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Deion won't pay repair bill


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Deion Sanders sued over car bill

Athlete said Jesus told him what to pay, shop alleges; he denies it


By TERRI LANGFORD / The Dallas Morning News

Deion Sanders can afford a $12 million spread, but for more than a year, he's been fighting a $4,265.57 car repair bill.

The owner of the repair shop said the former Dallas Cowboys cornerback wanted to pay only $1,500 of the bill, saying that Jesus had informed him that was all he needed to pay.

"It's the 'Praise Jesus' discount," said Ed Edson, attorney for Phil Compton, the owner of the car repair business, who has been trying to collect the bill from Mr. Sanders since 2001.

Mr. Sanders, through court filings, says the allegations are untrue. His attorney, Edmund Gomez, did not return phone calls seeking comment.

On Monday, the suit goes to trial before state District Judge Joe Cox in Dallas County civil court.

The dispute began when Mr. Compton, owner of Magrathea Inc., tried to deliver the repaired 1961 Lincoln Continental convertible to the CBS sportscaster's home in Plano on Nov. 5, 2001.

A representative for Mr. Sanders, Anthony Montoya, had contacted Mr. Compton and told him the vehicle need to be towed to his shop for repairs. The car had been repaired before by Mr. Compton.

Mr. Compton's lawsuit states that he and his mechanics installed a new radiator and thermostat, flushed the engine, repaired the car's electrical system and various gauges, replaced the starter motor, removed contaminated fuel and rebuilt the carburetor. Magrathea mechanics had replaced gaskets and hoses.

The car was test-driven, detailed and filled up with gas. Total labor: 33.25 hours. A $75 towing fee was assessed. More than $400 of Mr. Compton's money was applied to get the car in working order.

Work reportedly OK'd

All of the repairs were done at the request of Mr. Sanders and approved by Mr. Montoya, according to the lawsuit.

The car was taken to Mr. Sanders' home, where he was living at the time. Mr. Compton said that he knocked on the door and that Pilar Sanders, the former Cowboy's wife, "answered the door, took the keys and invoices, started the car to make sure it was working and went back into the locked house, refusing to return the keys or invoices."

The suit said Mr. Sanders' bodyguards and housekeepers then moved their cars in front of and behind the Lincoln so that it couldn't be towed back to the garage.

'It was like a sermon'

Then Mr. Sanders drove up. He informed Mr. Compton he wasn't going to pay the invoice amount, the suit alleges. Instead, Mr. Compton said Mr. Sanders handed him a $1,500 check and said: "Praise Jesus ... I follow what in my heart I'm told to pay."

Mr. Compton added, "I mean, there's so much of it, it was like a sermon. I just can't remember all of it."

In his 20 years of repairing cars for what he said are "the best families in Dallas," Mr. Compton says he's been left holding the bill only twice before.

E-mail tlangford@dallasnews.com

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