Nassau Class Action Survives Certification Appeal

The First District Court of Appeal just released its opinion affirming a Nassau County Trial Court’s granting of class certification in two separate separate Jacksonville real estate litigation matters involving the same issue: whether a title insurance underwriters have a duty under Florida law to disclose to prospective homeowners applying for refinancing of existing home mortgages, that they may qualify for discount title insurance rates; known as “reissue rates.”
Under Florida Law (i.e., Fla. Stat. s 627.7825(2) & Fla. Admin. Code r. 69O-186.003(2), if a “previous owner’s policy was issued insuring the seller or the mortgagor in the current transaction” the discounted reissue rate should be applied to the “mortgage policies issued on refinancing of the property insured” by the original policy. In other words, a homeowner who currently holds a bona fide and valid title insurance policy is entitled to a discounted rate on the reissuing of a title policy during a refinance.
The homeowners in these two cases brought civil actions against their respect title insurance companies for failing to advise them of their potential eligibility for the discounted reissue rate. The group of homeowners, finding themselves to be similarly situation and sharing the same substantive issue, petitioned the Nassau County Trial Court to grant them class action certification so that the case could be tried together, which the Trial Court was inclined to grant.
On Appeal, the title insurance companies argument that the homeowners should be denied class certification because the factual circumstances surrounding each individual homeowner’s claim was unique and should therefore be tried separately, was not well received by the First DCA.
In affirming the class certification in favor of the homeowners, the First DCA held that the common question linking the homeowners; whether to duty to determine if the reissue rate applied falls solely on the title insurance companies, required resolution prior to delving into the individual practices of each title insurance agents and the circumstances of each transaction.

Commonwealth Land Title Insurance company v. Kenneth E. Higgins, et al

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