CHICAGO–(ENEWSPF)–August 11, 2011. The Cook County State’s Attorney Office has filed a consumer fraud lawsuit against a Chicago roofing company and its owner for violations of the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act for repeatedly failing to complete work that customers had paid for and were relying upon, according to the Office of Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.
Named in the lawsuit is Don A. Pitts, an unlicensed roofer and owner/operator of the Pitts Roofing Company, at 7122 S. California, Chicago, Illinois. The lawsuit alleges that Pitts failed to commence roofing and tuckpointing work under contract and failed to refund $8,000 to three area customers, even after written demand to do so by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.
According to the lawsuit, which was filed this week:
- Pitts took a $3,500 cash deposit from a South Holland woman on a contract to install a new tear-off roof on a single-family house that she leased to tenants. In order to induce the woman to hire his company, Pitts lowered his initial asking price for the job by $1,000 and claimed that the customer’s roof would not last through the winter without repair. After taking the customer’s deposit, the defendant never started the work and never responded to the customer’s numerous telephone calls requesting service or refund. The customer attempted to contact Pitts at his place of business, but no one answered when she rang the doorbell of the single family house where the business was located. Finally, the customer’s quest for service ended when she found that the number for Pitts Roofing Company was no longer in service.
- In another instance, Pitts took a $1,500 cashier’s check from a Chicago woman to replace one side of the roof of her house that had been damaged by the sun. At one point, Pitts called the customer while she was away from home to claim that he was present at her house, but due to the rainy, inclement weather, he would start the job another day. Pitts never returned to do the work and failed to respond to the customer’s numerous voice mail messages demanding service. The customer tried to find Pitts at his business address, but found only a vacant house with a “no trespassing” sign posted in front. The customer stopped calling the business after finding that the telephone was disconnected. Finally the customer sent a demand letter by certified mail for the return of her deposit, which Pitts received once it was forwarded to his post office box, but he still did not respond to her refund request.
- Pitts took $3,000 from a Harvey man to tuckpoint a four-unit residential building and did no work. Pitts twice told the man that he would start the job once it stopped raining, but he never commenced work. Pitts ignored the customer’s calls for service and eventually the customer found that the company telephone number had been disconnected. The Harvey customer first met Pitts through his employment as a postal worker at a U.S. Post Office, where Pitts rented a post office box under the name, “Don Pitts Roofing”. The customer later learned that Pitts’ post office box had been closed for nonpayment.
According to the lawsuit filed by the State’s Attorney’s Consumer Fraud Division, Pitts is alleged to have violated numerous consumer protection laws by failing to disclose the consumers’ rights to cancel the contract, failing to provide a “Know Your Consumer Rights” home repair pamphlet to customers with an acknowledgement form for their signatures, failing to notify customers of a change in the business address and failing to hold a valid roofing license.
The State’s Attorney’s lawsuit seeks a permanent injunction against the defendant from engaging in fraudulent and unlawful business practices in Illinois, refunds for consumers, and civil penalties of up to $50,000.
During the summer home repair and remodeling season, State’s Attorney Alvarez reminds consumers to be on guard against unscrupulous contractors. Before hiring a contractor, request local references, verify that the contractor is properly licensed, and check the Better Business Bureau website at www.bbb.org for a reliability report.
Cook County residents who have home repair fraud complaints are urged to call the Consumer Fraud Unit of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, at the Consumer Fraud Hotline: (312) 603-8700. The Consumer Fraud Unit may be able to help you recover your losses and prevent other members of the public from falling victim to the same scheme.