Court Rejects Real Estate Agent's Competition Law Action Involving Insurance

SANTA ANA, Calif. - An errors and omissions insurance provision was secondary to the agreement between a real estate and broker and thus not unlawfully sold, a California appeals court held June 3 in affirming dismissal of California unfair competition law (UCL) claims (Marshall S. Griffith v. Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Co., No. G047506, Calif. App., 4th Dist., Div. 3).

Missouri Court Reverses Ruling For Sellers In Mold Suit, Finds Genuine Fact Issues

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - After finding that evidence submitted by the purchaser of a house that allegedly contained mold created a genuine issue of fact as to the scope of a settlement agreement between the parties, a Missouri appeals court on May 28 reversed a trial court's decision to grant summary judgment for the seller of the house and a real estate company (Deborah McIntire v. Glad Heart Properties, et al., No. WD75674, Mo. App., Western Dist., Div. 2; 2013 Mo. App. LEXIS 656).

Couple Sufficiently States Claim Under RESPA, Judge Rules

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - A federal judge in Alabama on May 22 ruled that a couple could pursue a claim that Bank of America N.A. and its loan servicing arm BAC Home Loans violated the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) for their alleged failure to respond to qualified written requests (QWRs) for information about their loan but dismissed the remainder of the plaintiffs' lawsuit for failure to state a claim (Gregory Collins, et al. v. BAC Home Loans, et al., No. 12-cv-3721-LSC, N.D. Ala.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 71466).

Appeals Court Orders Judge To Consider Community Center's Defenses In Cleanup Suit

TRENTON, N.J. - A New Jersey appeals panel on May 3 reversed a ruling entering default judgment against a community center that was named as a defendant in a soil and groundwater contamination suit and ordered the judge presiding over the matter to consider the defendant's defenses, including whether it caused contamination at the site (Ponzio's Kingsway Real Estate LLC v. Glenn Mark, et al., No. A-4710-11T2, N.J. Super., App. Div.; 2013 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 1032).

Real Estate Sales Agents Conditionally Certified In Wage-And-Hour Suit

PHOENIX - An Arizona federal judge on May 3 conditionally certified as a collective action a lawsuit filed by real estate agents alleging that they were denied minimum wage and overtime (Patricia Anderson, et al. v. Ziprealty, Inc., No. 12-332, D. Ariz.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 63817).

Federal Judge Allows Expert Testimony In FDIC's Suit

TAMPA, Fla. - In a suit in which the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., as the receiver for a failed bank, alleged that a law firm committed malpractice and breached its fiduciary duty to the bank in relation to a real estate acquisition, a federal judge in Florida on May 1 denied the firm's motion to exclude as improper expert testimony by the FDIC's expert, in part because the defendants' arguments are moot (Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. v. Icard, Merrill, Cullis, Timm, Furen & Ginsburg P.A., et al., No. 11-2831, M.D. Fla.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 63709).

California Appeals Panel Revives Real Estate Agent's Personal Injury Claims

SAN FRANCISCO - The First District California Court of Appeal on April 26 overturned summary judgment for the defendants in a premises liability action, concluding that an inspection report of a property listed for sale revealed a potentially dangerous condition in the home (Pinda Hall, et al. v. Aurora Loan Services LLC, et al., No. A133045, Calif. App., 1st Dist.; 2013 Cal. App. LEXIS 330).

Judge Finds Class's Claim Over Inflated Appraisal Scheme Timely

SAN JOSE, Calif. - A federal judge in California on April 23 denied First American eAppraiseIT LLC's (EA) motion for judgment on the pleadings in a class action suit brought under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), finding that the class members' claim was timely because they were not aware of an agreement between the appraiser and Washington Mutual Bank FSB until November 2007, when the New York attorney general released the results of an investigation into the parties (Felton A. Spears, et al. v. First American eAppraiseIT, a/k/a eAppraiseIT LLC, et al., No. 08-CV-00868-RMW, N.D. Calif.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 58292).

