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The failure to prove out-of-pocket loss is not necessarily determinative. The issue is whether there exists evidence of actual injury.
Plaintiff landowners brought a successful action to quiet title against the defendant real estate brokers for advertising land for sale that included the landowners' property. They then brought an action against the real estate brokers for libel of title. The trial court summarily dismissed the action, holding that the landowners were required to prove that an actual purchaser was deterred by the real estate brokers' actions and that the landowners' earlier expenses were not recoverable as special damages.
Before a plaintiff could maintain an action for libel of title, should the plaintiff show that a particular purchaser was deterred from purchasing the plaintiff’s property?
On review, the court reversed the summary judgment. The court held that a particular purchaser's being deterred from purchasing the property was not a prerequisite because the landowners could show that the actions caused them actual pecuniary loss and they should not have to sell property they wished to keep in order to be made whole. According to the court, expenses incurred in the action to quiet title were recoverable as special damages because they were directly and proximately caused by the real estate brokers' conduct. The complaint was sufficient because it put the real estate brokers on notice as to the claim against them and gave rise to a reasonable inference that the real estate agents acted maliciously.