Bulletin: MU000020

Date:
August 15, 1996
To:
All Issuing Offices and Agents in Arizona and Wisconsin
RE:
Implementing Settlement of Federal Antitrust Litigation in Arizona and Wisconsin

Dear Associates:

On May 3, 1996, the United States District Court for the District of Arizona, In Re: Title Search And Examination Services Antitrust Litigation, MDL docket NO. 94-1027, entered final approval of the Agreement of Settlement, applicable to the states of Arizona and Wisconsin, and involving 19 title insurance underwriters, who were named defendants in the consolidated litigation. A few plaintiffs filed two class actions (later consolidated) and alleged the common issue that defendants were engaged in an unlawful conspiracy to fix, raise, maintain or stabilize the prices of title search and examination services in Wisconsin. Plaintiffs entered into a class settlement in which defendant underwriters denied wrongdoing of any kind whatsoever, but agreed to make available the benefits, described below, to qualifying class members, in order to avoid the aggravation of continued litigation.

Description of Class

The class of persons and entities that are entitled to settlement benefits includes all purchasers of title insurance, and related services, including title search and examination services, from any title insurance underwriter (whether or not a defendant in MDL 94-1027) or any agent of such underwriter during the Arizona and Wisconsin class periods, with respect to real estate located in Arizona or Wisconsin; however, defendants and their subsidiaries, agents, officers and directors are excluded from the class. To qualify for policy benefits, a class member must have acquired a title policy in Arizona and Wisconsin between January 1, 1981 and June 10, 1986 inclusive.

Explanation of Benefits

  • Cash Benefits: Subject to a collective cap amount in Arizona and in Wisconsin, defendant underwriters have agreed to pay each qualifying class member, a cash benefit equal to 7.7% of the amount paid for a search and examination in connection with the issuance of a title insurance policy in either Arizona or Wisconsin between January 1, 1981 and December 31, 1984 in Wisconsin, and in Arizona, between January 1, 1981 and December 31, 1982. Each qualifying class member must respond to the notice via publication, by February 15, 1997, by submitting a sworn, cash benefit claim form to Robert P. Goldstein, a Wisconsin attorney.
  • Enhanced Coverage: Eligible class members, who acquired a Stewart Title policy during the class period in either Arizona or Wisconsin, and who do not choose the settlement cash option, may obtain free enhanced coverage on presentation of a Stewart Title policy issued during the class period. Enhanced coverage is a free increase in the amount of the title insurance policy, acquired during the class period, to reflect inflation between January 1, 1981 and August 15, 1996, as measured from the policy date, by the most recent Department of Commerce Composite Construction Cost Index, which is approximately a 60% increase in the face amount of the presented policy.
  • Discounted Policies: Eligible class members may obtain free of charge, the last $5,000.00 of coverage on new title insurance policies purchased from August 15, 1996 to August 15, 1997 in Arizona or Wisconsin. Each class member is entitled to receive the $5,000 discount only on the number of title policies which equals the number of policies or search and examination services purchased or acquired during the class period in Arizona or Wisconsin.


All open claims submitted on Stewart policies, which were issued in Wisconsin or in Arizona during the class period, must be resolved based on the enhanced coverage described in this paragraph. An insured claimant, who is a qualified class member, who has contributed to a settlement or a judgment based on pre-enhancement policy limits, is entitled to an additional payment in the amount of his required contribution to the extent of the enhancement. Stewart Title has no obligation to issue policy enhancements if a claim was closed prior to May 3, 1996.

Stewart's obligation to notify potential class members of policy benefits:

Defendant underwriters, including Stewart Title Guaranty Company and its policy issuing agents in Wisconsin and Arizona, have an obligation to notify potential class members of the policy benefits, described in paragraphs (2) and (3) above; however, defendants have no obligation to provide additional notice to potential class beneficiaries regarding cash benefits connected with the settlement. Attached is the Memorandum (see Exhibit "A"), the Notice (see Exhibit "B"), and a Proof of Entitlement (see Exhibit "C").

