Silver Springs airport land battle goes to Supreme Court
April 15, 2003
The Nevada Supreme Court took under submission Monday a battle over whether a Las Vegas developer was cheated out of a land deal by Silver Springs Airport manager Hale Bennett.
John Hui of J.J. Industries won a nearly $1 million judgment against Bennett; his wife, Kay; and Norman and Cheryle Kaye, who own the 152-acre parcel at the east end of the Silver Springs airport. He said the Kayes were in escrow to sell him the land for $152,000 when the Bennetts made them a better offer of $250,000.
A Yerington jury agreed in 1999, and awarded Hui $598,000 damages from the Kayes, plus $336,000 from the Bennetts.
They appealed to the high court, saying it was, at worst, an innocent error, not an intentional interference with the existing contract.
Hui’s lawyer Glade Hall told the high court Monday the Bennetts gave the district court “an obviously contrived story.”
“It was shot through with provable lies,” he said.
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Hall said the Bennetts had to know the property was already in escrow when they made an offer, and that the Kayes certainly knew they already had a deal with Hui.
Robert Eisenberg, attorney for the Bennetts, argued they were told the deal had fallen through with Hui. And he argued there was no justification in the record for the huge punitive-damage award.
“It boils down to a case where no logic and no evidence supports the verdict against Hale Bennett,” he said. “The jury manifestly disregarded the jury instructions.”
Hui has said he would put a small mall and industrial space on the property, if he owned it. The Bennetts say they need the property for “clear space” at the end of the runway and for its eventual expansion at the Silver Springs airport.
Kay Bennett was a Carson City supervisor from 1988 through 2000.