The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Crime & Courts

February 2, 2012

Lawsuit accuses contractor of cheating tornado victims

JOPLIN, Mo. — Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster filed a lawsuit Thursday in Jasper County Circuit Court against a contractor who allegedly failed to provide goods and services that had been paid for by victims of the May 22 tornado.

The lawsuit alleges that Eddie Brian Sides of Reeds Spring, owner of ABP Quality Construction Inc. of Branson West, was paid tens of thousands of dollars by tornado victims for construction materials such as tiles, cabinets and appliances, and that he did not complete work that he had been paid to do.

According to the Missouri secretary of state’s website, ABP Quality Construction was established on July 15, 2011, and is registered to Jim Krause of Branson West. Krause said he was the accountant for the company and did not know anything about the lawsuit. He declined to comment further. Sides could not be reached for comment.

The lawsuit says Sides conducts business under the name Brian Sides Contracting, and that after the storm, he came to Joplin advertising home repair and construction. The suit alleges that Sides does not have a valid license to do business in Joplin and does not have insurance required by law.

The attorney general is seeking a restraining order to stop Sides from operating a construction business, and is seeking restitution for customers. Koster is asking the court to impose civil penalties of $1,000 per violation, and to require the defendant to pay for all court, investigation and prosecution costs, according to a press release.

The alleged victims listed in the lawsuit are three Joplin women whose homes were damaged in the tornado.

Annette Merritt, 1717 S. Ohio Ave., according to the lawsuit, prepaid the contractor $48,883 for supplies that were never delivered. The suit says the work was not done by October as agreed, forcing her to purchase supplies elsewhere. Merritt could not be reached for comment.

The lawsuit says the company in June contracted with Betty Van Ostran, 2118 S. New Jersey Ave., who has since employed a different company to finish the work. The amount Van Ostran reportedly gave the company was not listed in the lawsuit, and Van Ostran could not be reached for comment because of a disconnected phone number.

In June, the company contracted with Andrea Grissom, now deceased, for repair work on her home for $66,000 upfront for materials and labor, the lawsuit says. The lawsuit says Grissom was promised that when the work was finished, she would get a $6,000 refund. The work has not been completed, the lawsuit says. According to Globe obituaries, Grissom died Dec. 27 after a long illness. The Globe was unable to reach any family members for comment.

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