Panel: Insurance Broker Is Not Liable To Investor For Professional Negligence

LOS ANGELES - An insurance broker wasn't liable to an investor who was unable to get coverage under a bankrupt real estate developer's business risk insurance policy for alleged vandalism and theft, a California appeals panel ruled April 17 (Travelers Property Casualty Company of America, et al. v. Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles, Nos. B243650 & B244334, Calif. App., 2nd Dist., Div. 3; 2013 Cal. App. LEXIS 295).

6th Circuit Affirms Decision Finding Sellers Did Not Conceal Mold

CINCINNATI - The Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 1 affirmed a decision that granted summary judgment in favor of a real estate company, a seller of a house and others on all of the claims asserted against them by a couple who alleged that they concealed mold and water problems at the house (Jason A. Milner, et al. v. Robin Biggs, et al., No. 12-3526, 6th Cir.).

Judge: FDIC Must Plead Separate Claims For Separate Transactions

TAMPA, Fla. - A federal judge in Florida on March 28 granted Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Co.'s motion for a more definite statement in a suit brought by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., finding that pleading breach of contract and declaratory relief separately so that each distinct real estate transaction at issue is contained in a separate count "would promote clarity, better frame the issues, and adhere to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure" (Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. v. Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Co., No. 12-2247, M.D. Fla.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 44621).

Federal Judge Dismisses 3 Suits Against FDIC As Failed Bank's Receiver

DENVER - A federal judge in Colorado on March 25 granted motions by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., as the receiver for a failed bank, to dismiss three consolidated suits related to a $17 million real estate loan in part because the banks that filed the suits did not first exhaust their claims with the FDIC (FirsTier Bank, Kimball, Nebraska v. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., et al., No. 11-3231, Adams Bank & Trust v. FirsTier Bank, Louisville, Colorado, et al., No. 12-0240, Adams Bank & Trust v. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FirsTier Bank), et al., No. 11-3404, D. Colo.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41311).

Federal Judge Denies Judgment In FDIC's Suit Against Appraiser

OAKLAND, Calif. - A federal judge in California on March 7 denied cross-motions for summary judgment in a suit in which the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. as the receiver for the failed IndyMac Bank FSB sued a real estate appraiser for breach of contract and negligent misrepresentation (Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. v. Judith A. Warren, et al., No. 11-3260, N.D. Calif.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31848).

Federal Judge Denies Shareholders' Attempt To Stop Archstone Sale

DENVER - A federal judge in Colorado on March 1 denied the request of real estate investment trust Archstone Enterprise LP shareholders to block the sale of Archstone, an entity in which the bankrupt Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. holds a substantial interest, finding that the shareholders have not presented evidence of a fraudulent transfer (Steven A. Stender, et al. v. ERP Operating Limited Partnership, et al., No. 13-0496, D. Colo.).

Judge Finds 'Domainer' Guilty Of Cybersquatting With 'Trump' Domains

BROOKLYN, N.Y. - A New York federal judge granted summary judgment to Donald Trump on Feb. 28 related to the real estate and reality television mogul's counterclaims against a purported cybersquatter, finding that domains incorporating Trump's trademark were registered in bad faith (Web-Adviso, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, No. 1:11-cv-01413, E.D. N.Y.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28174).

Federal Circuit Reverses In Dispute Over Online Zoom Patent

WASHINGTON, D.C. - A California federal judge erred in finding that a defendant had not infringed an asserted claim in a since-expired patent covering an online zoom feature, the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled March 3 (Move Inc. v. Real Estate Alliance Ltd., No. 12-1342, Fed. Cir.).

Judge: Change To Loan Servicer's Name Does Not Trigger Notice Requirement

MINNEAPOLIS - A federal judge in Minnesota on Feb. 15 dismissed a couple's lawsuit claiming that BAC Home Loans Servicing LP (BAC) violated the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) by failing to notify them that it had changed its name from Countrywide Home Loans Inc., after finding that the name change did not result in any alterations to the plaintiffs' account or to the address where payments are sent (Peter Yakowicz, et al. v. BAC Home Loans Servicing LP, et al., No. 12-1180, D. Minn.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20586).

16 Banks Sued By Real Estate Mogul For Role In Portfolio Default

NEW YORK - Real estate mogul Sheldon H. Solow sued 16 banks and certain of their subsidiaries in New York federal court on Feb. 13, arguing that the banks manipulated the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR), causing a portfolio of more than $450 million in municipal bonds he purchased as collateral for LIBOR-denominated loans to default, costing him nearly $100 million in losses (7 West 57th Street Realty Co. LLC v. Citigroup Inc., et al., No. 13-0981, S.D. N.Y.).

Florida Mortgage Company Announces $127M Settlement Over Robo-Signing Documents

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Lender Processing Services Inc. (LPS), a Florida-based company that offers integrated technology and services to the mortgage and real estate industries, on Jan. 31 announced that it had reached a $127 million settlement with attorneys general in 46 states and the District of Columbia to resolve claims over its document preparation, which included the practice of robo-signing documents used in foreclosure proceedings.

Judge Finds Residents Were Not Real Estate Managers Under Lessors Policy

ATLANTA - Concluding that a couple did not qualify as "real estate managers" under a lessors liability policy covering the property where they lived, a Georgia federal judge on Jan. 25 found that an insurer did not have a duty to defend them in an underlying negligence suit over an accidental drowning (Shawn Moon, et al. v. The Cincinnati Insurance Co., et al., No. 1:12-cv-03112, N.D. Ga.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10090).

Judge: Freddie Mac Cannot Face Claims Over Servicer's Failure To Pay Insurance

SEATTLE - A federal judge in Washington on Jan. 25 dismissed a man's claims for declaratory judgment and violation of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) after finding that the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. (Freddie Mac) cannot be held liable for a loan servicer's failure to pay the borrower's insurance premium, thus requiring the acquisition of a force-placed insurance policy (Joel Johnson v. Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, No. C12-1712 TSZ, W.D. Wash.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10485).

Justice Dismisses Insured's Duty To Procure Claim Against Insurance Broker

BRONX, N.Y. - A New York trial justice on Jan. 17 dismissed an insured's complaint against its insurance broker regarding its duty to procure or advise on insurance coverage because no special relationship was alleged (AGCS Marine Insurance Co. v. Bayview Real Estate Consultants Inc., et al., No. 69093/11, N.Y. Sup., Bronx Co.; 2013 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 174).

Bankruptcy Judge Denies Dismissal Of Insurer's Aiding, Abetting Claim

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A federal bankruptcy judge in Florida on Jan. 18 refused to dismiss bankrupt insurers' claims for aiding and abetting and breach of fiduciary duty against companies regarding real estate investments; however, the judge did dismiss the insurers' rescission claim under the claim preclusion doctrine (In re: British American Insurance Co. Ltd., No. 09-31881 & 09-35888, In re: British American Isle of Venice $(BVI$) Ltd., No. 10-21627, British American Isle of Venice $(BVI$) and British American Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Robert Fullerton, et al., Adv. Proc. No. 11-03117, British American Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Robert Fullerton, et al., Adv. Proc. No. 11-03118, Chapter 15, S.D. Fla. Bkcy.; 2013 Bankr. LEXIS 217).

Judge: Jury To Decide Damages Suffered From Bank's Inadequate Responses

INDIANAPOLIS - A federal judge in Indiana on Dec. 18 ruled that Chase Home Finance LLC violated the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) by insufficiently responding to three qualified written requests (QWRs) it received from a borrower and that a jury should determine the amount of actual damages she sustained as a result of the violations (Deborah Walton v. Chase Home Finance LLC, No. 11-cv-00417-JMS-MJD, S.D. Ind.).

9th Circuit: Couple's Letters Did Not Trigger Loan Servicer's Duty To Respond

PASADENA, Calif. - A couple's loan servicer was not required to respond to three letters sent by their counsel challenging an increase in their monthly mortgage payment because the communications did not constitute qualified written requests (QWRs) for information under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), 12 U.S.C.S. § 2605, a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Dec. 11 in affirming dismissal of the claim (Jaime Medrano, et al. v. Flagstar Bank FSB, et al.,  No. 11-55412, 9th Cir.; 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 25274). View a complimentary copy of the complete Mealey's article in the pdf attached below.