Roofing company bankruptcy leaves veteran couple high and dry

Roofing company bankruptcy leaves veteran couple high and dry (Photo: SBG)

A paralyzed veteran and her husband are left high and dry after a company installs a bad roof over the heads and then declares bankruptcy.

"I don't know where to turn or what to do now," says homeowner Anne Robinson.

The Trouble Shooters found out why, if this happens to you, the law is not always on your side.

There are water leaks inside the house.

"When it rains real hard, that gets worse," homeowner Harry Robinson says while pointing to a leak in the master bedroom. "And there's always a little puddle of water right here," he says as he points to the floor.

Outside the house, there's a wasp infestation.

"There were 20 or so right up in here," Harry says as wasps fly around near the roof. "There might be a huge nest up in there."

The culprit: gaping holes in a brand-new roof.

"A squirrel could get in that hole," Harry says.

The Robinsons says the ordeal started when a big hail storm pounded their Helotes home in spring 2016.

"It was just a mess," Anne remembers. "Did a lot of research before we signed with a company."

The Robinsons paid more than $16,000 up front. The company removed the old roof and started installing the new one. The Robinsons say the work took months. Crews stopped showing up - and when they did, the work was shoddy.

"We hired a lawyer. Took them to court," Anne says.

Earlier this year, the court ruled in the Robinsons' favor, awarding them more than $185,000 in damages and attorney fees. But they never saw a penny of it, because the roofing company did something they didn't see coming.

"They filed for bankruptcy which leaves us with absolutely no claim," Anne says. "They don't have to do any repairs. They don't have to refund the money or anything."

To find out what recourse you have if this happens to you, the Trouble Shooters turned to associate professor David Hague from St. Mary's University School of Law.

"So what happens is when anyone files for bankruptcy, there is what's called the automatic stay. It's in every single bankruptcy," Hague explains. "And the automatic stay is like a wall that comes down and that wall protects the debtor."

The proverbial wall means you cannot pressure the company in any way to pay you back or finish the job.

"The only way you can kind of lift up that wall and get relief from the automatic stay is that you have to file a motion with the court," Hague says.

Since we sat down with the Robinsons, they learned the company's bankruptcy case was dismissed. They're holding out hope that at least some of their money can be recovered because without it, they can't afford another court battle or another roofer.

"Two companies that we've talked to say this has to be completely ripped out," Anne says. "Our hands are tied right now."

Any repairs fall on Harry's shoulders because Anne is paralyzed. She's quick to point out that this could happen to anyone.

"When you sign the contract and you leave people hanging, and it damages their biggest investment," Anne says.

By EMILY BAUCUM

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