CLARKSBURG – Old Republic National Title Insurance Company has settled its lawsuit against three Morgantown developers over settlements it paid out in previous lawsuits for more than $2 million.

On Aug. 27, Kristian, Andrew and Monroe Warner agreed to pay $2,275,000 to settle the lawsuit against them, filed by Old Republic National in May 2012. The amount represents what was sought in the original complaint, as the company was attempting to recover the amount of settlements and attorneys fees paid in disputes over an insurance policy issued to the defendants.

The Warners sought the insurance policy for the Augusta Apartments complex and allegedly failed to pay Landau Building Company, which was hired to construct the project and subsequently sued.

In February, U.S. District Judge Irene Keeley, of the Northern District of West Virginia, ruled against the Warners in their lawsuit against several Morgantown officials over the Augusta Apartments project.

She ruled that the officials might have lacked coordination but did not commit outrageous conduct against the Warners.

The complaint listed 10 causes of action against the City of Morgantown and nine individual city officials. Each complaint except one – the tort of outrage against the individual defendants – had been dismissed before Keeley’s Feb. 1 decision.

The Warners’ difficulties with the City began during construction of The Augusta. They claimed city officials were not prepared to handle a project of The Augusta’s size, and that their inexperience prolonged construction by nearly two months.

In its motion for summary judgment, filed Feb. 8, Old Republic wrote that it paid $2,275,000 to settle litigation brought by Landau and PNC. It is represented by Mychal Sommer Schulz and Joshua S. Rogers of Dinsmore & Shohl in Morgantown.

The settlement puts an end to two of the Warners’ appeals to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

One was an appeal of Keeley’s decision to grant partial summary judgment to Old Republic National, while the other was an appeal of Keeley’s refusal to disqualify herself from the case.

The Warners filed a motion on Feb. 11, arguing that the recusal of Keeley, who worked at Steptoe & Johnson from 1980-92, was mandated because of Robert M. Steptoe Jr.’s involvement.

In support of its argument that the Warners should pay the company’s attorneys fees, Old Republic submitted testimony from Steptoe that said the $467,158.25 the company was seeking was reasonable.

“The defendants, for their part, have provided no authority in support of their expansive view of the statute – that a judge is required to automatically disqualify herself every time a former colleage, no matter how attenuated the relationship, is tapped to serve as a witness in a pending case,” Keeley’s decision not to recuse herself says.

“The defendants’ motion to recuse, at bottom, is premised almost entirely upon disagreement with the rulings of this Court. The undersigned will not, however, ‘encourage strategic moves by a disgruntled party to remove a judge whose rulings [he] dislikes.’”

The Warners also appealed Keeley’s decision in their lawsuit against Morgantown officials. However, on March 26, they moved to dismiss the appeal in a motion that indicated a settlement was reached.

West Virginia University purchased The Augusta on the Square in 2011 for $13.1 million.

From the West Virginia Record: Reach John O’Brien at jobrienwv@gmail.com.

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