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Bacara Resort & Spa Owners Claiming $300 million in Civil Lawsuit;
Allege Construction Building Defects, Over 1 million
 Pages of Evidence

By Frank Nelson, Santa Barbara News-Press, Calif.
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

Feb. 8, 2005 - The lumbering civil lawsuit involving owners of the Bacara Resort & Spa and a host of companies involved in building and insuring the five-star luxury hideaway has been pushed back almost another four months.

During a case management conference in the Santa Barbara Superior Court last week, more than two years after the case first surfaced, the long-held trial date of June 1 was jettisoned and replaced by a starting date of Sept. 26.

The parties previously had squabbled over the June date, which some felt should be earlier while others doubted even that deadline was possible. Some still think a September timeline is unrealistic given the huge amount of depositions and other preparation that remains to be done.

Judge James Brown, the man charged with keeping this legal juggernaut on the rails, has set aside 40 trial days though again some parties have argued that the court may need twice that long.

The case centers on alleged building defects at the sprawling clifftop resort near Goleta, the apportionment of blame among numerous construction-related companies, and consequent alleged refusals to honor insurance obligations.

The resort began opening in late 2000, and the owners allege that buildings soon began showing signs of damage, weakness and decay, the result, they say, of exposure to rain and bad weather during construction.

They are claiming around $300 million to cover the cost of repairs and compensate for lost business, an action that has provoked fierce defense and sparked counter-claims from a number of other parties.

The final phase of destructive testing at the resort is due to finish in two weeks. Reports will then have to be written, witnesses interviewed and experts examined, a process expected to add considerably to the more than 1 million pages of evidence already generated by the case.

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