Idaho Supreme Court sides with Hanks

Kathy Woods Oct. 2, 2009, 10:20am

Tom Hanks

BOISE, Idaho (Legal Newsline)-The Idaho Supreme Court this week ordered a second arbitration in the construction case actor Tom Hanks and his wife brought against a construction company.

The unanimous ruling was handed down Wednesday. It has been a seven year battle with Storey Construction and Hanks and his wife, actor and producer Rita Wilson.

Hanks and Wilson had hired Storey Construction to build their expansive Sun Valley, Idaho, villa back in 2000. The dispute began in 2004, with an argument over payment.

As required in the contract Storey Construction sought arbitration. Hanks and Wilson responded with a counter-claim saying the company did substandard and defective work. Storey Construction won the arbitration and the counter-suit was thrown out.

Hanks and Wilson ended up paying the balance of the contract, interest and legal fees to the tune of $1.85 million.

Three years later, the couple once again filed for a second arbitration claiming the defects and poor workmanship was not immediately noticeable. They claimed there were defects totaling $2.5 million in damages.

Storey Construction sued in the District Court saying that the prior arbitration barred the couple from bringing another lawsuit for shoddy work.

The Supreme Court agreed with the couple, saying that the first arbitration only dealt with defects that they were aware of at the time not defects that were discovered after the first arbitration.

Miles Stanislaw, the attorney for Storey Construction, said about the decision: "The important thing about the decision is that it made absolutely no finding that there was any work done incompetently by Storey Construction. What this is a seven year saga that is the product of a vendetta. If Tom Hanks and Mr. Storey sat in the same room together, this would be over in a week, but unfortunately Mr. Hanks has never shown up at any of the proceedings in the past seven years."

In a prepared statement, Hanks and Wilson said: "We believe the Supreme Court's decision will have an impact far beyond our case, helping homeowners who have been wronged in ways that remain hidden long after their home has been built. Like anyone else in the same position, we simply wanted Storey Construction to reimburse us for what we have spent fixing shoddy and defective construction."

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