April 5, 2012
Attorney General Kelly announces consumer protection lawsuits against six Western Pennsylvania home improvement contractors
HARRISBURG - Attorney General Linda Kelly today announced the filing of six consumer protection lawsuits against three Erie and three Pittsburgh area home improvement contractors accused of failing to comply with the Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act (HICPA), which went into effect July 1, 2009.
Kelly said HICPA requires home improvement contractors operating in Pennsylvania to register with the Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection, maintain minimum insurance coverage and use contracts that contain important information about home projects, including the start date and completion date, a description of work being performed and consumers? rights under the law.
Additionally, Kelly said the Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act requires contractors to disclose whether they have had a license suspended or revoked by any state or municipality or have been barred from any government-funded home improvement program.
Contractors are required to include their registration number on all advertisements, estimates and work proposals, and no home improvement contract is valid unless it is clearly written and contains the contractor's registration number, detailed information about the proposed work and is signed by both the contractor and the homeowner.
The Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection filed a consumer lawsuit against Affordable Plumbing, 8055 Oliver Road, Erie and owner Adam Frano.
According to the lawsuit, Affordable Plumbing is not registered as a contractor as required by HICPA. Frano is also accused of using a non-compliant contract and failing to inform consumers about their three-day right to cancel a contract.
The lawsuit was filed in the Erie County Court of Common Pleas by Senior Deputy Attorney General Carm Presogna and seeks injunctive relief, civil penalties and costs.
The Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection filed a lawsuit against Troy Parrett, a home improvement contractor who provides plumbing, drain cleaning and other services in Erie through his business, Rapid Rooter.
The lawsuit alleges that Parrett failed to register as a home improvement contractor as required by HICPA, and conducted business as an unregistered contractor. Parrett also allegedly used contracts which failed to meet the requirements of the law and failing to inform consumers about their three-day right to cancel a contract.
The legal action was filed in the Erie County Court of Common Pleas by Senior Deputy Attorney General Carm Presogna and seeks consumer restitution, injunctive relief, civil penalties and costs.
Kelly said that a legal action was filed against an Erie concrete and glass block installer for failing to register and comply with HICPA.
According to the lawsuit, Terry Smith conducted business as Knight?s Concrete, Knight?s Concrete and Glass Block and Knight's Concrete and Masonry. Smith allegedly operated as an unregistered home improvement contractor under HICPA, failed to provide notice to consumers about their three-day right to cancel, failed to limit down payments, failed to perform contracted services and failed to register the fictitious names under which he conducted business with the Department of State.
The lawsuit was filed in the Erie County Court of Common Pleas by Senior Deputy Attorney General Carm Presogna and seeks consumer restitution, injunctive relief, civil penalties and costs.
Joseph M. Bogaski Contracting and Accurate Designs
Kelly said a consumer protection complaint was filed against Joseph M. Bogaski, a home contractor who provided services ranging from whole house renovations to smaller masonry and roofing projects through Joseph M. Bogaski Contracting and Accurate Designs.
The complaint alleges that the defendant engaged in deceptive business practices that violated the state consumer protection laws, including failing to register as a home contractor and failing to perform contract work or completing work at a poor performance level.
Kelly said the complaint also alleges that the defendant accepted deposits from consumers that were in excess of the amount permitted by law, failed to included legally required disclosures in contracts and failed to register his business name, which is required by law.
The case was filed in Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas and seeks to permanently enjoin the defendant from conducting business in Pennsylvania. The case is being handled by Deputy Attorney General M. Susan Ruffner of the Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection.
Horniacek Contracting, Inc.
Kelly said a consumer protection lawsuit was filed against Horniacek Contracting, Inc., 168 Brinker Road, Butler and the company's president, Stephen Horniacek. Horniacek Contracting operates in Allegheny, Butler, Washington and Westmoreland counties.
The lawsuit alleges that the defendants engaged in a pattern of conduct that violated state consumer protection laws, including failing to perform home improvement contracts and poorly performing home improvement work.
Kelly said the lawsuit also alleges that the defendants accepted deposits from consumers in excess of the amount permitted by law, failed to include legally required disclosures in their contracts and failed to maintain legally required insurance at all times while in operation.
The lawsuit seeks to permanently ban the defendants from the home improvement business until all court-ordered restitution, costs and penalties are paid. The lawsuit was filed in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas by Senior Deputy Attorney General Jesse F. Harvey of the Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection.
R.S. Sippos Associates
A legal action was filed against Robert Sippos, doing business in Western Pennsylvania as R.S. Sippos Associates.
Kelly said the Bureau of Consumer Protection received seven consumer complaints against R.S. Sippos. The legal complaint alleges that the defendant was an unregistered contractor, who accepted down payments of 50 percent or more of the contract price, and failed to complete the contracted work.
R.S. Sippos allegedly abandoned jobs and refused to provide refunds for unfinished work and completed work in a shoddy unworkmanlike manner.
The lawsuit was filed in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas by Deputy Attorney General M. Susan Ruffner of the Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection. The action seeks to ban the defendant's ownership or involvement in the home improvement business until all restitution, costs and penalties are paid.
Consumers who believe they were victims of any of these businesses are encouraged to file a complaint with the Attorney General?s Bureau of Consumer Protection by visiting www.attorneygeneral.gov or by calling 1-800-441-2555 to request a complaint form.
Selecting a Contractor
Kelly encouraged all consumers who are considering home improvement projects to fully understand their rights and review the information in the state's Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act.
While the law requires contractors to register with the Attorney General's office, this registration is not an endorsement of their honesty or quality of work. For this reason, in addition to seeing whether a contractor is registered with the Attorney General's office, consumers should also:
To verify the registration of a home improvement contractor, go to the List of Registered Contractors section of the Attorney General's website at http://hicsearch.attorneygeneral.gov/. Consumers or businesses can call the Home Improvement Registration Hotline, at 1-888-520-6680, to report unregistered contractors operating in their communities. Complaints about unregistered contractors can also be emailed to the Attorney General's Office at: HIC@attorneygeneral.gov
Tips for Contractors
It is vital for contractors to be aware that their registration requires renewal every two years. Performing home improvement work with an expired registration is in violation of the Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act. Registration can be done online at the Attorney General website, www.attorneygeneral.gov, or by calling 1-888-520-6680.
By law, businesses based in other states that perform contractor work in Pennsylvania must also register. Visit the Frequently Asked Questions section of the Home Improvement Contractor Information portion of the Attorney General website to see if the home improvement work you perform requires you to register.
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