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Wayne Independent - Honesdale, PA
  • Couple frustrated with case

  • The owners of a small company in Bethany say they are frustrated with a court case involving the developers of the old Sullums building in Honesdale.
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  • The owners of a small company in Bethany say they are frustrated with a court case involving the developers of the old Sullums building in Honesdale.
    Brian and Erika Duffy, owners of Duffy Plumbing and Heating, say their case has been tied up in court and they don't understand why the defendants continue to drag out the proceedings.
    The case is Duffy vs. Smith-Morris, the company which is developing the "anchor building" project in downtown Honesdale.
    Brian said over two years ago he was given contact information about the new project and contacted the owners about doing the plumbing work.
    "The plumbing went fine, it was paid for," said Brian.
    Then, he said, he was hired to do the heating and air conditioning in the building.
    "It went well at first," said Brian, who said it was a "verbal agreement."
    The agreement was for his company to be paid weekly at a rate of $75 per hour or $600 per day.
    "We never fell behind with the job," said Brian.
    But as time went on, he said the payments slowed down. It got to a point where he agreed to do some of the work without the weekly payment, thinking he would bill the company and get reimbursed.
    "It started to be very questionable," he said.
    Brian said they completed "95 percent of the work," but then were told not to come back.
    He said they were never paid the $10,350 which was owed for the work.
    That was in 2011.
    Page 2 of 3 - Because of that, the Duffys took their case to court. In March 2012, they won their case in district court.
    The defense appealed the decision and it went to a three-panel arbitration board of local lawyers, a standard procedure in such cases. Once again, they won that case and were awarded a $10,350 judgment.
    "Now, they are appealing this," said Brian.
    In fact, the case is set to go to trail on Sept. 10, according to court documents.
    Erika said the case has been frustrating and she doesn't understand why it has gotten to this point.
    A phone call was made to attorney Ron Bugaj, who represents Smith-Morris, to discuss the case but the call was not returned.
    "Ten-thousand dollars means a lot," said Brian. "We have already paid out that money."
    Not only that, he said he has lost money by having to take days off to deal with the matter as well as hiring local attorney Rich Henry to represent them in the case.
    Henry declined comment on the ongoing case.
    "I want my money and I want them to be accountable," said Brian.
    Erika called the situation a "little bit scary," referring to the overall anchor building project.
    The project is a joint effort by Honesdale Borough and the Pennsylvania Department of Economic and Community Development in which the borough agreed to sign onto a grant from the state. In turn, the money from that grant will be turned over to pay for the project and then the owners of the building have to pay back the loan over 20 years.
    When the money is paid back, it can then be loaned out at low interest by the borough for smaller downtown projects.
    Page 3 of 3 - "We are trying to bring awareness," said Erika of why they wanted to go public with their story. "We are going the legal route."
    Erika said this story is "about the community" because tax dollars are being used to fund the project.
    "Who is turning their cheeks?" she said. "Why not fund the people who are doing the work there?"
    She thinks members of the community should demand to go into the building and see the progress.
    "The reason is they are not paying people," said Erika. "And how many other people needed to take legal action to get paid?"
    Brian said he hopes their case can be taken care of because they need the money as small business owners. He also said that "ideally," he would like to be able to recover the court and attorneys fees.
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