Madison County property owners sue AAA and agent over unlicensed contractor

Andrea Dearden Feb. 10, 2012, 4:00am

Several property owners in Madison County say they were lied to by an insurance agent when he recommended a contractor to repair their roofs.

Ron and Debbie Habermehl, Clifford and Erin Row and Alpha and Omega Christian Fellowship filed a lawsuit Feb.1 in Madison County Circuit Court against Auto Club Family Insurance Company, U.S.A. Staffing Inc. and Wayne Walker.

According to the complaint, the Habermehls, Rows and the Fellowship own properties in Fairmont City, Collinsville, Granite City and Caseyville. All say they were insured through Auto Club Family Insurance. In April 2011, a storm allegedly caused damage to the roofs of those buildings so the owners called their insurance carrier to assess the damage.

The plaintiffs say Auto Club used U.S.A. Staffing to provide insurance adjusters and, for this assessment, it sent Wayne Walker to their homes. The Hambermehls say Walker carried a business card that said "AAA" on it, identifying him as a representative of the company. Walker allegedly brought Jeff Wolfson with him to the Hambermehl home saying he was a reputable contractor approved by Auto Club and the head of a large roofing company with operations in several states. Alpha and Omega Christian Fellowship and the Rows contend Walker made the same claims to them concerning Wolfson. All three plaintiffs say they agreed to contracts with Wolfson and made down payments totaling $21,000.

However, upon further review the plaintiffs say they discovered that Wolfson was not the head of a large roofing company. They say he had served time in prison for various repair scams in Missouri, had a court order barring him from performing such repairs in that state and had refused to pay several subcontractors for their work. Wolfson was allegedly not licensed to do business in Illinois. They also claim Walker knew of Wolfson's misrepresentations.

The plaintiffs accuse the Auto Club, U.S.A. Staffing and Walker of consumer fraud, deceit and negligence. They ask to be reimbursed for their down payments and attorney's fees to break the agreements with Wolfson. Alpha and Omega, the Hambermehls and the Rows seek compensatory and punitive damages of more than $600,000 plus court costs.

Attorney John D. Wendler of Edwardsville represents the group.

Madison County Circuit Court Case No. 12-L-139

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