Corbett sues contractors

by Nick Rees |
Dec. 4, 2009, 5:44pm

Corbett

HARRISBURG, Pa. (Legal Newsline) - Lawsuits have been filed by Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett against two contractors accused of failing to start home improvement projects, failing to complete work and violating the state's new Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act.

The civil lawsuits were filed against Harvey F. Kemmerling, Jr., of Harrisburg, operating as a home improvement contractor in the Harrisburg area, and Richard Wells, of Thomasville, operating as Richard Wells Blacktop Paving and Richard Wells Paving in York County.

"Consumers paid thousands of dollars to these businesses hoping to improve the homes, only to be left with incomplete projects, unfulfilled promises and empty wallets," Corbett said.

"We urge homeowners considering improvement projects to fully understand their rights under state law, carefully check the registration status and background of contractors they are considering and immediately report any problems to the Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection."

Kemmerling, the lawsuit alleges, has not registered as a home improvement contractor with the Attorney General's Office, as required by the Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act. Kemmerling is also alleged to have collected much larger deposits than are allowed by state law, failed to inform consumers of their three day right to cancel a contract, not started projects in a timely manner, and left projects unfinished and performed work in a shoddy or unprofessional manner.

"In one case, Mr. Kemmerling allegedly abandoned a garage construction project after collecting a total of $12,600 from a consumer," Corbett said.

"That homeowner was eventually forced to pay another contractor nearly $13,000 in order to repair and complete the work that Kemmerling was supposed to perform."

Richard Wells is alleged to have accepted payment for work that he then failed to perform. The lawsuit against Wells also alleged that he did not start projects in a timely manner, failed to complete projects, performed working in a shoddy or unsatisfactory manner and failed to inform consumers of their three day right to cancel a contract.

Wells, who did register as a contractor, is also alleged to have collected deposits that were substantially larger than allowed by state law, including a 77-percent down payment collected from a homeowner in July. The HIPCA allows deposits of no more than one-third of the contract price.

Both lawsuits seek restitution for victimized consumers as well as civil penalties of up to $1,000 for each violation or penalties of up to $3,000 for each violation involving a senior citizen.

The courts are also asked by the lawsuits to prohibit the defendants from conducting business in Pennsylvania until all consumer restitution, refunds, civil penalties and court costs have been paid.

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