If your brand new vehicle has a major problem that is not getting fixed it may be considered a lemon. In Ohio, vehicles that are under a year old or new vehicles with an odometer that reads less than 18,000 miles are considered a lemon if they have an unrepairable issue...
What you, as the Consumer, should know about vehicle repairs
Whether you have had to get your car fixed for minor issues, or needed a complete auto-repair, you have rights according to Ohio Law. The Ohio Administrative Code provides certain protections to consumers when it comes to getting their car serviced or repaired. The following are just some of the requirements under the code:
- Once you meet with the servicer in person, they must provide you with a form which indicates: (a) the date; (b) identity of the supplier; (c) your name and telephone number; (d) the reasonable anticipated completion date; and (e) if you requested, the anticipated cost of the repair or service. The form must also contain the following language:
- Estimate: You have the right to an estimate if the expected costs of repairs or services will be more than fifty dollars. Initial your choice:
____ written estimate
____ oral estimate
____ no estimate
- If you request a written or oral estimate, the servicer must provide you with the estimate before starting service or repair
- Your bill will not be higher than the estimate by more than 10% unless you approve a larger amount before repairs are finished.
- The servicer must obtain oral or written authorization from the consumer for the anticipated cost of any additional, unforeseen, but necessary repairs or services when the total cost of the repairs or services, if performed, will exceed fifty dollars.
- The servicer cannot represent that repairs or services are necessary if they are not.
- The servicer cannot fail to disclose to you prior to starting any service or repair, that any part of the repair or service will be performed by a person other than the services or his employees, if the servicer disclaims any warranty of the repair or service performed by that person. The servicer must also disclose the nature of the repair or service which that person will perform, and if requested by the consumer, the identity of that person.
Ohio courts have found that when a supplier has engaged in an act or practice declared to be deceptive by the code, the consumer has a choice of remedies, including rescinding the transaction, or recovering three times the amount of the consumer’s actual damages. In Grieselding v. Krischak, the Court of Appeals Sixth Circuit, affirmed the trial court’s award of $1612 in treble damages, plus interest and attorneys’ fees stemming from a mechanic’s failure to notify the consumer of repairs beyond the stated estimate.
These are just some of your rights as a consumer, among many. For more information see: O.A.C. 109:4-3-13, or call Doucet & Associates Co. LPA at (614) 944-5219.
Robo-signing: A still present problem for homeowners
“Robo-signing”. Most homeowners are aware of the term as a type of fraud that involved banks and mortgage servicers colluding to fabricate false documentation. The servicer would fashion legal documents of property ownership they did not have in order to initiate foreclosures on properties. Countless homeowners lost their homes when these documents were filed with the foreclosure action as “true and accurate” documents before the courts.
There was an attempt at culpability for this debacle that ultimately resulted in a $25 billion National Mortgage Settlement among the five leading mortgage servicers. Robo-signing never should have happened in the first place, but most of America was given the impression that the settlement was the end of it.
However, writer David Dayden of the financial news and analysis blog Naked Capitalism asserts that robo-signing has continued to this day. Dayden presents as proof an email sent to a former mortgage industry loan officer-turned-licensed private investigator specializing in securitization and chain of title analysis. This former mortgage industry insider is often called upon as an expert witness in foreclosure defense lawsuits. The email came from a document services provider working for large mortgage firms. The sender promises clients “peace of mind” that if documents are missing in a mortgage recording, their highly-trained researchers will locate and record these documents. In doing so, they create plausible deniability for fabrication of mortgage records.
The email to the former loan officer turned investigator requests a signature for an assignment of mortgage from the investigator. The investigator informed Dayden this isn’t the first time he’s been solicited for such a request. He theorizes that these companies are attempting a form of mutually assured destruction. If they can get him to sign on a forged record, it would indicate he is complicit in foreclosure fraud and tarnish his reputation and credibility as an expert defense witness. Alternatively, he posits that maybe they really did just need someone to help produce this mortgage assignment, and his name came up because he’d previously worked for the bank that needed it.
