Former Houston Astros legend first baseman Jeff Bagwell testified in court about a landscaping “catastrophe” involving a drainage ditch, as the lawyer for his landscaping contractor asked questions about an outstanding bill of roughly $166,000.
The contractor, Kevin Gruber, had become friendly with Bagwell after his company did a ton of work for Bagwell. This included putting in a basketball court, volleyball court, stone walls, thousands of flowers and dozens of 30-foot magnolia trees at his Hunter Creek Village property.
But according to Bagwell, everything came to a head over two ditches.
So What Happened
The ex-slugger admitted that his property looked “badass” as work was nearing completion in late 2015. But he was concerned about how long it was taking and appalled at the mounting cost for a ditch in his front yard.
“Every time I saw Kevin I would ask about, ‘When is this going to be over?’ Because I’m tired of paying this kind of money, and he would say, ‘It’s almost done,’” Bagwell said. “I was disgusted about everything that was going on. I was very angry then and very angry now.”
The “catastrophe” recalled in several hours of testimony included coming back from a vacation to discover that work crews had dug out an additional 3 yards of ditch along the front of his house that Bagwell hadn’t requested. After the digging, nine to ten trees planted near the ditch died. It has been assumed that this was related to the widening of the ditch.
When all was said and done, Bagwell paid $1.3 million, but the contractor contends that the amount doesn’t include the last invoices for $166,000.
In the Middle of a Trial
A civil jury will make the final call on whether the landscaper overcharged the Hall of Famer or did Bagwell stiff him on the bill.
In a series of texts shared with jurors, Bagwell sounded exasperated.
He texted the contractor in December of 2015 and said, “I’m not paying these ridiculous bills! This far going overboard! This ditch is billed over 500 thousand! This classic taking advantage of people that have money! Your labor, architect fees, supervision! I’m tired of this!”
He testified that he fired the contractor when he saw “the useless amount of money that I was charged.”
Bagwell told the court he was overseeing a lot of work on his property and he wasn’t in the habit of scrutinizing the fine print of the bills contractors sent.
David Fettner, the contractor’s attorney, said that Bagwell’s timing in cutting off funds for Gruber’s work was not a coincidence.
“He basically waited for it to be done and then he fired him,” Fettner said. The case continues as for now and we will see how it turns out.
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