Saul Ewing’s Title Claims & Coverage Litigation team includes experienced litigators and trial attorneys who understand the industry and business of title insurance, as well as the title and real estate statutory and common laws that impact and drive the outcome of litigation. Our attorneys have extensive experience in mortgage lending, bankruptcy, and real estate transactions, which they bring to bear in litigation. We advise a broad spectrum of participants in this industry, including underwriters, insureds, settlement service providers, non-mortgage service operators, title holders and others with real property interests.
Given the wide variety of title disputes our team has handled, we have honed our approach of providing efficient, economic and results-oriented services, including in the following areas:
- Trying title disputes and coverage claims to verdict.
- Representing insureds and underwriters in state and federal court appeals of trial court decisions and, in some cases, establishing precedential state law that has been beneficial to the title industry.
- Advising title insurance underwriters and insureds on coverage issues, determinations and related disputes.
- Assisting underwriters in prosecuting recoupment claims following a policy payout.
- Defending underwriters in civil actions arising from the denial of policy coverage which, in some instances, have included allegations of bad faith.
- Counseling settlement service providers, including mortgage lenders, title issuing agents, real estate brokerages and their sales associates on risk exposure arising from disputes over title interests.
- Representing both commercial and residential fee simple title holders; mortgagees; easement holders; holders of gas, oil and mineral rights; riparian right grantees; licensees; licensors; and parties with other varied recorded and/or otherwise enforceable and defensible interest in real property in matters arising from disputes over title interests.
- Advising on title insurance, closing services and other non-mortgage servicing operations, including the following:
- RESPA – Section 8 and Section 9
- FTC and CFPB – UDAAP
- ALTA best practices
- State/commonwealth and territorial insurance statutes and regulations
- State/commonwealth and territorial UPL regulations
- Mergers and acquisitions
- RESPA-compliant title agency joint ventures and marketing services agreements
With seasoned litigators and trial-experienced attorneys in each of our 16 offices across Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Florida, Illinois and Minnesota, and with additional coverage in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, and Michigan, our attorneys understand how to apply the real property law unique to the jurisdictions of the dispute.
Saul Ewing attorneys have advised on a variety of title claims and coverage litigation matters, including the representative list below.
- Represented an insured under an owner’s and lender’s policy relating to the following: adverse possession claims; mortgage priority disputes; boundary and easement disputes; mineral rights disputes; riparian rights and grants dispute; tide lands disputes; coastal land takings and disputes; clearing title to inherited property; defense of insured’s interest against claims based on forgery and fraudulent conveyance; defense of mortgagee’s interest against challenges by bankruptcy trustees; defense of mortgage priority, including equitable subrogation claims; defense of owner’s and mortgagee’s interest against claims of reversion and rescission; title disputes arising from testate and intestate claims; recordation failures; residential and commercial foreclosures; mechanic and equitable liens; and tax liens and sales.
- Defense of an owner of commercial property, title to which was obtained based on a right of first refusal while insured was lessee, from a claim seeking to void the recorded right of first refusal based on the assertion that the trustee of the prior title owner acted ultra vires of his authority under the trust document.
- Defense of a mortgagor’s priority in a foreclosure action against a claim by a prior mortgagor that its non-discharge mortgage served as security for a subsequently obtained consent judgment entered in another state against the mortgagee’s principal.
- Defense of an insured in a quiet title action involving the fraudulent sale of commercial real estate in Philadelphia, pursued third-party claims against the bank, closing agent, and notary, and defeated motions to dismiss filed by same.
- Obtained summary judgment on behalf of an insured mortgage lender and established equitable mortgage in foreclosure action wherein the mortgagor alleged the signature on the original mortgage was forged by an ex-husband.
- Obtained temporary injunctions in multi-million-dollar closing-agent defalcation cases and successfully pursued claims against responsible parties in both state court and bankruptcy actions.
- Defense of lender’s $500 million mortgages rights to multiple lots being environmentally remediated to support the future development as a regional sports, entertainment and retail destination from the municipality’s title reversion claims that would void the lender’s mortgages.
- Defense of a developer’s title to two inter-city properties from quasi-public entity’s title reversion claims; one property having been already resold and redeveloped through $20 million financing, secured by a mortgage.
- Defense of an underwriter against a $400 million coverage claim brought by a syndicate of lenders against a national title insurance company seeking coverage under a lender’s policy related to an asserted reversion of title and mortgage avoidance.
- Defense of a $30 million coverage claim brought by a lender against a national title insurance company for alleged direct and vicarious liability for its agent’s alleged failure to record security instruments as part of a Ponzi scheme.
- Defense of an underwriter against a lender’s claims under Service Protection Letter, Closing Protection Letter and/or lender’s policy arising from an alleged mortgage fraud and defalcation.
- Defense of lenders’ and owners’ claims of negligence and breach of fiduciary duty arising from mortgage and appraisal fraud and defalcation.
- Defense of coverage claims based vicarious liability arising from a title agency’s alleged fraud, negligence or breach of fiduciary duty.
- Collective representation of mass number of insureds against i) lien claims by homeowners associations; and ii) easement/eminent domain claims by a government agency, as well as private companies.
Title Policy Coverage Counsel
- Coverage counsel to underwriters to provide coverage analysis, and to provide a defense in civil action disputes.
- A $10 million coverage and bad-faith claim based on taking appeals of underlying action instead of making a payment under a policy to resolve the underlying lien.
- Coverage and bad faith claims brought against insurers arising from an alleged delay in discharging a lien while providing defense to insured.
- Coverage dispute arising from mechanics liens.
- Coverage under professional liability, E&O, D&O, fiduciary claims, and other insuring provisions.
- Defense of extra-contractual liability claims, including bad faith and excess limits exposures.
- Multifaceted coverage issues related to construction defect litigation, including additional insured issues.
- Litigation arising from surety and appellate bonds.
- Title insurance underwriters with respect to coverage analysis and defense of coverage claims by class of insureds.
- Coverage analysis related to a third-party’s civil action seeking to prevent the insured from widening a paper road as required by local municipality in order to redevelop several newly subdivided lots, requiring extensive historical title records analysis.
- Coverage analysis related to defalcation of closing funds.
- Coverage analysis related to mortgage fraud by borrowers.
- Coverage analysis related to a city’s historical construction, maintenance and improvement of sidewalks and roadways that crossed asserted property lines for several blocks, involving 150 years of historical title records