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Springs to appeal Blind Maker ruling

Springs' Window Fashions division last week said it would file an appeal to a Texas civil court judgment awarding $7.3 million to The Blind Maker Inc. for commercial fraud.

The verdict was handed up by a Travis County District Court jury after a three-week trial and included a $2 million offset against the plaintiff for failing to make required payments for inventory and equipment while it was part of Springs' Preferred Fabricator Program. The Blind Maker had been selling Springs' products, in particular, Graber window fashions, since 1983 and was its largest fabricator and distributor, buying as much as $19 million in goods from the company, according to the complaint.

According to Ray Hicks, president of The Blind Maker, the case was "a bad end to a good relationship."

"I regretted that," Hicks said in a telephone interview. "I wanted it to continue in an amicable manner, but unfortunately it had to end in a hostile manner. It was not anything we wanted to do."

Earlier efforts to settle the case were unsuccessful, Hicks said.

According to Ted Matthews, vp of corporate communications for the Fort Mill, SC-based home textiles company, Springs will appeal.

"First, there was no judgment issued in that case, which means that the judge has not issued an opinion on the jury's verdict. The second point to consider is we believe there are some inconsistencies in the jury's verdict and as a result we think there may be cause for the judge to find that there needs to be a new trial. We are going to file the appropriate documents with the court to pursue that," Matthews said.

The Blind Maker currently carries the Levelor line with sales approaching $28 million, according to Hicks.

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