An 89-year-old North Little Rock woman on July 8 filed a lawsuit in the Pulaski County Circuit Court against a Jacksonville corporation and three people associated with what she states was a botched construction project at her home.
Plaintiff Gretchen Madison, 420 Freda Lane, North Little Rock, filed the suit against Northstar Consultants, Inc., 909 W. Main St., Suite 382, Jacksonville; Joy Kinman; Robert A. Walker; and Marcus A. Dupree, all of Pulaski County.
According to the lawsuit, Madison had lived in the house located outside of the city limits for 49 years.
“In early 2012 Madison’s stick-built home was damaged beyond repair by a water leak,” according to the lawsuit. “Madison received insurance proceeds in the amount of $59,600.”
Madison obtained three bids to tear down and remove the water-damaged home and construct a stick-built home with her desired floor plan.
Northstar provided one of the three bids.
The lawsuit states that Dupree was, at all times, the individual with whom Madison discussed, negotiated and eventually contracted with to tear down and remove the water-damaged 900 square foot home and build a 1,216-square foot home. Dupree asserted to Madison that he owned Northstar, according to the lawsuit.
“Dupree asserted to Madison that he had built his personal home and numerous other homes in the North Pulaski County area,” according to the lawsuit. “Dupree never disclosed his personal or other business relationships with Walker or Kinman. Dupree asserted to Madison that he would build her house “the same as if he were building it for his mother.”
The lawsuit states that Walker is a full-time employee in a managerial position at Chili’s Restaurant in Jacksonville. Kinman is president of Kinman Homes and the mother of Walker. Kinman is also a recent appointee of the Jacksonville Water Works Commission, taking the place of former commissioner James Bolden.
Madison was told on Nov. 19, 2012, that the construction would be completed by Christmas.
The lawsuit states that Depree used a subcontractor to electrically wire the home who was not licensed.
“In late November and early December, Madison made several complaints about poor workmanship; Dupree’s response was ‘we will take care of it’,” according to the lawsuit. ” On or about January 7, 2013, Dupree ceased answering or returning Madison’s phone calls and voice messages.”
Madison said she wasn’t given a blueprint or a specification sheet and construction began before the lot was treated for termites.
“Dupree began construction without leveling the lot,” according to the lawsuit, “Madison inquired about the uneven footings almost immediately after construction began.”
Beginning on Oct. 9 and through Nov. 19, Northstar was provided payments.
“On or about January 23, 2013, Madison’s son-in-law, Todd Parsley, hereafter
“Parsley, prepared a written ‘punch list, change order, and a daily penalty if construction was not completed by Feb. 8, 2013.”
The lawsuit continues, “On or about January 28, 2013, Dupree asserted that material prices had increased and consequently the job was running 10 percent overbudget. Dupree asserted that he had no funds to finish the home and if Madison wanted the job completed he needed $6,000 to complete construction Madison refused to provide an additional $6,000.”
On Feb. 18, neighbor Gary Sinkey, who lives across the street from the construction site, witnessed and notified the plaintiff that Dupree was backed up to the front door where he and his men were removing materials.
“On or about February 26, 2013, plaintiff and plaintiff’s daughter and son in law witnessed Dupree remove boxes of ceramic tile and tile installation supplies, materials and supplies purchased for the construction site, tile and installation supplies purchased to be installed construction of Madison’s home,” states the lawsuit. “Madison reported the February 25, 2013 theft to the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department.”
The Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department advised Madison to change the locks. On or about Jan. 23, Parsley prepared and Madison mailed a cease and desist letter to Dupree.
“Madison filed a complaint against Northstar and Dupree with the Arkansas
Contractor’s Licensing Board,” states the lawsuit.
On or about March 22, Andy Branton, staff architect with the State Fire Marshal’s Office, inspected Madison’s construction site and prepared a report of violations he found. Violations listed in the report were to the ventilation, design and construction, allowable joists spans and allowable girder spans, joist framing, lumber sheathing, wall bracing, and roof covering application, according to the lawsuit.
“Madison’s home is not level,” stated the lawsuit. “Branton asserted to Madison and Parsley that had the building codes been complied with from the beginning that the structure would be level.”
Branton asserted to Madison and Parsley that the code violations could possibly be corrected, and if they are, the home would technically be in compliance with the building codes, but without tearing the house down and rebuilding from scratch, the home will never be level.
Kinman provide Walker with one of the three required work experience references.
“When contacted, Patricia Young and Lucille Cook asserted they are friends of Kinman and provided the references at the request of Kinman,” states the lawsuit. “Patricia Young and Lucille Cook asserted that Dave Kinman of Kinman Homes, constructed their homes, not Walker. They further asserted they have never even met Walker, but only know of him because of his mother, Kinman. Upon information and belief, all three of the references are false.”
According to the lawsuit, Dupree owns and operates Dupree Enterprises, Inc., incorporated on March 4, 2010 and is in good standing. Dupree Enterprises, Inc. is a business dealing in Internet marketing and advertising. Dupree Enterprises, Inc is not a construction company. Northstar and Dupree Enterprises, Inc. use the same address and telephone number.
Kinman owns and operates Kinman Homes, Inc., incorporated on May 29, 1973.
Kinman Homes, Inc. has held an Arkansas Contractors License since June 27,
2001. Dave Kinman, founder of Kinman Homes, Inc. died on December 3, 2011.
Joy Kinman, widow of Dave Kinman, continues to operate Kinman Homes, Inc.
Kinman’s Arkansas Contractors License was “grandfathered,” meaning Kinman was not required to take the examination or provide references,” states the lawsuit.
On or about April 10, 2013, Northstar served Madison a “10-day notice of intent to file a lien.”
The new construction is not habitable, was not properly constructed, does not meet the state building codes, and is not repairable, as outlined in great detail in the fact section of this Complaint, states the lawsuit.
“The Inspectors’ reports all indicate the home needs to be torn down and reconstructed correctly,” according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit also alleges that there was fraud and misrepresentations made.
“Dupree, as agent for Walker and Northstar, made several false statements of fact, as outlined in great detail in the fact section of this Complaint. Dupree knew these statements of fact were false at the time he made them. Dupree intended for Madison to rely on these false statements of fact in her decision to hire him to construct her home. Madison did in fact rely on these false statements of fact in her decision to hire Defendants, as opposed to other contractors who bid, to construct her home.”
Madison’s reliance was reasonable and justifiable insofar as she verified that Northstar did hold an Arkansas Contractor’s License, which indicated that Northstar was qualified to build her home was reasonable.
“ Madison suffered actual damages as a result of Dupree’s Walker’s, and Kinman’s Misrepresentations,” states the report.
Madison is seeing actual damages of $60,000, compensatory damages of $60,000 and punitive damages of $400,000.