Two Las Vegas contracting firms are in the spotlight after filing for bankruptcy earlier this month: Bolmer Restoration (a DBA registered to CAT Detailing, LLC) and Rooter Man (a DBA registered to Luft Heating & Air Conditioning) both filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy — and they’ve done so on the heels of hundreds of embattled projects.
Rooter Man and Bolmer Restoration have enjoyed a close relationship. During routine plumbing repair house calls such as leaky faucets and drains, Rooter Man employees would often suggest that there was mold or damage within the home — and then they would subsequently recommend Bolmer Restoration as the company to use, stating the contact at Bolmer was an expert at handling insurance claims.
The fact that both companies are owned by the same man, Eduardo G. Arrendondo, makes that working relationship and tandem bankruptcy filing that much more interesting. And, considering Arredondo also filed for bankruptcy in 2008, there appears to be a few layers to this story.
While it’s routine for a plumbing contractor to point out damage to homeowners, according to a report by the Better Business Bureau (BBB), many of the Rooter Man customers suddenly found themselves in way over their heads.
Several customers reported that when they agreed to work with Bolmer to remedy their issues, they quickly found their homes torn apart and lives turned upside down. They also found themselves on the receiving end of a slew of mechanics liens.
A mechanics lien is an involuntary security interest contractors can use to secure payment for labor or materials furnished to improve property if they’ve gone unpaid. However, what can be a crucial payment tool can also be used for fraudulent purposes.
According to the BBB, several homeowners reported that Arredondo would use deceiving tactics to obtain their credit information and open unauthorized accounts, explaining that he would handle everything through the insurance company. In the meantime, his crew would take the home down to the studs without authorization, citing foundation or structural issues, mold, and the presence of asbestos as the justification.
As the bills climbed and insurance companies balked at such inflated invoices, Bolmer would send notices of intent to lien to the customers, threatening to file liens against their customers’ homes if they wouldn’t pay — an intimidation tactic meant to produce a check as quickly as possible.
These tactics have led to more than several mechanics lien filings at the hands of Bolmer Restoration, an issue some are saying should’ve raised red flags. The constant lien filings and seemingly random releases have made the total amount of liens filed against homeowners difficult to determine, but the count is currently in the hundreds.
Homeowners affected by allegedly fraudulent liens band together on social media
Former state lawmaker Chris Edwards criticized both the contractor for his tactics and the state contractor board for allowing one business to file so many liens. Edwards stated, “If you have 5 or 6 liens in your career as a contractor, that’s a lot. When this guy’s going above 20, 30, 50… What are they waiting for?” Edwards continued, “It’s just not right.”
Most of the homeowners affected by these liens feel that they’re fraudulent in nature, as they were misled to believe that Arredondo would handle everything through the insurance company. Some customers even stated that Arredondo told them not to call the insurance company at all, reassuring them that he was an expert. And, with vague contract language and mysterious electronic signatures, they felt as if Bolmer took advantage of them.
Bolmer has employed similar tactics so often that a Facebook group developed. The “Justice 4 Victims of Bolmer Restoration – CAT Detailing LLC” page has 170 followers, and it serves as a virtual town square where victims can meet and exchange information.
While defending his case to members of the Facebook group, Arredondo has referred to himself as a “nice person,” and stated that customers could reach out to him anytime. He also said that blaming Bolmer gave his customers the psychological justification they needed not to pay their bills.
“If these people assume that Bolmer and Rooter Man are conspiring to do these “bad things to them,” that provides them with comfort because, in principle, it would be controllable,” Arredondo said.
When pushed further in the Facebook group, Arredondo alluded that one customer’s college education and ability to read were enough to ensure they understood the contract.
He also stated: “Stop acting like a victim. If you have not paid for a service or even fairly attempted to negotiate, that does not make you a victim. Blaming Bolmer for all of your bad luck, bad acts, and bad decisions and creating conspiracy theories to make others follow you will not go past this page.”
Luckily for some homeowners, many of Bolmer’s liens were released by late 2020 — but Bolmer’s bankruptcy paperwork names over 30 creditors, some of which are homeowners with liens still on their homes.
The Nevada Attorney General has reached out to the group to notify them of the bankruptcy and inform them of the meeting of creditors to be held on May 19, 2021.