Bailey v. Citibank, N.A.Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs Charles and Kimberley Bailey petitioned to quiet title to property in Frazier Park, California, based on their alleged adverse possession of the property for a five-year period. Before that period was completed, defendant Citibank, N.A. (Citibank), as successor in interest of a deed of trust recorded against the property long before plaintiffs’ adverse possession began, foreclosed and acquired title to the property under the trustee’s deed. Citibank, however, failed to answer or otherwise respond to the complaint, and its default was entered, and the trial court ultimately entered a judgment quieting title in plaintiffs’ favor. Citibank moved to set aside both the default and the judgment under the mandatory provisions of Code of Civil Procedure section 473, based on Citibank’s attorney’s affidavit of fault. The trial court granted Citibank’s motion, and the default and the judgment quieting title were set aside. Plaintiffs appealed that order on the ground that no basis existed for potential relief under section 473 since Citibank’s attorney was not retained to handle this case until after the default was entered. In response to plaintiffs’ appeal, Citibank filed a protective cross-appeal, arguing that even if relief under section 473 was unavailable, the judgment quieting title in plaintiffs’ favor was erroneous as a matter of law and should have been reversed. The Court of Appeal agreed with Citibank: the undisputed facts showed Citibank was the owner of the property as a matter of law. Judgement was reversed as to the trial court's section 473 ruling and as to quieting title in favor of plaintiffs; on remand the trial court was instructed to enter a new judgment in Citibank’s favor.