Attorney General Shapiro Announces Consumer Protection Lawsuit Against Chester County Home Improvement Business

December 10, 2018 | Topic: Consumers

Seeking at least $145K in restitution for PA consumers

HARRISBURG — Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced that the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection has filed a lawsuit against Element Kitchen & Bath Design, LLC and Michael J. Sheehan, for allegedly entering into contracts with consumers to perform home improvement services, including designing, installing, and supplying materials for renovations to consumers’ homes but failing to perform the work or performing the work in a substandard manner.

“Home improvement fraud is a crime, and my Office is taking action to make the contracting process safer and more reliable across our Commonwealth,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “People work hard to pay for improvements to their homes, and I’m working to ensure they get a fair deal and get the services promised in their contracts. Whether you’re buying a fixer upper or you’re starting to house hunt, Pennsylvanians deserve to know what they’re paying for.”

The lawsuit also alleges that the defendants accepted substantial deposits from consumers for custom materials, but then never completed the orders and never refunded those deposits.

The Bureau of Consumer Protection worked in cooperation with the Tredyffrin Township Police Department, which recently filed criminal charges against Sheehan in Chester County for similar underlying allegations.

One Chester County consumer says the defendants owe him a total of approximately $89,610.00 after they failed to complete a significant home remodeling project:

“I contracted Element Kitchen & Bath in 2016 and paid Michael over $330K for an extensive remodeling project including our kitchen. In the early part of the remodel, it went pretty well but towards the end we realized something was not right after the kitchen cabinets began having issues and we were having a difficult time getting them addressed,” said Todd Hopson, a consumer mislead by the defendants’ fraudulent practices. “We didn’t hear from Michael for a while and we still had the rest of the remodel to complete. Finally, this year when we learned that Element had closed their doors and laid off their employees overnight we reached out directly to the third party manufacturers and discovered that they had given Michael full refunds for the cabinets to Michael—money we never saw. Now we are having to pay out of pocket on top of what we paid Element to fix the work in our home. The Bureau of Consumer Protection have been helpful in the process of filing a complaint, and [I] am grateful that Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s office is doing something about this company.”

The lawsuit further alleges that the defendants failed to: respond to consumer complaints and refund requests; provide refunds to consumers; repair unsatisfactory and/or deficient work; and use contracts which complied with state law requirements—all of which are in violation of the Consumer Protection Law and the Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act (HICPA).

“Any consumers who feel they were victimized by Element Kitchen & Bath Design, LLC and Michael J. Sheehan should file a complaint with my Bureau of Consumer Protection,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. “Contact us at 1-800-441-2555, or submit a complaint online here to get help:”

The complaint requests the court order the defendants to:

    • Be permanently enjoined from any practices that violate the Consumer Protection Law and HICPA;
    • Comply with the Notice of Cancellation and right of rescission provisions of the Consumer Protection Law and HICPA;
    • Pay restitution to all consumers who have suffered losses as a result of the defendants’ conduct;
    • Be permanently enjoined from doing business as a home improvement contractor in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; and
    • Pay civil penalties of $1,000 for each violation of the Consumer Protection Law and $3,000 for each violation involving a consumer age 60 or older.

The Complaint was filed in the Chester County Court of Common Pleas by the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

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