It has been a long road for Mr. and Mrs. Cull. Here are the facts of the case:
In 1996, the Culls bought a home from home builder Perry Homes and warranties from Home Owners Multiple Equity, Inc. and Warranty Underwriters Insurance Company. In 2000, the Culls sued the warranty companies over problems with their house foundation and construction. They claimed that their home had defects that caused its appraised value to plummet from more than $233,000 when they bought it in 1996 to $41,000 by 2001.
Days before the case was scheduled for trial, however, the Culls moved to compel arbitration (pursuant to an arbitration clause in their warranty agreement). This was 14 months after the suit. The trial court reluctantly granted the motion to compel arbitration in December 2001. So, the case was submitted to arbitration.
After a year in arbitration, on December 24, 2002, the arbitrator awarded the Culls $800,000, including restitution of the purchase price of their home ($242,759), mental anguish ($200,000), exemplary damages ($200,000), and attorney’s fees ($110,000).
After the arbitrator found for the Culls, Perry Homes and the other defendants claimed that the couple had waived their right to arbitrate and resisted confirmation of the award. The district and appellate courts ruled against Perry Homes. Perry Homes appealed the judgment to the Texas Supreme Court.
In 2008 the Texas Supreme Court ruled in favor of Perry Homes and vacated the arbitral award. Perry Homes, et al. v. Robert E. Cull and S. Jane Cull. (find our discussion of the case here) The case made the headlines (read more here and here) because rarely do arbitration awards get vacated and all Texas Supreme Court Justices had received campaign contributions from Perry Homes. So, the case was sent back to the court system.
On March 1, 2010 a 236th district court jury (in Fort Worth, Texas) awarded the Culls more than $58 million in damages, including $44 million in punitive damages. Cull and Cull v. Perry Homes, et al. (read more here, hereand here). So, the case was sent to court-ordered mediation.
In mid-March, 2010 the mediation post-verdict failed and no settlement was reached between the Culls and the companies. (read more here) The next step is a hearing to enter the judgment. At the time of this writing, the case has not been appealed.
Stay tuned to Disputing for more updates on this case.