David Booth - Mattress Delivery - Fancy Art - Lawsuit

  • Found this story last week here in Austin. Oh to have such problems!

    Falling mattress + fancy art = litigation

    Posted: 6:00 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014 By Ken Herman - American-Statesman Staff

    You’ve seen the ads, you know the deal: If you don’t buy a new mattress every few weeks something bad will happen to you, something like creepy crawlers creepy crawling up your nose during sleep or other bedcentric activities.

    But bad things also can happen if you do buy a new mattress. Austinites David and Suzanne Booth found that out the hard way. So says a lawsuit.

    Let’s meet the Booths. He’s co-founder/co-CEO of Dimensional Fund Advisors, which manages $378 billion for investors and strives “to add value over benchmarks and peers through an integrated and flexible approach that considers the interactions among premiums, market frictions and costs.” Sounds like it involves math.

    Forbes magazine this year named Booth as Austin’s third billionaire, joining computer guru Michael Dell and hair-goo guru John Paul DeJoria.

    The Booths are major philanthropists. The University of Chicago Booth School of Business is so named because the Booths gave it $300 million in 2008. (It’s his grad school alma mater.) They founded Friends of Heritage Preservation, which selects projects for restoration. See its impressive work at fohpinfo.org.

    In 2010, the Booths paid $4.3 million for basketball inventor James Naismith’s original 1891 rules of the game. The rules are displayed at the University of Kansas, where Naismith coached and David Booth graduated.

    Now to the Booths’ new mattress, ordered for them in June 2013 from Wildflower Organics (where you can now get the Keetsa Tea Leaf Dream for $2,098 or the Royal-Pedic Latex 7-zone Quilt Top for $4,149. Call Gunnar at 888-760-5856.)

    Delivery was by Elephant Moving (and no, the mattress was not delivered in a trunk, and this is my column so keep your jokes to yourself) on Aug. 5, 2013, according to the lawsuit, which notes a “wide winding staircase” was involved.

    All went well until it didn’t.

    “While defendant Elephant Moving’s employees and/or independent contractors carried the mattress up the stairs to the second floor,” says the lawsuit, “the mattress shifted position and struck a valuable oil on canvas painting by a reputable artist, Ellsworth Kelly, that was hanging on the wall, causing it to fall and hit another piece of fine art, a wall sculpture by John McCracken. Both pieces of art fell to the first floor and sustained damages as herein set forth.”

    Alas, we are not told whether either Booth was home to see the action. “Mr. Booth is unavailable,” his spokesman Adam Martin said in response to my request to speak to Booth. We are left to assume a transcript of the mattress delivery would look like this: CRASH “#*&%#!”

    If you’re laughing now, if you’re even smiling about other people’s travails, you’re a bad human and I’m initiating proceedings to have your voting rights revoked.

    The lawsuit was filed by Federal Insurance Co., which covered the Booths, is paying their claim and now wants to collect from Elephant Moving. The suit says the painting is worth $1.35 million and the sculpture goes for $225,000.

    There’s nothing in the suit about how the mattress fared. Maybe Gunnar knows.

    The suit said Federal Insurance has paid for the sculpture damage (Brief pause for limited audience reference. Overheard at repair shop when this sculpture was fixed: “Release the McCracken!”) and is awaiting final word on the cost of the damage to the painting.

    The Elephant folks, according to the lawsuit, failed to “properly and adequately plan, inspect, oversee, transport, deliver, carry and place the mattress using safe methods and to protect against damage to the Booth home and personal property during delivery.”

    Elephant Moving sales manager Joanna Levi said she was unaware of the lawsuit and “vaguely” recalled the incident, which she said happened because the customers failed to clear the way for the delivery. The deliverers, she said, “may have brushed a picture off a wall.”

    So add this to life’s difficult choices: Live with the creepy crawlies in your old mattress or put your high-dollar art collection at risk.

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