Friday, May 27, 2011

Findings in Hanks case disputed

Architectural firm says it did not admit fault in earlier settlement

Express Staff Writer

An owner of the Texas-based Lake Flato architectural firm disputes findings released by the American Arbitration Association last weekend that cited design flaws as the cause of construction problems at the home of actor Tom Hanks north of Ketchum.

In November, a settlement was reached between Lake Flato and Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, that resulted in the firm's paying the couple $900,000. The settlement was reached after one day of an arbitration hearing held that month in Ketchum.

However, David Lake, a principal in the company, said Wednesday that "the settlement in the case in no way represents that Lake Flato was responsible for faulty design." Lake said a confidentiality agreement between the parties precludes him from discussing specifics of the settlement.

Lake Flato, which is headquartered in San Antonio, was not allowed as a participant in a separate arbitration hearing held in Ketchum in April between Hanks and Wilson and Ketchum contractor Storey Construction, the home builder. In that case, Hanks and Wilson were seeking $3 million from Storey Construction, alleging that problems at the home were also caused by construction defects,


On May 21, a panel of three arbitrators ruled in favor of Storey Construction and declined to award Hanks and Wilson any financial compensation. Instead, the arbitrators found that problems at the home were attributable to design errors that did not take into account the cold winter climate of the Sun Valley area.

The $12 million vacation home, consisting of a main house and three guest cottages, was completed in 2002. Problems that surfaced later included leaking roofs, inadequate drainage, fireplaces that did not vent properly and an inadequate air-conditioning system.

Sometimes described as a "villa," the home was built to resemble a church camp that Hanks attended as a child.

"It's unfortunate that after a 10-year relationship with a client like this one, the courts were part of the process," Lake said.

Terry Smith:

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