Settlement Talks Bring Halt to Wortman-Ferguson Dispute After 3 Days of Testimony

by George Waldon  on Monday, Feb. 7, 2011 12:00 am  

"Defendants should be careful what they wish for, because if a viewing of Plaintiffs' home is practical and appropriate, then a viewing of Ferguson's own home and other houses is equally practical and appropriate," the Wortmans' lawyers responded.

Ferguson's home in Valley Falls Estates and others are built with pre-cast stone.

Stories have circulated that Steve Wortman made an unsuccessful attempt to turn the dispute into a class-action lawsuit by recruiting other Valley Falls Estates neighbors.


Strained Relationship

Steve Wortman's relationship with Ferguson was strained even before his March 2008 move into the house that has generated so much contention.

According to Wortman's testimony, he asked Joe White of White-Daters & Associates Engineering of Little Rock to introduce him to Ferguson in 2001, and Ferguson quickly became "a good customer" of Kaufman Lumber.

The two were never social friends - "We didn't ... eat dinner together or go out at night or anything like that," Wortman testified - but their business dealings became more and more intertwined.

In 2002, Ferguson began construction on a house for the Wortmans on Valley Creek View in Valley Falls Estates. The next year, Wortman joined Ferguson on the local advisory board of Arvest Bank, but the circumstances that led to that appointment are in dispute.

In an Aug. 19 deposition, Ferguson said Wortman "expressed an interest in [joining the bank board]. And so I had asked Ron Strother [then chairman of Arvest's central Arkansas operations] and Jim Walton [chairman and CEO of Arvest Bank Group] if there was a place ... for him."

Wortman's recollection on the witness stand Jan. 25 was different. "I think Ron Strother had asked Mr. Ferguson to ask me if I would be interested in filling that position ... ."

In 2004, shortly after the Wortmans' first Valley Falls home was completed, Wortman bought three lots in the Waterview Estates subdivision that "he was trying to get off the ground" near Lake Maumelle.



Please read our comments policy before commenting.