Settlement Class Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why did I receive notice of the proposed Settlement?

    Information indicates that you may have entered into a residential real estate transaction, which included a mortgage loan, that involved one of the Implicated Title Insurance Agents during the relevant Settlement Class Period, and that you paid for or were charged a title insurance premium for title insurance issued by First American Title Insurance Company. The 25 title insurance agents and the relevant time frame for transactions involved in this Settlement are:

    Accurate Title Group, LLC
    Cornelius, NC
    6/12/06 – 2/27/09
    Affiliated Services, LLC
    Crofton, MD
    6/12/06 – 1/27/10
    Attorneys Title Agency, LLC
    Bingham Farms, MI
    6/12/06 – 2/1/09
    Backman Title Co. of Utah
    Murray, UT
    6/12/06 – 11/20/15
    Capitol Title Ins. Agency, Inc.
    Crofton, MD
    6/12/06 – 1/27/10
    Classic Settlements, Inc.
    Gaithersburg, MD
    6/12/06 – 8/7/07
    Doral Title, LLC
    Miami, FL
    6/12/06 – 8/15/15
    Equity Land Title, LLC
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    6/12/06 – 1/22/14
    Equity Title Insurance Agency, Inc.
    Salt Lake City, UT
    6/12/06 – 1/1/09
    ET Investments, LLC
    [Empire, CB&T, Colorado Escrow & Title and Colorado Records Services]
    Aurora, CO
    6/12/06 – 7/3/07
    Fidelity Title Abstract Co.
    Cherry Hill, NJ
    6/12/06 – 5/12/15
    Integrated Title Insurance Services
    Los Angeles, CA
    6/12/06 – 11/23/15
    Investors Title Company
    Los Angeles, CA
    6/12/06 – 4/1/08
    Island Title Corp.
    Honolulu, HI
    6/12/06 – 3/15/10
    Johnson County Title Co., Inc.
    Buffalo, WY
    6/12/06 – 7/17/13
    Kentucky Land Title Agency, Inc.
    Fort Mitchell, KY
    6/12/06 – 10/28/15
    McNeese Title, LLC
    Destin, FL
    8/17/06 – 11/9/15
    Northwest Title, LLC
    Bellevue, WA
    6/12/06 – 11/1/08
    Orange Coast
    Santa Ana, CA
    6/12/06 – 3/1/16
    PCR Title Agency of MD/DC, LLC
    Crofton, MD
    6/12/06 – 1/27/10
    Performance Title Agency, Inc.
    Cincinnati, OH
    6/12/06 – 8/25/10
    The Security First Title Affiliates, Inc.
    Jacksonville, FL
    6/12/06 – 10/30/07
    Trans-County Title Agency, LLC
    New Brunswick, NJ
    6/12/06 – 11/19/15
    Title Xperts Agency, Inc.
    Cleveland, OH
    6/12/06 – 5/9/12
    US Title Ins. Agency, LLC
    Bluffdale, UT
    6/12/06 – 11/23/15
       

    The Court authorized this website because you have a right to know about a proposed settlement of a class action lawsuit, and about all of your options, before the Court decides whether to approve the Settlement. If the Court approves it, and after objections and appeals are resolved, an administrator approved by the Court will make payments that the Settlement allows. You will be informed of developments on this Settlement website. The information below explains the lawsuit, the Settlement, your rights, what benefits are available, who is eligible for them, and how to get them.

    The Court in charge of the case is the United States District Court for the Central District of California, and the case is known as Edwards v. The First American Corporation, et al., Case No. 07-03796 SJO (FFMx). Denise Edwards is the Plaintiff, and the First American entities she sued are Defendants.

    If you did not receive notice, you can review a copy of the Notice here.

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  2. What is this lawsuit about?

    The lawsuit claims that First American violated § 8(a) of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (“RESPA”), 12 U.S.C. § 2607(a), by purchasing ownership interests in title insurance agencies and obtaining agreements from such agencies to refer title insurance business exclusively to First American Title Insurance Company. Specifically, the Plaintiff claims that this scheme violated RESPA's ban on giving or receiving “any fee, kickback, or thing of value" in return for referrals of title insurance business in a mortgage loan transaction. The Complaint alleges that First American engaged in this scheme to increase the title insurance premiums it collected and to expand its share of the title insurance market in a way and manner that violates federal law.

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  3. Why is this a class action?

    In a class action, one or more people called “Class Representatives” (in this case, Denise Edwards) sue on behalf of people who have similar claims. All these people are a “Class” or “Class Members.” One court resolves the issues for all Class Members, except for those who exclude themselves from the Class. U.S. District Judge S. James Otero is in charge of this class action.

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  4. Why is there a settlement?

    The Court did not decide in favor of Plaintiff or First American. Plaintiff thinks she would have won up to three times what was paid for title insurance if she had won at trial. First American thinks that Plaintiff would not have won at trial. There was no trial in this matter. Instead, both sides have agreed to a settlement. That way, they avoid the cost of a trial and the people affected will get compensation. The Class Representative and her attorneys think the Settlement is best for all Settlement Class Members.

