Peter Ickes obtained a victory for two married homeowners in a case arising from a dispute with their handyman. The homeowners hired the handyman to install a range hood above their stove and countertops in their kitchen. Pursuant to the agreement, the retired homeowners paid the handyman $1,700 in advance to begin work. A dispute arose when the handyman claimed the homeowners could not pick out the hood they wanted to install. The handyman, having already been paid $1,700, wanted to install an inexpensive low-end hood.
After ignoring communications from the homeowners for over a week, the relationship terminated when the handyman showed up at their door unannounced and offered to return only $1,300 of the $1,700 originally paid. He did not provide any itemization for why he was keeping $400. Although the homeowners were willing to pay a reasonable service charge, they felt as if they were being taken advantage of and demanded an accounting of the missing $400. When the handyman refused to provide it, they filed suit in small claims court.
At trial, the homeowners only asked the Court to award $1,600, which would still provide a $100 service fee to the handyman. After hearing all the evidence, including a vigorous cross-examination of the handyman by Peter, the judge specifically found the handyman had acted unprofessionally in his dealings and had not satisfactorily produced any evidence of why he thought he was entitled to keep any portion of what he was paid. He specifically found the homeowners’ testimony credible. The judge awarded the full $1,700 amount of the contract, plus court costs, to the homeowners.
Ausborn v. Dellaca, Polk County Case No. SCSC697734