No one supports frivolous lawsuits. But, few have done as much to stop supposed frivolous lawsuits as has Bob Perry. The huge home builder from Houston, Texas has donated tens of millions of dollars to political contests largely to oppose consumer lawsuits. He funded the SWIF boat for truth campaign against John Kerry. He helped George Bush become governor of Texas. His pet issue throughout all these donations has been arbitration. The Texas Residential Construction Commission was created largely due to his support of key state legislators. Due in no small part to Bob Perry’s largesse, binding arbitration is now a fact of life for most Texans from employees to home buyers to automobile owners.
One particular lawsuit by one of his home buyers has dragged on for over a decade. Bob Perry was determined not to let this case go to a jury. He wanted it to go to arbitration. It did go to arbitration, where Bob and Jane Cull were awarded $800,000 by the arbitrator. Yes, some consumers do win in arbitration. Mr. Perry was not satisfied. He found a way to make binding arbitration not so binding. He appealed twice and lost until he came to the Texas Supreme Court. The Texas Supreme Court is a very friendly venue for large corporations and for Bob Perry. The Texas Supremes came out for their man. Bob Perry had donated $21 million to the Texas Supreme Court between 2006 and 2009. Every member of the court had accepted money from Bob Perry. Yet, not one member of the Texas Supreme Court recused themselves from his case. In a close 5-4 decision, the Texas Court disallowed the arbitration award and sent it to trial in 2008. I am sure this is the only Texas case that has ever gone to arbitration but was overturned on appeal in the past ten years.
So, yes, Bob and Jane Cull’s case then went to a jury, an actual trial in 2010. The Cull’s told the jury how the attic caved in and the foundation heaved and how Bob Perry refused to fix it. On March 1, 2010, the jury responded. They awarded the Cull’s $58 million, including $44 million in punitive damages. Bob Perry will surely appeal. He has already described this jury verdict as "jackpot justice."
The Cull’s originally bought their dream home, their planned retirement home in 1996. Now, in 2010, with years more for appeals, they will not get their home fixed anytime soon. But, this "jackpot justice" jury award will surely help them if Bob Perry decides to discuss settlement.