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Old 06-30-2011, 07:02 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I"ll try to be brief.  A few years ago, we did an addition/remodel of our house so that my mother could move in with us.  To make a long story short, the contractor asked for 50% up front ($15k), but he had barely started when he took off with our money.  We filed and won a claim against him.  We were never able to collect because he fled.  He's now trying to dismiss that in bankruptcy court.  Before consulting our attorney (my cousin, who is swamped right now), what sorts of things should I become familiar with about bankruptcy?  I've never been on either side of it.  Any suggestions would be appreciated.

 

I had a big long first post, but decided there was TMI, so I shortened it.  I'll add details if needed.

 

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Old 06-30-2011, 11:00 PM
 
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What sort of notification did you get regarding the bankruptcy?  You should be listed on the schedule of creditors and should be notified when there is a meeting of creditors.  The meeting will be your chance to stake your claim, so to speak.  Is he filing Chapter 7, 11 or 13?  Chapter 11 and 13 will be best for you for repayment.  Chapter 7 is basically getting out of all debts.  Your claim will probably be really low on the priority list, unfortunately.  If he is doing 11 or 13 you should get a copy of the schedule of repayments and be able to object/ask for a modification if you aren't happy with the repayment plan.


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Old 07-01-2011, 12:40 AM
 
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Well when I filed Ch 7 many years ago everything was wiped clean. So it's going to depend what type of bankruptcy he is filing.  But honestly at this point I wouldn't count on getting paid.


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Old 07-01-2011, 05:21 AM - Thread Starter
 
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That figures.  It's Chapter 7.

 

I just can't see how this guy could steal our money, run away, and then get away with it.  Surely, as an individual, with a court judgment against this guy, I have some recourse.

 

Well, I have until August.  I'll talk to my cousin/attorney after the 4th and see what she thinks.  Thanks, guys.

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Old 07-01-2011, 06:48 AM
 
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Depending on your state there may be a fund that can help you.  It is usuallly called a Homeowner Contractor Lien Fund or the like.  Normally it is to help if a contractor fraudulently causes a lien to be placed on your home by taking your money and not paying subs or suppliers.  Not sure if it can help in this situation but it might be worth checking into.

 

You can also file through the court to petition to NOT have this debt cleared but I honestly do not know the process or how likely it is for you to be successful.

 

Good luck.

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Old 07-01-2011, 07:01 AM
 
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I know it won't help get your money, but you also need to make sure criminal charges were filed.

 

This was a HUGE problem here in New Orleans after Katrina. Within a year, there were arrests being made right and left of contractors.

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Old 07-02-2011, 07:11 AM
 
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What kind of business license and business insurance/bonding did he have? If he was licensed through your state as a Class "Whatever" (A, B, C) contractor, you should have more recourse through the state.

 

If his company was an LLC or a sole proprietorship, that will impact what your recourse might be, too.

 

Is this a personal filing or is his business filing for Bankruptcy? Or both?

 

This happens a lot--where builders will take a payment, file bankruptcy and fold the business, and be at the courthouse the next day opening a new business under a new name so they can do it again.

 

ALWAYS check for proof of insurance, proof of contractor's license, proof of business license in the county/town in which you live (and where the work will be performed), and ask for the LAST three jobs they've done as references--not just any 3--b/c they will cherry pick.

 

So sorry this is happening to you!

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Old 07-03-2011, 09:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChristyMarie View Post

Depending on your state there may be a fund that can help you.  It is usuallly called a Homeowner Contractor Lien Fund or the like.  Normally it is to help if a contractor fraudulently causes a lien to be placed on your home by taking your money and not paying subs or suppliers.  Not sure if it can help in this situation but it might be worth checking into.

 

You can also file through the court to petition to NOT have this debt cleared but I honestly do not know the process or how likely it is for you to be successful.

 

Good luck.


There was no lien placed on our home.  We paid the sub contractors our of our pocket to make sure they got paid.

 

I did find out that since we have a judgment against him, in court, that we may be able to get it exempted from his bankruptcy.  We are going to pursue that, and also the fact that it's clear he set out to defraud us will help our case.  Thanks for the good wishes.  We'll need it.

 

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Originally Posted by mar123 View Post

I know it won't help get your money, but you also need to make sure criminal charges were filed.

 

This was a HUGE problem here in New Orleans after Katrina. Within a year, there were arrests being made right and left of contractors.

