A jury has ordered a Houston welding company to pay $30 million for starting a fire that burned 74 condominiums in Galveston.
The jury of nine women and three men deliberated less than three hours Friday before delivering a verdict against subcontractor Adam's Welders, plaintiff's attorney Tony Buzbee said. The verdict came after a five-day trial before state District Judge Kerry Neves
Buzbee represented 42 condominium owners in the 164-unit complex and the Maravilla Homeowners Association Inc.
The condominium owners reached a confidential settlement two days into the trial with the other defendant, prime contractor Hudak & Dawson Construction Co. Inc. of Gadsden, Ala., for the June 3, 2009, fire, Buzbee said.
The lawsuit accused the welding company of starting the five-alarm fire at 95th and Seawall while making repairs to damages caused by Hurricane Ike in September 2008.
Buzbee said the verdict sent a message to out-of-town contractors, many of whom were accused of taking advantage of island residents after the storm. "Don't sell us a bill of goods and don't lie to us," Buzbee said.
David Brothers, attorney for Adam's Welders, said his client has a $100,000 insurance policy and few assets. "This is an independent welder who has a small solo business in Houston," Brothers said. "No matter how big that judgment is, all he has is the same $100,000 he has offered since day one." He said his client might appeal.
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