Lennar Homes and their attorneys, Mike Lee of Munsch Hardt, were not to be trusted in settlement negotiations the way settlement negotiationsare normally and usually accomplished. It is common and ordinary for attorneys to make settlement proposals and respond not by saying yes, but by making counter-offers. If an attorney or party is serious that they will not entertain any additional offers, they communicate that. What happened with Lennar Texas Holding Company, the general partner of all Lennar operations in Texas, was that they made an offer to repair two homes, owned by homeowners in Crowley, Texas (A suburb of Fort Worth) along with a cash offer to a total of four homeowners. They set a deadline for acceptance BUT never did they communicate that any counter offer or attempt to squeeze a better settlement would count as a rejection of the offer set with the deadline for acceptance. In legal settlements, a counter-offer is virtually NEVER considered a rejection and the deal is over. In fact, the opposite is actually true. A party can haggle, counter, demand and make all sorts of attempts to change the deal and after its attempts are made - the deal that is set to the deadline is still available.
What is more true is that parties and lawyers never count all of that haggling and counter-offering as a rejection, but they will stick to the deadline imposed. In other words, you can take the offer by the end and in between, you can do whatever you want, but if you don't take it by the deadline, you don't get the deal. That is the way it is in personal injury litigation, civil litigation, real estate litigation, commercial litigation and residential construction litigation.
In the case with LENNAR, they chose to "change their minds" after the deal was accepted. I have asked them to explain why they did this and I have not received a response to date. I have received a letter from LENNAR'S attorneys advising me that I would be sued for these remarks if I did not remove them from my blog. I have offered LENNAR the chance to rebut what I have said and I have not received their offering yet.
The attorney, Mike Lee of Munsch Hardt in Dallas, offered to make repairs to the homes of the Hansons and the Steeles, then retracted the offer. In fact, through numerous settlement negotiations, Lennar Texas Holding Co., made several offers to the Hansons and Steeles at mediation as in writing. Then, once the Steeles and Hansons agreed to Lennar's offer, Lenner reneged on the offer and refused to honor their commitments indicating through their attorney, Mike Lee, that the "business office had changed their minds". When pressed for an explanation, Lennar and Lee simply said the "business office changed their minds."
Subsequently, the Judge, Bonnie Sudderth, ordered the case to mediation for a second time where Lennar Homes continued to refuse to live by their word and offer. Attorney Mike Lee of Munsch Hardt then argued that Lennar no longer owed any responsibility to make repairs despite the fact they had been offering to make repairs for months if not years.
In fact, in a house defects case, builders routinely reiterate over and over that they simply want to "fix the house" that they could not build correctly in the first place. At the second mediation, however, Lennar and its attorney, Mike Lee, took the position that they no longer owed any legal duty to repair the houses and would not make any repairs. This was based on Lennar's view of a ruling that is in dispute before Judge Bonnie Sudderth. Lennar has elected to rely on a legal technicality that they have little to no chance of winning to deny the homeowner the chance to even repair the house with the repairs Lennar has reviewed and previously offered to repair. These repairs are under a warranty issued by Lennar.
The moral of the story is that Lennar's word is as good as their homes...