Industry News

Appeals court throws out $32.4M damage award to Chicago Title

New damages trial in lawsuit over First American's hire of top exec

First American Corp. is chipping away at the damages awarded to rival Chicago Title in a lawsuit that claims First American lured a top manager away in violation of a noncompetition agreement. In January 2005, a jury awarded Chicago Title compensatory and punitive damages totaling more than $43 million, after a district court ruled that the manager breached that agreement and that First American was liable for "tortious interference." Last week, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the jury's $32.4 million punitive damage award, and ordered a new trial on a $10.8 million compensatory damage award. Although First American's conduct may have been "malicious," Chicago Title maintained its dominance in Ohio's title insurance market, and was therefore not a "financially vulnerable victim," entitled to punitive damages, said U.S. District Judge Nancy C. Edmunds in an opinion accompanying the decision. In addition to throwing out the punitive damage award, Edmunds sent the ...