Case Studies

Lewis Rice Successfully Defends Appeal on Behalf of Nation’s Largest Title Insurance Company

On August 9, 2018, a panel of the Missouri Court of Appeals for the Eastern District ruled unanimously in favor of a Lewis Rice client, the nation’s largest title insurance company, in an action alleging breach of insurance contract, vexatious refusal to pay, and unjust enrichment. Lewis Rice attorneys William R. Wurm, Duane L. Coleman, and Michael L. Jente successfully represented the Title Company before the trial court and on appeal. Will argued the matter before the Missouri Court of Appeals.

The plaintiff sued the Title Company, attempting to hold it responsible for attorneys’ fees the plaintiff incurred in connection with two litigations he initiated against his neighbor regarding a fence. The trial court concluded that the plaintiff’s failure to provide the Title Company prompt notice of his claim and the policy’s exclusion for coverage of attorneys’ fees beyond those approved by the company combined to prejudice the Title Company, thus barring the plaintiff’s claims. On appeal, the Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the Title Company did not breach the policy because the plaintiff failed to provide prompt notice and because the Title Company was prejudiced thereby, given that the attorneys’ fees at issue that were not covered under the policy. A copy of the Missouri Court of Appeals’ decision can be accessed below.


Lewis Rice Obtains Summary Judgment for Title Company

The Lewis Rice Real Estate Litigation team obtained another victory for one of the country’s largest title companies in St. Louis County. The team, including Duane L. Coleman and William R. Wurm, won a rarely granted full summary judgment order, ending a lawsuit against the title company. The lawsuit, in which the Insured sought coverage for years’ worth of litigation expenses relating to an allegedly encroaching fence, asserted claims for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and vexatious refusal to pay. Working closely with the client’s in-house counsel, Duane and Will were able to devise a persuasive summary judgement strategy, simplifying the technical body of title insurance law. After a hard-fought oral argument, the St. Louis County Circuit Court granted the title insurer summary judgment on all three counts in a nine page order, which can be accessed below.