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Political moneyman Bob Perry ordered to pay $51 million
March 1, 2010

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.

Written by Wayne Slater, Dallas Morning News

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.

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