Hudson Valley Wedding Photographer Sued For Deceptive Practices
Attorney General Spitzer today announced that his office has obtained a restraining order against an Orange County photographer who left dozens of couples waiting months, even years, for wedding albums and portraits.
Michael J. De Rubeis and his wife Kathleen, were served with a restraining order and lawsuit alleging that the couple, through their photography businesses, engaged in a pattern of deceptive business practices that defrauded at least 60 consumers. The De Rubeises are owners of Creative Photography and Video, MKD Studio of Photography and Video, KM Photography and Video, Inc., CP Photography & Video, and operators of Impressive Images Photography and Design, Inc.
"The actions of this wedding photographer have turned the hopes and dreams of dozens of couples into a nightmare of broken promises," Spitzer said.
Spitzer's investigation, which commenced in April 2003, revealed that the De Rubeises repeatedly failed to perform contractual obligations, including:
- Failing to deliver promised photographs, wedding albums, videos and other products;
- Failing to keep repeated promises to deliver completed products;
- Providing unprofessional, defective and poor quality work;
- Avoiding phone calls from customers who had paid in full and then placing return calls at times they knew they would not reach the customer, thereby delaying the completion of orders; and
- Sending substitute photographers to weddings, even after promising not to do so.
In addition, in an attempt to avoid legal liability for the injuries they caused consumers, the De Rubeises repeatedly changed the name of their photography businesses without filing the proper governmental registrations with either the Orange County Clerk or the Department of State.
Dutchess County State Supreme Court Justice Christine Sproat signed an order temporarily restraining the De Rubeises from accepting any further advance payments for photography services until they post a $100,000 performance bond with the state.
In addition, Spitzer's office seeks a permanent injunction against the photographers' fraudulent acts and a court order requiring them to produce and deliver ordered photos, portraits, negatives, wedding albums, and videos. The lawsuit also seeks to obtain restitution, damages and interest for all victimized consumers as well as civil penalties for their violations of law and court costs.
Specifically, the lawsuit seeks a court order:
- Requiring full refunds of deposits made by ten consumers with future wedding dates;
- Forcing De Rubeis to expedite the completed wedding packages for which full payment has been made or, if he is unable to do so, to return all negatives, proofs, raw video and photographs;
- Requiring the payment of restitution to cover the costs injured consumers will have to incur to have another professional complete the work; and
- Providing restitution on a progressive percentage basis for those customers who suffered an unreasonable delay in receiving their wedding packages.
In addition, the lawsuit seeks an order requiring the De Rubeises to produce copies of all wedding agreements or contracts since January 1998 and an accounting of all payments made to them by consumers.
Individuals with complaints against the De Rubeises and their photography businesses are encouraged to contact the Attorney General's consumer help line at (800) 771-7755.
This case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Nicholas Garin of the Poughkeepsie Regional Office with the assistance of Consumer Frauds Representative Mark Hoops.