Real estate practitioners don’t often get excited about litigation, but this lawsuit should bring cheers from dirt lawyers in every part of the Palmetto State! The Finkel Law Firm, LLC, as plaintiff, filed suit on November 24 against Michael Miller, individually and in his official capacity as the Charleston County Register of Deeds. You can read the complaint in its entirety here.
The complaint points to Miller’s chronic and willful failure to timely record real estate documents within one month of delivery. The allegations state that Miller has allowed substantial delays since late 2019, and that these delays have increased significantly in 2021, sometimes amounting to as long as four months.
Further, the complaint states the Charleston ROD routinely files documents that are hand delivered immediately while allowing hundreds or even thousands of documents delivered to his office by mail or parcel delivery to be stored for later filing.
We all know that South Carolina is a race notice state. Delay in filing real estate documents will, of course, create liability for parties and their lawyers. The complaint makes this point clearly.
The law firm alleges that these failures have substantially interfered with its ability to meet its professional obligations to protect the interests of its clients and has exposed the firm to potential liability for correcting title problems resulting from the ROD’s dereliction of duty.
The complaint seeks a writ of mandamus ordering the ROD:
- To immediately file all real estate documents that have been delivered and have not been filed within one month of delivery;
- To mark the recorded real estate documents as being recorded on the same date that they were delivered; and
- To record all real estate documents in the order of the times at which they were brought to the ROD, regardless of whether they are personally delivered or are delivered by U.S. mail or parcel post.
The complaint asks the court to maintain jurisdiction for a reasonable time to monitor the continued operations of the ROD.
Every real estate practitioner in South Carolina should thank their friends at the Finkel Firm for taking this action. And every ROD in the State should take notice!