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Real property

quiet title action

A quiet title action—also known as a trespass to try title action—is a lawsuit against a party who claims an interest in a piece of real property (land). In a quiet title action, the plaintiff seeks to establish the plaintiff’s title (ownership interest) in the land by forcing the adverse claimant (the defendant) to establish or prove an interest in the land or be forever estopped (precluded) from asserting an interest in the land.

The resolution of such a lawsuit is designed to settle or quiet a disputed claim to title or ownership of the land.

Laws regarding quiet title actions may vary from state to state and may be located in a state’s statutes or in its court opinions (common law or case law). The terms used for such a claim may also vary and in some states there may be a distinction between a quiet title claim and a trespass to try title claim—or a quiet title claim may be treated as an informal reference to a trespass to try title claim.

In Texas, a quiet title action, also known as a 'trespass to try title' action, is a legal proceeding used to resolve disputes over the ownership of real property. This type of lawsuit is filed by an individual or entity (the plaintiff) who seeks to establish clear title to a property by challenging any claims made by others (the defendants). The goal is to 'quiet' any challenges or claims to the title, thereby providing a clear and undisputed ownership record. Texas law requires the plaintiff to prove their ownership of the property in question with clear and convincing evidence. This may involve presenting deeds, wills, or other legal documents that establish the history of ownership. If successful, the court will issue a judgment that confirms the plaintiff's title to the property and eliminates any adverse claims. The Texas Property Code and relevant case law govern the procedures and requirements for bringing a quiet title action in the state. It's important to note that quiet title actions in Texas can be complex and may involve various legal issues, so it is advisable to consult with an attorney experienced in real estate law to navigate the process.


Texas Statutes & Rules

Federal Statutes & Rules

28 U.S.C. § 2409a - Real property quiet title actions
This federal statute is relevant as it allows the United States to be named as a defendant in a quiet title action, which is a lawsuit to settle disputes over land ownership.

Under 28 U.S.C. § 2409a, an individual can file a quiet title action against the United States in cases where there is a dispute over the title of real property. This statute waives the sovereign immunity of the United States, allowing it to be sued. The action must be filed in the U.S. district court for the district where the property is located. The statute of limitations for such actions is 12 years from the date upon which it accrued, but it does not apply to any lands held in trust by the United States for Native American tribes. The statute also does not apply to disputes over water rights.

28 U.S.C. § 1331 - Federal question jurisdiction
This statute is relevant because it establishes the jurisdiction of federal courts over civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States, which may include some quiet title actions.

28 U.S.C. § 1331 grants federal district courts jurisdiction over 'all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.' This means that if a quiet title action involves a substantial federal issue, such as a claim based on federal law or the U.S. Constitution, the case could potentially be heard in federal court. However, most quiet title actions are based on state law and would not fall under this jurisdiction unless there is a specific federal question involved.

28 U.S.C. § 1346(f) - Quiet title actions
This statute is relevant as it specifies the jurisdiction of the United States district courts over quiet title actions involving the United States.

28 U.S.C. § 1346(f) provides that the district courts shall have jurisdiction over civil actions under 28 U.S.C. § 2409a to adjudicate the validity of any assertion of a claim by the United States to an interest in real property. This statute is essentially a jurisdictional companion to 28 U.S.C. § 2409a, ensuring that the federal courts have the authority to hear these cases when the United States is a party to a quiet title action.

28 U.S.C. § 1367 - Supplemental jurisdiction
This statute is relevant because it allows federal courts to hear additional state law claims that are related to a federal issue being litigated, which could include state law quiet title claims.

28 U.S.C. § 1367 gives federal courts the authority to hear additional state law claims that form part of the same case or controversy as the federal issue before the court. In the context of quiet title actions, if a federal court has original jurisdiction over a federal question in a case that also includes a quiet title claim based on state law, the court may exercise supplemental jurisdiction to hear the entire matter, including the quiet title claim.