Monday, November 12, 2012

Contractor Permanently Barred From Future Home Repair or Remodeling Work

As loyal Blog followers will recall, I have written extensively about the Illinois Home Repair and Remodeling Act (the "Act") for the past several years.  (For instance, the consequences for failure to deliver the Consumer Rights Brochure, the availability of equitable remedies for contractors without written contracts, and an analysis of my Illinois Supreme Court case involving the Act's applicability to subcontractors.)

Until now, all of the published cases involving the Act have involved private disputes between homeowners and contractors.  You will recall, however, that the Act allows the Attorney General or the State's Attorney of any county to bring an action in the name of the people to remedy violations of the Act.  Section 35 of the Act says that all remedies, penalties,and authority granted the Attorney General or State's Attorney under the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Practices Act shall be available to him or her for enforcement of the Home Repair and Remodeling Act.

In 2009, Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed five lawsuits in Cook County against contractors for violations of the Act.  (See her press release HERE.)  Last week, the First District appellate court issued an opinion in People v. Steven R. Smith.  The State alleged that Mr. Smith violated by the Act, the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Act, and the Roofing Industry Licensing Act.  The State alleged that he was in the business of providing home repair services despite not being a licensed contractor, that he failed to give the Consumer Rights Brochure, and that he took partial payments on jobs but then failed to complete the jobs or refund the money.  

Mr. Smith defended the case pro se (never a good idea ... unless you're THIS GUY).  Mr. Smith failed to answer several paragraphs of the complaint and key allegations were deemed admitted.  As a result, summary judgment entered against him in the trial court.  The court entered a civil penalty of $50,000 against Mr. Smith and also permanently enjoined him from engaging in future home repair or remodeling work in Illinois.  

Mr. Smith argued on appeal that the permanent injunction prohibiting him from future home repair or remodeling work was unduly harsh because it barred him from performing an otherwise lawful activity upon which he depended for his livelihood.  The Appellate Court first noted that a permanent injunction was an available remedy under Section 7(a) of the Consumer Fraud Act.  That section states that "The Court, in its discretion, may impose an injunction..."  So, the Appellate Court stated that it would not disturb the trial court's exercise of discretion absent an abuse of that discretion.  After examining Mr. Smith's widespread practice of accepting deposits from customers but then not performing the work, the Court found that the injunction was reasonable because it was specifically tailored to prohibit the activity underlying Mr. Smith's previous illegal acts.  

So, if Mr. Smith is caught doing home repair and remodeling work in the future, even if doesn't swindle anybody next time, he could be found in contempt of court for the violation of the permanent injunction.

23 comments:

Kristen Bryant said...

Repairs seemed to be an activity that is being regulated. A refrigerator that is under warranty cannot be called in for a different repair man other than the contracted repair service.

Leonora Carroll said...

May this serve as a lesson to both consumers and to those in the business field. To avoid issues like Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Practices Act, the consumers should also be aware of consumer rights to protect and practice their rights.

Noah Cooper said...

Good to know that there are still caring individuals that think of others. Remodeling can cost a fortune so getting the right contractor is a must. I hope that swindlers learn from this and they also should stop doing those kinds of things.

Claire Kable said...

This is why it's always a must to hire trusted licensed contractors and electricians to do the job. We shouldn't put our homes and safety at risk.

Joseph Crown said...

This should serve as a lesson to those that rush things. When planning with this kind of work, it's best to research and have a background check on the contractor that you're getting. Were talking about safety here, not just design and appearance. You would want to protect the ones the would inhabit that house and safety must be prioritized.

Niamh Read said...

Guess, the only problem they will be facing during the remodeling is the transporting of appliances. Though, I think, they will not encounter any problem in it since there's a lot of shipping services that one could seek out for help.

Aaliyah Mason said...

You have a good point there, Leonora. Both parties should know how to practice their rights. This is to avoid issues like these and to prevent the producers and builders of appliances from having a bad reputation.

Elise Hale said...

We’ve been planning to get our house to be remodeled, good thing my friend referred me to this post. We are now doing thorough planning and background checks for possible contractors that we might get to prevent loss of property.

Rosette Aston said...

Not a good sign to see as far as the home improvement sector is concerned. This should serve as an example to other people involved in the industry about being transparent, and playing by the rules.

Carrie Bronson said...

Too bad for that guy. If only he'd affiliated himself (officially, of course) with a local home improvement center, he could've at least kept his job, and not end getting barred.

William Jones said...

This will ensure the they will provide top quality work and that there will be no back jobs. The consumers will also have some peace of mind.

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Cm punk said...

These are great tips, but yes I agree that only emergency personnell should be using that one!
Jerry

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Timon berg said...

I think the court order is fair because no one will believe that Mr. Smith will not betray them for repairing or remodeling home now.
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Eric Jackson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eric Jackson said...

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Alisha Fox said...

Well I think the court has ordered rightly and Mr. Smith must be prohibited from any home improvement or remodeling activity in future now.
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Brock lesnar said...

Well as he caught in violating the laws and not fulfilling the home repairing contracts so I guess Mr. Smith should not involve himself in future in this work.
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Feonacy Tyson said...

So it is now imperative to be vigilant against any such contractors who is fraudulent in providing home renovation services, I am astonished reading about him.
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Eric Jackson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Doyle Cade said...

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