Sandra Bullock's Texas House Trial Begins
08/20/2004 at 06:00 PM EDT
Sandra Bullock's Texas dream home quickly dissolved into a nightmare of "broken promises, broken dreams and failure to take responsibility," her attorney told a Travis County courtroom Friday in his opening statements in the actress's lawsuit against home developer M.B. "Benny" Daneshjou – who is countersuing for monies he claims the Miss Congeniality star still owes him.
Bullock, 40, wearing a brown knit top and gray flared slacks with brown pinstripes, sat with her legal team and her father, John Bullock, and remained expressionless during opening statements by Daneshjou's attorney Robert MacInnes, who called the case "a story about a broken relationship. The characters are Sandra Bullock, her father John Bullock, Benny Daneshjou and a mansion."
According to MacInnes, the actress originally signed an agreement in April 1997 to construct an approximately 5,500-sq.-ft. home. Because of "significant changes" in design, the house almost doubled in size. Construction began in 1998 and then was put on a fast track for completion so that Bullock could use it for her sister's wedding and for a "huge" millennium party, he said.
When construction began to take longer than anticipated, John Bullock became involved, MacInnes said, adding: "He threatened Benny and told him, 'You get that house built by the millennium party or you will never build another house again.'"
Bullock's attorney, Walter Mizell, countered that it was Daneshjou's concern about building his own house by 2000 that took him away from Bullock's project, so that by May 1999, the Bullocks became concerned by the lack of progress. Furthermore, said Mizell, a "multitude of problems" were found in the construction and that in the course of the case – which is expected to take between 30-40 days – experts will come to testify that, among other defects, the framing of the home is unsafe, the slate roof is leaky and the windows do not seal properly.
The Bullocks further allege that Daneshjou committed fraud through questionable billing practices. She is seeking damages for the approximately $4 million needed for repairs, as well as attorney's fees.