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title insurance: matters
Summary Professionals Matters News Events Publications
2010
Title Insurance Company - Class Action Defense
Representation of a title insurance company in a class action alleging overcharges on premiums for policies sold to consumers in New Jersey.  We settled—on terms favorable to our client—early enough in negotiations to minimize our client's legal fees.  
2010
Stewart Title Guaranty Co. - New Jersey Supreme Court Victory
Representation of Stewart Title Guaranty Co. in its New Jersey Supreme Court victory limiting the scope of a title insurance company's liability for attorney misconduct. The homebuyers' attorney stole their escrow funds in conjunction with a real estate transaction.  The New Jersey Lawyers Fund For Client Protection paid the victims for the attorney's theft, and then sued Stewart Title for reimbursement, in keeping with NJLF's long-held belief that a title insurer's liability should blanket all aspects of the closing process. The attorney here, however, had stolen the money before he contacted Stewart Title's agent to request a title insurance commitment and policy on behalf of the homebuyers. The trial court dismissed NJLF's lawsuit, but the Appellate Division reversed, ruling that in order for Stewart Title to avoid liability, it would have had to provide the homebuyers with direct notice informing them that their title insurance policy did not cover attorney theft.  The Supreme Court unanimously reversed, ruling that the lack of notice was irrelevant, since the attorney was not acting as an agent of the title company at the time that he committed his crime.
2010
Title Insurance Agency - Frivolous Claim Defense
Representation of a title insurance agency in a suit brought by a property seller. We won summary judgment and a dismissal of all claims. The court also ruled that the plaintiff had committed fraud in connection with the transaction, and imposed sanctions against him and his counsel, including attorney's fees, for frivolous litigation. 
2009
Title Insurance Company - Agent’s Fraud Imputed to Lender
Representation of a title insurance company against a lender whose agent committed a fraud that caused the loss of the insured mortgage. Our client successfully argued that since the agent acted on behalf of the bank, the fraud could be attributed to the bank and therefore fell under the policy’s exclusion for “acts of the insured.” The court’s ruling will have ramifications in the title insurance and mortgage lending industry since many sub-prime lenders relied upon unscrupulous agents to close their loans, and to the extent any frauds committed by those agents lead to a title loss, the lenders cannot look to the title insurers for indemnification.
2009
Real Estate Development Company - Land Purchase Dispute
Representation of  real estate development company in an appeal arising from its $3 million purchase and development of 7.5 acres of land from Hebrew Huntington Congregation. A faction of the congregation challenged the court's order that permitted our client to purchase the land under the Religious Corporations Law. The Second Department upheld the order and dismissed the appeal as moot, recognizing that our client was a bona fide good faith purchaser.
2008
Title Insurer - Fraud and Defalcation
Representation of a title insurance company in recovering $8 million in losses incurred by defalcation and fraud of a title agent.
2008
Title Insurer - Victory in Litigation Against the U.S. Government
Representation of an insured real property owner in defending against a large and complicated lawsuit by the U.S. Government over the purchase of a piece of real estate from the government. The case dragged on for three years before the insurer brought us in, and we won it on a motion for summary judgment.
2007
RM 14 FK Corp. v. Bank One Trust Company - K-Mart Mortgage Dispute Appeal
Representation of a title insurer in its appeal of a trial court’s decision permitting a litigant to proceed with its claim seeking to void $30 million in mortgages, held by Merrill Lynch, encumbering 14 K-Mart stores throughout the US. The Appellate Division unanimously reversed the lower court, granting summary judgment for our client. (RM 14 FK Corp. v. Bank One Trust Company, 831 N.Y.S.2d 120 (1st Dept. 2007))
2007
Title Insurer - Frivolous Claim Defense
Defended a title insurer in an action by a property owner seeking title insurance coverage. The court found the owner's damages to be attributable to its own actions, and impressed sanctions against the owner and its counsel, which included attorneys' fees, for prosecuting frivolous litigation.
2006
Title Insurer - Mortgage Fraud Litigation
Representation of an insured lender in litigating the validity and enforceability of a multi-million dollar mortgage lien that was alleged to have been forged. Herrick overcame the fraud allegation and succeeded in enforcing the mortgage.
2005
Title Insurance Company - Fraud Action
Representation of a title insurance company in obtaining a $1.4 million judgment and attachment of the defendants' bank accounts in a fraud action.
2005
Title Insurer/Secured Lender - Priority Dispute
Representation of a secured lender in its claim to the proceeds of the sale of a borrower's principal asset. The court granted our motion for summary judgment, ruling that our client's claim had priority over competing claims asserted by produce sellers under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act. D.M. Rothman Co., Inc. v. Cohen Marketing Int'l, Inc., 2005 U.S. Dist. Lexis 14449, 2005 WL 1690524 (S.D.N.Y. 2005).
2004
Title Insurer/Secured Creditor - Lien Priority Dispute
Representation of a title insurance company which was a secured creditor in a lien priority dispute with another creditor. After the properties securing the debt were sold, the bankruptcy court authorized payment of our client's claim, dismissing the competing secured creditor's claim. In re Litas International, Inc., 2004 WL 1488114, 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12151 (S.D.N.Y. 2004).
2004
Title Underwriters - Island Mortgage Network Chapter 11
Representation of several national title underwriters in connection with the Chapter 11 cases of Island Mortgage Network, Inc. and related litigation in various courts.
2003
Title Insurance Companies - Class Action Defense
Representation of two title insurance companies in two class actions alleging overcharges on premiums for policies sold to consumers in New York.  After extensive litigation, we settled on terms favorable to our clients.
2000
In Re 455 CPW Associates - Mortgage/Mechanic’s Lien Priority Dispute
Representation of a title insurance company in its defense of a mortgage lender from Section 22 claims made by a mechanic lienor, in Bankruptcy Court, asserting that its lien took priority over an earlier filed mortgage. The Bankruptcy Court ruled in our client’s favor and both the District Court and the Second Circuit affirmed. (In Re 455 CPW Associates; Herbert Construction v. The Greater New York Savings Bank, 192 B.R. 85 (Bank. S.D.N.Y. 1996), aff. 2000 U.S. App. Lexis 23470 (2d Cir. 2000))
1996
Congregation Yetv Lev D'Satmar, Inc. v. 26 Adar N.B. Corp. - Religious Corporations/Title Dispute
Appearance as amicus curiae on behalf of the New York State Land Title Association in an important appeal involving issues under New York's Religious Corporations law.  Congregation Yetev Lev D'Satmar, Inc. v. 26 Adar N.B. Corp., 641 N.Y.S.2d 680 (2nd Dep't 1996)