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Monday, May 27, 2024

AG sues company for $250K, alleges it defrauded consumers post Hurricane Florence

The North Carolina attorney general is suing Dennis Daugherty Jr. and his businesses, Green Lantern Services LLC and Green Lantern Roofing and Restoration LLC, for allegedly taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from consumers but failing to complete repair work post Hurricane Florence. (Port City Daily/File)

SOUTHEASTERN N.C. — A North Carolina company that allegedly deceived civilians post Hurricane Florence is being sued by the state’s attorney general. Josh Stein has taken action to the tune of over $250,000 in damages.

On Apr. 28, Stein filed a lawsuit against Dennis L. Daugherty Jr. and his Illinois company Green Lantern Services LLC, as well as Green Lantern Roofing and Restoration LLC out of North Carolina. The AG notes in the lawsuit Daugherty defrauded consumers who were seeking repairs after 2018’s storm ravaged the North Carolina coast.

READ MORE Hurricane Florence coverage here

Hurricane Florence made landfall on Wrightsville Beach and left behind $17 billion in damages statewide — more than both 1999’s Floyd and 2016’s Matthew combined. 

“Dennis Daugherty saw North Carolinians struggling to rebuild their homes after Hurricane Florence as an opportunity to make a quick buck, we allege in our complaint,” Stein said in a press release. “When businesses trick their customers, I’ll take them to court.”

Stein writes in the lawsuit that Daugherty registered his North Carolina business on Sept. 28, two weeks after Florence hit on Sept. 14. Daugherty arrived in town and is accused of traveling door-to-door, making false claims of being a licensed contractor and promoting his business, both online and face-to-face, as a full-service construction company. He reportedly told customers 40 workers were staying in a nearby hotel, ready to be deployed to correct problems with roofing, siding, windows, ceilings, floors, and outbuildings.

Yet, Daugherty allegedly didn’t have many people on call ready to help. The lawsuit lists three people — Brett Hasenmeueller, Josh Snyder and Christian Shepard — who supposedly helped solicit door-to-door business. Part of their spiel was to convince customers to opt for “Direct Pay,” documents reveal, which essentially had them sign over insurance checks received from claims made on property damage. Daugherty told consumers company policy required half payment upfront, prior to services.  

The lawsuit states Daugherty entered into a contract with consumers in violation of N.C. statute and didn’t provide a verbal or written notice of a three-day right to cancel.

According to documents, Daugherty absconded with hundreds of thousands in fees, without a return on job performance; work was left incomplete or improperly corrected — sometimes worse off than before Daugherty’s arrival. Many consumers with homes in New Hanover and Pender counties received botched roofing repairs, inevitably resulting in more water damage, the suit describes.

A 68-year-old wrote in her affidavit that she and her husband signed over $17,913.57 to the defendants, yet crews only installed two tarps to cover the roof and a spot over the foyer, with promises to return to complete restoration.

“After about eight months, the roof tarp eventually ripped, causing water to gush into the foyer,” the suit details.

The account alleges Daugherty reached out to the couple about seeing through the contract, after they submitted a complaint to the North Carolina Department of Justice, but he never returned to finish the work.

It forced the customers to pay $20,000 more out of pocket — money that had to be borrowed — and hire separate contractors to complete the work.

Multiple accounts include Daugherty making hollow promises, as noted in a $68,000 job to rectify a mangled roof and water damage inside a home. Green Lantern installed drying machines indoors and subcontracted another company to work on the roof. When the company failed to pay the hired roofers, they walked off the job.

Another couple in North Topsail Beach hired Daugherty for mold remediation, water damage and HVAC repairs. Around $80,000 in insurance money was signed over, though little work was finalized before the company halted progress. The repairs they did make ended up compromising the HVAC system further and left consumers with $40,000 more in damages that insurance would not cover, according to the suit.

Eventually, Green Lawn hired a licensed contractor, Eric Hatfield, to step in and help with some of the projects. The lawsuit describes Hatfield was brought in “purely as subterfuge,” since some of the consumers were catching on to the fact Daugherty wasn’t licensed.

Hatfield allegedly abandoned projects midpoint when Daugherty failed to compensate him. The contractor then approached consumers for payment, unknowing Daugherty was paid in advance for the work. As a result, the lawsuit notes “Hatfield responded with threats of litigation and filed a claim of lien against a consumer’s real property.”

Nine complaints were filed to the NCDOJ’s Consumer Protection Division about Daugherty’s business practices. Of the $250,000-plus in losses incurred, $5,000 was paid back, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit states Daugherty responded to some of the complaints and acknowledged his company left work unfinished. He also said he intended to refund customers, though none were ever processed.

Green Lantern Roofing and Restoration LLC out of North Carolina was dissolved Feb. 4, 2020. Seven months later, Daugherty’s Illinois business, Green Lantern Services LLC, was disestablished.

Stein has asked for a court issuance of a preliminary injunction against the defendants to prevent them from working with customers in North Carolina. Additionally, he is seeking restitution, civil penalties, and attorney fees.

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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