Saturday, November 3, 2012

My reaction to Fidelity National Title Insurance Company's Verified Answer to Third Amended Complaint

After the first part of my deposition (we have still not completed it) I actually felt for the very first time since I had spoken to the first Claims Counsel in Walnut Creek that someone from Fidelity was actually listening to what I had to say and was not only listening but attempting to understand how complex this situation had become.

Then I received his Verified Answer to the Third Amended Complaint much of which all I could do was shake my head in wonder (that they did not employ escrow officers and title officers nor prepare things like Grant Deeds) and when I got to the portion of Affirmative Defenses I got extremely angry as I felt that Fidelity was saying that it was my fault that they had listed Parcels Two, Three, Four and Five not only in my Preliminary Title Report but also in the Grant Deed.

Well on the first part of this - I did not understand this until a couple of days ago when I realized that there were two affiliated companies Fidelity National Title Company and Fidelity National Title Insurance Company.  So one obvious reason for this division is so that FNTIC can claim that it has no responsibility for the errors made by FNTC.  This makes sense in claims cases like this one and I am sure that there are other justifications for this distinction.  But I confess that not only did I not realize this when this particular property was in escrow not once but twice and was insured twice but I did not realize this even though I began using Fidelity almost 20 years ago as both a licensed real estate agent and later broker.  And it does not totally make sense to me that the offer to insure which is presented by the Preliminary Title Report is prepared by a company other than the company that actually insures the title.  Call me stupid.

When I read the Affirmative Defenses I felt betrayed by my insurance company Fidelity National Title Insurance Company as I had expected that it was their job to protect me, the insured, and instead of taking responsibility for the error that was made by Fidelity, they were trying to blame me.  I just plain did not understand what I felt was a direct attack.

Then a few weeks later the situation with Progressive Insurance and the death of Progressive's client in a 2010 car crash in Baltimore was all over the news due to an online post made by her brother Matt Fisher titled "My Sister Paid Progressive Insurance to Defend Her Killer In Court."  Not only did I read Matt's post but every article I could find. "At the trial, the guy who killed my sister was defended by Progressive's legal team," Fisher wrote.  "If you are insured by Progressive, and they owe you money, they will defend your killer in court in order to not pay you your policy."  The way I understand what happened is that Progressive refused to pay the claim for the benefit due the dead girl's family (which they used to pay off her student loans) and the way the system works in Maryland they had to take the other driver to court to prove that he had run a red light and was responsible for Katie Fisher's death.  Progressive's attorneys were not present to defend the other driver but rather to prove that Katie was responsible for the crash to relieve Progressive of their liability to pay the claim.  (This is a brief description but there is a lot of articles plus Matt's posts to read.)

As I read this it became apparent the meaning of the Affirmative Defenses in Fidelity's Answer.  Rather than pay me for the claim for the loss of the easement, they strategy would be to show that I was at fault or it was my responsibility.