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  5. How do I know if I am part of the Settlement?

    Judge Otero decided that everyone who fits this description is a Settlement Class Member:

    All persons who (1)(a) paid for; (b) a First American title insurance policy; (c) issued by an Implicated Title Insurance Agent; (d) during the Settlement Class Period (June 12, 2006 to May 11, 2016; (e) that insured a residential property; and (2) were not the sellers of the property insured.

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  6. Are there exceptions to being included?

    You are not a Settlement Class Member if you do not meet each of the requirements set forth in response to FAQ 5 above, or if you were not the purchaser of real estate involved in the title insurance transaction. You are also not a Settlement Class Member if you are an officer or director of First American or an immediate family member of an officer or director of First American.

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  7. I’m still not sure if I am included.

    If you are still not sure whether you are included, you can ask for free help. You can call 1-844-778-5951 or review this Settlement website for more information. Or, you can fill out and return the Claim Form described in FAQ 10 to see if you qualify.

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  8. What does the Settlement provide?

    First American has agreed to pay Settlement Class Members who submit a valid Claim Form for the sum of $75.00.

    In addition, First American has agreed, absent a change in the law, to not seek, obtain, or enter into any future agreement or understanding with a title agency or similar business that involves both (a) the exclusive use (or for any specified minimum amount of use) by the title agency of First American for title insurance underwriting, and (b) the purchase by First American of any ownership interest in the title agency.

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  9. Will I have to pay taxes on my payment?

    You should consult your tax preparer when you file your tax returns.

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  10. How can I get a payment?

    To qualify for payment, you must send in a Claim Form. You may submit a Claim Form online here with requested documents. A Claim Form is also available here. Read the instructions carefully, fill out the Claim Form, include all the documents the Claim Form asks for, sign it, and mail it postmarked no later than December 5, 2016.

    After you submit the Claim Form, the Settlement Administrator will review the information you provide and determine if you are eligible to receive a payment. If you are eligible, you will be added to the Settlement Class and receive a payment. If you are not eligible, you will receive a letter notifying you of the fact.

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  11. When would I get my payment?

    The Court will hold a hearing on October 5, 2016 to decide whether to approve the Settlement. If Judge Otero approves the Settlement, after that, there may be appeals. It’s always uncertain whether these appeals can be resolved, and resolving them can take time. Everyone who sends in a Claim Form will be informed of the progress of the Settlement, and Class Counsel will continue to update the progress of the case on this Settlement website. Please be patient.

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  12. What am I giving up to get a payment and stay in the Class?

    Unless you exclude yourself, you are staying in the Settlement Class, and that means that you can’t sue, continue to sue, or be part of any other lawsuit against First American about the legal issues in this case. It also means that all of the Court’s orders will apply to you and legally bind you. If you sign the Claim Form, you will also agree to a “Release of Claims.” A complete copy of the Settlement Agreement is available here. Talk to Class Counsel or your own lawyer if you have any questions about the released claims or what they mean.

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  13. How do I get out of the Settlement?

    To exclude yourself from the Settlement, you must send a letter by mail saying that you want to be excluded from Edwards v. First American. Be sure to include your name, address, telephone number, and your signature. You must mail your Request for Exclusion postmarked no later than August 19, 2016 to:

    Edwards v. First American Exclusion
    PO Box 4098
    Portland, OR 97208-4098

    You can also use the Request for Exclusion form available here. The timeliness of Requests for Exclusion will be conclusively determined by the postmarked date or other similar proof for the date of mailing or for the delivery.

    If you ask to be excluded, you will not get any Settlement payment, and you cannot object to the Settlement. You will not be legally bound by anything that happens in this lawsuit.

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  14. If I do not exclude myself, can I sue First American for the same thing later?

    No. Unless you exclude yourself, you give up any right to sue First American for the claims that this Settlement resolves. If you have a pending lawsuit, speak to your lawyer in that case immediately. You must exclude yourself from this Settlement Class to continue your own lawsuit. Remember, the exclusion deadline is August 19, 2016.

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  15. If I exclude myself, can I get money from this Settlement?

    No. If you exclude yourself, you will not receive any payment. But, you may sue, continue to sue, or be part of a different lawsuit against First American.

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  16. Do I have a lawyer in the case?

    The Court appointed the following law firms to represent you and other Class Members. These lawyers are called Class Counsel. You will not be charged for these lawyers. If you want to be represented by your own lawyer, you may hire one at your own expense.

    Class Counsel
    James W. Spertus, Esq.
    SPERTUS, LANDES & UMHOFER, LLP
    1990 South Bundy Drive, #705
    Los Angeles, CA 90025
    Cyril V. Smith, Esq.
    William K. Meyer, Esq.
    ZUCKERMAN SPAEDER LLP
    100 East Pratt Street
    Suite 2440
    Baltimore, MD 21202
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  17. How will the lawyers be paid?

