What Is a Motion to Expunge Lis Pendens (Motion to Discharge, Dissolve, Cancel, or Vacate Lis Pendens)?

General Definition

Lis pendens is “[a] notice, recorded in the chain of title to real property, required or permitted in some jurisdictions to warn all persons that certain property is the subject matter of litigation, and that any interests acquired during the pendency of the suit are subject to its outcome.” (Lis Pendens, Black's Law Dictionary, 11th ed. 2019, available at Westlaw.) A motion to expunge lis pendens (or a motion to discharge, dissolve, cancel, or vacate lis pendens) is a party or non-party’s request that the court remove the lis pendens.

Overview of State Court Authorities

California

Motion to Expunge Lis Pendens

At any time after notice of pendency of action has been recorded, any party, or any nonparty with an interest in the real property affected thereby, may apply to the court in which the action is pending to expunge the notice. (Code of Civ. Proc., § 405.30.) In proceedings under this chapter, the court shall order a lis pendens expunged if it finds…

Connecticut

Motion to Discharge Lis Pendens

“When ... a property owner files a motion for discharge alleging an invalid notice of lis pendens, resolution of this motion is governed in its entirety by General Statutes § 52–325d.” (Levinson v. Lawrence (2016) 162 Conn. App….)

Delaware

It is well settled that Superior Court Civil Rule 64(a) provides that “at the commencement of and during the course of an action, all remedies providing for seizure of person or property for the purpose of compelling appearance or securing satisfaction of a judgment ultimately to be entered in the action are available under the circumstances and in the manner provided by the statute.” (See Cannelongo v. Fidelity Am. Small Bus (1988) 540 A.2d 435…)

Florida

Motion to Dissolve Lis Pendens

A motion to dissolve lis pendens is properly granted where “proponents of the lis pendens .... fail to establish a fair nexus between the apparent legal or equitable ownership of the property and the dispute embodied in the lawsuit.” (Blue Star Palms, LLC v. LED Trust, LLC (2012) 128 So….)

Michigan

“Notice of lis pendens serves an important public purpose by protecting the right to litigation involving real property and protecting prospective purchasers by apprising them of disputes regarding rights in the land.”(Kauffman v. Shefman (1988) 169 Mich. App. 829…)

New Jersey

“The purpose of the lis pendens statute, N.J.S.A. 2A:15-11, is to give notice to subsequent interest holders that their interests are subject to the outcome of the litigation for which the notice of lis pendens was filed.” (See Manzo v. Shawmut Bank, N.A. (1996) 291 N.J. Super. 194…)

Nevada

Where “the underlying complaint cannot support the recorded lis pendens, and the district court manifestly abused its discretion in refusing to cancel them under NRS 14.015(5) [...] [mandamus] relief is warranted.” (Klugman v. Fifth Judicial Dist. Court, No. 79676-COA, at *3 [Nev. App. Oct. 11, 2019] citing NRS 34.160; Round Hill Gen. Improvement Dist. v. Newman (1981) 97 Nev. 601…)

New York

Motion to Cancel or Vacate Notice of Lis Pendens / Notice of Pendency

CPLR § 6514(a) provides for the mandatory cancellation of a notice of pendency “by [t]he court, upon motion of any person aggrieved and upon such notice as it may require, shall direct any county clerk to cancel a notice of pendency, if service of a summons has not been completed within the time limited by section 6512; or if the action has…”

Oklahoma

“A party dissatisfied with the notice of lis pendens may ask the equity court for a discharge or release of the notice which may be granted after a hearing.” (See Oak Tree Partners, LLC v. Williams (2018) 458 P.3d 626…)

Pennsylvania

Note that “the doctrine of lis pendens is based in common law and equity jurisprudence, rather than in statute, and is wholly subject to equitable principles. [T]he doctrine does not establish an actual lien on the affected property.” (Michael v. GLD Foremost Holdings, LLC [In re Foremost Indus., Inc.] (2017) 156 A.3d 318…)

Rhode Island

“A notice of lis pendens is filed on the public record for the purpose of warning all interested persons that the title to the subject property is being disputed in litigation and that, therefore, any person who subsequently acquires an interest in the property does so subject to the risk of being bound by an adverse judgment in the pending case.” (See Montecalvo v. Mandarelli (1996) 682 A.2d 918…)

Texas

Motion to Expunge Lis Pendens

“In 2009, the Texas Legislature ... amended section 12.0071 of the Texas Property Code to require a trial court to ‘order the notice of lis pendens expunged if the court determines that . . . the claimant fails to establish by a preponderance of the evidence the probable validity of the real property claim.’” (Cohen v. Sandcastle Homes, Inc. (2015)…)

Washington

“A lis pendens is notice of the pendency of an action affecting the title to real property.” (See Foster v. Nehls (1976) 15 Wn. App. 749…)

Wisconsin

“A lis pendens is a legal notice to any such person not having knowledge of the proceedings at the time his interest was procured or derived.” (See Ross v. Specialty Risk Consultants, Inc. (2000) 240 Wis. 2d 23…)

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