Bankruptcy

What to do if a company you hire has financial problems

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — In 2018, Clifford Braxton Sr. hired Sunroom Addtions & Improvements Inc. to install a sunroom in his home. He said he found the business at the Buffalo Home Show.

“They started working on it, and all of a sudden they needed more money,” Braxton said.

Braxton said the company continued to experience delays, and was told it was due to supply issues. He said the project, for which he hired the company in March, had been pushed back until completion in September.

The total cost of the conservatory was estimated at $62,596 and Braxton paid $52,596.

According to legal documents, the president of the company is Robert Keefe. Braxton said Keefe never finished the project at his home, but told him it was done.

“He said that’s how it was,” Braxton Sr. said. “I said, no, no, no, no!”

Braxton showed 7 Problem Solver Michael Schwartz the veranda. The wood floor which has water stains all over it. Braxton told Schwartz that he was going to install the carpeting himself, but he can’t because of the water that keeps getting on the wood. He said the company did not seal the room well and pointed to areas near the door frame where he believed water was entering.

Braxton also said the windows didn’t close properly and he felt the windows would be glass, not plastic. A beam warps and a second door has no stairs leading to it.

“What do I do now >…I called Channel 7 and got an investigative reporter here,” Braxton said.

Schwartz obtained documents from Erie County that showed Keefe had a history of financial problems. Multiple judgments show that a bank, insurance agency and loan company have all sued Keefe, over the past four years, for more than $70,000 that they claim he owed.

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court Western District also confirmed to Schwartz that Keefe filed for bankruptcy in 2020 and that case was closed last year.

So what options do you have if a company you hire has financial problems and doesn’t complete a job, or even files for bankruptcy?

“In the case of a contractor, the first recourse you would consider would be your own home insurance,” said Michael Weishaar, bankruptcy attorney with Gleichenhaus, Marchese & Weishaar in downtown Buffalo. “They may be able to provide you with financial assistance or assistance with a lawyer.”

Weishaar said another route is to hire a lawyer, but it’s not an easy road. He told Schwartz that every situation is different, but sometimes a company has become so financially overwhelmed that it has nothing left to liquidate.

“A lot of times you’ll find there’s no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow,” Weishaar said. He said filing for bankruptcy appears to give each party involved a fair chance.

The current Buffalo Home Show manager told Schwartz this was the first time she had heard of Braxton’s situation and commented:

If you have a consumer problem you need help with, email Michael at [email protected]