Ohio AG's office: Better home improvement laws needed

John O'Brien Nov. 7, 2008, 2:44pm


COLUMBUS, Ohio (Legal Newsline) - A Franklin County, Ohio, judge has granted the state Attorney General Office's requests for punishment against two Columbus home improvement contractors.

A preliminary injunction, issued Thursday in the Franklin County Common Pleas Court, will prohibit one target of interim Attorney General Nancy Hardin Rogers from engaging in the conduct she is alleging. Another judgment will stop the same alleged conduct altogether.

Rogers says the three companies owned by Daniel Sechriest failed to complete work in a timely manner, performed in an un-workmanlike manner, did not give consumers proper notice of their rights to cancel contracts, did not secure proper permits and did not provide refunds in a timely manner.

The judgment was entered against Ohio Homeowners Rehab, and the preliminary injunction against Sechriest's Mastergard, Inc., Mastergard Remodeling and Supreme Remodeling Concepts.

The chief of the Consumer Protection Section said better laws are needed to protect consumers from home improvement contractors.

"These are good examples of why we need stronger consumer protection laws to fight home improvement fraud," Nadine Ballard said.

"All contractors should be required to be licensed, and there needs to be a limit to the amount of money contractors can request in advance."

The suit against Sechriestseeks full restitution and a civil penalty of at least $25,000 per violation.

The judgment against Ohio Homeowners Rehab, reached in October, provided more than $213,000 for reimbursement and a civil penalty of $375,000.

The suit alleged the company did not complete work for which it was paid and took an average of $30,000 from consumers.

"These contractors have taken thousands of dollars from consumers without improving their homes," Ballard said.

"The chances of recovering restitution are slim because they are now out of business. We will continue to push for stronger regulations of contractors in Ohio to protect consumers."

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at john@legalnewsline.com.

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