Madigan suing repair businesses

Bryan Cohen Sep. 19, 2011, 3:41pm


CHICAGO (Legal Newsline) - Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed three lawsuits on Monday against allegedly fraudulent home repair businesses in the Chicago area.

The defendants in the lawsuits are: Ricky Shattuck, soliciting home repair service as RLCC; James D. Johnsen, operating as Thermal Construction; and Janeen Heilman, Erick Zerse and Chris Bidigare, operating as Fairway Construction and Maintenance Services LLC and Rock Construction Management LLC. They allegedly cheated Chicago area homeowners out of more than $600,000 for repairs that were never completed.

Madigan filed the lawsuits in Cook County Circuit Court on behalf of consumers in Will, Lake, Kane, DuPage and Cook counties.

"The losses suffered by the dozens of consumers in these cases are staggering," Madigan said. "We will be aggressive in our enforcement efforts, but I also urge homeowners to use great caution when hiring a contractor. Ask for references, and contact my office to check if complaints have been filed. Never feel pressured to sign agreements on the spot and always request estimates in writing."

Madigan alleges that Shattuck targeted homeowners for solicitation in the wake of severe weather, offering to fix damage caused by storms, but failed to complete the repair services. Consumers reported losses of more than $8,900 to Madigan's office and the Better Business Bureau. Some consumers allege that Shattuck made them sign over their storm damage insurance checks as upfront payment for the work.

Madigan alleges that Johnsen cheated homeowners out of more than $148,000 for repair work he never completed. Fifty-four consumers reported to the BBB, Angie's List and Madigan's office that Johnsen allegedly failed to complete repairs despite requiring an upfront payment for half of the contracted work.

In her lawsuit against Heilman, Zerse and Bidigare, Madigan alleges that consumers lost more than $511,000 for work that was never completed and that the defendants accepted upfront sums ranging from $1,050 to over $174,000.

The lawsuits ask the court to permanently prohibit the defendants from working in the home repair trade in Illinois, impose an array of civil penalties for the allegations laid out in each complaint, obtain restitution and cancel any pending contracts with homeowners.

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