Worst Minneapolis Contractors of 2010
LeMaster Restoration Inc. | Burnsville, Minn.
In 2010, the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry issued only one summary order to revoke a license — against LeMaster Restoration — for what the department's enforcement officer says was one of the "most egregious" cases of the year.
"They engaged in a pattern of insurance fraud, billing customers for work they didn't do and filing overstated mechanic's liens to force those customers to pay money the company wasn't entitled to collect," DLI enforcement officer Charles Durenberger says.
In addition to revoking company owner Verdean LeMaster's license, the company also must pay $40,000 in fines, according to state records. LeMaster's attorney, Marshall Tanick, says the DLI investigation was "flawed and deficient," and he's appealing the license revocation.
Ron and Julie Woeste of Elk River hired LeMaster to repair their home after a fire, but say they fired the company after months of poor workmanship. LeMaster responded by placing a $350,000 lien on their home. After a lengthy court battle, a judge in 2008 reversed the lien and awarded the Woestes a $301,000 judgment. A state appeals court later upheld the decision. Tanick declined to comment on the case.
LeMaster Restoration, with a C rating on the List based on four reports, continues to solicit work. Durenberger says the company may do dryout work and cleaning, but no reconstruction work.
Arkay Builders | Minneapolis
The state Department of Labor and Industry fined Arkay Builders and its owner, Bruce Swanson, $25,000 and revoked the company's license in March for failing to pay $740,000 in outstanding civil judgments, including abandoning building projects and not paying subcontractors.
"We don't allow a licensed contractor to have outstanding judgments against them," DLI's Charles Durenberger says. "We hold that to be financial irresponsibility."
Arkay never filed a response to the department's complaints.
Troy Triplett, owner of Triplett Construction and Handyman Services in Big Lake, says he sued Arkay for $5,000 in lost wages and won a judgment in July 2009, but says he's received nothing. "I don't know if something went wrong somewhere, or he just didn't want to pay people," Triplett says.
Kurian and Laly Benjamin of St. Paul won one of the biggest civil judgments against Arkay in June 2009 — $200,000 for abandoning a home building project, state records show. However, according to Durenberger, they've only received $50,000 from the state recovery fund. The Benjamins declined to comment.
Durenberger says Swanson cannot be located. A notice on the company's profile alerts members that it's out of business.
Amen Roofing | Lino Lakes, Minn.
D-rated Amen Roofing landed in the Penalty Box twice in 2010 — the only Twin Cities-area service provider to do so.
Angie's List member Melanie Triplett of Blaine says she hired Amen Roofing in 2008 to replace her roof after hail damage, and it began leaking two years later. Triplett says Amen promised to pay $1,000 toward the repair, but the company's check bounced twice.
Angie's List member Debbie Steele of Forest Lake complained of shoddy work on a $9,000 roofing job. Amen did not respond to either Penalty Box case — resulting in a notice to alert members.
Manager John Matthews says the company resolved both complaints by paying Triplett via cashier's check and fixing Steele's roof.
Triplett says she still hasn't received payment.
Steele filed a civil suit against Amen in October to recoup damages.
Matthews says Amen Roofing, which has a state residential building contractor license, plans to fight Steele's civil suit in court. "There were only a few hundred dollars in damages, and she's asking for $7,500," he says.
— by Paul F.P. Pogue