United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division
GREGORY A. PRESNELL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court without a hearing on the Motion
for Summary Judgment (Doc. 34) filed by the Plaintiff,
Stewart Title Guaranty Company (henceforth, “Stewart
Title”), and the Motion for Partial Summary Judgment
(Doc. 38) filed by the Defendant, Machado Family Limited
Partnership No. 1 (“Machado”), as well as the
responses and replies to those motions.
2007, CenterState Bank Central Florida, N.A.
(“CSB”) made a loan to Joseph O'Berry and
Marsha O'Berry secured by a mortgage (the
“Mortgage”) on approximately 1, 300 acres they
owned in Osceola County (the “O'Berry
Property”). In connection with the transaction,
Stewart Title issued a lenders title insurance policy (the
“Policy”) to CSB. Both the Mortgage and the
Policy contained errors in the legal description of the
O'Berry Property. The effect of the errors was that one
parcel did not “close”.
2008, Machado bought the loan and the Mortgage from CSB and
became the insured under the Policy. The loan went into
default, and in June of 2011 Machado sued the
O'Berrys to foreclose the Mortgage. Machado's
foreclosure complaint included a count to reform the Mortgage
to correct the errors in its legal description. (Doc. 34-1 at
2012, the O'Berrys filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy
petition. After mediation, the O'Berrys entered
into a settlement agreement with Machado. Under the terms of
the agreement, the O'Berry Property would be put up for
sale on December 1, 2012, for no more than six months, with
the proceeds going first to pay the O'Berrys'
creditors. (Doc. 34-1 at 45-49). If the O'Berry Property
failed to sell, the O'Berrys would be required to deed it
over to Machado. (Doc. 34-1 at 46).
O'Berry Property did not sell during the allotted time.
The Bankruptcy Court ordered Machado to prepare a warranty
deed to transfer the property. Machado did so, but the
O'Berrys rejected the deed. Among other things, the
O'Berrys argued that (1) the settlement agreement only
required them to transfer the portion of the property subject
to the Mortgage, and (2) because of the errors in the legal
description of the Mortgage, there were approximately 160
acres of their property that was not subject to it, and which
they were therefore entitled to keep.
set about trying to get the legal description corrected. It
contacted CSB, which in late March 2014 provided some
documents about the underlying loan. CSB also provided a copy
of a title claim (Doc. 22-8 at 1), dated March 24, 2014,
which it had made on the Policy. In the claim, CSB had
demanded that Stewart Title pay any costs incurred by the
bank related to curing the defect in the
Mortgage. (Doc. 22-8 at 1). CSB also informed
Stewart Title that Machado, as the current mortgagee, might
make a demand pursuant to the Policy. (Doc. 22-8 at 1). The
record does not reflect that Machado submitted such a written
demand to CSB while the litigation with the O'Berrys was
October 2014, Machado filed a motion in the Bankruptcy Court
to compel the O'Berrys to comply with the terms of the
settlement agreement. The Bankruptcy Court held an
evidentiary hearing on the motion in March 2015. In September
2015, the Bankruptcy Court ruled in favor of Machado on its
motion, rejecting the O'Berrys' position and
requiring the conveyance of the disputed 160 acres along with
the remainder of the O'Berry Property. A month later,
Machado recorded the deed to the O'Berry Property.
Stewart Title contends, and Machado does not dispute, that
the Bankruptcy Court's order and the resulting deed fully
cured the problems with the legal description of the Mortgage
and the Policy. (Doc. 34 at 6).
Title also contends, and Machado also does not dispute, that
Machado provided its first standalone demand for
attorneys' fees to Stewart Title in May 2016. (Doc. 34 at
6). The figure Machado requested - $230, 987.06 - included
fees incurred in the months after the litigation concluded.
(Doc. 34 at 6). Stewart Title requested that Machado provide
the figure for fees incurred in the curative litigation,
only. On September 27, 2016, Machado provided that figure:
$207, 243.06. Within two weeks, Stewart Title tendered that
amount to Machado.
however sought to recover fees incurred after the conclusion
of the curative litigation, as well as consequential damages
incurred while it was pending. Stewart Title filed the
instant action, seeking a declaration that it was not liable
for any additional payments pursuant to the Policy. By way of
the instant motion, Stewart Title contends that it is
entitled to summary judgment because (1) the title defect has
been cured and (2) it fully paid for the litigation needed to
do so. (Doc. 34 at 9). In its motion for partial summary
judgment, Machado argues that Stewart Title breached the
Policy by failing to act diligently to cure the errors in the
legal description. (Doc. 38 at 13-14).
is entitled to summary judgment when the party can show that
there is no genuine issue as to any material fact.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). Which facts are material depends on the
substantive law applicable to the case. Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505,
2510, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). The moving party bears the
burden of showing that no genuine issue of material fact
exists. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323,
106 S.Ct. 2548, 2553, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). In determining
whether the moving party has satisfied its burden, the court
considers all inferences drawn from the underlying facts in a
light most favorable to the party opposing the motion, and
resolves all reasonable doubts against the moving party.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255, 106 S.Ct. at 2513.
party moving for summary judgment points out an absence of
evidence on a dispositive issue for which the non-moving
party bears the burden of proof at trial, the nonmoving party
must “go beyond the pleadings and by [his] own
affidavits, or by the depositions, answers to
interrogatories, and admissions on file, designate specific
facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.”
Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 324, 106 S.Ct. at 2553.
Thereafter, summary judgment is mandated against the
nonmoving party who fails to make a showing sufficient to
establish a genuine issue of fact for trial. Id. The
party opposing a motion for summary judgment must rely on
more than conclusory statements or ...