With Lawsuit Against Berks County Recorder, Pennsylvania Land Title Association Moves to End Illegal Recording Practices in Berks County

November 30, 2005

KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa., /PRNewswire/ -- Pennsylvania Land Title Association (PLTA), whose members provide title insurance protection to homeowners, lenders, sellers and owners of property across the State of Pennsylvania, filed suit on November 29, 2005, in the Court of Common Pleas for Berks County against Ellie Antoine, the Recorder of Deeds for Berks County. The suit charges Ms. Antoine with multiple violations of Pennsylvania law in her oversight of the Recorder's office.

"We filed suit only after explaining to Ms. Antoine our concerns with her office's operations, suggesting solutions and giving her opportunities to rectify the problems," said Rob Musser, President of PLTA for 2005-2006. "When she failed to take action to bring her office into compliance with Pennsylvania law, we were left with no recourse but to seek the Court's assistance." Musser pointed out that "PLTA members are just one party affected by these problems. Anyone in Berks County who buys or sells real estate, or borrows or lends money against a property is currently exposed to unnecessary risk and inconvenience. Reliability and efficiency in the Recorder's office are essential to title insurance operations and to the customers we represent, so we are turning to the Court to compel Ms. Antoine to comply with the legal requirements of her office: to timely and efficiently record documents and to provide free access to the property records."

PLTA's lawsuit charges that Ms. Antoine's conduct of the office has exposed homeowners, lenders and commercial property owners to potential fraud and the claims of intervening creditors. Specifically, the suit alleges that her department has:

  • Failed to immediately record and index deeds, mortgages and other documents;
  • Routinely recorded documents out of order of presentation;
  • Created a huge backlog of documents waiting to be recorded;
  • Failed to properly maintain certain public records, causing increased risk to title insurers;
  • Imposed arbitrary and burdensome recording requirements, which have further contributed to recording delays and risk of claims;
  • Imposed illegal fees on the recording of documents and on the inspection of public records.
PLTA has requested that the Court of Common Pleas compel Ms. Antoine to correct all violations of law and to cease and desist from all illegal practices. PLTA has also requested that the Court remove Ms. Antoine and/or appoint a Receiver to run the office if Ms. Antoine fails to take immediate corrective action. Ellie Antoine has been Berks County Recorder of Deeds, an elected position, since 1996.

Based in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania Land Title Association represents the interests of more than 600 land title insurance agents, underwriters and members of affiliated professionals in law, real estate and financial services. Founded in 1921, PLTA is the third largest land title association in the United States.

SOURCE Pennsylvania Land Title Association

Contact ALTA at 202-296-3671 or communications@alta.org.