Monday, March 18, 2013

Communication to California Department of Insurance about Fidelity National Title

State of California
Department of Insurance
Consumer Services and Market Conduct Branch
Consumer Services Division
300 South Spring Street, South Tower
Los Angeles CA  90013

Request for Assistance

Ann Zollinger
PO Box 1675
Glen Ellen CA  95442

July 5, 2009

Re:         Fidelity National Title Group Inc.
                Policy #609514
                Claim #301056

I purchased a property at 4035 Mt. Veeder road in Napa County California and the title was insured by the above stated policy.

·         At the time I purchased the property there was three ways to access the property.  There was an easement through the former Chateau Potelle property which was described as Parcel Six in the above policy from Mt. Veeder Road.  There was an additional entrance from Mt. Veeder Road described as Parcel Two, Three, Four and Five in the above policy.  There was also a prescriptive easement from Cavedale Road in Sonoma County.
·         I went to sell the property listing it on June 12, 2009.  Shortly before listing the property my agent and I began notifying the other property owners of the easements that we would be crossing their property.  One property owner who had purchased their property the preceding February questioned our right to cross their land.  They contacted their title company  who determined that this particular easement should not have been conveyed to me and was not a legal easement.
·         I contacted my title company Fidelity National Title through my escrow officer in July of 2008.  It then took months for their title department to determine that indeed the easement described as Parcel Two, Three, Four and Five should not have been conveyed to me.  The title officer, Craig Donner, actually opened the claim on my behalf.  This was the beginning of October 2008.
·         By making phone calls I found out that I was assigned to Dennis Lucey Walnut Creek, California in the middle of October.  I received a letter from Mr. Lucey the end of October.  We discussed the two options of either obtaining the easements through purchase or compensating me for the loss of the easements by determining the value of the property with and without the easements.
·         On November 13, 2008 I received a letter that I was re-assigned to the Midwest Claims Center , Adam Pinchuck, in Chicago Illinois.  My conversations with Mr. Pinchuck basically went nowhere with him telling me that I needed to hire an appraiser to determine the change in value.  I talked to one appraiser who pointed out that this was not necessary.  At the time I was discussing this with Mr. Pinchuck I received a letter stating that the Chicago office was being closed and I was being re-assigned again to Omaha Nebraska.
·         On January 26, 2009 I called Dennis Lucey my original claims counsel and he told me that I had been assigned to Robert Kelly in Omaha Nebraska.  When I reached Mr. Kelly he indicated that he was basically inundated with cases and has in spite of that made an effort to resolve my case but I believe due to his case load things have just not been resolved.
·         The beginning of March an appraiser from Boise Idaho was hired to do the appraisal.  The appraiser kept promising the appraisal – finally promising that it would be done by the end of April – we received the appraisal on May 7, 2009.
·         The appraiser determined that perfecting the existing easement into Sonoma County and determining a “cost to cure” this easement was the factor to determine the settlement of this case.

It is my feeling that Fidelity National Title has deliberately and intentionally delayed a fair and just payment of this claim through its actions as follows:

·         By taking months to research and determine that the easements as conveyed were not valid.
·         By moving my claim first from Walnut Creek to Chicago to Omaha.
·         By delaying the hiring of an appraiser to determine the diminution in value for more than six months and then hiring an appraiser who is unfamiliar with the area and who is not following the instructions as outlined in the letter from Claims Counsel Robert Kelly as defined in his e-mail dated June 25, 2009.
·         Approximately a week before that e-mail was sent Mr. Kelly told me that he had written a letter to the one neighbor to see if they were willing to re-instate the easements and also had contacted a different title officer in Napa California to see if there had been a mistake on the loss of these easements.  (Both of these actions are almost a year after first discovering that there was a problem with the easements as conveyed.)

Per the letter from Mr. Kelly there are two applicable options to resolve this matter:

·         “Pay the insured his or her actual loss.”
·         “Cure the insured’s title by obtaining a deed, easement, release or other instrument.”

As I mentioned it has taken almost a year for anyone from Fidelity National Title to even attempt the later remedy and it is doubtful that this will be successful.   And per Mr. Kelly’s letter:

·         “The appraisal must be done as of the date of discovery of the defect.  The appraiser must produce two values: the value subject to the easement, and the value assuming that no easement existed.  The loss is ordinarily the difference between the two figures.”

Instead of following the above direction the appraiser chose to ascertain a value of curing the easement from the property to Cavedale Road in Sonoma County as a substitution for the loss of the entrance to Mt. Veeder in Napa County.  Additionally the appraiser has demonstrated his unfamiliarity with the area and has used comparable properties that are not at the date of discovery in order to determine an artificially low value.

I have written a rather precise response to Mr. Kelly and have attempted to reach him for the last week but cannot get either a return phone call or response to my e-mail.

Per the latest case law regarding title insurance “the purpose of title insurance is to place the insured in the position that he thought he occupied when the policy was issued.”

I believe that Fidelity National Title Group Inc. has deliberately and intentionally stalled in their resolution of this matter and now is accepting an appraisal which clearly contradicts the instructions of Claims Counsel in order to obtain an artificially low value.  I have repeated stated that rather than filing a lawsuit I am willing to negotiate a fair and equitable settlement of this claim.  Instead of attempting this route, Fidelity National Title Group Inc. has chosen to just not even respond.

Respectfully submitted,

Ann Zollinger