In a case that was made for a property final exam question, a mentally ill-man recorded a deed transfering Petco Park–the $539 million home of the San Diego Padres–to himself.
With many wondering whether the Chargers are leaving Qualcomm Stadium for Los Angeles, San Diego’s other major sports venue — Petco Park — has become the subject of a bizarre ownership controversy sparked by a mentally ill man who filed a simple document.
Derris Devon McQuaig took legal title to the downtown ballpark away from the city and the Padres two years ago by walking into the San Diego County Recorder’s Officer and submitting a properly filled-out deed transfer.
The San Diego County Assessor’s Office is required to record everything that is brought in–they cannot reject it, even if they think it is fraudulent, which was certainly the case here.
Jeff Olson, chief of assessment services for the San Diego County Assessor’s Office, said county officials are required to record all properly submitted documents and make them part of the public record even when they are obviously bogus. ….
But Olson said county officials were immediately aware that McQuaig’s deed transfer was bogus, primarily because he spent many hours in the County Recorder’s Office beforehand doing research and asking questions about the process. …
Olson, the assessor’s office official, said McQuaig was still capable of properly filling out a deed transfer, including entering the correct parcel and lot numbers for Petco Park and its correct address, 100 Park Blvd.
“As long as he’s crossed his t’s and dotted his i’s and filled in the blanks sufficiently on the grant deed, we’re required to record it,” Olson said. “He had no legal authority to transfer Petco Park to himself, but it becomes part of the public record.” …
Leonard, the title company official, agreed.
“It’s not their role to police every transaction,” she said.
So what’s the problem? This deed–known as a “wild deed”–could cast a cloud of title because there is some doubt about who owns the property?
But McQuaig has created a legal and bureaucratic nightmare that could be perpetrated on any property owner if someone decides to target them by casting doubt on their title in this way.
“I don’t think in any way it would be deemed credible because it’s pretty clearly just a ‘wild deed’ that has no legal sufficiency,” Olson said. “But it could cause headaches for someone down the road.”
Those headaches, which some compare to being the victim of identity theft, include hassles and delays in trying to sell or refinance property.
“If the report shows that this goofball over here put his name on your property, the bank is not going to lend you money,” said Tracy Leonard of Lawyers Title Insurance in Mission Valley. “It’s still your property, but you have to clean up the mess that somebody else made.”
So-called “wild deeds” often go undetected until a property owner tries to sell or refinance.
As easy as it is to add a wild deed to the record, it will likely take a court order–in the form of a quiet title action–to extinguish it.
So the City Attorney’s Office has begun exploring a civil remedy, most likely a “quiet title action,” which would nullify the bogus claim and reaffirm the city and the Padres as owners of the ballpark.
This proves the point that the Records Office will record anything!