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Strong v. Whybark

    Brief Fact Summary. In this case, Seth Hayden conveyed the same land to two separate persons.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. Courts have repeatedly held that if the subsequent purchaser either had notice of the prior unrecorded deed or if he was a purchaser without having paid good and valuable consideration for the land, then he would take nothing by his purchase and deed.

    Facts. Seth Hayden was the common source of title claimed by the Plaintiff and the Defendant in this quiet title action. On March 6, 1861, Seth Hayden, for consideration of $640 conveyed by warranty deed, the land in question to William Moore, which was not recorded until December 14, 1874. On August 26, 1863, Seth Hayden, for consideration of natural love and five dollars, conveyed the same land to Josephine Hayden, which was recorded April 11, 1868. The Plaintiff’s title is derived from Josephine Hayden, while the Defendant’s title is derived from William Moore. The lower court found for the Defendant and the Plaintiff appealed from the lower court’s denial of her motion for a new trial.

    Issue. Did the deed to Josephine Hayden, because it was recorded prior to the deed to William Moore, render the Moore deed invalid and inoperative?

    Held. Yes. Reversed and remanded for a new trial.
    No evidence was adduced at trial to show that Josephine Hayden had any notice or knowledge of the previously executed deed to William Moore. Also, there was no evidence of fraud or collusion between Seth Hayden and Josephine Hayden.
    The recording statute provides that “no such instrument in writing shall be valid, except as between the parties thereto and such as have actual notice thereof until the same be deposited with the recorder for record.”
    Courts have repeatedly held that if the subsequent purchaser either had notice of the prior unrecorded deed or if he was a purchaser without having paid a good and valuable consideration for the land, then he would take nothing by his purchase and deed. Thus, the Court here must determine if Josephine Hayden took title with valuable consideration.
    Small consideration, such as five dollars here, is sufficient, in the absence of fraud, to support a contract entered into in good faith.
    A purchaser for value by quitclaim deed has as much protection under the recording statute as one who purchases by warranty deed.

    Discussion. The Court here relied on the recording of the subsequent deed to Josephine Hayden to make the prior deed to William Moore ineffective. This was done even though William Moore paid $640 in consideration and Josephine Hayden only paid $5. Again, in order to protect one’s self from this kind of ruling, the best practice is to promptly record any instrument, which gives one an interest in land.


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