What’s the easiest way to lose a lawsuit over a quiet title action? Miss your court date.
If that seems like the kind of mistake nobody would make, all you have to do is look at the case involving reality-TV star Josh Duggar from “19 Kids and Counting.”
According to reports, the case involved a five-acre piece of property that a man had purchased from his cousin for $17,500 back in 2006. The cousin never properly filed the paperwork on the sale, so the man had not received the property tax notices for several years, despite living on the property.
Once he found out, the man paid the back taxes, but also found out that his cousin had since re-sold the property to Duggar’s real estate company, ALB Investments. That forced the man to sue to quiet title, which would essentially ask the court to decide who had legal ownership of the property and end any false claims.
Neither the man’s cousin nor Duggar responded properly to the court’s requests. Since Duggar didn’t show up to the hearing, a default judgment was awarded to the plaintiff — and Duggar was ordered to pay $5,000 in attorney’s fees and costs.
There are several different things to unpack with this case. First, it raises questions about what Duggar knew about the property when he purchased it. Since the plaintiff in the case was living on the property, it’s unlikely that his presence could go unnoticed if Duggar had inspected the land prior to making his deal with the man’s cousin.
If he didn’t inspect it, that was a foolish error that was only compounded by his actions later. If he did inspect it, he clearly didn’t investigate the situation enough before taking the deal — or he would have known about the cousin’s prior bargain.
All the way around, this case is a reminder that you need experienced legal assistance when you’re investing in real estate or handling a quiet title action. Trying to manage on your own can be a recipe for disaster.