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Sierra Title, 12 defendants engaged in clashing lawsuits after protests outside office

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EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- According to court documents obtained by ABC-7, Sierra Title is suing 12 El Paso residents, and those same people are filing a counter-claim against Sierra Title.

Documents show the title company requested a temporary restraining order, claiming the defendants are improperly disparaging and interfering with their business. Sierra is seeking relief ranging from $250,000 to $1 million, including damages, penalties, and attorney's fees, to name a few.

Sierra Title filed the initial petition with the courts on May 10, 2024, which came a day after the defendants began to protest with signs and bullhorns outside the title company's offices on North Mesa.

The defendants filed a response five weeks later. They deny any wrongdoing, and counter that Sierra Title is engaging in "a pattern" of deceptive business practices. The defendants claim Sierra title provided false or misleading information when they were trying to purchase homes, did not apply money given in down payments or closing costs to their mortgages, and did not provide proper documentation during the closing process.

All the defendants are representing themselves, according to official documents.

One woman named in the lawsuits told ABC-7 her story, which began on June 26, 2023.

Joevana Casillas said she came across a home listed for sale on Facebook Marketplace. That home was located at 371 George Orr Rd. in the Lower Valley.

Casillas said she contacted the person who was listed as the seller, and that person agreed to sell her home. She also said she sold her mobile home in order to pay the $15,000 down payment and $1,500 closing costs in cash.

Casillas says the seller took her to Sierra Title to file the necessary paperwork. She did not get a receipt for the cash payment, but she showed ABC-7 paperwork notarized by Sierra Title stating she paid cash.

Casillas claims the escrow officer gave her a closing date of July 27, 2023. The date came and went without closing the sale.

Casillas told ABC-7 she moved into the house regardless. About a month later, she says she was surprised to find mail arriving at the home addressed to Laura Marquez, the same name of the escrow officer at Sierra Title who Casillas says took her down payment and closing cost cash, and who gave her a closing date. Marquez is listed as an escrow officer on the Sierra Title website.

According to the Central Appraisal District website, Marquez has been the owner of the property at 371 George Orr since July 27, 2023. There is currently no evidence on the CAD website that Casillas ever owned the property.

Casillas told ABC-7 she was told the house is going into foreclosure and she is being forced out. Documents on the county website state the house was up on a foreclosure auction block on July 2.

"I will have to leave the house," Casillas said. "I will lose my money and my property because they don't want to give me back my money."

Casillas provided documents to ABC-7 showing she filed a claim in April asking the Texas Attorney General to investigate a violation of consumer protection laws by Sierra Title. She also filed a claim with the fraud unit of the Texas Department of Insurance against Laura Marquez.

Casillas also says a man claiming to work for Sierra Title entered the property and told her he was the new owner of the property.

"Even if I have to leave the house," Casillas said, "I don't want nothing to do with them, with Sierra Title. I just want my money back."

While working on this story, ABC-7 reached out to Sierra Title several times, asking for an interview or comment. They have not responded to our requests.

Laura Marquez is among the individuals named in the counter claim filed by the defendants. ABC-7 has been in contact with an attorney who told us he is representing Laura Marquez of Sierra Title.

As of this publication, the attorney has offered us interviews three times with Marquez. We agreed and set up the interviews, but each time they have not shown up.

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Stephanie Valle

Stephanie Valle co-anchors ABC-7 at 5, 6 and 10 weeknights.


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