Pa. Contractor Tabled with Lawsuit

November 10, 2004

Pennsylvania Attorney General Jerry Pappert announced that his Bureau of Consumer Protection has filed a lawsuit against a Lackawanna County home improvement contractor accused of accepting consumers’ money for custom kitchen countertops or table tops that were defective, poorly constructed, improperly installed and/or never delivered.

Consumers said the defendant routinely ignored their repeated requests to repair the shoddy work, complete the contracts or refund their deposits or full payments. In some cases, consumers unsuccessfully sought relief from the defendant for more than a year. The lawsuit followed an investigation into complaints from consumers located in Luzerne, Lackawanna and Susquehanna counties.

Pappert identified the defendants as Al Nehme, of Taylor, Lackawanna County, individually, and doing business as Magic Designz and Magic Designz Inc., 1307 South Main St., also located in Taylor. The defendants are accused of violating Pennsylvania’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law.

According to agent investigators, Nehme through 2003 accepted significant deposits or full payments from consumers to construct mostly granite kitchen countertops. Consumers said they were assured by the defendant that the construction and installation would be professional and in accordance with the terms and conditions of their contracts.

Several homeowners complained that the work was below standard and not what they had agreed to in their contracts. The defendant accepted between $2,600 and $6,700 in deposits or full payments from consumers to perform the work.

According to the lawsuit, the defendants are accused of:

– Installing granite countertops that were poorly cut, improperly caulked, uneven in length, dissimilar at seams, chipped, cracked, defective or inferior in color and design.

– Installing and sealing a piece of granite that the consumer had rejected beforehand due to discoloration.

– Failing to complete construction of a countertop ledge and molding.

– Failing to arrive on the job site as promised.

– Failing to replace or adequately repair countertops that were defective or damaged despite promises to do so.

– Installing granite that was not the width requested by a consumer.

– Improperly installing sink brackets.

– Accepting payment for a marble tabletop that was never delivered.

Pappert said several consumers were forced to hire and pay another contractor to return to their homes to repair, replace and/or complete the defendant’s work.

The lawsuit asks the court to require the defendants to pay full restitution to consumers who filed complaints with Pappert’s Office plus pay full restitution to those who come forward with proof of similar harm. The suit also seeks investigation costs and civil penalties of $1,000 per violation and $3,000 for each violation involving a consumer age 60 or older. Pappert is also asking the court to ban the defendant from conducting business in the Commonwealth as a contractor until consumer restitution is paid.

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