The Middle District of Florida recently granted in part and denied in part plaintiff Stewart Title Guaranty Company’s (“Stewart Title”) motion to dismiss defendant First American Title Insurance Company’s (“First American”) counterclaim for breach of the utmost duty of good faith. As noted in a prior post, this case involves disputes regarding reinsurance agreements that First American entered into with Old Republic National Title Insurance Company (“Old Republic”) and Stewart Title. In these agreements, Old Republic and Stewart Title agreed to assume part of First American’s contractual liability under a title insurance policy.
When mechanic’s liens were discovered on the property at issue, First American negotiated a $41 million settlement of the claim before turning to Old Republic and Stewart Title to pay their proportionate share of that sum. While Old Republic paid under its reservation of rights, Stewart Title chose not to pay, and instead, sued First American for rescission, reformation, declaratory judgment, and negligence. First American countersued Stewart Title for breach of contract, breach of the utmost duty of good faith, and declaratory judgment.
Stewart Title moved to dismiss First American’s counterclaim for breach of the utmost duty of good faith on the same bases as a prior dismissal granted in favor of Old Republic. First American contended that Stewart Title’s breach of the reinsurance agreement differed from Old Republic’s alleged breach in that Stewart Title did not pay under its reservation of rights. First American’s counterclaim alleged that Stewart Title breached the utmost duty of good faith in the following four ways: (1) failing to pay the claim as required under the insurance contract; (2) engaging in delay tactics; (3) using First American’s documents against it in support of its allegations and preemptively filing suit against First American; and (4) accusing First American of making misrepresentations and omissions. While the district court held that the first two claims necessarily could be tied to breach of the reinsurance contract, the latter two claims could not and, consequently, the latter two were dismissed.
Old Republic Nat. Title Ins. Co. v. First American Title Ins. Co., No. 8:15-cv-126-T-30EAJ, 2015 WL 1530611 (USDC M.D. Fla. June 8, 2015)