Gave the builder a contract and $11,000 to repair water damage in a condo. He worked one day and disappeared. It's been four months. He just told me that he declared bankruptcy and can't pay me my deposit back. I called the attorney general's office in Florida and they can't help. I've sent a demand letter to the builder. What recourse do I have? Furious in Florida
If the contractor has truly filed bankruptcy, then there may be little to do in the quest for recourse. But, it'd be worthwhile to make sure that they've actually filed a bankrupcty and aren't just giving you the run around. So, searching for a bankruptcy filing might be a good first step. This article should be helpful for that: How do I Find Court Records for Bankruptcy in Florida? | Legal Beagle. If it turns out that the contractor hasn't filed bankruptcy, there should be civil and criminal claims against them for taking off with project funds.
Even if a bankruptcy was filed, if the contractor was licensed, it could be useful to see about recovery against their bond. Though, I'll be the first to admit I'm not all that familiar with this kind of dispute and I'm not sure whether claims against the bond would survive a contractor's bankruptcy. It may also be worth exploring claims like fraud against the contractor if you believe they intentionally took money without intention of doing the work. While the contractor's debts may be wiped out by bankrupcty, criminal claims wouldn't be.
In any event, if you're serious about seeking recourse, it'd be wise to consult with a Florida lawyer - particularly one who's familiar with bankruptcy law. You can begin that search here: Top Florida Construction Lawyers.