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Man lacks standing to pursue cause of actions in failed home purchase

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The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed that the underwriter of title insurance stands in the shoes of its insureds, so a man suing several entities over a failed home purchase lacks standing to pursue his causes of action.

Beneficial Mortgage Co. of Indiana purchased a property it had funded in a sheriff’s sale. Real estate taxes were owed on the property, and it was purchased at a tax sale several days after Beneficial received title. The Wolvertons purchased the property at issue in the tax sale in September 2000 and sent notice to Beneficial.

Guadalupe Puente obtained a mortgage from PNC to purchase the property from Beneficial in April 2001. When Puente purchased the property, Meridian Title Corp. issued a standard American Land Title Association policy of title insurance to him and a lender’s policy of title insurance to PNC. Fidelity was the underwriter for both policies.

The Wolvertons filed a quiet-title action and eventually were victorious in their suit. Puente, in 2008, vacated the property. The trial court awarded the Wolvertons $5,700 in damages, which took into account their lost rent during the 62 months at issue plus the $16,000 in increased property value during Puente’s occupancy as a result of his efforts.

At issue in Guadalupe Puente v. Beneficial Mortgage Co. of Indiana, PNC Bank, Fidelity National Title Insurance Co., and Meridian Title Corp., 45A03-1304-PL-159, is whether Fidelity has subrogration rights to pursue Puente’s claims against Beneficial and others.

“Puente argues that subrogation is an entirely equitable remedy and that the equities in this case counsel against subrogation. Fidelity argues, and the trial court held, that equitable subrogation is not applicable here. Rather, the plain terms of the insurance policy’s subrogation clause eliminated any need to consider the equities because Fidelity is entitled to subrogation as a matter of contractual right. The question therefore is whether the right of subrogation can exist by contract, without the need to resort to a balancing of the equities,” Judge Ezra Friedlander wrote.  
Several jurisdictions have specifically addressed the question presented here: whether conventional subrogation is subject to equitable considerations, and the decisions have gone both ways, the court noted.

When it comes to subrogation provisions in insurance policies, the court adopted the view that equity is not a consideration in cases involving conventional – or contractual – subrogation.

“Ultimately, it places the onus on parties to an insurance contract to negotiate terms as they see fit, and then to abide by the terms of the resulting contract in the event insurance coverage is triggered,” he wrote, noting the language in the policy is broad enough to confer upon Fidelity a contractual right to subrogation.
 

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  2. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  3. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  4. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  5. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

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