The Notice (see Exhibit 'B") describes the settlement benefits and requests further information from those who believe that they are entitled to such benefits. The Notice should be provided to (i) all new policy applicants in Arizona and in Wisconsin, including applicants for reissue rates, who place an order between August 15, 1996 and August 15, 1997; (ii) all claimants asserting title losses or title claims under Stewart Title policies issued during the class period in Wisconsin and/or Arizona; (iii) anyone else who comes to your attention who purchased or received title insurance in Wisconsin or Arizona between January 1, 1981 and June 10, 1986.

Endorsement to current eligible Stewart policyholders.

An endorsement (Endorsement "D" attached hereto) reflecting the increased coverage should be provided to any Stewart policyholder (including any policyholder with a claim pending) who is a class member and who requests it.

Endorsement to provide last $5,000 of new title insurance policy without charge to eligible class member (See Exhibit "E"):

If an eligible class member is purchasing a new Stewart policy, a notice of settlement must be provided; if the class member completes the attached Entitlement Form, you should provide the last $5,000 of coverage without charge and you should attach the Endorsement set out in Exhibit "E"; to the new policy. A copy of the Entitlement Form should be forwarded to Marietta Maxfield by facsimile (713) 552-9523 and by mail.

Approval by the Insurance Departments of Arizona and Wisconsin:

The Insurance Departments of Arizona and Wisconsin have approved the settlement benefits and the corresponding rate filings and manual amendments, filed by Stewart Title Guaranty Company.

To-Do Summary:

  • Provide the Notice (see Exhibit "B") to every customer, who places an order with a Stewart issuing office in Wisconsin or in Arizona, through August 15, 1997.
  • Provide the Notice (see Exhibit "B") to every claimant who was an insured under a Stewart Title policy issued in Arizona or Wisconsin between January 1, 1981 and June 10, 1986.
  • Forward all completed Proofs of Entitlement (See Exhibit "C") to Marietta Maxfield by facsimile and by mail.
  • The National Claims Counsel will approve the attachment of an "inflation" endorsement (See Exhibit "D") to Stewart Title policies, which were issued in Wisconsin or Arizona during the class period, and which are involved in pending claims, if the claim amount is greater than the original policy amount.
  • Attach appropriate endorsements (see Exhibit "E") to new policies, issued to persons completing proofs of entitlement.

Thank you for your assistance in implementing the class settlement in Arizona and in Wisconsin. Failure to fulfill the obligations imposed by the settlement order could result in further litigation or in sanctions by the court. If you have any questions, or if you would like to have a copy of the Court Order and Judgment approving the settlement, please contact Marietta Maxfield at 1-800-729-1900 ext. 8258.

THIS BULLETIN IS FURNISHED TO INFORM YOU OF CURRENT DEVELOPMENTS. AS A REMINDER, YOU ARE CHARGED WITH KNOWLEDGE OF THE CONTENT ON VIRTUAL UNDERWRITER  AS IT EXISTS FROM TIME TO TIME AS IT APPLIES TO YOU, AS WELL AS ANY OTHER INSTRUCTIONS. OUR UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS DO NOT AUTHORIZE OUR ISSUING AGENTS TO ENGAGE IN SETTLEMENTS OR CLOSINGS ON BEHALF OF STEWART TITLE GUARANTY COMPANY. THIS BULLETIN IS NOT INTENDED TO DIRECT YOUR ESCROW OR SETTLEMENT PRACTICES OR TO CHANGE PROVISIONS OF APPLICABLE UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS. CONFIDENTIAL, PROPRIETARY, OR NONPUBLIC PERSONAL INFORMATION SHOULD NEVER BE SHARED OR DISSEMINATED EXCEPT AS ALLOWED BY LAW. IF APPLICABLE STATE LAW OR REGULATION IMPOSES ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS, YOU SHOULD CONTINUE TO COMPLY WITH THOSE REQUIREMENTS.

Exhibit A

Memorandum

Effective Date: August 15, 1996

To: All Wisconsin Stewart Title Guaranty Company Issuing Agents
Wisconsin NCC and FCSR

From: Marietta M. Maxfield, Vice-President/Special Counsel

RE: Implementing Settlement of Anti-Trust Litigation in MDL 94-1027

Please find enclosed a notice and proof of entitlement to be attached to every commitment for title insurance you send out from now through August 15, 1997. Notice and proof of entitlement should be forwarded to every claimant under any Wisconsin policy issued between January 1, 1981 and June 10, 1986. If you are contacted by anyone who receives a notice or provides a proof of entitlement, please forward all documentation to me by facsimile and by mail. Please expect an extensive NLD Bulletin addressing common questions concerning this settlement by September 30, 1996.

