Legal Memorandum: Elements of a Slander of Title Action

Issue: What are the elements of a slander of title action in Kentucky?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure, Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Slander of title action; Elements
Jurisdiction: Kentucky
Cited Cases: 175 S.W.2d 1015; 948 S.W.2d 419
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 11/01/2000

The Kentucky Supreme Court most recently set out the elements of a cause of action for slander of title in Montgomery v. Milam, 910 S.W.2d 237 (Ky. 1995).  First, the plaintiff must plead and prove that the defendant knowingly and maliciously communicated, orally or in writing, a false statement that had the effect of disparaging the plaintiff’s title.  Id. at 240 (citing with approval Bonnie Braes Farms, Inc. v. Robinson, 598 S.W.2d 765, 766 (Ky. Ct. App. 1980)).  Second, the plaintiff must plead and prove special damages.   Id. (citing with approval Bonnie Braes Farms, 598 S.W.2d at 766).  Disparagement without special damages does not constitute slander of title; Kentucky does not recognize a tort of slander of title per se.  Bonnie Braes Farms, 598 S.W.2d at 766 (citing Ideal Sav. Loan & Bldg. Ass’n  v. Blumberg, 295 Ky. 858, 175 S.W.2d 1015 (1943)).

The Montgomery court unanimously concluded that filing an unjustified notice of a mechanic’s lien constitutes disparagement of title.  910 S.W.2d at 240.  Accord Stahl v. St. Elizabeth Med. Ctr., 948 S.W.2d 419 (Ky. Ct. App. 1997) (improper filing of notice of lis pendens constitutes disparagement); Bonnie Braes Farms, 598 S.W.2d at 767 (same).  Similarly,  a defendant’s false oral statement to a prospective purchaser of adjoining property that the defendant was the sole owner of a party wall and could knock it down at any time constituted disparagement of  title.  Ideal Sav. Loan & Building Ass’n, 295 Ky. 858, 175 S.W.2d 1015. […]

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