CINCINNATI – The Ohio Attorney General’s Office filed a lawsuit against a roofer accused of taking money and not performing the work.
David M. Nelson and his company, American Property Claims Specialists LLC, would contact homeowners with damaged roofs and tell them that insurance would cover the cost of repairs, Attorney General Mike DeWine announced Friday. However, they didn’t do the work or would leave the work incomplete, according to DeWine.
Officials said they’re aware of 13 unresolved complaints against American Property Claims Specialists with losses of about $52,000, DeWine said.
Nelson and his company were the focus of a WCPO I-Team investigation last year. Homeowners who spoke to a reporter said they were still waiting for Nelson’s company to fix their roofs after nearly a year after contracting.
Homeowners said they would sign over insurance checks to American Property Claims Specialists at the company’s insistence, but the work wouldn’t be done or would remain unfinished for months.
“It went on month after month after month,” homeowner Michael Noyse said last year. “[I] keep calling this guy. He doesn’t return my calls, and when I do get a hold of him he’s got a different excuse.”
The attorney general’s office has placed liens on Nelson’s business in the past for thousands of dollars in unpaid insurance premiums. The company was also “noncompliant” with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation after letting their policy lapse twice.
DeWine’s lawsuit accuses Nelson and his company of violating the state Consumer Sales Practices Act and Home Solicitation Sales Act. They’re seeking reimbursement for the victims and an injunction to stop any violations of the law, as well as civil penalties.
“We’re committed to protecting Ohio consumers from unfair and deceptive sales practices,” DeWine said. “We encourage consumers to contact us when they have complaints about home repairs or other consumer transactions.”
Complaints can be filed by visiting ohioattorneygeneral.gov or by calling 800-282-0515.
The attorney general’s office also officered the following tips for consumers to protect themselves:
- Research contractors carefully. Ask neighbors, friends, or family members for recommendations. Check with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the Better Business Bureau for complaints against the contractor. Ask for references of past customers, and contact those past customers to ask about their experiences with the contractor.
- Get written estimates from several contractors before making a final decision.
- Keep in mind that in Ohio, door-to-door sellers generally are required to give you a three-day right to cancel the contract under the Home Solicitation Sales Act.
- Don’t hand over your insurance check, and avoid making large upfront payments. It’s reasonable for a contractor to require a down payment, but if you have to pay half or more of the total cost before any work begins, be skeptical.
- Read any documents a contractor gives you before signing them. Don’t rely on verbal claims.
- Make sure the written contract includes the start and end dates and an itemized list of all material costs, labor, and services.