I've left messages for attorneys Van Shaw (in depositions) and Dan Hagood (in a meeting), so instead we'll have to go with the Associated Press's account of yesterday's court-ordered mediation session between Bob and Jane Cull and Perry Homes' reps. No doubt you recall: On March 1 we broke the news that a Tarrant County jury ruled that Perry Homes owed the Culls close to $50 million for selling and refusing to repair the Mansfield couple's shoddy home back in 1997. A big hunk of that ruling -- $40 million -- was in punitive damages.
The legal case of The Home -- and Home-Builder -- from Hell's been dragging on for the better part of a decade, with the Culls repeatedly coming up losers before the Supreme Court of Texas, which, most recently, vacated an arbitration award in the couple's favor and kicked the case back down to a lower court. Perry Homes' namesake and Swift Boater Bob Perry, it's often noted, has contributed big money to each and every justice.
After the jury handed down its ruling, the judge ordered the parties into mediation in the hopes of settling this once and for all. It wasn't meant to be: The AP reports today Shaw and former Dallas County Assistant District Attorney Hagood, representing the Culls, had no luck getting Houston-based Perry Homes to cut the Culls a get-outta-here check.
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Shaw wasn't surprised, telling the wire service: "We expected the Perry camp to continue in their unfair treatment of the Culls." To which Perry Homes spokesman Anthony Holm responded via e-mail, "Today Perry Homes attended mediation in good faith, and it takes two parties to settle a dispute."
Update at 5 p.m.: I finally spoke with Van Shaw, who can't say much about what went on during the mediation conference, as they are confidential. "All I can really say is we were unable to reach an agreement, and we believe Perry's continuing in their improper actions regarding the Culls," he said. "I was not surprised [by the outcome]. It's just the same way they've acted for the last 10 years. I had no reason to believe they would act any different than they had. And they did not."
Next stop: a hearing to enter the judgment, scheduled for mid-April but subject to change. At which point Perry Homes will file a motion for a new trial and, as Shaw puts it, "seek to argue the same things before the same court again, and then they will appeal it to the Fort Worth Court of Appeals."
I did ask him how the Culls were holding up. He said, "They're doing pretty good. They were buoyed by the jury verdict. and that's given them some inner peace and validation. The money's certainly important, but more important than that is their feelings that they're doing something for somewhat the greater good."