Thank you.

Exhibit B

Notice To Purchasers Of Title Insurance And Related Services From January 1, 1981 Through June 10, 1986

The settlement of certain litigation involving Stewart Title Guaranty Company and a number of other title insurance companies may entitle you to a special benefit. If you believe that you are entitled to this benefit, we need specific information from you which is requested in a Proof of Entitlement Form.

This benefit is part of the settlement of certain litigation approved on May 3, 1996 by the United States District Court for the District of Arizona and entitled, "In Re Title Search and Examination Services Antitrust Litigation, MDL 94-1027".

If during the time period from January 1, 1981 through June 10, 1986, inclusive, you purchased title insurance or related services, including search and examination, for property located in Arizona or Wisconsin, we may provide you with the last $5,000 of coverage without charge on any new title insurance policy purchased from us from August 15, 1996 through August 15, 1997, and the company issuing your former policy may provide you with an endorsement enhancing your coverage by 60%.

If this situation applies to you, you must provide the information requested on the Proof of Entitlement and return it to us.

Exhibit C

Proof Of Entitlement (Arizona)

1. Did you purchase or obtain title insurance or related services during the period of January 1, 1981 or June 10, 1986 inclusive? _______ Yes _______ No

2. If your answer to question No. 1 was yes, please indicate which item you purchased:

_____ Owner's title insurance policy. Please indicate the name(s) of the insured on that policy ___________________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________________

_____ Lender's title insurance policy. Please indicate the name(s) of the insured on that policy ____________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________

_____ Title search and/or examination

_____ Tract book or lot book search

_____ Other. Please describe: ______________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________

3. Please indicate the company from which you purchased the item indicated at question No. 2:

_____ Stewart Title Guaranty Company or one of its agents

_____ Ticor Title Insurance Company or one of its agents

_____ First American Title Insurance Company or one of its agents

_____ Lawyers Title Insurance Corporation or one of its agents

_____ Security Union Title Insurance Company or one of its agents

_____ Title Insurance Company of Minnesota or one of its agents

_____ American Title Insurance Company or one of its agents

_____ Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Company or one of its agents

_____ TRW Title Insurance Company or one of its agents

_____ National Attorney's Title Insurance Company or one of its agents

_____ Title USA Insurance Corporation of New York or one of its agents

_____ Old Republic Title Insurance Company or one of its agents

_____ Fidelity National Title Insurance Company or one of its agents

_____ Meridian Title Insurance Company or one of its agents

_____ Security Title Insurance Company or one of its agents

_____ Transamerica Title Insurance Company or one of its agents

_____ Nations Title, Inc. or one of its agents

_____ Nations Title Insurance Company or one of its agents

_____ Other (Please name) __________________________________________

4. Approximate date of the purchase: _________________________________________

Please attach a copy of your paid bill, a closing statement, canceled check or any other document which shows that you paid for the item or service indicated at question No. 2.

I represent that the above information is true and correct to the best of my knowledge.

Date: _______________
_________________________
Your signature


Order No. ______________

Exhibit C

Proof Of Entitlement (Wisconsin)

1. Did you purchase or obtain title insurance or related services during the period of January 1, 1981 or June 10, 1986 inclusive? _______ Yes _______ No

2. If your answer to question No. 1 was yes, please indicate which item you purchased:

_____ Owner's title insurance policy. Please indicate the name(s) of the insured on that
policy ___________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________

_____ Lender's title insurance policy. Please indicate the name(s) of the insured on that
policy ___________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________

_____ Title search and/or examination

_____ Tract book or lot book search

_____ Other. Please describe: __________________________________________
________________________________________________________________

