Texas Couple Wins $51 Million for Defective $250,000 House

It's all up to the judge now: a Texas couple who won a $51 million verdict against a major homebuilder on March 3 is awaiting word on whether they will be able to keep any of that award.

The builder, Houston-based Bob Perry, first tried to have the record-breaking verdict thrown out. Now the homeowner, Bob Cull of Mansfield, Texas, says his case is in legal purgatory with caps and multipliers that could limit the award. Ultimately, a district court judge will render a judgment.

"But I'm sure Perry will appeal," says Cull, which will make his decade-long battle even longer.

The lawsuit has carried the retirement-age couple through the courts, arbitration and all the way to the Texas Supreme Court. Though they've won every round, their home is still defective and both sides have spent substantial money on legal fees for a $233,730 home. Van Shaw, the Cull's Dallas-based attorney, says Perry Homes has spent well over a million in legal fees. The Culls have spent more than $100,000 in hard legal expenses.

"I'm a conservative, " says Bob Cull. "Bob Perry and I probably vote alike. But I see this system not being functional any longer for the average, hardworking American."

The Tarrant County, Texas verdict awarded Bob and Jane Cull of Mansfield, Texas $51 million in damages for a 2,800-square-foot home they bought from Perry Homes in 1996 on a golf course southwest of Fort Worth. The home showed post-tension slab-on-grade-foundation problems shortly after they closed.

In 1999 cracks appeared in the foundation. That's when the Culls first told Perry they were a little nervous about their home.

Leaves and critters came in the house due to poor-fitting doors; roof supports came loose in the attic; fissures appeared in the walls and tiles. Engineers said the home's foundation was defective, even those from the warranty company contracted by Perry Homes.