Jury Returns Large Verdict Against Chicago Title Insurance Company in Breach of Contract Case

On June 7, 2013, the firm won a favorable jury verdict for client Jeffrey C. Coury in his breach of contract action against his former employer, Chicago Title Insurance Company. The judgment, rendered in the case of Jeffrey Coury v. Chicago Title Insurance Company, is expected to exceed $20 million once prejudgment interest, attorneys' fees, and costs are added to the jury's award, which would make it one of the largest judgments ever entered in Sonoma County history.

Starting in 2002, Mr. Coury served as the chief executive officer of ServiceLink, a leading U.S. mortgage service provider, until it was purchased by Chicago Title in 2005 and later became a division of the company. Following the acquisition, Mr. Coury continued to serve as the top executive of ServiceLink and entered into two separate employment contracts with Chicago Title, one in 2006 and a second in 2010 (following the expiration of the 2006 contract). The employment contracts set forth terms covering his compensation, including his entitlement to certain stock options and stock grants, as well as a severance payment in the event he resigned his employment with good reason or was terminated by Chicago Title without cause.

Despite Mr. Coury's enormous success in growing ServiceLink, including the quintupling of its revenues and profits from 2006 to 2011, his employment was terminated without cause by Chicago Title on December 1, 2011, following his submission of a notice of resignation based on good reason. Despite the fact that his notice of resignation had good reason and that the company's termination of him was without cause, Chicago Title thereafter refused to pay Mr. Coury the severance and bonus he was owed under his contract. In addition, Mr. Coury discovered after his termination that Chicago Title had not in any year fulfilled its obligation to provide him with the stock options and stock grants to which he was entitled.

As a result, Mr. Coury filed his action in Sonoma County in January 2012, alleging, among other things, that Chicago Title had breached his employment contracts and had violated certain wage payment laws. He sought monetary damages in the amount of approximately $13 million, plus prejudgment interest, attorneys' fees, and costs. Following five weeks of testimony, the jury heard summations on June 6, 2013, and returned its verdict the following afternoon, finding that Mr. Coury had established his claims and awarding him the $13 million.

The Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati team that represented Mr. Coury in the matter included Michael Sommer, Moe Fodeman, Stu Williams, Marina Tsatalis, Jason Storck, Matt Gorman, and paralegals Pamela Sandillo and Bruce Chiang.