3. Please indicate the company from which you purchased the item indicated at question No. 2:

_____ Stewart Title Guaranty Company or one of its agents

_____ Ticor Title Insurance Company or one of its agents

_____ First American Title Insurance Company or one of its agents

_____ Lawyers Title Insurance Corporation or one of its agents

_____ Security Union Title Insurance Company or one of its agents

_____ Title Insurance Company of Minnesota or one of its agents

_____ American Title Insurance Company or one of its agents

_____ Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Company or one of its agents

_____ TRW Title Insurance Company or one of its agents

_____ National Attorney's Title Insurance Company or one of its agents

_____ Title USA Insurance Corporation of New York or one of its agents

_____ Old Republic Title Insurance Company or one of its agents

_____ Fidelity National Title Insurance Company or one of its agents

_____ Meridian Title Insurance Company or one of its agents

_____ Security Title Insurance Company or one of its agents

_____ Transamerica Title Insurance Company or one of its agents

_____ Nations Title, Inc. or one of its agents

_____ Nations Title Insurance Company or one of its agents

_____ Other (Please name) ______________________________________

4. Approximate date of the purchase: ___________________________________

Please attach a copy of your paid bill, a closing statement, canceled check or any other document which shows that you paid for the item or service indicated at question No. 2.

I represent that the above information is true and correct to the best of my knowledge.

Date: ______________
_________________________
Your signature


Order No. ______________

Endorsement Exhibit "D"


Endorsement To Title Policy
Serial Number
Issued By
Stewart Title
Guaranty Company
Herein Called The Company

In Re: Title Search And Examination Services Antitrust Litigation, U.S. District Court, District Of Arizona, MDL Docket No. 94-1027

This Endorsement forms a part of the title insurance policy to which it is attached on the inception date of the Policy of Title Insurance purchased during the period between January 1, 1981 and June 10, 1986, inclusive, for property located in ______________________ issued by the Company or its Agents.

The amount of insurance coverage stated in Schedule A of said Policy is increased without additional charge to cover the amount which would reflect inflation between January 1, 1981 and August 15, 1996, as measured from the policy date, by the most recent Department of Commerce construction Index, and any increase in coverage under this endorsement will be calculated as though the enhancement had been in effect ab initio PURSUANT TO Order and Judgment of U.S. District Court for Arizona dated May 3, 1996, In Re: Title Search and Examination Services Antitrust Litigation, U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, M.D.L. No. 94-1027.

The total liability of the Company under said Policy and any endorsements therein shall not exceed, in the aggregate, the face amount of said policy and costs which the Company is obligated under the Conditions and Stipulations thereof to pay.

This endorsement is made a part of said policy and is subject to the Exclusions from Coverage, Schedules, Conditions and Stipulations therein, except as modified by the provisions hereof.

This endorsement is not to be construed as insuring the title as of any later date than the date of said policy, except as herein expressly provided as to the subject matter hereof.

Signed under seal for the Company, but this Endorsement is to be valid only when it bears an authorized countersignature, this the _____ day of ______, 199__.

Stewart Title
Guaranty Company

___________________________________________________
Chairman of the BoardPresident

Countersigned by:

Endorsement Exhibit "E"

An Endorsement to be attached to new policies where last $5,000 of insurance coverage is provided without charge.

Endorsement To Title Policy
Serial Number
Issued By
Stewart Title
Guaranty Company
Herein Called The Company

In Re: Title Search And Examination Services Antitrust Litigation, U.S. District Court For The District Of Arizona, M.D.L. No. 94-1027

The last Five Thousand ($5,000.00) Dollars of insurance coverage stated in Schedule A of the Policy is provided without charge pursuant to the order and judgment of the United States District Court for the District of Arizona dated May 3, 1996.

This Endorsement is made a part of said policy and is subject to the schedules, conditions and stipulations therein, except as modified by the provisions hereof.

Nothing herein contained shall be construed as extending or changing the effective date of said policy, unless otherwise expressly stated.

Signed under seal for the Company, but this Endorsement is to be valid only when it bears an authorized countersignature, this the _____ day of _______, 199_.

Stewart Title Guaranty Company

_____________________________________________________________ Chairman of the BoardPresident

Countersigned by:

____________________________________ Authorized Signatory

References

Bulletins Replaced:
None
Related Bulletins:
None
Underwriting Manual:
None
Exceptions Manual:
None
Forms:
None