Title company sues over forged signature and fraudulent deed

By Kelly Holleran | Nov 17, 2011


A title insurance company was forced to pay a man more than $90,000 after a woman fraudulently signed the man's name to papers, in effect deeding his property to another person without his knowledge or consent, according to a recently filed lawsuit.

Ticor Title Insurance Company filed a lawsuit Nov. 7 in St. Clair County Circuit Court against Yvette Reed, Diane Lee, Joseph Reed, Alfredo Vallejo Jr., RLI Corp., CNA Surety and All-American Escrow and Title Services.

In its complaint, Ticor alleges it paid Joe Lee $90,000 after he filed a lawsuit against the company. Joe Lee brought the suit against Ticor after he discovered that his interest in property at 4645 South Lamon Ave. in Chicago had been taken from him, according to the current complaint.

Joe Lee had owned the Chicago property with defendant Yvette Reed. On July 29, 1998, Yvette Reed produced a quitclaim deed with Joe Lee's signature on it. By allegedly signing the deed, Joe Lee transferred all his interest in the property to another person.

Joe Lee, however, claimed he never signed the quitclaim deed. Instead, he contended Yvette Reed forged his signature.

Despite the alleged forged signature, Vallejo notarized the quitclaim deed, guaranteeing that Joe Lee's signature was valid. Vallejo, however, had never seen Joe Lee sign the document and should not have notarized it, the suit states.

Using the quitclaim deed, Yvette Reed transferred the property to defendant Diane Lee on April 3, 2000, the complaint says. In turn, on Sept. 6, 2000, Diane Lee transferred the property to defendant Joseph Reed, Ticor claims.

In 2005, defendant All-American and Ticor closed on and issued a title to Gregory Brown after Joseph Reed sold him the property, according to the complaint. All-American also prepared a mortgage for Brown, the suit states.

Shortly after Brown purchased the property, however, all the details of the scam began to emerge, the lawsuit states. It was uncovered, for instance, that Joe Brown never conveyed his interest in the property to Yvette Brown as she had originally represented, the complaint says.

In fact, Joe Lee was still living in the premises when Brown bought the house and was not aware of any of the numerous title transfers until Brown's purchase, Ticor claims.

As a result, Joe Lee filed a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court on July 6, 2005, seeking to quiet the title to the property in his name, according to the complaint.

To settle the claim, Ticor paid Joe Lee $90,000, the suit states.

Ticor alleges fraud and conversion against Yvette Reed, Diane Lee and Joseph Reed, saying they knowingly made false statements by forging Joe Lee's signature on paperwork and by executing deeds without Joe Lee's consent.

It also alleges breach of warranty deed against Diane Lee and Joseph Reed.

Vallejo engaged in misconduct when he notarized a signature without the signee present at the scene, the complaint says.

All-American breached its standard of care by failing to discover that the quitclaim deed was signed without Joe Lee's consent, by issuing a title commitment to a property that still belonged to Joe Lee, by preparing the mortgage and by issuing the policy that insured Brown's title to the property, according to the complaint.

In its complaint, Ticor seeks a judgment of $729,843.04, plus costs, attorney's fees and other relief the court deems just.

Shawn T. Briner and Jonathan K. Glassman of Martin, Leigh, Laws and Fritzlen in St. Louis will be representing it.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 11-L-627.

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