Appellate Court Certifies Class-Action in Title Insurance and Consumer Fraud Act Case

The purchase of land is a complex and multi-layered process that presents many opportunities for not only misunderstandings and mistakes, but also fraud and misrepresentations. Lubin Austermuehle has many attorneys who focus on handling consumer fraud cases, so we are always tracking developments in that field of the law. Chultem v. Ticor Title Insurance is a recent Illinois appellate decision concerning title insurance agent kickbacks in the sale of real properties here in Illinois.

Chultem v. Ticor Title Insurance began as two separate class-actions that were consolidated into one case. In both cases, however, Plaintiffs purchased a parcel of land that also included the purchase of a title insurance policy from Defendants. Plaintiffs were sold the title insurance by an attorney agent who also represented one or more of the parties in the real estate transactions in question. Defendants, as title insurance companies, paid these lawyer agents an additional sum “over and above the attorney fees” paid to them by their clients (who were parties to the transaction).

Plaintiffs filed suit because Defendants paid the attorney agents based upon “the amount of insurance premiums generated from the referred clients” instead of for the services that the lawyers actually performed in their role as title insurance agents. In doing so, Plaintiffs alleged that in doing so, Defendants violated the Title Insurance Act and the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act. Plaintiffs sought to certify a class, but the lower court denied certification because it would not be possible to determine across the board liability. Plaintiffs then filed an appeal.

On appeal, the Court addressed Defendants’ argument that a transaction-by-transaction analysis would be required in order to determine liability, and as such common issues could not predominate as required for class certification. The Court did not find Defendants’ arguments persuasive, however, because the agreement between the attorney agents and Defendants provided for a pro forma commitment. The Court went on to reason that if Plaintiffs are able to show that the agreements were pro forma and that the agents received full compensation as insurance agents, then liability for all claims could be established. Therefore the Court reversed the lower court ruling and remanded the case consistent with the finding that the Plaintiffs had satisfied the predominance requirement for class-certification.

Lubin Austermuehle has a team of attorneys who focus on consumer rights class action lawsuits and who have successfully handled many such disputes. Our Chicago consumer rights lawyers are intimately familiar with the issues that arise during large-scale litigation, and we know the laws that govern consumer rights cases well. Lubin Austermuehle is based in Chicago, and represents many clients who have been the victim of fraud or misrepresentation. If you believe that your consumer rights have been violated, contact one of our Naperville consumer rights attorneys by phone at 1 630-333-0333, or through our online form.

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