Perry Homes Blames Elm Grove Flood Victims

In a court document filed today, Perry Homes LLC has answered Elm Grove flood victims and says the damages suffered by flood victims were their own fault.

Last month, lawyers for flood victims named Perry Homes LLC as an additional defendant. (Previously, only Perry’s subsidiaries and contractors had been named as defendants.)

Today, Perry Homes filed its “original answer” to the defendants’ claims in Harris County’s 234th Judicial District Court. Perry’s answer is anything but original. Not one of the twenty “cut and paste” defenses mentions anything specific to the case. And many blame the victims for their own damages.

Hopes and dreams of many Elm Grove families were dragged to the curb twice in 2019. This home was blocks from Taylor Gully. It flooded when sheet flow from Perry Homes’ property entered the streets of Elm Grove.

Perry Homes Asserts Claims Not True

Perry Homes is asking the Court to enter a judgment and let the Plaintiffs take nothing. The company claims plaintiffs’ allegations are not true and has issued a general denial.

In addition, Perry claims that:

  • Plaintiffs’ damages are a result of pre-existing conditions.
  • Damages resulted from an act of God.
  • Damages resulted from independent causes for which Defendant is not legally responsible
  • Damages were caused by acts, omissions, or negligence of third parties over which Defendant had no control
  • Plaintiffs shared the fault and therefore Perry shouldn’t be held wholly responsible.
  • Plaintiffs claims should be barred because Perry acted with care and complied with all laws.
  • Plaintiffs’ claims should be barred because plaintiffs somehow failed to mitigate their own damages (presumably decades before the damages occurred).
  • Plaintiffs have not fulfilled all conditions necessary to maintain the lawsuit.
  • Plaintiffs’ recovery, if any, should be subject to the one-satisfaction rule. (Under Texas law, the one-satisfaction rule states that a plaintiffs can only recover damages once. For instance they can’t recover total damages from Perry and then again from LJA Engineering, which was also named as an additional defendant).
  • Plaintiffs’ claim for pre-judgment interest is limited by the dates and amounts set forth in Chapter 304 of the Texas Finance Code. (The law specifies that the prejudgment interest rate is equal to the post-judgment interest rate applicable at the time of judgment. It also specifies that interest may not compound and when interest charges may start.)
  • Even if Perry is found to be at fault, damages should be limited according to Chapter 41 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code. Chapter 41 specifies standards of proof for exemplary damages.
  • Again, even if they are at fault, Perry should not be fined for exemplary or punitive damages. Exemplary and punitive damages, they claim, violate:
    • The Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution
    • Article 1, Sections 3 and 19 of the Texas Constitution
    • Due process and equal protection under the law

In regard to the last point, Perry Homes makes no mention of the laws that allow exemplary or punitive damages. Nor do they reference cases that point to standards of proof for exemplary or punitive damages.

For the complete text of Perry Homes’ “Original Answer,” click here.

Pleads “Further and In the Alternative” Thirteen Times

The lack of specificity in Perry Homes’ filing makes it difficult to decipher what the claims actually mean. However, Perry uses the phrase, “Pleading further, and in the alternative, and without waiving the foregoing…” 13 times. Basically that means, “If the judge or jury won’t buy X, we still reserve the right to plead Y.”

This is more than a shotgun defense; it’s a blunderbuss defense. But why would lawyers who get paid $1000/hour want to get to the point, tip their hand, or limit their client’s options?

Victim Blaming At Its Finest

There’s an undercurrent of victim blaming in much of Perry Homes’ points.

Perry subsidiaries have previously claimed that many Elm Grove homes were in the floodplain. Claiming victims should have somehow prevented flooding in homes that were built 40 years earlier – when they never flooded until Perry clearcut land immediately upstream from them – is the height of chutzpah.

I use that term in the sense of “brazenness” or “audacity.”

It’s like pleading that the shooting victim was at fault because he failed to get out of the way of the gunshot.

It ignores the fact that someone pulled a trigger. Collectively, Perry, its subsidiaries and contractors violated Section 9.2 of the Montgomery County Drainage Criteria Manual.

Section 9.2 states that “Pursuant to the official policy for Montgomery County, development will not be allowed in a manner which will increase the frequency or severity of flooding in areas that are currently subject to flooding or which will cause areas to flood which were not previously subject to flooding.”

Perry Homes’ victim blaming shows how Perry now thinks. Their bizarre logic – and the hollow claim that they followed all laws – explain a lot about why Elm Grove flooded. Perry today is a far cry from the company that Bob Perry founded in 1968.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 7/13/2020

1049 Days since Hurricane Harvey and 298 since Imelda

The thoughts expressed in this post represent opinions on matters of public concern and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.