Attorney General Corbett announces lawsuit over sudden closure of Bethlehem-based "Trash Monster" garbage collection business
HARRISBURG - Attorney General Tom Corbett today announced the filing of a consumer protection lawsuit against the owners of "Trash-Monster," a Bethlehem-based garbage collection business that closed suddenly after accepting more than $14,000 from consumers throughout Northampton.
Corbett said the lawsuit was filed against Charles V. Minarcik III and Kelly R. Minarcik, 1 Jonathan Point Drive, Albrightsville, Carbon County, along with their business, Trash-Monster LLC, 310 East Broad St., Bethlehem.
"Consumers in the Lehigh Valley, including a number of older residents, believed they were getting a good deal and 'special rates' from a local company for garbage collection services," Corbett said. "Instead, they were left with piles of uncollected trash, unanswered calls and rejected requests for refunds when the business suddenly closed its doors."
According to the lawsuit, the Minarcik's and Trash-Monster collected advance payments from as many as 800 residents in Northampton and surrounding counties for weekly garbage collection services, specifically targeting senior citizens. Advance payment for at least three-months of service was required, but the company failed to provide consumers with written contracts and also failed to inform consumers of their state-required right to cancel those contracts.
Corbett said that Trash-Monster allegedly continued to accept consumer payments after the business halted trash collection services in September 2007.
"The only notice that most consumers received about the business closure was an outgoing message on the company answering machine," Corbett said. "Even after they knew they were going out of business, the Minarcik's allegedly continued to cash consumers' checks and even took advance payment from new customers for up to six months of future garbage collection services."
Corbett said the Minarcik's are accused of placing consumer payments into their personal bank account and allegedly using those funds to pay a variety of personal expenses, including utilities and other bills for their home.
The lawsuit seeks restitution for all consumers who pre-paid for services that were not provided, along with civil penalties of up to $1,000 per violation, or up to $3,000 for each violation involving a senior citizen. The lawsuit also asks the court to permanently prohibit the defendants from operating a garbage collection business in Pennsylvania, or any other type of business that accepts pre-payment from consumers.
To date the Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection has received more than 160 complaints from Trash-Monster customers. Consumers who paid for services that were not provided or failed to receive refunds are urged to contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Hotline, at 1-800-441-2555, or file an online consumer complaint at www.attorneygeneral.gov (Highlight the "Complaints" tab on the main menu and select "Consumer Complaints" from the list that appears).
The lawsuit was filed in Northampton County Court of Common Pleas by Deputy Attorney General Julia N. Fisher, from the Allentown Regional Office of the Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection.
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