Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Is the Hanks-Storey saga finally over?

Judge confirms findings of home construction arbitration

Express Staff Writer

Gary Storey, the owner of Storey Construction, was in 5th District Court in Hailey on Monday to hear Judge Robert J. Elgee give judicial confirmation to the results of arbitration proceedings between Storey Construction and actor Tom Hanks. Photo by Willy Cook

Maybe the fat lady has finally sung in the long saga pitting actor Tom Hanks against Storey Construction of Ketchum.

On Monday in Blaine County 5th District Court, Judge Robert J. Elgee confirmed the results of an arbitration hearing, giving legal teeth to a finding that Storey Construction was not responsible for problems at the Hanks' vacation home north of Ketchum.

Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, filed a claim against the Ketchum company with the American Arbitration Association in 2007, alleging that Storey Construction built the home with "construction defects." Hanks and Wilson were seeking $3 million in damages.

Following a 10-day hearing in April, arbitrators in the case ruled in May on behalf of Storey Construction.

In a separate arbitration case, Hanks and Wilson settled in 2010 with the home designer, Lake Flato, of San Antonio, Texas. The couple received $900,000 from the company in a settlement in which Lake Flato did not admit to designing the home with an inadequate roof.

The Hanks-Storey squabble has been in and out of the courts for the past three and half years, as Storey Construction sought to block arbitration and Hanks and Wilson fought for a hearing.

In court Monday, the squabble continued, as attorneys for both sides argued about how to end the case. The Storey Construction side wanted a judgment against Hanks and Wilson confirming the arbitration result, while the Hanks side argued that all the issues had been settled in arbitration and the case should simply be dismissed.

Most of the parties made their court appearances via telephone hookup. The lone exception was Storey Construction owner Gary Storey, shorn of the ponytail he's worn for years.

In the end, Elgee gave Storey the decision he wanted, and a judgment was entered. Elgee's ruling effectively closes the case, unless Hanks and Wilson decide to appeal it.

Terry Smith:

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