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Post date: May 20 2004

Court Cites Capital District Gutter Service For Fraud

Attorney General Spitzer today hailed a decision that ordered restitution and civil penalties be paid by a Capital District contractor for shoddy work and refusing to honor warranties.

James M. Lewis, owner of Colonie Seamless Gutters, was sued by Spitzer's office earlier this year for deceptive business practices, false advertising, fraud and other violations of consumer protection laws.

"Home improvement fraud ruins consumers' dreams and empties their wallets," Spitzer said. "Home repair contractors are on notice that unkept promises and unscrupulous practices will be met with aggressive enforcement efforts and stiff penalties."

Colonie Seamless Gutters solicited customers in Albany, Rensselaer and Schenectady counties to perform drain and gutter services. According to the lawsuit, the company advertised as a "gutter specialist" and represented that its quality seamless gutters would not leak. Customers were further enticed with warranties ranging from one to 15 years.

Spitzer's office received approximately 30 complaints from homeowners over the past four years alleging that the work of Colonie Seamless Gutters was defective. In many instances, its gutters and drains began to leak almost immediately after installation, causing water damage to consumers' decks, porches and basements.

Consumers also complained that Colonie Seamless Gutters declined to honor its warranties and often failed to make refunds. When consumers called with problems, Colonie Seamless Gutters often did not return repeated phone calls or scheduled repairs and then failed to show up.

In issuing the court order and judgment, New York State Supreme Court Acting Justice Thomas J. McNamara of Albany County granted the relief sought by Spitzer's office. Specifically, the judge permanently barred Lewis from the gutter- and drain-cleaning and installation business until he posts a $25,000 performance bond. The order also requires Lewis to pay full restitution to injured consumers and $22,500 in civil penalties and costs. Spitzer's office estimates that the restitution owed to consumers could be as much as $6,500.

Individuals who want to file a complaint against Colonie Seamless Gutters should contact Spitzer's consumer help line at (800) 771-7755.

This case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Matthew Barbaro of the Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau.