The Talon Group, a division of First American Title Insurance Company (FATIC), has agreed to settle a class action lawsuit accusing the company of improperly charging certain fees. The parties have submitted the proposed class action settlement for preliminary approval to a Washington federal judge.
Plaintiff Karen Tavenner initially filed the class action lawsuit on Aug. 18, 2009, claiming that she was improperly charged for a recording fee related to the recording of a deed of trust, a wire/express fee and a reconveyance fee. The class action lawsuit alleges violations of the Washington Consumer Protection Act as well as breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud and misrepresentation.
In 2012, the court certified three groups of Class Members who were charged certain types of fees by Talon since August 2003. Class 1 includes all persons who were charged wire/express fees; Class 2 includes all persons who were charged fees for the costs of recording deeds of trust that were in excess of the actual cost to Talon; and Class 3 includes all persons who were charged a reconveyance fee and whose old deeds of trust were reconveyed by their former lender within 60 days after completion of the escrow.
Talon sought to decertify the classes on the grounds that the claims should be considered on an individual basis. However, the parties subsequently agreed to mediate the class action lawsuit before requesting a judge to rule on Talon’s motion to decertify. Talon removed the class action lawsuit to Washington federal court in September 2013.
According to the proposed class action settlement, more than 90,000 people who participated in escrow transactions closed by Talon would be eligible for an award, although the actual number of Class Members could be lower because it includes people who are entitled to more than one award.
Under the terms of the Talon Group class action settlement, “FATIC, on behalf of Talon, will pay Class Members who timely submit Qualified Claims as follows: (a) no more than $35 per claim for fees for recording a deed of trust; (b) no more than $5 per claim for fees for recording all documents other than a deed of trust; (c) so more than $10 per claim for wire/express fees; and (d) no more than $5 per claim for reconveyance fees.”
FATIC will also provide Class Members who submit a timely claim for paying a reconveyance fee with a non-transferrable coupon worth $50 towards future escrow services in Washington State.
The parties state that the class action settlement agreement “is the product of serious and informed arms-length negotiations and falls well within a ‘range of reasonableness’ sufficient to warrant its preliminary approval.” They reached the agreement with the assistance of Judge William Cahill, an experienced mediator and former Superior Court Judge for San Francisco County.
Details on how to file a claim for the Talon Group class action settlement were not immediately available. Keep checking Top Class Actions or sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter below to receive updates on this settlement and other class action news.
The plaintiffs are represented by Rob Williamson of Williamson & Williams and Guy W. Beckett of Berry & Beckett LLP.
The Talon Group Escrow Fee Class Action Lawsuit is Tavenner v. The Talon Group, Case No. 2:09-cv-01370, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.
UPDATE: Details on how to file a claim for the Talon Group escrow fee class action settlement can be found here. The deadline to file a claim is Feb. 28, 2014.
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