A jury in Texas awarded $58 million recently to a Mansfield couple in a suit against their home builder, Perry Homes, and a home warranty company, Warranty Underwriters Insurance Co. Prior to this trial, the lawsuit had been arbitrated, had been appealed to the Texas Supreme Court and sent back to the lower court for trial.
The Plaintiffs filed suit in December 2000 in an attempt to get Perry Homes to fix structural and foundation problems that started shortly after they moved in 1996 into their 2,900-square-foot, four-bedroom house. The case became politically charged as it moved through the judicial process. Perry Homes is owned by Bob Perry, who has contributed heavily to judicial candidates and political action committees in Texas. The house was bought by the Plaintiffs for nearly $234,000 and it was the only new home they have ever lived in. The home was bought as their “retirement home.”
After initially filing their lawsuit in court, the couple in late 2001 asked a judge to submit their case to arbitration, which was done. Perry Homes appealed the court’s order sending the case to mediation, but lost. In 2002, an arbitrator awarded the couple $800,255. Perry Homes appealed the award to the Texas Supreme Court. In 2008, the court vacated that award in a 5-4 decision, citing legal issues with the way the case was switched from the courts to arbitration, and sent it back to the trial court. When the case was tried the Plaintiffs were awarded $7.1 million in actual damages and $40 million in punitive damages against Perry Homes. The jury also awarded $7.1 million in actual damages and $4 million in punitive damages against Warranty Underwriters. It seems the Defendants in this case may have been a little too smart for their own good since the arbitration award was lots smaller!
Source: Star Telegram