Can Your Clients Trust First American Title?

Did you – like many Americans – buy, sell or refinance a home between June 2003 and October 2007? If so, you may be one of the 70,000 First American Title customers who were overcharged for escrow services during that time.

In the largest class action lawsuit ever filed against a real estate escrow company, a new ruling is requiring First American Title Company to reimburse over 70,000 customers whom the company had unlawfully overcharged for these escrow services.
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Following a two month trial, Judge John J. Kralik ruled that class members who paid First American more than $100 for sub-escrow services were entitled to reimbursement, as were those who paid First American a fee of more than $15 for a single wire transfer.

First American fought the class action lawsuit, filed by homeowner Patrick Kirk, for seven years before it went to trial, and made at least six separate, unsuccessful attempts to convince the court to dismiss the case.

“I would not be surprised if, in light of this verdict, many people decide not to do business with First American in the future, given their track record revealed at trial and in the judge’s decision,” said Attorney Bernheim.

In a related matter, the California Department of Insurance has filed an accusation against First American Title Company and its parent charging that First American violated the law by failing “to correctly charge” for title policies or services. A public hearing is scheduled for early next year.

The Department of Insurance accusation states that if First American’s alleged violation of the law is found to be willful, this would constitute grounds for the Insurance Commissioner to suspend or revoke, in whole or in part, First American’s license to do business in California.

After hearing these allegations would you still refer a client to First American Title Company? What are your thoughts?

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