Miller settles with Minn. couple over home repair contracts

Keith Loria Dec. 2, 2010, 2:31pm


DES MOINES, Iowa (Legal Newsline) - Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller announced on Wednesday that he has settled with a home repair and contracting business and its owners for allegedly violating Iowa's Door-to-Door Sales Act and Consumer Fraud Act.

Tierney Brothers Construction LLC, of Ramsey, Minn., and its owners, Sean Tierney and Tracy Tierney, allegedly conducted business in Iowa from a hotel room in the Des Moines area.

Miller alleged that the Tierneys offered free repair estimates to homeowners in communities that had suffered storm damage, but falsely claimed in advertisements that they were doing so "in accordance" with the non-existing "Iowa Insurance Commission."

The suit also alleged that the Tierneys finalized and signed contracts at consumers' homes, which are subject to regulations under the state's Door-to-Door Sales Act.

It was alleged that the contracts failed to disclose and provide consumers with their written and oral rights to cancel, and misrepresented or failed to honor valid cancellations.

Furthermore, Miller alleged that the Tierneys promised to perform the duties of an insurance adjuster with the consumers' insurance companies, knowing they couldn't legally provide those services.

The contracts allegedly forced consumers to accept whatever agreement was reached between the defendants and the insurance companies in regard to the scope of repair work, materials and price. Because of this, consumers were forced to pay 25 percent of the total contract price agreed upon between the Tierneys and the consumers' insurance companies, Miller said.

A consent judgment by District Court Judge Michael D. Huppert requires the defendants to comply with the Iowa Door-to-Door Sales Act going forward.

It also requires that they don't misrepresent their qualifications, training, certifications, licenses, experience or any other material fact to consumers, including any so-called affiliations with the Iowa Insurance Division.

In addition, the defendants can not employ any contracts obligating consumers to pay damages for canceling contracts unless the terms are disclosed before a contract is signed. They must also not deprive consumers of their legal decisions, rights and remedies.

If the defendants violate the consent judgment, Miller may request civil penalties of up to $5,000 for each day that the court order is not followed. Miller may also seek a ruling that the defendants are in contempt of court and are subject to additional fines and/or imprisonment.

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