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ABC Special Report
Investigation: New Home Heartbreak
Trump - NAHB Homebuilders Shoddy Construction and Forced Arbitration
Austin Statesman - Sandra Bullock Trial
Friday, 15 October 2004

                                     
Sandra Bullock the homeowner gets her happy ending
Envelope, please… It’s Sandra
By Claire Osborn
AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
October 15, 2004
After four years of maintaining a house she couldn't live in, months of legal wrangling with the builder and seven weeks of tedious testimony in a cramped Travis County courtroom, actress Sandra Bullock finally got her happy ending. Jurors overwhelmingly decided Thursday that local home builder Benny Daneshjou and his associates owe Bullock an estimated $7 million for shoddy construction of a 10,000-square-foot home overlooking Lake Austin.. Major flaws experts found: 
Incorrect roof  framing
Defective or missing flashing, which caused water leaks
Faulty construction of windows and doors
Torn or missing waterproof membrane under masonry
Source: construction, architectural and engineering experts for Bullock who testified during trial

Sandra Bullock the homeowner gets her happy ending
Envelope, please… It’s Sandra
Jury: Home builder over billed on house
By Claire Osborn
AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
October 15, 2004After four years of maintaining a house she couldn't live in, months of legal wrangling with the builder and seven weeks of tedious testimony in a cramped Travis County courtroom, actress Sandra Bullock finally got her happy ending.

Jurors overwhelmingly decided Thursday that local home builder Benny Daneshjou and his associates owe Bullock an estimated $7 million for shoddy construction of a 10,000-square-foot home overlooking Lake Austin.

Bullock, who was in Los Angeles on Thursday wrapping up postproduction of "Miss Congeniality II," missed the verdict, but offered this statement through her lawyer:

"I felt firmly committed to see this process through to a just conclusion, no matter what the outcome, especially for all those homeowners who could never afford to come this far."

Daneshjou -- who has been accused in other lawsuits and by another homeowner who testified during the trial of questionable business practices -- said he was disappointed with the verdict and is planning an appeal.

During nearly five days of deliberations, jurors attempted to answer 48 questions.

They included: Whether Daneshjou had committed fraud (jurors say yes), and how much he owed Bullock and her father, John, for not building the house in accordance with the contract (jurors say more than $2.1 million in repairs).

The jury decided that Daneshjou had not violated federal racketeering laws, which the Bullocks' lawyers had suggested.

Daneshjou and his lawyer, Wade Jefferies, said that the jury didn't see all of the evidence, including testimony from an expert they hired who had concluded that the billing methods used were not fraudulent.

The Bullocks' lawyers did not have an exact figure for how much money the jury awarded to Bullock and her father, but estimated that it would total more than $7 million, with lawyers' fees.

According to court records, it appears that the figure could be as high as $8 million.

Jurors decided that Daneshjou's construction company, DCI, was responsible for 80 percent of the damages, Daneshjou 17 percent, and subcontractors -- King's Contracting, Wilberto Montiel and Ultimate Roofing/Raymond Sandoval/Roof Tech -- 1 percent each.

The verdict was signed by 11 members of the jury, with one juror, who was not available for comment, abstaining.

Construction on the house started in 1998 and stopped in 2000. The actress paid about $6.5 million for the house, which was never finished. Jurors decided Thursday that the home actually cost about $4 million to construct.

The legal problems began after Daneshjou sued the Bullocks in 2001, claiming that they had failed to pay some of the labor charges and architectural fees. Daneshjou also sued the former project manager, David Shrum, claiming Shrum was responsible for any construction flaws in the house because he was overseeing the project.

The Bullocks countersued.

During the trial, witnesses testified that the windows, doors, stonework and roof needed to be replaced because of faulty construction, which caused extensive leaking.

Daneshjou's lawyers argued that the repairs were needed because of mistakes by other people.

For the most part, jurors disagreed.

They did, however, find that Shrum failed to handle the day-to-day management of on-site operations, but his failure was excused because of the conduct of Daneshjou's company.

Shrum said he was glad that the trial was over.

"It's unfortunate that one man's actions can cause so much trouble for so many people," he said.

John Bullock, who lives in Austin, was present for the verdict. He said his daughter, who has another house in the city, will now decide whether to keep the

River Hills Road
estate.

"She loves the land. . . . It's a beautiful lot, and it's her decision now," he said.

Several jurors said after the verdict that Bullock's celebrity did not affect their decision.

One of the jurors, Tracie Singletary, said, "It doesn't matter who you are if you've got a bad house and want to see that justice is done."

This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it ; 445-3871

Major flaws experts found

  • Incorrect roof  framing

  • Defective or missing flashing, which caused water leaks

  • Faulty construction of windows and doors

  • Torn or missing waterproof membrane under masonry

Source: construction, architectural and engineering experts for Bullock who testified during trial

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