    Class Counsel will ask the Court to order First American to pay up to $5,750,000 to them for attorneys' fees and expenses and $10,000 to Ms. Edwards for her services as Class Representative. The fees would pay Class Counsel for investigating the facts, litigating the case, and negotiating the Settlement. The Court may award less than these amounts. First American will separately pay these fees, expenses, and payments that the Court awards. These amounts will not reduce the payments available for Settlement Class Members. First American has agreed not to oppose Class Counsel’s request for these payments. First American will also pay the costs to administer the Settlement.

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  18. How do I tell the Court if I don't like the Settlement?

    If you’re a Settlement Class Member, you can object to the Settlement if you don’t like any part of it. You can give reasons for why you think the Court should not approve it. The Court will consider your views. To object, you must send a letter saying that you object to the Settlement, or you can use the Objection Form available here. You must mail the objection to each of these four different places postmarked no later than August 19, 2016:

    Court Class Counsel Defense Counsel
    Clerk of the Court
    United States District Court for
    the Central District of California
    312 North Spring Street
    Los Angeles, CA 90012
    James W. Spertus, Esq.
    SPERTUS, LANDES & UMHOFER, LLP
    1990 South Bundy Drive, #705
    Los Angeles, CA 90025

    Cyril V. Smith, Esq.
    William K. Meyer, Esq.
    ZUCKERMAN SPAEDER LLP
    100 East Pratt Street
    Suite 2440
    Baltimore, MD 21202
    Ronald D. Kent, Esq.
    Michael J. Duvall, Esq.
    DENTONS US LLP
    601 South Figueroa Street
    Suite 2500
    Los Angeles, CA 90017-5704

    The timeliness of objections will be conclusively determined by the postmarked date or other similar proof for the date of mailing or for the delivery.

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  19. What's the difference between objecting and excluding?

    Objecting is simply telling the Court that you don’t like something about the Settlement. You can object only if you stay in the Settlement Class. Excluding yourself is telling the Court that you don’t want to be part of the Class. If you exclude yourself, you have no basis to object because the case no longer affects you.

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  20. When and where will the Court decide whether to approve the Settlement?

    The Court will hold a Fairness Hearing on October 5, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. at the United States District Court for the Central District of California, 312 North Spring St., Los Angeles, CA 90012, Courtroom No. 1 (2nd Floor). At this hearing, the Court will consider whether the Settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate. If there are objections, the Court will consider them. Judge Otero will listen to people who have asked to speak at the hearing. The Court will also decide how much to pay to Class Counsel. After the hearing, the Court will decide whether to approve the Settlement. We do not know how long these decisions will take.

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  21. Do I have to come to the hearing?

    No. Class Counsel will answer questions Judge Otero may have. But, you are welcome to come at your own expense. If you send an objection, you don’t have to come to Court to talk about it. As long as you mailed your written objection on time, the Court will consider it. You may also pay your own lawyer to attend, but it’s not necessary.

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  22. May I speak at the hearing?

    You may ask the Court for permission to speak at the Fairness Hearing. To do so, you must send a letter saying that it is your “Notice of Intention to Appear in Edwards v. First American.” Be sure to include your name, address, telephone number, and your signature. Your Notice of Intention to Appear must be postmarked no later than August 19, 2016 and be sent to the Clerk of the Court, Class Counsel, and Defense Counsel at the four addresses in FAQ 18. You cannot speak at the hearing if you have excluded yourself.

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  23. What happens if I do nothing at all?

    If you do nothing, you’ll get no money from this Settlement. But, unless you exclude yourself, you won’t be able to start a lawsuit, continue with a lawsuit, or be part of any other lawsuit against First American about the legal issues in this case, ever again.

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  24. Are there more details about the Settlement?

    This website summarizes the proposed Settlement. More details can be found in the Settlement Agreement and other documents, which are available here.

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  25. How do I get more information?

    More information is available on this website. You can also call 1-844-778-5951 toll free or write to Edwards v. First American Class Action Settlement Administrator, P.O. Box 4098, Portland, OR 97208-4098.

    PLEASE DO NOT CALL OR WRITE THE COURT OR FIRST AMERICAN FOR INFORMATION OR ADVICE.

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Important Dates

  • Class Period for Settlement Class
    Purchased Title Insurance between
    June 12, 2006 and May 11, 2016
  • Class Period for Tower City Class
    Purchased Title Insurance between
    June 12, 2006 and November 9, 2006
  • August 19, 2016
    Postmark Deadline to Exclude Yourself
  • August 19. 2016
    Postmark Deadline to Object to the Settlement
  • October 5, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. PST
    Fairness Hearing
    ** REVISED DATE **
  • December 5, 2016
    Postmark Deadline to File a Claim