The Sapphire is a 32-story condominium complex on South Padre Island that suffered extensive damage when Hurricane Dolly came ashore in the summer of 2008. The Sapphire’s developer (“Developer”) filed suit against the Sapphire’s architect, general contractor G.T. Leach Builders, LLC (“G.T. Leach”), and subcontractors, alleging that the Sapphire was not properly secured in the days preceding the storm. The Developer sought $30 million in damages.
After the Developer filed suit in South Texas, G.T. Leach moved to compel arbitration, per the terms of the underlying construction contract. Both the District Court in South Texas and the U.S. Court of Appeals in Corpus Christi, however, denied G.T. Leach’s request. The appellate court ordered G.T. Leach and its subcontractors to return to the District Court in South Texas. Things weren’t looking good.
Soon thereafter West Mermis took over G.T. Leach’s defense. West Mermis immediately appealed the appellate court’s ruling to the Texas Supreme Court. In a now-famous opinion, the Texas Supreme Court ruled in G.T. Leach’s favor and held that G.T. Leach could compel arbitration.
Our clients understand that when there’s no room for error, they can turn to West Mermis. And our track record shows that we’ve delivered, time and time again.” – Lawrence J. West
G.T. Leach Builders, LLC vs. Sapphire V.P., L.P. 458 S.W.3d 502 (Tex., 2015) was a landmark case, and one that today is the law of the land in Texas. While the case has had a profound impact on how Texas courts interpret arbitration provisions, for G.T. Leach it meant that it could finally begin arbitration proceedings with the Developer without having to return to the District Court in South Texas. It wasn’t the end of the case, but it was the beginning of the end for the Developer.
In the wake of the Texas Supreme Court’s ruling, the Developer settled with the architect and subcontractors. But G.T. Leach elected to fight and defend itself. After years of delays, arbitration took place in December 2017 in Houston. West Mermis came prepared. The trial team, led by Lawrence J. West, presented evidence proving that the Developer’s allegations of multiple breach of contract claims were unsupported. They demonstrated that the contract contained express provisions that prevented the Developer from recovering the $30 million it was demanding.
When the dust settled, the Arbitrator delivered a full defense award and the Developer collected nothing. A legal battle that had raged nearly 10 years finally came to a close. G.T. Leach, with West Mermis’ steadfast resolve, prevailed.
Construction cases don’t get any more high-stakes than this. And not only were we able to win at the Texas Supreme Court, but with $30 million on the line, G.T. Leach Builders walked away with a full defense award when we took the case to arbitration.” – Lawrence J. West
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