El-Muctar Sherif & Sami Sei Gandy v. American Land Transfer, Inc., PICS Case No. 14-0085 (C.P. Philadelphia, Dec. 27, 2013) Snite, J. (11 pages).

COURTS OF COMMON PLEAS

The Legal Intelligencer

REAL ESTATE LAW

Fraudulent Transfer • Conspiracy • Duty of Care • Intended Beneficiary

El-Muctar Sherif & Sami Sei Gandy v. American Land Transfer, Inc., PICS Case No. 14-0085 (C.P. Philadelphia, Dec. 27, 2013) Snite, J. (11 pages).

Where plaintiffs failed to provide evidence of conspiracy and fraud by real estate title company, and where plaintiff was not intended beneficiary of agreement with title company, claims for conspiracy, fraud and negligence should be dismissed. Summary judgment granted.

Mr. and Mrs. Corneh acquired title to real property on behalf of the African Islamic Community Center (AICC) for use as a mosque. It was understood that the Cornehs would ultimately transfer ownership of the mosque to AICC. A dispute arose between the Cornehs and AICC, resulting in a settlement where the Cornehs would transfer title to AICC. Defendant Mohamed Jomandy, president of AICC at all times relevant to the action, was empowered by the board of AICC to transact with the Cornehs. An individual not party to this action, Eyad Takiedine, agreed to loan the funds necessary to complete the transaction. Defendant John Hartzel, Esq., was retained by Takiedine to represent him in connection with the transaction. Hartzel obtained title insurance for Takiedine from defendant American Land Transfer, Inc. (ALT).

Settlement papers were prepared by ALT on behalf of Takiedine. Jomandy received title to the mosque on behalf of AICC. Immediately afterwards, Jomandy executed a transfer of the mosque from AICC to Defendant South West Community Center (SWCC), a non-proft religious organization Jomandy had incorporated prior to the conveyance, for consideration of $1.

Plaintiffs El-Muctar Sherif and Sami Sey Gandy, derivatively and on behalf of AICC, filed suit, asserting claims of conspiracy and fraud against all defendants, and claims of negligence and gross negligence against ALT alone. Defendants ALT and Stewart Title Guaranty Co. (STGC) filed a motion for summary judgment on all claims against them; plaintiffs filed a cross-motion for summary judgment against ALT alone.

The court found that plaintiffs had failed to present any evidence to support any of the elements of a claim of civil conspiracy. Instead, plaintiffs simply relied on the averments in their complaint; however, the court noted that at the summary judgment stage, plaintiffs must come forward with evidence to support the cause of action.

The court also found that plaintiffs brought forth no evidence to establish a claim of fraud, namely that either ALT or STGC intended to mislead AICC or induce AICC to rely on any false statements.

Finally, the court rejected plaintiffs' arguments that ALT owed a duty of care to AICC as the title company in charge of the transaction. The court found that ALT owed no such duty, noting that under Pennsylvania law, the duty of a title company runs only to the party with whom it has entered into a contract.

The court noted that a title company may owe a duty of care to a non-party if the non-party is the intended beneficiary of the agreement. However, in the present case, plaintiffs failed to provide any evidence to establish that AICC was the intended beneficiary of the agreement between ALT and Takiedine, and therefore could not show that ALT owed a duty of care to AICC.