Stewart Title v. Dude, et al, No. 11-1374 (10th Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
Defendant-Appellant Harald Dude secured a $1.9 million loan on his Aspen home from Washington Mutual Bank. He sought to borrow another $500,000 from Wells Fargo Bank. As part of the application process, Defendant completed a form for Wells Fargo's title insurance company, Plaintiff-Appellee Stewart Title Guaranty Company. The form required Defendant to disclose existing liens on property. Knowing that the company failed to discover the existence of the Washington Mutual loan, Defendant did not list the lien on Stewart Title's form. Wells Fargo proceeded with the second loan based on representations made on the form. Several years later, Defendant elected to sell the property. Stewart Title was contacted to provide title insurance. A second title search failed to reveal the Washington Mutual loan. The company again provided its disclosure form to Defendant who again omitted the Washington Mutual loan. At some point, Defendant stopped making payments on the Washington Mutual loan. Eventually it threatened the property's new owner with foreclosure. The new owner made a claim on her title insurance with Stewart Title. Honoring what it perceived to be its contractual obligations, Stewart Title paid Washington Mutual’s loan amount in full. Stewart Title then sued. A jury found Defendant liable for fraudulent misrepresentation. On appeal, Defendant and his company argued there was insufficient evidence to hold him liable. Finding sufficient evidence for which the jury could have found Defendant liable, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the verdict against him.