United States District Court, D. Utah
CURT A. MARCANTEL, an individual, Plaintiff,
STEWART TITLE GUARANTY COMPANY, a Texas corporation, COALITION TITLE AGENCY, INC., a Utah corporation, MICHAEL AND SONJA SALTMAN FAMILY TRUST, an entity MICHAEL A. SALTMAN, an individual, and SONJA SALTMAN, an individual, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM DECISION GRANTING COALITION TITLE
COMPANY'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
B. Pead, Magistrate Judge
parties consented to this court's jurisdiction under 28
U.S.C. § 636(c). (ECF No. 20). The case is before the
court on Defendant Coalition Title Company's
(“Coalition”) Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF
No. 66). The Motion is fully briefed, including Plaintiff
Curt A. Marcantel's (“Marcantel”) response to
Coalition's evidentiary objection, and Coalition's
response to Marcantel's evidentiary objection.
See (ECF Nos. 67-70, 72). The court did not hear
“court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows
that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and
the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). “A party asserting that a fact . .
. is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by . . .
to particular parts of materials in the record.”
Id. 56(c)(1)(A). “A dispute is genuine when a
reasonable jury could find in favor of the nonmoving party on
the issue.” Macon v. United Parcel Serv.,
Inc., 743 F.3d 708, 712 (10th Cir. 2014). In conducting
its review, the court must view the evidence and draw
reasonable inferences from that evidence in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party. Id.
February 2015 Coalition assisted Defendant Stewart Title
Guaranty Company (“Stewart Title”) to issue a
commitment for title insurance related to a parcel of real
property Marcantel purchased. (ECF No. 67 at 2, 4-5).
Coalition acted in two roles during the transaction: first,
as an escrow agent for the real estate purchase and second,
as an agent of Stewart Title who issued the title-insurance
commitment, updated commitment, and policy. (Id. at
7). The title-insurance commitment and updated commitment
contain disclaimers indicating those documents are not
abstracts of title. (Id. at 9, 10). Marcantel did
not ask Coalition to prepare an abstract of title.
(Id. at 8). Coalition did not prepare, or agree to
prepare, an abstract of title. (Id. at 8, 11).
escrow-closing instructions contain the only evidence of a
written agreement between Marcantel and Coalition.
(Id. at 8). Coalition did not assume the role of
title abstractor under the terms these instructions.
(Id.) Marctantel does not suggest Coalition failed
to comply with any escrow instruction.
contends he and Coalition had conversations that gave rise to
additional duties beyond escrow agent and agent of Stewart
Title. The parties agree that Coalition initially
identified an encumbrance resulting from a sanitary sewer
easement recorded in January 2001. Coalition excluded that
encumbrance from coverage in the initial title-insurance
commitment. (ECF No. 67 at 5; ECF No. 35 at 10). Marcantel
called Coalition to discuss the exclusion from the title
policy related to the January 2001 sewer easement. (ECF No.
67 at 5; ECF No. 35 at 10). He also claims he told Coalition
he did not want to purchase the property if it was burdened
by a sewer easement. Subsequently, Coalition and Stewart Title
discovered the January 2001 sewer easement did not burden the
property Marcantel purchased, but instead burdened a
different property. (ECF No. 67 at 5-6; ECF No. 35 at 10).
Accordingly, the exclusion for the 2001 sewer easement was
removed and an updated commitment for title insurance issued.
(ECF No. 67 at 9- 10); (ECF No. 35 at 10). Marcantel asserts
that while he was discussing the sewer easement issue with
Coalition, an agent of Coalition told Marcantel “there
were no sewer easements burdening the Property.” (ECF
No. 68, Ex. 1). Coalition disputes this statement (ECF No.
69, Ex. 2), but the court will treat accept it as true for
purposes of this motion. While the 2001 sewer easement
apparently did not encumber the property Marcantel purchased,
another rogue sewer easement did burden the property; but
that second easement was not discovered until after Marcantel
purchased the property. See (ECF No. 69 at 5); (ECF
No. 35 at 10-13).
contends it is entitled to summary judgment because it acted
only as a title insurer and Utah law excuses title insurers
from tort liability even if their title research contains
errors. (ECF No. 66 at 11-14). Coalition contends it cannot
be held liable for errors stemming from its title research
because its research was undertaken in the course of
assisting Stewart Title to issue title insurance and Utah law
precludes tort claims against title insurers for their title
research and statements made regarding title. (Id.
at 11). Coalition further argues that it did not agree to
accept the role of title abstractor while preparing and
issuing the commitment for title insurance. (Id. at
12-13). This distinction is material because title
abstractors may be held liable for errors related to
defective title research, but title insurers may not be held
liable for such errors. (Id.)
contends the court cannot answer the fact-intensive question
of whether Coalition owed a duty at the summary-judgment
stage. (ECF No. 67 at 16-22). Next, Marcantel concedes Utah
tort law does not impose tort liability on a title insurer
for omitting an encumbrance from a title insurance commitment
or policy. Nonetheless, he contends Coalition undertook
additional duties when it discussed the 2001 sewer easement
with Marcantel and told him “there were no sewer
easements burdening the Property.” (ECF No. 68, Ex. 1);
see (ECF No. 67 at 23).
Coalition is entitled to summary judgment because title
insurers may not beh ...