Rose Grady, a western Iowa woman who owned the Prevost motor coach, claimed her ex-boyfriend John Kyreakakis and bus salesman Robert Dingle took it without her consent when she was out-of-state getting cancer treatment in 2005.
She hired a private investigator to try to find the missing bus, which she and Kyreakakis had used to travel the country before they split up, and reported it stolen to authorities in Harrison County. Grady thought Kyreakakis was either living in the bus or storing it somewhere and demanded he buy it or return it.
Grady was irate in January 2006 when she saw the bus featured on the ABC show, which is known for host Ty Pennington's catchphrase "Move that bus!" to reveal a family's new home at the end of episode each. She called ABC and eventually learned the bus had been sold for $740,000 to the owners of Diamond Coach, a Tennessee company that leases it to the show.
One of the buyers testified that Dingle told them they were selling the bus in May 2005 because Grady had died, which wasn't true.
"She was alive and kicking," said her attorney, Warren L. Bush. "She just didn't know where her damn bus was. She kept looking for it even though she was dying from cancer. Then she sees it on `Extreme Makeover' and says ... `They thought I was going to be dead and they thought they'd get away with it."'
Bush said he believes the bus is still the one featured on the hit show, which involves building or renovating homes for families who are undergoing hardship. Diamond Coach President Kylee Ervin did not immediately return a phone message.
Grady died in 2006. Her brother, James Grady, now owns the company his sister created to buy the bus free of sales tax and filed a lawsuit in 2007 against Kyreakakis and Dingle to recover the money. Bush traced the proceeds of the sale to a bank account for a company created in Panama and linked to Kyreakakis.
A jury ordered the estate of Kyreakakis, who died in 2008, to pay back $375,000 for what Grady would have gotten from the sale of the bus. But a judge dismissed Dingle from the case, saying Grady had given him permission to sell the bus in an email message in March 2005. In the email, Grady told Dingle that she was considering selling the bus for at least $750,000 and wanted his thoughts. Dingle testified Grady gave him permission to sell in subsequent telephone calls.
But the Iowa Court of Appeals on Thursday ruled that dismissing Dingle from the case was a mistake and the jury should have decided whether his testimony was credible. The court cited "substantial evidence" that indicated Dingle and Kyreakakis may have conspired to sell the bus.
Dingle did not participate in the appeal and a phone number for him in Lady Lake, Fla., could not be found.
Bush said he was pleased to get another chance to recover money.
"Dingle probably doesn't have any money, but I'm going to try it against him anyway," Bush said. "The judge never in a million years should have directed him out of this thing."