Man transfers title to himself: City stuck trying to reclaim home of San Diego Padres

By Jennifer Felten

Case of the Month: People v. McQuaig

The City of San Diego is learning the hard way that real estate fraud can be both a criminal matter and a civil matter. Apparently, in 2014 Derris McQuaig decided that he wanted to own Petco Park, the baseball stadium for the San Diego Padres. To that end he filed a deed transferring title to the property to himself.

The deed met all the statutory requirements for recording. Therefore, under California law the recorder’s office had to record the deed. Of course, they were doubtful of the veracity of the document and thus notified the district attorney’s office of the document. Since then legal efforts in criminal court have ensued to try and clear title to the property. Since district attorneys generally proceed in criminal court and there are remedies available in criminal court to avoid transfers from fraudulent deeds, this strategy likely appeared wise to the prosecutors.

Their criminal court efforts, however, were thwarted when the judge threw out the criminal case on December 16. The dismissal was based upon a finding that McQuaig was not competent to stand trial and that there was no substantial likelihood that he would regain mental competence in the foreseeable future. The dismissal forecloses any potential for clearance of title on the property via the criminal court.

So now, the City had to look to the civil court to regain clear title to the property. Likely this will occur via the filing of a quiet title action which is a civil lawsuit brought in order to establish a party’s title to real property against anyone who makes claims to the title. Such an action could have been brought as soon as McQuaig’s deed was recorded and the case could have been proceeding concurrently with the criminal one. Unfortunately, the district attorney failed to do so. As such, they will have to file such action now if they want to clean up title to the property.

Considering the current delays occurring in the civil courts due to budget issues it could easily be another year before the matter is resolved and title to Petco Park is returned to its rightful owners.
The good news for the district attorneys is that McQuaig’s incompetence is not a defense to the quiet title action. Further, the facts suggest that no intended transfer occurred. As such, it is highly likely that the rightful owners will obtain clear title, in time.



Jennifer Felten

Jennifer Felten, Esq.

Jennifer Felten, Esq., Ms. Felten specializes in representing both individuals and legal entities, providing representation and guidance on a variety of real estate related matters.  Relaw APC 699 Hampshire Road, Suite 105 Westlake VillageCA  91361 US Phone: (805) 265-1031



Upcoming Speaking Engagements for Ms. Felten

January 12, 2016 – Tri-County Escrow Association

January 28, 2016 – Upland-Claremont Real Estate Professionals

For inquiries or questions about any of these events, please email [email protected].


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William "Bill" Hicks

Another reason to believe that the “brightest and best” that the administrative state can provide is no match for even someone declared incompetent by the courts.