Klinedinst Attorneys Earn $2.15 Million Jury Verdict For Fraud and Breach of Escrow Instructions

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Klinedinst attorneys Greg Garbacz and Chris Holt were awarded a $2.15 million jury verdict against an escrow company, accused of a multi-million dollar fraud, breach of contract, and breach of fiduciary duty case. As part of the eight week trial in Santa Ana, California, the case alleged that the escrow company had prematurely released investment monies before escrow conditions were satisfied, resulting in the loss of an investment in a Ponzi scheme.

On March 20, 2012, Klinedinst attorneys Greg A. Garbacz and Christopher D. Holt succeeded in trial involving a multi-million dollar fraud, breach of contract, and breach of fiduciary duty case.

In Christian Astillero, et al., v. Gateway Title Company, et al., Mr. Garbacz and Mr. Holt represented two investors who had lost $1,250,000 in a series of six real estate loans with a company called High Park Financial Group, through its principal, Edward Showalter. After the SEC closed down High Park's Ponzi scheme, Mr. Showalter was eventually indicted, pled guilty and was sentenced for defrauding over 70 investors of over $12 million dollars. Many of these real estate investments had been transacted through the Orange County escrow office of Gateway Title Company (now doing business as Pacific Coast Title, a Fidelity National Title subsidiary).

At the instruction of High Park, the two defrauded investors had deposited their investment monies with Gateway. According to the lawsuit, without the investors' knowledge, Gateway had prematurely released those investment monies before the escrow conditions were satisfied, resulting in the loss of the investment in High Park's Ponzi scheme.

During the eight week jury trial, Messrs. Garbacz and Holt contended that, in addition to not fulfilling the escrow instructions that had been given by their clients, Gateway's escrow officers were actually aware of the fraud, actively participated in defrauding their clients and various institutional lenders, and were themselves making undisclosed loans and investments into the Ponzi scheme for their own person gain.

During trial, the Defendants responded that Plaintiffs had not been actual escrow clients of Gateway and were owed no duty by the Gateway defendants. Gateway also argued that the plaintiffs obtained what they were entitled to when they were provided trust deeds supporting their investments.

In response, Messrs. Garbacz and Holt argued that their clients never would have made the investments had Gateway disclosed all the facts, and that the trust deeds that they received on some of the properties were defective and/or worthless.

After two days of deliberations, the jury delivered a resounding verdict for the plaintiffs, awarding $2,150,000, exclusive of prejudgment interest. The plaintiffs contend that an additional $1.4 million of prejudgment interest is owed, which will be the subject of post trial motions. Additionally, there will be motions to recover costs and expert fees pursuant to the C.C.P. Section 998 statute.

Klinedinst PC congratulates Messrs. Garbacz and Holt for their resounding trial victory in Christian Astillero, et al., v. Gateway Title Company, et al., Superior Court of California, County of Orange Case No. 06CC00277. For more information, please visit:


About Klinedinst

Klinedinst PC has achieved the highest rating for legal ability and ethical standards by Martindale-Hubbell. The firm and its attorneys are engaged in litigation and transactional law practice throughout California, serving clients from offices in San Diego, Santa Ana, Los Angeles, and Sacramento. For more information about the firm, please visit Klinedinst's comprehensive website at http://www.klinedinstlaw.com.

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