False Reports to Government Regulators In California Results in Class Action Targeting Terminix
A suit that is seeking certification as a class action lawsuit was filed against Terminix in the U.S. District Court of Sacramento, California February 8, 2011. The suit alleges that Terminix engaged in three unlawful practices which dealt with the sales and service of contracts. In specific, the contracts promised to prevent subterranean termites by application of liquid chemicals and other techniques. Direct evidence of this was seen in the the treatment of an office building in Turlock, California. The office building was owned by Mr. Edvard Eshagh’s who alerted regulators after people began to fall through the floors of the structure. After the floors collapsed a second time in 2009, Terminix performed their third treatment in ten years. Again Terminix promised their customer the company had performed the “necessary services” to prevent termites and guaranteed that no corners had been cut. Terminix’s manager even asked him to trust them as he had for ten years.
Originally, Eshagh asked regulators to look into Terminix’s service for the same reason he hired Terminix in the first place in 1999: he is not an expert and does not know how to prevent termites. Regulators investigated and reported to Eshagh that “all probable entry points for termites” had been treated. However, regulators concealed that all they did was ask Terminix if full treatment had been performed. Regulators then assured Eshagh everything was fine. When Eshagh asked regulators how they could state that opinion without looking at the measurements of his building, the agency revealed that they were not performing an investigation but mediating a dispute. According to SPCB representatives, all they were was mediating a dispute. If the California Structural Pest Control Board has been known to give false assurance then all California consumers should be cautious in dealings with the regulatory agency.
Eshagh made it clear that he wouldn’t tolerate the SPCB failing to investigate, so the SPCB had one man travel to Turlock to inspect. When the investigator arrived he asked Eshagh how the consumer wanted the investigation to be conducted. He asked them to evaluate the services Terminix performed dating back to 1999. All they were willing do is to evaluate whether Terminix performed the treatment and prevention service in recent inspections only.
The SPCB concluded that Terminix had not treated all probable termite entry points. They revealed in fact that doing so would be impossible. Structural problems existed in the building that should have corrected before Terminix tried to apply the necessary poisons. Terminix should’ve known and alerted Eshagh. If he had not gone to extraordinary lengths he would’ve never known. The SPCB ordered a full treatment but Terminix still would not do the job correctly. At this point Eshagh knew that both the SPCB and Terminix were failing to perform their duty and estimated that his case was not a singular incident. So he filed a class action lawsuit in federal court.
The class action limits its scope to customers with subterranean termite contracts that promise to provide the “necessary service” to prevent termites with liquid chemicals. According to the complaint, Terminix does not to provide this service in two ways. First, Terminix provides only a “local” or “spot” treatment that it claims will protect the whole structure: It does not. This kind of representation and practice is specifically prohibited in California. Second, Terminix fails to disclose that termite prevention and proper inspections are impossible if a building has stucco in contact with the earth. This condition exists at Eshagh’s building and most buildings in California.
In addition, it was found that Terminix’s contracts are unlawful because they contain a clause on the back of its form contract that excuses Terminix from their duty to perform the service they promise on the front page of the contract. This kind of trick is also illegal. In its investigation, however, the SPCB refused to look at the contract because it was issued in 1999 and the SPCB doesn’t investigate records older than four years. In addition to monetary damages, the complaint seeks to stop these unlawful practices and holds Terminix to provide the termite prevention services it promised to perform.
We are well educated on these issues. The game Terminix plays is not a mystery to us. If you sense that you are being cheated reach out to us. Lawyers and paralegals at the firm can be contacted at the listings below.
Campbell Law PC
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