The battle over mortgage settlement practices is being waged on yet another front. An independent title insurance company has filed a suit in U.S. district court in Minnesota, accusing two real estate agencies and their title insurance companies of violating the Real Estate Settlement Practices Act and the antitrust laws.

The complainant is Northwest Title and Escrow Corp., Vadnais Heights, Minn., and the defendants are Edina Realty Inc., Edina, Minn., and Burnet Realty Corp., also in Edina, along with their title insurance subsidiaries and related companies.

Northwest contends that the realty agents have been using illegal means to direct title business to their own companies. A motion for dismissal has been filed by the defendants. Wayne B. Holstad, a lawyer and the head of Northwest, says a ruling is due this month.

The Mortgage Bankers Association had brought suit against the Department of Housing and Urban Development earlier this year over rules that the department had drafted for Respa. The suit was withdrawn when HUD said it was redrafting the rules in an effort to meet industry objections.

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