HAMILTON COUNTY, Ind.-- The Indiana Attorney General’s office filed suit this week against Noblesville home improvement contractor Mark Sellers following a Call 6 Investigation into his business practices.
Indiana Deputy Attorneys General Tamara Weaver and Michelle Alyea filed the complaint on July 18 accusing Sellers of violating the Indiana Deceptive Consumer Sales Act and the Indiana Home Improvement Contracts Act.
“In many instances, Sellers would take money from consumers as a deposit, start the work, then abandon the project and leave the consumers with partially finished, sometimes dangerous conditions,” read the lawsuit. “Sellers’ actions are unfair, abusive, and deceptive, and constitute violations of the Indiana Deceptive Consumer Sales Act.”
The Indiana Attorney General’s office is asking a Hamilton County court to issue an injunction, which would prevent Sellers from owning, operating or managing any company that provides home improvements to customers.
The lawsuit also seeks $16,120 in restitution for Sellers’ customers, including Noblesville homeowner Tina Duncan, who told Call 6 she paid Sellers $2,845 to fix her foundation but he didn’t finish the job.
“After a lot of sleepless nights and living through this financial and emotional nightmare, I’m appreciative for channel 6, the attorney general’s office and all those who persevered through this,” said Duncan in response to the lawsuit. “I’ll rest easier when this monster is off our streets and where can do no more harm.”
Former Carmel homeowner Derek Culnan, who was featured in Call 6 Investigates’ original story on Sellers, told our Kara Kenney Friday he hopes the lawsuit will make a difference.
“I’m so grateful the state has taken notice of this, and I’m grateful for your work,” said Culnan on Friday. “I hope the state’s action can change his practices. It gives us a sense of solace and validation that the state’s now digging into this.”
Culnan obtained a $95,650 judgment against Sellers in 2014, but has yet to see any of that money.
“The pattern seems to be he doesn’t have any money to pay it back,” said Culnan.
Call 6 Investigates also spoke with consumer Bryan Andrews in Carmel Friday, who is still waiting to collect a $2,100 judgment against Mark Sellers.
“The lawsuit is a good step, but this guy has been acting in a criminal way and there really should be criminal consequences to what he’s doing, not just financial consequences,” said Andrews. “We’ll all get another judgment and no one will see their money and then he’ll just go on and do it somewhere else.”
The Hamilton County prosecutor has not filed any criminal charges against Sellers regarding his business practices.
Records show Sellers, who does primarily concrete and masonry, has mounting civil judgments in court and homeowner complaints to the Indiana Attorney General.
Call 6 Investigates called Sellers Friday, but we were unable to reach him for comment on the lawsuit.
The attorneys general allege Sellers repeatedly violated the Indiana Home Improvement Contracts Act by failing to include required information such as the approximate starting and completion dates, a legibly printed or typed version of the consumer’s name, and contact information to whom consumer problems could be directed.
The lawsuit also accuses Sellers of making repeated mistakes in measuring, wasting materials, and creating dangerous conditions for his customers.
A hearing date has not yet been set, court records show.
Records show Mark Sellers is accused of bad business practices in Colorado as well.
The Boulder County District Attorney’s office sued Sellers in 2011 for low-balling customers by underbidding construction projects, mispresenting his masonry work on his website, and for using deceptive trade practices.
They obtained a $32,084 judgment against Sellers, but he still has not paid it.
A spokesperson with the Boulder County District Attorney’s office confirmed the Mark Sellers they sued in 2011 has the same date of birth as the Sellers who now lives in Noblesville.
This spring, Call 6 Investigates set up an appointment with Mark Sellers in Westfield.
What Sellers didn’t know was he was meeting our producer wearing hidden cameras.
Sellers avoided getting specific about who he is.
PRODUCER: I didn't see your name on the Craigslist ad. What's your company name?
SELLERS: I don't have one. No, I'm just an LLC. Sole proprietor.
The name of the LLC is Mark Sellers Construction LLC.
PRODUCER: Have you ever been sued? Anything I need to be worried about there?
SELLERS: I mean, not rea--…I've been to court yeah. People don't pay me.
Call 6 Investigates Kara Kenney then came out of the house to ask Mark Sellers about his business practices.
KENNEY: There’s a lot of people that say you owe them money. Are you taking people’s money and not doing the work promised?
KENNEY: Tina Duncan, Derek Culnan, Bryan Andrews-- they all want their money back. Are you going to give people their money back sir?
SELLERS: Yeah, through the judgments we will.
KENNEY: But you didn't show up in court. Have you paid any of the judgments?
SELLERS: I’m working on that.
KENNEY: What about Colorado?
SELLERS: Working on that too.
TIPS FOR HIRING A CONTRACTOR:
- Get estimates in writing
- Check for criminal charges or civil suits here
- Check for a contractor’s license
- Ask for references and call them
- Ask to see examples of their work
- Ask about insurance: personal liability, worker’s comp, and property damage coverage
- Pay wisely, not all up front