Q: WHAT TYPE OF LAWYER DO I NEED TO SUE A GENERAL CONTRACTOR FOR STEALING 22K FROM ME AND DOING NOTHING TO MY PROPERTY?
ALREADY FILED A COMPLAINT WITH DCRA AND UNSUCCESSFULLY WAS NOT ABLE TO OBTAIN MY MONEY BACK EVEN TRIED MPD WITH NO SUCCESS. I WAS ADVISED BY MY INVESTIGATOR FROM DCRA TO PURSUE LEGAL ACTION AND GET BACK TO HER SO THEY COULD POSSIBLY TAKE HIS LICENSE. I NEED A LAWYER BECAUSE HE HAS DONE NOTHING TO MY CAPITOL HILL HOME AND HAS NOT MADE ANY ATTEMPTS TO GIVE THE MONEY BACK. I'M OUT 22K WITH NOTHING TO SHOW FOR IT....SOMEONE PLEASE HELP.
A: Unfortunately, unlike Maryland's MHIC, the DCRA does not have a proactive investigatory and civil enforcement arm to it, and there is no insurance fund for consumers to claim against in the event a licensed contractor fails to perform a home improvement. Homeowners in DC are left to sue on their own in DC Superior Court. One thing in your favor is the DC consumer laws that provide attorney's fees and possible treble damages against the contractor, which can be awarded if you prove your underlying claim. However, to get that judgment, you will need to pay a lawyer to file and prosecute the claim. Getting the judgment is generally the easy part. You then have to collect it against the contractor, and that will require that the contractor have assets you can attach, like a bank account. I handle these matters, as do other lawyers, but I do so on an hourly basis and will require an advance retainer to bill against. It may be possible on your facts (which I am not fully apprised of) to support a criminal prosecution, which could result in restitution payments upon sentencing or as part of a plea deal, which would force the contractor to pay as a means of saving his skin. That requires the evidence to both support a crime as well as the US Attorney's Office to pursue it. It is possible for a lawyer to assist in that referral, but again, it may be viewed as simply a civil matter and not a criminal matter, leaving the onus upon you to go after the contractor.
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