LOCKPORT – One of several local homeowners dissatisfied with the work of Sanborn contractor Dennis Goss won a damage award of nearly $11,000 last week.
James Kitcho of Hoover Road, Sanborn, who fought with Goss for years over what he considered shoddy workmanship, came out on top in a nonjury civil trial in September before Niagara County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III, who issued his verdict Thursday.
The Buffalo News reported in August 2012 about several homeowners with similar complaints about the work of Goss, who operated under the names Village Builders and Image Builders.
Goss was the plaintiff in the case, suing Kitcho over the latter’s refusal to pay for the work, but Murphy came down on Kitcho’s side after hearing five days of testimony.
Murphy said both men lacked credibility in his eyes, but he especially ridiculed Goss, who was unable to produce any documentation to his assertions about the cost of the home improvement work on Kitcho’s house in 2009 and 2010, or the amounts paid to subcontractors.
Goss testified that was because his basement was flooded during a rainstorm in the summer of 2012.
“The court finds this explanation not worthy of belief,” Murphy wrote. “Were the business records printed on tissue paper? Were there no water-logged copies of the records that survived the flooded basement? Was there no record that might exist in some form on a computer?
“This court also questions Mr. Goss’ veracity regarding alleged work performed on the project and discussions with the homeowners, but the ‘dog ate my homework’ excuse for the lack of supporting documentation offered by Mr. Goss is the most egregious example of his lack of credibility.”
Kitcho, under cross-examination by Goss’ attorney, Robert R. Radel, seemed to become tired and finally just answered “I don’t recall” to just about everything. Murphy said he doubts Kitcho could not recall the answers.
Murphy said the contract for the addition to Kitcho’s home lacked numerous provisions that are mandated in state law, and thus was invalid.
Edward P. Perlman, Kitcho’s attorney, commented, “Jim Kitcho is unaware. He never did this before. But as a home builder, Goss should know better.”
Radel did not return a call seeking comment on the decision Friday.
Murphy ruled that Goss stopped work on Kitcho’s home when he was only 85 percent done with the assignment, a 25-by-20-foot, two-story addition. Goss sued, claiming Kitcho still owed him $15,000 from the $96,800 project.
Murphy made a $7,700 damage award based on the contract price and the amount of work he believes was done. The judge also added interest and legal costs for Kitcho.
“All the work that Goss did either had to be redone, broke or is falling apart,” Kitcho said Friday.
Goss faces other legal troubles, including a $3.1 million lawsuit filed in September by Jeffrey and Gina Hammer of Sanborn over Goss’ work on their home on Lockport Road in Wheatfield.