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DC Corporation Counsel Wins $2.5 Million Judgment on Behalf of Defrauded Consumers

Tuesday, March 9, 2004

DC Corporation Counsel Wins $2.5 Million Judgment on Behalf of Defrauded Consumers

(Washington, DC) Corporation Counsel Robert J. Spagnoletti announced today that his office has won a $2.5 million final judgment against a local public insurance adjuster who victimized DC residents whose homes had been damaged by fire. Superior Court Judge James Boasberg has determined that William Suter and his companies, the Steven A. Rosen Company and CW Restoration, owe $2,162,928 to consumers who had arranged for assistance in collecting insurance proceeds and in arranging for repairs to their homes.

"This case should send a message that we will take tough legal action against those who seek to defraud our citizens at their most vulnerable moments," stated Corporation Counsel Spagnoletti.

In July 2002, the District of Columbia sued Suter and his companies for misrepresenting their public insurance adjusting services and then surreptitiously pocketing large portions of consumers' insurance proceeds. The District alleged that consumers were pressured or misled into signing up for public adjusting services and that some consumers' signatures were forged on the backs of their insurance checks. Many of Suter's customers were left with homes that were unlivable or in poor repair.

Under the final judgment, insurance companies are authorized to release any remaining insurance proceeds without naming Suter or his companies on the checks. The release of these "hold-back" funds will enable consumers to make much-needed repairs to their homes. In addition, Suter, the Rosen Company, and CW Restoration are permanently enjoined from engaging in further violations of the District's Consumer Protection Procedures Act. Finally, the District was awarded $290,000 in attorney's fees and $52,000 in civil penalties.

If the Office of the Corporation Counsel is successful in collecting on the monetary judgment, it will send out notices to potentially eligible consumers so that they may claim a portion of the funds collected. Consumers with any questions may call the consumer protection hotline at (202) 442-9828.