However, it’s likely worth noting that this same company was just fined $1.6 million in restitution and civil penalties by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for not honoring modifications for loans transferred to them by other servicers.
The investigator initially feigns ignorance. He asks for more information from the firm. The company responds by again indicating that an assignment is needed to show the bank assigned the loan over to the services firm. The “team lead” who had been communicating with the investigator attached a copy of the mortgage – which included confidential information that likely violated privacy laws.
The investigator then asks for a “prepared assignment,” which is a template from the company to fill out. Company responds with an attachment with blanks for investigator to fill in. It’s pre-signed and pre-notarized, with amounts that differ from the actual note (indicating the company wanted the document to appear as if it was first created in 2002).
Dayden characterizes this as “solicitation to commit a felony,” specifically, to fabricate a mortgage document. The investigator says that by “recreating chains of title,” they are dumping “garbage” into the courts daily.
Catching this kind of flaw in the chain of documentation requires the help of an attorney who is familiar with the intricacies of the foreclosure process and can spot irregularities. The firm of Doucet & Associates specializes in foreclosure defense. If you are facing foreclosure, call Doucet & Associates to schedule a consultation and let us help you save your home.
How to Avoid and Fix Contract Disputes With a General Contractor
Many homeowners need a checklist on hiring a contractor to ensure the work gets done correctly. At some point, most homeowners will need to hire a general contractor for a home improvement project or addition to the property, but many do not know where to begin when searching, or what to look out for in order to avoid a contract dispute. The homeowner is the first and last line of defense when it comes to choosing the right general contractor, and deciding on the right one starts with proper research.
The internet offers myriad resources for reviewing and researching general contractors. Sites such as Google and Angie’s List offer ratings and reviews that can be helpful in deciding on which general contractors are trustworthy and capable. Additionally, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and Better Business Bureau register complaints made against businesses and general contractors. Homeowners can check to see if potential general contractors have any formal complaints, and avoid any potential contract disputes.
The State of Ohio does not require general contractors to be licensed, but most cities in the state do, such as Columbus. Homeowners can check with city websites to see if a potential general contractor is licensed and bonded. A bonded general contractor has some sort of financial policy in place to pay damages against them in the event of a lawsuit or contract dispute. While a general contractor does not need to be bonded to work, it is typically a sign that the general contractor is responsible, diligent, and most importantly, doing what they can to avoid a contract dispute. You should only hire a contractor who has an insurance policy in place, and any such contractor should be happy to provide you a copy.
Homeowners would be wise to have an idea of what permits or licenses will be required for their specific job. A good general contractor will know and include such expenses in a written estimate, but homeowners would be wise to take the time to research costs. An attorney can offer advice on which permits and licenses would be required for a specific job and how to avoid illegal behavior in completing a project.
General contractors will be able to offer items that help potential clients decide for themselves whether or not they are capable of handling a job. Many keep portfolios of projects they are proud of and regularly share with potential clients. A good general contractor will be proud of their work and will make available several satisfied past clients as references. Portfolios and references are excellent resources to help determine how general contractors interact with their clients, and whether or not they can complete the job in a way that is satisfying to the client.
Cost is always at the front of everyone’s mind in a home improvement project, and general contractors are aware of this. They will be able to provide written estimates of the job, including itemized lists of materials, labor estimates, and any miscellaneous costs that may incur, such as permits. Homeowners will want to get at least three estimates from three separate general contractors to get an idea of how much the job will cost.
After settling on a general contractor, homeowners can ensure the contract they sign is fair for all parties. A general contractor should not get more than 20% of the total cost of the job up front, and will should earn a ask for a 10-20% profit over the costs. All guarantees, warranties, and promises should be written in the contract. It is perfectly normal for general contractors to be paid in stages of completion with final payment contingent upon inspection from a third party. Homeowners can also prearrange to pay for materials with an agreed upon supplier and have them delivered to the site, removing the general contractor from the process entirely.
