GOSHEN — A judge sided with a Goshen couple in a roofing scam lawsuit, awarding them more than $255,000 in damages after the contractor they sued never responded to the accusations. The case alleged the couple is among hundreds of victims who were deceived following last year’s hail storm.
The suit, brought by Travis and Trisha Stewart, claims Adam Greer of Valparaiso and his two Illinois-based companies — public adjusting service Exact Loss Consulting Inc. and sister home repair firm Storm Solution Pros Inc. — committed fraud, constructive fraud, home improvement fraud and breach of contract, as well as violated Indiana’s deceptive consumer sales and home improvement contract acts in a seven-count complaint. The other count alleges the companies unjustly kept the Stewarts’ money.
The Stewarts were among many residents whose homes were damaged by hail during a storm June 1, 2019. In the aftermath, representatives with Exact Loss went door-to-door, signing public adjuster contracts for services such as helping with insurance claims adjustment and settlements, according to details in the lawsuit.
The contracts included fine print stipulating homeowners would sign insurance checks over to Exact Loss, and the company would collected one-third of the net settlement as a fee. But the fee would be waived if the homeowner hired the sister company, Storm Solution, for the repair work. The deal was Storm Solution would pay Exact Loss for public adjusting services, apparently with money from each settlement, according to the suit.
But the catch, the lawsuit alleges, was Storm Solution wouldn’t be able to perform all the repairs amid the contracts that were signed. The suit also claims the companies expected to wait out their clients’ patience with delays, and homeowners would seek a new contractor while sacrificing Exact Loss’ fee.
“When Exact Loss signed the agreement, it and Greer were well aware Storm Solution wouldn’t make the necessary hail repairs in a timely fashion, if at all. Meanwhile, defendants are flush with insurance proceeds,” the lawsuit states.
“Defendants counted on many exasperated homeowners simply giving up after long delays, buying out their contracts by authorizing Exact Loss to take its 33 percent cut from the settlement proceeds, and finding another contractor to make the repairs, at a loss to the homeowner.”
The suit estimated fewer than 40 homes were repaired out of more than 600 contracts signed with Exact Loss.
The Stewarts had signed over $81,054 worth of insurance checks to Exact Loss and went more than nine months without any repairs performed before the lawsuit was filed in Elkhart County Superior Court 2 in late March.
“The Stewarts are left with a damaged roof and no insurance proceeds with which to fix it,” the lawsuit states.
Among the allegations, the lawsuit claimed Exact Loss should be considered a property improvement supplier since the company sold the Stewarts on hiring Storm Solution. And in that situation, acting as a public adjuster, Exact Loss violated a state law that prohibits property improvement suppliers from also serving as public adjusters. Another count alleges the Exact Loss agent who worked with the Stewarts wasn’t a licensed public adjuster, which would void the contract.
The suit sought $243,163 for the family, amounting to triple damages for the $81,000 they lost, plus attorney fees and other costs.
A month later, the Stewarts’ attorney asked the court for a default judgment in the case, arguing Greer and his companies never replied to the complaint.
Court records show summonses with copies of the lawsuit were mailed to Exact Loss and Storm Solution’s offices in Chicago, South Bend and Goshen. An attorney argued the companies failed to respond to the allegations, comply with Indiana trial rules or raise a defense.
The original complaint also noted Exact Loss didn’t respond to a notice sent in early March, about three weeks before the lawsuit was filed, that outlined the allegations and sought a refund for the Stewarts.
Since Exact Loss and Storm Solution took no action on the lawsuit, Judge Stephen Bowers ruled in the family’s favor on May 1, awarding them $255,723, amounting to the damages the suit sought plus attorney fees, court documents show.
The Stewarts’ attorney sent another summons Friday to Greer at an address in Valparaiso, alerting him of the lawsuit and the allegations in it, a filing shows.
A hearing is set for June 16, apparently intended to discuss payment of the judgment.