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Infolawyer, Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 56575
Experience:  Licensed attorney helping individuals and businesses.
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Complicated problem with contractor

Customer Question

I have a very complicated problem and I desperately need assistance. My husband used a contractor in 2011 that did a horrible job on our bathroom. As a result, it would cost us over $3,000 to redo the tiles and leaks in the toilet and tub left by this contractor. The tiles were done poorly from the beginning and the plumbing was done by an unlicensed plumber that the contractor uses (even though the contractor is licensed). We took photos of the horrible work. We held back $1800 from the total cost of the job - which was $10,000. We begged the contractor to get us licensed plumbers to fix the leaks and to redo the discolored cracking grout. He refused. Worse, the contractor verbally assaulted us and apparently has alot of "influence" in the courts with the judges. He threatened us (using bad language and four letter words) and told us "Your will never win in court. I always win. You are going to lose the case and I'm suing you for the money." He drove by our house several times and shook his fists at my husband and me - while screaming and cursing at us. We went to court and despite the fact that the photos show very clearly that the bathroom is a mess and telling the Judge about the contractor's threats, we lost. The judge ignored the photos and sided 100% with the contractor, which seems very odd.

After the court hearing, the contractor came after us for the entire amount of the money - and sent letters from his attorney that he is attaching all kinds of interest and penalty fees to the original $1800. Because we lost in court, we had no recourse but we also have no money. We don't feel we should have to pay for horrible work that needs to be redone so we did not pay. As far as I am concerned, my husband made bad decisions hiring this contractor. I did not like this contractor from the start, and my F rating is in full view on Angie's List. But now my husband's decision is directly affecting me - here is the issue:

The contractor went to the Marshall's office and had the Marshall take over my husband's bank account. It just so happens that years ago I got a small safe deposit box at that bank for free when my husband opened the account, but the safe deposit box is in my name. The Marshall seized my safe deposit box so I have no way of closing the account. Now, the bank (Chase) is demanding that I pay the annual fee (a hefty $90 - the box isn't free anymore) and I am trapped. I refuse to pay for something that I did not do - and I did not even remember about the box. I told the manager at my local Chase Bank that I would simply like to close the account and let the Marshall keep the box. I don't even think I have anything in it.

I have tried to call the Marshall's office and work out something with them and told them I want to close the box. They refused and the woman in the office was nasty on the phone, and my repeated calls were not returned. Finally, my husband went down to the Marshall's office and was rebuffed rudely again. The Marshall's office is being very spiteful and they are working for the contractor. They refuse to release my name from the account, and Chase is demanding money.

I don't feel I should have to pay for something that does not have anything to do with me. My husband signed the original bathroom contract, and the box is an adjunct to his Chase account. It's just that the safe deposit box is in my name, so Chase is after me for the money.

This is very complicated and I am unable to continue to pay for an account that I am not being allowed to close. My husband has no money left in the account so the Marshall's Office and Chase are tormenting me and quite frankly, I am living on a very low fixed income. My husband and I are in foreclosure, we are living on food stamps and he only has a part time minimum wage job. I don't know what to do. Please help me.

P.S. - I hope Consumer Protection law is the right category.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  Infolawyer replied 4 years ago.

INFOLAWYER : Hello and thank you for the question.
INFOLAWYER : Was the restraint issued pursuant to a default judgment?
INFOLAWYER : In other words, did the contractor win by default without a case on the merits?
Customer : Sorry about the capitals, I am so upset.
Customer : If you are referring to the safe deposit box, I do believe the restraint was issued due to the default judgement by the Judge against us. I am certain that is the reason the Marshall grabbed my safe deposit box. But I can't pay Chase - I don't even have the money. And I have no access to the box and the Marshall is siding with the contractor.
Customer : If you read what the contractor did to me, there is something very wrong with this picture. I believe the contractor is paying off the city - or maybe even paying off the judge. If you saw the photos of my bathroom, you would understand what I mean. People who come to my house are appalled at the results.
Customer : It looks like the bathroom floor is 20 years old - not 2 years old.
Customer : I was thinking of writing to the Attorney General's office, or maybe even the Governor. I am extremely upset - crying now - I can't even function with this going on.
Customer : Are you still in chat?
Customer : This contractor cursed at me and threatened me, shaking his fists at me prior to the court date. Even if you hold back money from a bad job no contractor has a right to do that.
Customer : Are you still in chat?
Customer : I will not be able to remain in chat idle for too much longer, so please let me know if you are still in chat and researching my question. Thanks so much.
Customer : I just noticed the second part of your reply.
Customer : The contractor won without a case on the merits - and anybody who has seen the photos of my bathroom taken immediately after the work was done agrees. We had leaks in the toilet and sink. They also did a terrible job on the tiles because the grout was mixed badly and left staining and cracking. It is awful.
Customer : I am going to have to log off. I really hope you answer my question but I can't stay idle in Just Answer at this time.
INFOLAWYER : I was having technical issues
INFOLAWYER : apologize for the delay
INFOLAWYER : If the judgment and restraint based on default
INFOLAWYER : one may file a motion and have it vacated due to lack of notice
INFOLAWYER : also if the account does not belong to judgment debtor the court can release it
INFOLAWYER : The motion is usually granted
INFOLAWYER : courts like to have cases decided on the merits.
INFOLAWYER : Is that clear? apologies again for the delay in initial response
INFOLAWYER : ask me if you need any clarification
Customer :
If the judgment and restraint based on default
5/18/13 5:08 PM
one may file a motion and have it vacated due to lack of notice
5/18/13 5:08 PM
also if the account does not belong to judgment debtor the court can release it
5/18/13 5:08 PM
The motion is usually granted
Customer :

I'm sorry I was trying to paste your response because I was confused and wanted to point out what was unclear.

Customer :

Who may file the motion to have the judgment vacated? Do I have to get an attorney to do that? And what kind of attorney? I really don't have money and can't afford to hire a lawyer to represent me. So please let me know the process I need to go through to get the judgment vacated.

Customer :

Also, I don't know what you mean when you write: "If the account does not belong to judgment debtor the court can release it." The judgment is against my husband, and the bank account is his. But unfortunately, the safe deposit box which is the the bank is in my name. So the marshall seized my box, and now Chase Bank is hounding me to pay the annual dues for the box even though I have no access to it. But the Chase Bank account was in my husband's name and the judgment is against him.

Customer :

Can you please follow up on this when you get back into the chat, I really appreciate it. Thank you so much. It does sound like I have some recourse. Just please let me know how to go about getting the motion vacated, and what to do.

Customer :

Thanks again.