Thursday, September 21, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Thursday, September 21, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

‘To Catch A Contractor’ – in Court

LOS ANGELES (CN) - Adam Carolla's home improvement reality show "To Catch a Contractor" let 200 gallons of raw sewage spill into a family's house and refused to clean it up, the family of four claims in court.

In a Superior Court complaint seeking $2.8 million in damages, Rochelle Kirk and Scott Waters say the massive spill seeped into walls and beneath their house in Covina, leaving toxic mold and bacteria throughout the property.

Carolla, not a party to the lawsuit, stars in defendant Spike Cable TV's "To Catch a Contractor."

In the show, the comedian confronts allegedly unscrupulous contractors and the show hires new builders to complete unfinished or shoddy work - an irony probably not lost on Kirk and Waters.

Defendant Eyeworks USA makes the series, which is executive produced by "Biggest Loser" producer J.D. Roth, also a party to the lawsuit.

According to the 23-page complaint, the spill left the parents and their children with respiratory infections. The situation got so bad, the family claims, they were forced to leave their home and stay in a hotel for more than three months.

Even after they moved back, the family still had to deal with serious health issues and undergo surgeries for sinusitis, the parents say.

"To Catch a Contractor" producers approached the couple in April 2013 to remodel a bathroom abandoned by another contractor, according to the lawsuit.

Producer-defendants Anthony Jensen and Kevin Harris promised the couple that "in exchange for allowing the production company full access to their story and the house, the show would employ experienced, licensed contractors and crew to fix all the mistakes of the incompetent contractor," the complaint states.

Kirk and Waters say that the contractor Eyeworks hired to finish the job, defendant Craig Patton, had been licensed for less than a year. Eyeworks also hired a plumber, defendant Sage Beagle, to help with the work, the lawsuit claims.

But after the production was done, sewer pipes were left disconnected, allowing the gallons of raw sewage to seep into the property, the couple says. When they complained to the show's producers about the "horrific" smell, the defendants refused to fix the problem, the family claims.

During an inspection, Patton allegedly told the family that a mouse probably died behind one of the walls.

In August 2013, Kirk and Waters found the sewage after they hired a plumber to open a wall. When Beagle came around to look at the mess, he allegedly blamed the show's producers for making him work on the cheap and told the family that producers had told him they would not pay him to make repairs.

The family claims that Beagle and defendant Emergency Services Restoration, a company hired to clean up the mess, violated federal and state environmental laws by pouring the sewer water and raw sewage onto the front yard of the home.

"Both Beagle and ESR [Emergency Services Restoration] failed to acknowledge or inform plaintiffs about the 7-foot-by-5-foot area that was contaminated with visual mold growth," the complaint adds. "ESR, in fact, had told plaintiffs that nothing further needed to be done and that the house was safe to reside in."

But two other mold inspectors found more mold and bacteria in the house, Kirk and Waters say.

After a pediatrician told the family that the house was not safe to live in, they lived out of a hotel from the end of August to early December.

Here are the defendants: Spike Cable Networks and its parent Viacom International; Eyeworks USA; Bongo LLC; Ross Weintraub; J.D. Roth; D.J. Nurre; Skip Bedell; Sage Beagle; Emergency Services Restoration; Sendy Hartwell; Dan Hartwell; Anthony Jensen; Kevin Harris; Jennifer Pike and Craig Patton.

The plaintiffs seek $2,869,000 in damages for intentional misrepresentation, negligence and fraud.

They are represented by David Dijulio of Glendale.

Eyeworks and Viacom did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Categories / Uncategorized

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.