Tom Hanks loses construction dispute

KETCHUM, ID Following the decision, a lawyer for the construction company said it will seek monetary damages from Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, for what it alleges was "abuse of process" for filing the second arbitration request.

Fifth District Court Judge Robert Elgee ruled late last week that the dispute between Hanks and Storey Construction Inc. had already been decided in 2004 when the American Arbitration Association ruled in favor of Storey and awarded the company $1.85 million in unpaid contract balance, interest and legal fees.

In November, Hanks and Wilson filed the second arbitration request, alleging "latent" construction defects had been discovered. Elgee rejected that request.

"The judge essentially ruled that they had their chance in the prior arbitration," Miles Stanislaw, a Ketchum attorney representing Storey, told the Idaho Mountain Express. "So unlike the movies where you get to do it over again, in Blaine County you don't get a do-over if you don't like the results the first time around."

New York public relations firm 42 West, which represents Hanks and Wilson, issued a statement saying an appeal is likely by Sun Valley Trust, the company listed as the owner of the property.

"The court ruled against Sun Valley Trust, but also admitted that its decision was harsh," John Hanover, an attorney with Los Angeles-based Peckar and Abramson, said in the statement. "Idaho law in this technical area is not clearly established and everyone, including the judge, knew that this issue was headed for the Idaho Court of Appeals regardless of how Thursday's hearing turned out. We think that the right result here is for my clients' case to be heard and decided on its merits, and we trust that the Court of Appeals will ultimately agree."

"I am happy that this nightmare is finally over," Gary Storey, owner of Storey Construction, said in a statement. "This ongoing harassment from Hanks and Wilson has put tremendous stress on me, my family and my business."

Stanislaw, in the same statement, said Storey Construction will seek monetary damages from Hanks and Wilson.

"Damages are potentially in the millions since Idaho law allows for the award of punitive damages against those who use the legal system for spiteful or improper purposes," Stanislaw said.

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