said county officials are required to record all properly submitted documents and make them part of the public record even when they are obviously bogus."-

The Petco Park ownership is currently exploring different avenues to legally nullify Mr. McQuaig's deed.

But how did this all happen? Here is a brief synopsis as to how a deed works.

All real property transfers hands via a document known as a deed. The deed is signed by the Grantor (typically the seller) and it gives the property to the Grantee (typically the buyer). 

The deed will detail the consideration that was given by the grantee. Usually, this will be the purchase price of the property.

After a deed is given to the grantee, the deed is then recorded with the local government recording office. Once a deed is recorded, it puts the world on notice that the grantee is now the new legal title holder of the property. 

Mr. McQuaig  allegedly fraudulently fabricated a deed and falsified the signature that gave him ownership. However, once this deed was recorded, it put the world on notice that the grantee is now claiming to be the new legal title holder of the property. 

Such a deed is referred to as a "wild deed" or a "thin air" deed, and it creates a cloud on title. In reality, no bank, lender or potential buyer of Petco Park would give any credence to Mr. McQuaig's claim of ownership, since the deed appears patently false.  However, most lenders and potential buyers, require title insurance, before they would lend monies or purchase the property.

The title company would run searches, which would show all recorded documents against the subject property. The “wild deed” being of record, would come up on the search, and would be raised as an exception to the policy. This cloud on title would need to be resolved before the title company would be willing to insure the transaction. The owner can resolve this by going to Court to have them void the deed. 

In the case at hand, there are several avenues by which to void a deed. One is to file felony fraud charges against McQuaig, and have the Court nullify his deed and wipe it form the public records. Another option would be to file a "quiet-title" action which is the civil recourse to voiding fraudulent claims of ownership. 

As with every real estate transaction it is important to have an experienced title agency, like Riverside Abstract on your team.

Got questions about "wild deeds" or other title topics? Click here to ask a title expert and get the answers you need.

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