November 2, 2006
St. Louis, Mo. — The owners of a St. Louis home repair business sued by Attorney General Jay Nixon will pay $15,401 for consumer restitution and an additional $7,540 to the state of Missouri under a consent judgment approved Wednesday (Nov. 1). Under the order, Steven and Diane Ernst, owners of Thermal Exteriors, also are permanently prohibited from hiring themselves out to install home siding or replacement windows.
Nixon filed suit last January against Thermal Exteriors and the Ernsts, alleging they took thousands of dollars from St. Louis-area residents for home repair work that was never completed or was done in a shoddy manner. The lawsuit also said the Ernsts made misrepresentations to customers and refused to finish the work or provide refunds when requested.
“After years of evading their responsibility, these defendants finally will be paying back homeowners in full,” Nixon said.
Under the consent judgment signed by St. Louis City Circuit Judge Lisa Van Amberg, the defendants must pay $15,401 as full restitution for nine consumers, in amounts ranging from $300 to $3,400. Two other consumers will receive letters from the defendants indicating that those consumers do not owe any additional money for home repair work done by the defendants and which was the subject of the consumers' complaints.
The Ernsts also must pay $2,000 as a civil penalty to the St. Louis City School District and $5,540 to the Missouri Merchandising Practices Revolving Fund. The fund is used to pay for consumer protection enforcement and education efforts.
Nixon says Missourians considering home repair work should get several written estimates from local contractors; obtain references and then call those references; get all guarantees in writing; and don't pay more than a third of the total price for a down payment.