Texas AG Abbott Halts Activities of Two Pest Control Operators

September 25, 2006

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has obtained a court-ordered temporary injunction to stop any further business solicitations and transactions of unlicensed pest control operator Ronald L. Speer Jr., who owns Pro Services Termite & Pest Control of Austin and Round Rock. Speer lost his license last year when he allowed his liability insurance policy to expire.

The AG also filed a lawsuit seeking injunctions against licensed, Arlington-based Lady Bugg Exterminating Services and owner Stanley Thomas Jones. The suit alleges Jones represented to customers that his termite pre-construction treatment services, also called “pretreats,” are performed in accordance with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved label instructions and the rules of the Texas Structural Pest Control Board (TSPCB), when the investigation shows evidence to the contrary.

“We must make every effort to protect property owners by ensuring that all pest control operators comply with laws requiring they be properly trained, certified and insured, and that they apply chemicals safely and lawfully,” said Attorney General Abbott. “Consumers and business owners deserve to know they are getting licensed services commensurate with their investments.”

In the first case, the Attorney General’s Natural Resources Division attorneys brought five citizens to court this week to testify as victims of Speer’s alleged fraudulent activities. The TSPCB had requested that the Attorney General take action to halt any future transactions of Speer and his business, which adversely affected these residents.

Speer allowed his liability insurance to lapse last December, which caused his license to expire. This situation legally prevented him from working as a pest control operator, yet he continued to offer his services and perform projects, often fraudulently, sometimes even fabricating the presence of termites and other pests to homeowners. Speer has failed to complete his service contracts and has failed to honor his customer warranties. The temporary injunction requires Speer to contact licensed pest control operators and arrange to have them honor his continuing warranties and service contracts. This work must be paid for by Speer.

The case against Lady Bugg Exterminating Services, which is licensed and provides pretreatment services to businesses in several Texas cities, was filed in Bexar County. In this case, the defendant performed projects in which he routinely applied a quantity of termite pesticide substantially below the amount required by label instructions. On one occasion, Jones and his employees pretreated a 27,000 square-foot area prior to construction in less than two hours and also treated an 18,000 square-foot area in under half an hour.

The Attorney General requests that penalties of up to $2,000 for each act in violation of the law be assessed under the Structural Pest Control Act against Speer and his company. Penalties under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act are requested against Jones’ company of up to $20,000 per violation. Reasonable attorneys’ fees to the state are also requested in both cases.

Consumers who believe they have been defrauded by such companies may file a complaint with the Attorney General by calling toll-free (800) 252-8011 or file a complaint online at www.oag.state.tx.us.

Source: Texas Attorney General’s Office

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