MARYVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A Maryville man who won a civil lawsuit against a heating and air contractor has yet to collect any money. The court ordered the contractor to pay nearly $3,000 after a police investigation found fraud had been committed.
WATE 6 On Your Side Consumer Investigator Don Dare has attempted to get in touch with the contractor but found he wasn’t answering calls or text messages and no one is at his place of business. The Better Business Bureau shows several recent customer complaints. They are the same issues that Dale Kidd experienced several years ago. In Kidd’s case, the contractor demanded his money upfront, then deposited the check, but never delivered the HVAC system.
There is a slight dent in Kidd’s air conditioning unit after he accidentally backed into it two and a half years ago.
“I come around the house, tilted it over. I thought, I ruined it. So I called the air conditioner man. He came out here and said, I need a new air conditioner,” said Kidd.
So, Kidd wrote a check for $2700 to Russell Pass on Oct. 27, 2019. Pass owns and operates ABC Heating and Cooling out of Friendsville.
“He said he needed the money upfront. I used him before and he was an A1 guy in my book,” said Kidd.
Everything appeared to be going well, but then Pass never delivered the new AC unit. In fact, Dale Kidd’s AirTemp didn’t need to be replaced, it works fine. Now, Kidd is still waiting for his money back. In January of 2020, Dale filed a complaint against ABC Heating and Cooling. A report by the Blount County Sheriff’s alleges fraud by the contractor.
“I took him to court, they prosecuted him. Still can’t do nothing about it,” said Kidd.
The civil suit against Pass was held in June of 2020. Kidd won the case and said Pass did not show up to court.
“Have you contacted him?” asked Dare.
“Many times. I got to where when I used my phone, he wouldn’t answer. So I used someone else’s phone,” replied Kidd.
When Dare attempted to call Pass, he did not answer. In a voicemail, Dare told Pass he was with Kidd who wants to know when he will be getting his money back. Dare then went to the listed address of ABC Heating and Cooling. Not only is the building empty, it’s listed for sale.
From the BBB report, in the last 12 months four other customers, like Kidd, are still waiting either for their AC unit or their money back. In the report, one man said he wrote a cashier’s check for $2,000 three months ago. He added that Pass will not return his phone calls. In March of 2022, another person that’s complained he gave him $4,400 and has not contacted him back yet.
“Why can’t the law do something about it,” said Kidd.
Even after winning a civil lawsuit, you still have to collect the money awarded in the judgment—the court won’t do it for you. Financially sound people or businesses will routinely pay a judgment entered against them. However, not everyone will be as willing.
“I want him to give me my money back. He’s young, he can work. I worked hard for my money and I want it back,” said Kidd.
Legal experts say when the debtor is not willing to follow the court’s judgment, if necessary, there are legal ways to force payment. Many courts require the losing party to complete a “disclosure” statement listing all assets, or risk a charge of contempt of court. However, legal experts, say if the debtor doesn’t show up to court, there’s no way for the losing party to complete a disclosure statement.
Pass has not responded to Dare’s attempts to contact him. In addition, ABC Heating and Cooling is still doing business, or at least it was a few months ago.