Third Circuit Hears Arguments on Title Insurers and Possible Antitrust Violations

In the case In re New Jersey Title Insurance Litigation, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments on a class action suit brought against title insurers in New Jersey.  The plaintiffs argued that the defendant insurance companies violated federal antitrust laws when they agreed to charge the same amount for premiums after submitting their proposed rates and data to New Jersey regulatory agencies that approved the title insurance rates.

The insurers had previously prevailed in the district court where they argued that the filed-rate doctrine defined in the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1986 decision in Square D v. Niagara Frontier Tariff Bureau exempted rates that have been approved by a regulatory agency from antitrust challenges.  Conversely, the plaintiffs attempted to argue that the underlying principles of Square D were not present in the instant case and thus was not controlling.  However, the persuasiveness of the plaintiffs’ argument may not have resonated with the Court.  Former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who was seated on the panel noted, that the plaintiffs seemed to be in the wrong forum and a better course of action would be to seek legislative reform.

Thanks to Colleen Hayes for her contribution to this post.