In January of 2004, my family hired a contractor "Crucifixion Home Improvements" (name changed because of Consent Order) to build an addition on our home. Along the way, the contractor walked off the job because we had refused to pay extra for work that was part of the scope of work, according to our executed contract. (We had already paid him extra for something that was included but decided to put our foot down this time) The contractor had clearly underbid the job. We initially attempted to resolve the matter, through a mediator, Mr. Winters. We even agreed to pay additional moneys in an effort to get the contractor to return to the site and complete the contract. Our efforts were unsuccessful in coming to a solution and as a result, the matter ended up in litigation.
At this point, we had paid "Crucifixion" over $96,000 and had our addition framed, sided, no heat, partial electricity, about 1/3 of our plumbing completed, partial sheetrock, sheetrock that was installed had mold on it and many, many failed inspections. We had to hire contractors to work towards completion of the work and correct the work not done to code in the first place, which brought us over $119,000 over our original contract amount. Mr. Winters was hired to perform some of the electrical work at my home.
In order to save on legal fees, we signed a Consent Order in January of 2005, submitting the matter to binding arbitration. As part of the agreement, "Crucifixion" agreed to complete some of the work on our home that we had already paid for under the contract and we agreed not to name the construction company. At this time, only part of the work done under the Consent Order has passed municipal inspections and some of the work was not done at all. (Although they have not honored the Contract and the Consent Order, we still remain silent about the name of the contractor).
We met with a court-appointed mediator who was supposedly going to provide oversite for legal decisions that might come up and suggested that Mr. Winters, being familiar with the details to date, would save us money on Arbitration fees. $7,000 later... that was a joke! Further, Mr. Winters rate of $95.00/hour is not in line with the rates arbitrators would charge of $70.00/hour or $350/diem pursuant to R. 4:21A-2(a). (We would expect his rate to be even lower, since he is not a licensed attorney.) His rate was not stipulated at the time of the Consent Order (It was sent in a follow up letter) and we had no way of knowing that the rate was out of line because we are not legal experts.
It is unlikely that the mediator reviewed the case, since there were misrepresentations and facts that were not correct. Also, the mediator disclosed information to the other party that we were told would be held in confidence further biasing the outcome.
Mr. Winters by nature is not a quick person, his telephone discussions were long and drawn out, he repeats details, confuses details, called me by the other parties name on more than one occasion, substituted Defendant for Plaintiff etc. etc. I had sent him data which he claimed he was going to review and there was no mention of it in the decision. He missed $15,000 in additional repairs of receipts I had provided. He even claimed to not having received certain information which we had provided for him on 3 occasions. This led to billing of over $7,000 for his decision and he could not even provide a break-down of what he did during that time for his invoice. It would appear that he just made up the hours, especially since he worked many hours (on some days 10) and he also has 2 other jobs (his electrical company and he works as a fireman). Subsequently, "Crucifixion" also works as a fireman. I guess it was our mistake for trusting him!
Out of the electrical work we contracted him to do, Mr. Winters did not complete the following: attic fan electrical work, the vanity lights in a bathroom, a bathroom fan/light, the air conditioner hookup, wiring a wire into the main panel, and rewiring a switch that was inccorectly wired. My husband ended up doing most of the finish work himself and corrected some of these problems but many are still outstanding.
When we asked him to come back and complete the work, he had many excuses for us; he was sick and things got backed up; he was on vacation twice (lucky him - probably spending our money)...The last 2 times we called, he did not answer his phone (probably) because of the legal situation.
His decision was full of errors so my attorney suggested that we seek a Reconsideration and Clarification of the Decision. Mr. Winters agreed to hear our information (because it would mean that he makes more money - after already having made over 16K from us between electrical and arbitraion).
We waited months for the Reconsideration and spoke with Mr. WInters who claimed that we were paid in full and the decision was being witheld because of the other parties lack of payment. Then a new invoice surfaced (even though we were paid in full) and we immediately paid it. We later find out that he is now requiring us to pay all of the Arbitration fees, even though the court reported Consent Order calls for the sharing of the fees.
We are out of money to fight the decision at this point, we still have no certificate of occupancy and an unfinished home and electrical that will not pass inspection.
And now in 2007 - MR WINTERS WANTS MORE MONEY FROM US!
Middletown, New Jersey