No advice can hold true for every situation, and homeowners should always consult with a professional if they are concerned that a general contractor may be taking advantage of them. Call Doucet & Associates at (614) 944-5219 if you are concerned that a contract may be unfair, or if you need assistance unraveling a bad transaction or settling a contract dispute.
What Counts as a Lemon Car in Ohio?
Most of us know the term “lemon” refers to a newly bought car that turns out to be a dud, but some are unaware that many states have laws in place to protect against such lemon sales. A new car is worth a lot of money, and many people take out loans in order to pay for one. The prospect of bringing a new car home only to find that it is defective beyond use is terrifying. Luckily, Ohio is a state that has one of these lemon laws in place.
The State of Ohio’s Lemon Law legally defines a “lemon” as a new car with at least one problem that substantially impairs the use, safety or value of the vehicle and begins to suffer from the problem within the first year or 18,000 miles (whichever comes first). Under the Ohio Lemon Law, you must give the manufacturer a chance to repair the vehicle. If during the course of the repairs your manufacturer:
- Works on the same problem in more than three separate instances in the first year or 18,000 miles.
- Works on the vehicle for more than a cumulative thirty days in the first year or 18,000 miles.
- Works on the same car in more than eight separate instances.
- Cannot fix any errors that can result in death or serious injury on the first attempt.
Doucet & Associates Co., L.P.A. recently handled a lemon law case for a client who bought a new vehicle, and almost immediately experienced issues with the gear shift. Additionally, she claimed the car would wobble when accelerating at low speeds. If these allegations proved true, the car would likely satisfy the conditions of a lemon under Ohio law, as these problems inhibited the usability of the vehicle.
She took the car to the dealership on four separate occasions hoping to fix the issues. However, the dealership was unable to permanently correct the problems with the vehicle. Doucet & Associates ultimately obtained justice for the client by securing the return and getting her a refund plus attorney fees. If you feel you may have a lemon on your hands and you have already made the necessary attempts to get the vehicle fixed, call Doucet & Associates at (614) 944-5219.
Doucet Sues Caliber for Harassing Homeowners for Amounts Not Due
Doucet & Associate has filed a lawsuit against Caliber Home Loans, Inc. and the Bank of New York Mellon Trust on counts for RESPA, breach of contract, negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, defamation and invasion of privacy.
The homeowners that Doucet represents took out a mortgage with Caliber Home Loans in 2005. In 2009, they were forced to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy and entered into a payment plan to repay Caliber and the Bank every penny owed.
The homeowners paid back what they owed and the bankruptcy Trustee filed a motion with Caliber Home Loans that the homeowner’s loan be deemed current. Caliber Home Loans did not object. During this time, Doucet’s client alleges that a bank representative assured the homeowners the loan would be made current once the bankruptcy was discharged a month later. The bank issued a statement in bankruptcy court claiming the homeowners were not behind on their loan.
The Bankruptcy Court deemed the homeowners’ mortgage current. Yet, the lawsuit alleges Caliber Home Loans refused to acknowledge the court’s decision. Instead, the lawsuit alleges that the bank continually refused to update its records and harassed the homeowners with letters and phone calls multiple times a day.
The lawsuit alleges that the inaccurate reporting to the credit agencies have made it impossible for the homeowners to refinance their home or seek new employment. Most upsetting, however, is the severe emotional damage the bank’s harassments have caused the homeowners, which resulted in a tragic miscarriage of the homeowner’s baby.
The homeowners are seeking actual, punitive, and statutory damages, declaratory and/or injunctive relief, attorney fees and costs and any other relief the court deems appropriate.
Doucet & Associates is dedicated to fighting for the rights of consumers, protecting their interests and offering legal assistance to those who would otherwise be unable to afford it. If you need help with a company that is trying to take advantage of you or a loved one, call the firm today at (614) 944-5219.