Jefferson Cty. v. Mosley

284 Ala. 593, 226 So. 2d 652 (1969)



Whatever is sufficient to excite attention and put the party on his guard and call for inquiry is notice of everything to which the inquiry would have led  When a person has sufficient information to lead him to a fact, he shall be deemed conversant with it, and one who has knowledge of facts sufficient to put him on inquiry as to the existence of an unrecorded deed is not a purchaser without notice within the protection of the registry statutes. It is difficult, if not impossible, to lay down any general rule as to what facts will in every case be sufficient to charge a party with notice or put him on inquiry. The purchaser is chargeable with notice of that which appears on the face of the conveyances in the chain of his title, but he is not bound to inquire into collateral circumstances. One who has knowledge of facts sufficient to put him on inquiry as to the existence of an unrecorded mortgage is not a purchaser without notice under registration statutes. In construing conveyances, each word is presumed to have been used for some purpose, and deemed to have some force and effect. A person is charged with notice of the contents of the instrument by which he takes title and of all the facts which would be disclosed with a reasonably diligent search.


In 1945 a landowner conveyed to the county a right of way via a warranty deed. Pursuant to the purpose of the right-of-way, the county developed a road that traversed a government subdivision. In 1951, the same landowner conveyed by warranty deed real property in the government subdivision to the purchaser. The county sought declaratory judgment, which the trial court denied having found that the purchaser was unaware of the right-of-way. The conveyance of the real property affects a part of the right-of-way earlier conveyed. On appeal, the county contended that it had a right-of-way for public purposes across lands situated in the government subdivision involved and that defendants had actual, constructive, or implied notice of sufficient facts to apprise them of, or place them upon inquiry as to, the existence and extent of the right-of-way. The county argued that the seller had notice of the right-of-way at the time of the execution of the deed from his grantor to him by the existence for more than 20 years of a public road traversing a portion of the property and because of a certain exception contained in his deed, which stated that the property was conveyed subject to all public roads and all easements and rights-of-way.


Does the county have a right-of-way over certain lands included in the description in separate warranty deeds executed by the defendants?




The court agreed, reversed the trial court's order, and remanded the cause. The court held that the seller was not a bona fide purchaser for value without notice of the county's easement because he had actual, constructive, or implied notice. The court further held that the seller's title was, therefore, subject to that easement. The court noted that the seller could convey to the purchasers' no better title than he possessed and, therefore, the purchasers' title was subject to the easement.

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