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A.G. Underwood Sues To Compel Compliance In Ongoing Investigation Of North Country Manufactured Home-And-Land Retailer

News from the New York Attorney General's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 25, 2018

Attorney General’s Press Office / 212-416-8060
nyag.pressoffice@ag.ny.gov 

A.G. UNDERWOOD SUES TO COMPEL COMPLIANCE IN ONGOING INVESTIGATION OF NORTH COUNTRY MANUFACTURED HOME-AND-LAND RETAILER

WATERTOWN – Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood today announced an order directing Walker’s Manufactured Housing, Inc. (“Walker’s”) and its owner, Stanley Hall, to explain their failure to sit for testimony as required by the Attorney General’s subpoena. Following multiple consumer complaints, the Attorney General’s office opened an investigation into the company’s business practices and issued a subpoena for Stanley Hall to appear for questioning. Mr. Hall refused to answer questions, improperly asserting a blanket Fifth Amendment privilege, and terminated the hearing. The order issued by Supreme Court Judge James P. McClusky of Jefferson County compels Walker’s and Stanley Hall to explain why the Judge shouldn’t further order their compliance with the Attorney General’s investigation.

“My office will aggressively investigate retailers of manufactured home and land deals who shirk their legal obligations to provide homes that are safe, durable, and suitable for occupancy,” Attorney General Underwood said. “Transparency and fair dealing is necessary in every transaction involving New York State consumers.”

Multiple consumers in Jefferson County filed complaints with the Attorney General’s office regarding the advertising, sales, and installation practices of Walker’s Manufactured Housing, Inc. Complaints included failure to install homes to engineers’ specifications; lengthy delays in delivering homes; delivery of incomplete homes; and failure to provide complete work orders and alterations of work orders. When consumers had previously complained, the company disclaimed responsibility or provided excuses for why the expected work was delayed. 

One family that did business with Walker’s Manufactured Housing – including an ill father and veteran – alleges they lived in their camper on newly purchased land for over five months in daily anticipation of their new home delivery. When the home arrived in the middle of November, the family says it did not have a fireplace—the most important personalized feature in the home for the family. The home also didn’t have carpeting, skirting, sewage, or water. After delivery, the family claims Mr. Hall worked on the home for two days and then abandoned the site completely. When the family refused to sign documents accepting the incomplete home, Walker’s filed a lien on the property. The consumers were forced to rent a new home at great personal expense. The family never received their deposit back from Walker’s, and were shocked to learn later that Mr. Hall listed their unoccupied home and land for sale as his own.

Based on this and other consumer complaints, the Attorney General opened an investigation into the company’s business practices. The Attorney General issued a subpoena to Stanley Hall to appear for questioning, however Mr. Hall refused to answer any questions and terminated the hearing. The order announced today gives Walker’s and Mr. Hall until late June to explain their failure to properly provide testimony to aid the Attorney General’s investigation.      

The Attorney General’s filing highlights the office’s commitment to investigating businesses and holding them accountable to New York consumers. 

The investigation was conducted by Investigator Chad Shelmidine. The Investigations Division is led by Chief Investigator Dominick Zarrella.

This case is being handled by Assistant Attorneys General Julia Kaplan Toce and Alicia M. Lendon and Consumer Frauds Representative Sharnette Grant, under the supervision of Assistant Attorney General In Charge Deanna R. Nelson, all of the Watertown Regional Office. The Division of Regional Affairs is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General Marty Mack.