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United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division
September 1, 2021, Decided; September 1, 2021, Filed
Case No: 8:20-cv-2155-JSM-AAS
THIS CAUSE comes before this Court upon Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Dkt. 16) and Defendant's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 19). The Court, having reviewed the motions, responses, replies, record evidence, and being otherwise advised in the premises concludes that Plaintiff's motion should be denied and Defendant's motion should be granted. The Court agrees with Defendant that there is no coverage for Plaintiff's loss associated with the fraudulent wire transfer instructions under the plain language of the subject insurance policy. Accordingly, final judgment will be entered in Defendant's favor.
Plaintiff Star Title Partners of Palm Harbor, LLC, a settlement [*2] agent hired to close a residential real estate transaction, seeks insurance coverage from Defendant Illinois Union Insurance Company on the theory that an unidentified threat actor fraudulently induced Star Title to wire funds to the incorrect account by impersonating a mortgage lender, Capital Mortgage Services of Texas ("CMS"). The following facts are undisputed.
Star Title is a title company located in Palm Harbor, Florida. On or about August 1, 2019, Neil Woods retained Star Title to act as the settlement agent for the sale of his home located in Florida. As settlement agent, Star Title's duties included receipt and distribution of the sale proceeds. Star Title generally assigns two representatives for each closing: a processor and a closer. The processor clears title for the property, while the closer distributes funds at the time of closing. With respect to the sale of Woods' home, Star Title assigned Dee Osborne as the processor and Kathy Wellington as the closer.
Woods executed a seller information form that identified CMS as his lender and a lienholder on the property. After CMS confirmed its lien, Osborne requested payoff information from CMS. On August 1, 2019, Osborne contacted [*3] CMS at the phone number provided by the seller to request payoff information. She spoke with a representative of CMS and was told to submit her request via email to email@example.com. As instructed, Osborne sent an email to firstname.lastname@example.org requesting a "Mortgage Loan Payoff Letter" in anticipation of the closing scheduled for August 9, 2019. For identification purposes, Osborne provided the name of the sellers/mortgagors, the address of the property, the loan number, and the closing date. She also attached a copy of the sellers' authorization form.
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 193001 *; 2021 WL 4509211
STAR TITLE PARTNERS OF PALM HARBOR, LLC, a Florida limited liability company, Plaintiff, v. ILLINOIS UNION INSURANCE COMPANY, an Illinois corporation, Defendant.
Subsequent History: Motion granted by Star Title Partners of Palm Harbor, LLC v. Ill. Union Ins. Co., 2022 U.S. App. LEXIS 7010 (11th Cir. Fla., Mar. 17, 2022)
authenticity, Payoff, verified, instructions, coverage, sellers, wire, summary judgment, customer, vendor, undisputed, email, funds, terms, wire transfer, genuine, transfer request, material fact, Endorsement, Mortgage