Jury dings Fidelity National Title $5.8 million

July 7, 2005

Officer allegedly told builders to 'walk away'

Inman News

A Texas jury entered a $5.8 million judgment against Fidelity National Title Insurance Co. in a case brought by a local developer, media accounts said.

Friendswood, Texas-based Tradewinds Development won a $5.8 million judgment against Fidelity in County Court No. 1, with Judge Mary Nell Crapitto presiding, the Galveston County Daily News reported.

Fidelity handled the closing of a property to be developed into a subdivision, the Daily News reported.

Karen Keating, an assistant vice president for Fidelity, allegedly made negative comments about Tradewinds Development, the company developing 46.5 acres into a subdivision, to the heads of Dynamic Builders, the company contracted to build homes there, reports said.

Dynamic subsequently severed its contract with Tradewinds, accounts said.

Keating told builders that a lien would be filed on the property and that they should "walk away from the project with Tradewinds," according to the lawsuit, the Daily News reported.

The jury found the statements provably false with its judgment, the Daily News said. The judgment was the seventh largest in county history, according to reports. It was also the largest to come from a county court-at-law, as opposed to a state district court, reports said.

The jury awarded Tradewinds $1.81 million in compensatory damages and another $4 million in punitive damages, according to reports.

Copyright 2005 Inman News

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