Consumer Protection

California Title Insurance Industry

Result: $50 million settlement
Year: 2004

Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, in coordination with parallel litigation brought by the California Attorney General, reached settlements in 2003 and 2004 with the leading title insurance companies in California, resulting in historic industry-wide changes to the practice of providing escrow services in real estate closings. The settlements brought a total of $50 million in restitution to California consumers, including cash payments.

In the lawsuits, plaintiffs alleged, among other things, that the title companies received interest payments on customer escrow funds that were never reimbursed to their customers. The defendant companies include Lawyers’ Title, Commonwealth Land Title, Stewart Title of California, First American Title, Fidelity National Title, and Chicago Title.

Lieff Cabraser partner Michael Sobol commented on the litigation, “Secretly making money with someone else’s money and keeping it for yourself is inherently unfair. We are proud that these settlements end this alleged misconduct and help restore to consumers the value of the property taken from them.”