A Real Estate story that may give you a different focus on Notaries.
Transamerica Title v. Green(89 Cal., Rptr. 915, 11 Cal. App. 3d 693).
There were two pieces of property in San Mateo County. One parcel was owned by Joe and Mary Patrakis. The other parcel was owned by Tony and Amy Von Harten. Unbeknownst to their wives, Joe and Tony used the two properties as collateral for a bank loan. To secure the loan, deeds of trust had to be signed by the owners of the properties, as husband and wife, respectively, and their signatures notarized.
Joe and Tony went to their attorney, accompanied by two women, whom Joe and Tony claimed were their wives. The attorney introduced the four of them to a notary in the office (who happened to also be an attorney), James S. Green. Notary Green asked all four people if they had signed the deeds, to which all four replied affirmatively. Green notarized the four signatures on the deeds.
It was later discovered the 2 woman were not the wives of Joe and Tony, but were impostors who forged the signatures of Mary and Amy.
The loans on the 2 properties fell into foreclosure and lawsuits were filed, and the notary was sued by the title insurance company for his notarial misconduct.
The California Court of Appeals held that the notary’s failure to take the necessary steps to properly verify the signer’s identity makes the notary fully liable for the losses suffered as a result. The Court quoted a prior case: “When the notary does not obey this statute, he should expect to be held liable; and I wish to repeat, these requirements are of great importance to the business world, and not at all too exacting.”
Judgment against the notary for misconduct was affirmed.