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Real Estate & Property Law

Attorney-Owned Title Co. Accused in Civil Case Over Rubber Refi Checks

Posted Nov 9, 2009 7:12 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A title company owned by two lawyers and another individual is accused of leaving multiple homeowners facing potential foreclosure after they refinanced mortgages but their original loans were never paid off.

A cease-and-desist order has been issued against the now-closed company, Counselors' Title, by the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation and the state attorney general's office is investigating the situation, reports the Chicago Tribune in a detailed Sunday article.

But in the meantime at least eight homeowners in three Midwest states have mortgage loans totaling some $1.6 million that were supposed to be paid off but weren't, according to a lawsuit filed in Cincinnati against Counselors' Title by the company's former title insurance underwriter, Ticor Title Insurance Co. It asserts claims of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and fraud, among other claims.

Some checks issued by the title company to pay off mortgages bounced, and others were never sent, according to the lawsuit.

The accused title company's owners deny in court filings that they have done anything wrong, and attorney James Erwin, who is one of Counselors' three principals, told the newspaper in a phone message that the situation is out of his hands.

"While we'd very, very, very much like to see this get resolved, and feel horribly about how this has affected the homeowners, once Ticor filed that lawsuit our hands were tied," Erwin stated.

His law firm colleague, attorney Shari Erwin, is also a principal in the title company but apparently didn't comment to the Tribune.

Both of the Erwins appear to be Illinois lawyers in good standing, according to a website maintained by the Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission of the Illinois Supreme Court.

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