A jury has ordered Houston homebuilder Bob Perry to pay $51 million to a retirement-age Mansfield couple who fought for a decade over a defective house that Perry Homes refused to fix. Perry is the biggest campaign contributor in Texas and a major figure in tort reform championed by Gov. Rick Perry (no relation) to limit lawsuits and cap jury awards against business. Bob and Jane Cull say Perry wouldn’t fix their house and so went to arbitration, where they won an $800,000 judgment. The homebuilder refused to pay. He appealed for years through the court system to the Texas Supreme Court, which overturned two lower courts and sent the case back to district court in Fort Worth. Every member of the high court had each received contributions from Perry – more than $260,000 from Perry, his family and his political committees.
On Monday, a jury in Fort Worth ruled in the Cull’s favor – $7 million in actual damages and $40 million in punitive damages. The warranty company that failed to live up to its warranty and fix the house was ordered to pay $4 million more in punitive damages.
“It feels like a modern day David and Goliath triumph. Certainly, God had a hand in this justice,” said Jane Cull’s sister, Judy Noble. “At last, truth and right trumps power and money.”
Anthony Holm, a spokesman for Perry, did not return a telephone call for comment.
The fight between Perry and the Culls underscores the difficulty that some homeowners have in trying to get builders to fix their mistakes – especially politically well-connected businessmen with deep pockets. The Culls began their fight against Perry Homes a decade ago after cracks and other problems developed in their $230,000 home in Mansfield. The Culls said Perry Homes applied some cosmetic fixes, but didn’t repair the house. Instead, Perry launched a long battle in court that the Culls say was apparently designed to wear them down. Perry is the biggest campaign contributor to Gov.Perry, who has supported the homebuilder’s efforts to limit lawsuits against business and who helped create a state agency that critics say was designed to protect homebuilders against complaints from homebuyers. The Legislature last session abolished the agency.
Political Action Committee – National Apartment Association (NAA) files Amicus Brief in mold case (two infant deaths in mold filled apt – Wasatch Prop Mgmt) citing US Chamber/ACOEM ‘litigation defense report’ to disclaim health effects of indoor mold & limit financial risk for industry
“Changes in construction methods have caused US buildings to become perfect petri dishes for mold and bacteria to flourish when water is added. Instead of warning the public and teaching physicians that the buildings were causing illness; in 2003 the US Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform, a think-tank, and a workers comp physician trade organization mass marketed an unscientific nonsequitor to the courts to disclaim the adverse health effects to stave off liability for financial stakeholders of moldy buildings. Although publicly exposed many times over the years, the deceit lingers in US courts to this very day.” Sharon Noonan Kramer
Information on Riverstone Residential, the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency, and the owners of Toxic Mold Infested Jefferson Lakes Apartments in Baton Rouge, Louisiana continuing to allow tenants to be exposed to extreme amounts of mold toxins