 

We tried to get criminal charges filed.  We went to the State's Attorney General and the deadbeat wouldn't do a darn thing about it.  He was about the worst SAG we've ever had.  This guy already had several judgments against him, too.  Not just from individuals, but companies.

 

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Originally Posted by monkey's mom View Post

What kind of business license and business insurance/bonding did he have? If he was licensed through your state as a Class "Whatever" (A, B, C) contractor, you should have more recourse through the state.

 

If his company was an LLC or a sole proprietorship, that will impact what your recourse might be, too.

 

Is this a personal filing or is his business filing for Bankruptcy? Or both?

 

This happens a lot--where builders will take a payment, file bankruptcy and fold the business, and be at the courthouse the next day opening a new business under a new name so they can do it again.

 

ALWAYS check for proof of insurance, proof of contractor's license, proof of business license in the county/town in which you live (and where the work will be performed), and ask for the LAST three jobs they've done as references--not just any 3--b/c they will cherry pick.

 

So sorry this is happening to you!


Checked all of that (insurance, etc.) and it was forged.  He did not have a valid business, after all.  He had no LLC set up, it was a sole proprietorship.  He is personally filing bankruptcy, as no business ever truly existed.

 

Believe me, we learned our lessons out of this, but it still doesn't help.  I've NEVER had an experience with a private contractor where they didn't at least try to swindle us in some way.  I'm convinced they're all crooked.  And I'm sure there are people here whose partners are contractors who will swear they are as honest as the day is long, but I'll never be convinced of it.  They're all out to make a buck and cut corners.  It just pisses me off that you can't trust these people.

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Old 07-03-2011, 10:32 AM
 
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Originally Posted by velochic View Post

Checked all of that (insurance, etc.) and it was forged.  He did not have a valid business, after all.  He had no LLC set up, it was a sole proprietorship.  He is personally filing bankruptcy, as no business ever truly existed.

 

Believe me, we learned our lessons out of this, but it still doesn't help.  I've NEVER had an experience with a private contractor where they didn't at least try to swindle us in some way.  I'm convinced they're all crooked.  And I'm sure there are people here whose partners are contractors who will swear they are as honest as the day is long, but I'll never be convinced of it.  They're all out to make a buck and cut corners.  It just pisses me off that you can't trust these people.



Holy shit at the bolded. Seriously??

 

My husband is a contractor and has been one for over 20 years. Never been sued, never taken to court, a giant trail of happy customers.

 

We pull our own permits, we NEVER ask for money up front. And we have eaten it more times than I can count because of our honesty and sticking our neck out for customers. You don't have to "trust" honest contractors because their credentials check out, they collect at draw points for materials and inspections, and collect any and all PROFIT at the end when the job is done to satisfaction. Contractors who can't put materials on the job without YOUR money are not folks you should hire. We have capital and we have revolving accounts at supply houses--anyone worth a damn in this business is the same way.

 

I get you've had a bad experience, but if you didn't check out this person's credentials before you handed him 15,000 dollars, that doesn't reflect on other contractors. How did you find out his paperwork was forged? You made the phone calls? After you gave him the money and he left?

 

Who pulled the permit? Did you? If he had no license how did he pull the permit? This should have been displayed in your window before the work started.

 

There are crooks and idiots in every trade. If I had a penny for ever time our company lost a bid because we were "overpriced" compared to the other uninsured, unlicensed, boot leg idiots who ended up robbing the customers and WE eventually go in and walk them through the process of getting their money back (FREE ADVICE on our part)--and then fixing the mess these folks leave behind......well, I'd be retired in Boca right now.

 

 

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Old 07-03-2011, 01:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yep, I knew I'd get someone to say, "No, not my husband!!"  eyesroll.gif 

 

Yes, we checked the guy out.  No, we didn't check to see if he had any judgments against him in court.  But we did check everything else.  He was a CROOK... he knew what he was doing.

 

Since then, we've had at least a dozen different projects that we've needed contractors for.  EVERY.SINGLE.TIME, even those that checked out completely, tried to swindle us in some way... some in small ways and others in bigger ways.  Fortunately, we now know what we're doing and they couldn't pull it off.  I'm not basing my opinion on just this one guy, but every contractor we've ever come into contact with.  Yep, these guys give your dh a bad name and I wouldn't trust your dh for a single minute.  It's too bad that he's an honest guy in a very dishonest trade.

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Old 07-03-2011, 01:50 PM
 
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Yep, I knew I'd get someone to say, "No, not my husband!!"  eyesroll.gif 

 

 

Yeah, ya think? You call an entire profession crooks...go figure.

 

I'm pretty confused by your story. How did you "check him out?" If there was no business, what happened when you called his insurance company to verify his insurance? When you went online to verify his contractor class? Who pulled the construction permit?

 

I get he was a crook and there are LOTS of them out there, but it also sounds like you missed some big red flags (which is completely understandable and I wish more people knew how to negotiate this process because I've seen some heartbreaking horror stories), but to go on and defame an entire profession because you've had some bad experiences is just downright ridiculous and ugly.

 

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Old 07-03-2011, 04:02 PM
 
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Velochic- I ask this in all honestly- How long ago did you get your 15k judgement?  Months or years?  Has the contractor made any payments, regardless of if he fled or not?  He knows this balance is due correct?  So even is your debt isn't dismissed in court what are the odds of him ever paying you?  How do you plan to collect those funds?  Yes its 15k, but how much time, energy, anger etc do you want to put into this?  It sounds like a couple years have passed and you have not received any money.  Do you really expect this person to pay?


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Old 07-04-2011, 02:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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No, I don't expect I'll probably ever collect.  But it costs me nothing to make sure that it hangs over his head.  If I had to endure attorney fees, it might make it problematic.  However, it costs me nothing.  At some point, he'll probably have a real job and we will garnish his wages if we still can.

 

Monkey - he was using another person's (a relative's) information.  It all checked out.  Yes, we did our homework. He was fraudulently using his cousin's(?)/nephew's(?)/brother's(?) company information but it turned out he was not affiliated with them.  So, shame on me for not second-guessing.  Now I know better, have learned my lesson and I don't trust a single contractor that darkens my doorstep... oh, but I'm supposed to trust them because YOUR husband is honest.  Seriously??

 

And FTR - not too many people have anything good to say about lawyers, either.  Or CPS workers.  Nobody defends them, now, do they?  And they seem to be of a noble profession.  I don't really care what your thoughts are because your dh happens to be a contractor.  It's not going to change my opinion.  Like assholes, we all have one, and that happens to be mine, based on my OWN experiences.

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Old 07-04-2011, 03:08 PM
 
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You can hate all the professions, races, cultures you want. Plenty of folks do.

 

In any event, my husband and I are attempting to help with some free advice based on our experience in this field. Take it or leave it..

 

Again, WHO PULLED THE PERMIT? This is vital information for how you could proceed.

 

If his family member's company has their name on that permit, THEY are now responsible for your job.

 

If he used their company info against their permission, that is a criminal charge.

 

I hear you said you went to your AG and didn't get results, is this the charge he said he would not pursue?

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Old 07-04-2011, 04:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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You can hate all the professions, races, cultures you want. Plenty of folks do.

 

How did this become about hating... and how do "races", and "cultures" come into play, let alone professions?  I have no hatred of any of those, but you can try to put words in my mouth all you want.  Make no nevermind to me.

 

The building permit was in the contractor's family member's name.  They have a judgment against him, too.  I've already talked to my cousin today, briefly.  We can have our claim dismissed if can prove fraud (which should be easy).  Enough said.

 

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Old 07-04-2011, 09:21 PM
 
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Not putting words in your mouth in the least. It's MY experience that people who make sweeping generalizations and insults about entire groups of people fall into a certain category as well. You've insulted an entire profession and offended me personally in this thread where I've tried to be helpful to you. How nice.

 

In any event, I would check into whether your state has a time limit for contractor complaints to be filed. If you only have a judgement of debt and can not prove fraud, you may be out of luck entirely.

 

If you can't prove fraud (for whatever reason) you could go after the company whose name was on the permit--provided the time to do this hasn't expired in your municipality. Make them prove that they did not allow this family member to use their license otherwise they are responsible for the restitution. If it does come out that he used their license without their consent he could be facing jail time. That company really needs him to be criminally charged so they aren't liable for this and god-knows-how-many other cases like it. I might make some noises about coming after them anyway....just so they will push to have the fraud charges brought also.

 

Finally, as you move forward (or for anyone else) you should be able to check if the individual you are meeting with or hiring is attached to the name of the company licensed by the state. Where we live there is a searchable database with names and companies so you can see who exactly is licensed to do this sort of work by the state Department of Professional Contractors.

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