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Quicken affiliate hit with $706M verdict

The Detroit News

A Quicken Loans affiliate based in Detroit has been ordered to pay $706.2 million after a Texas jury this week found it had taken trade secrets from a real estate data firm, officials announced Thursday.

The case stems from a 2015 contract between Title Source, now known as Amrock Inc., and HouseCanary. The contract was to develop software to provide appraisal as well as real estate valuations, attorneys said in a statement Thursday.

In a statement Thursday, Amrock CEO Jeff Eisenshtadt called the verdict “a travesty of justice” and the company planned to appeal.

Representatives for HouseCanary, which has offices in California, Colorado and Texas, could not be reached for comment Thursday night.

Its lawyers said Title Source declined to pay the company after 18 months of work and sued in Bexar County, Texas, to avoid contract fees for its real estate data, analytics and valuation technology.

Amrock is the nation’s largest independent company offering title insurance, valuations and closing services, its website says.

Through a countersuit HouseCanary alleged the company misappropriated trade secrets, which violated signed agreements governing non-disclosure and limiting use of the information.

“Title Source and its family of companies (including Quicken Loans) wanted access to HouseCanary’s technology and data to develop its own competing analytics and software,” HouseCanary attorneys said Thursday.

In a statement Thursday night, Quicken Loans CEO Jay Farner said: "Quicken Loans and its parent Rock Holdings Inc. were never parties to the recent litigation between HouseCanary and Amrock, nor is either company subject to any liability in connection with yesterday's verdict announced in the state court in San Antonio, Texas. In addition, Quicken Loans and Rock Holdings Inc. were never a party to the contract at issue and there was never a single claim filed against Quicken Loans or Rock Holdings, Inc. in this lawsuit."

After a seven-week trial, a jury on Wednesday awarded HouseCanary $235.4 million for misappropriation of the trade secrets and fraud claims and $471.4 million in punitive damages.

In response to the verdict, Eisenshtadt said: “HouseCanary made several unkept promises leading Amrock to file a contract claim. However, when we asked the court to intervene, a local attorney and professional plaintiff law firm spun a distorted and twisted counterclaim narrative leading a San Antonio jury to an unconscionable result.”

Eisenshtadt added Amrock never received working software from HouseCanary but “wireframes and half-developed apps that were completely unusable by the company. After HouseCanary breached its contract, we ended our relationship with the company and were forced to develop our own tool in-house.”

His company started out as Stewart Title of Michigan in the 1990s before becoming Title Source, according to its website. Last month, the company was renamed Amrock.

It has offices in California, Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania, with headquarters relocating to Detroit in 2012.

Quicken’s website describes Amrock as among its family of companies and “on the forefront of industry innovation, with a large team dedicated to developing new technology and software.”