Calif. Couple Says Reality Home Improvement TV Show Caused 200-Gallon Sewage Spill
When Rochelle Kirk and Scott Waters of Covina, Calif., hired contractors from "Catch a Contractor," a Spike TV reality show, they hadn't bargained on getting 200 gallons of raw sewage with the package.
That's according to their lawsuit, filed this week in Superior Court in Los Angeles County. The show, the two claim, is liable for 200 gallons of raw sewage that spilled into their home. They are suing for more than $2.87 million in compensatory damages.
In April of 2013, Kirk and Waters say, they were approached by a casting employee of "Catch a Contractor," hosted by comedian and radio personality Adam Carolla. The employee told them "she was looking for families that have been abandoned by contractors and are currently living with construction nightmares," according to the couple's lawsuit.
Kirk and Waters said their bathroom was "abandoned and never properly completed" by contractors they hired in 2012, according to the lawsuit. So they decided to give the reality show contractors a try.
Ironically, the show's concept "was to help families who had been taken advantage of by incompetent contractors by coming in and completing the project the right way," the lawsuit states.
After they were approached by the casting employee, the couple soon met with producers who "promised that in exchange for allowing the production company full access to their story and the house, the show would employ experienced, licensed contractors and crew to fix all the mistakes of the incompetent contractor," the suit said, and the couple signed and returned a contract in May.
The couple doesn't name Carolla as a defendant but instead names as defendants Spike TV, its owner Viacom, and individual plaintiffs and contractors. They allege negligence and violation of civil codes, claiming some of the contractors weren't properly licensed to work on the home.
David Schwarz, a spokesman for Spike TV, declined to comment, citing the network's policy related to pending litigation. A spokeswoman for Emergency Restoration Services Inc., a contractor named in the lawsuit as a defendant, also declined to comment. The defendants have about 30 days to file a legal response after they are served with the lawsuits.
The contractors were given "such a short time frame to complete the remodel" the lawsuit claims, that one of the contractors told the couple after the job began he was worried they wouldn't be able to finish the work, the lawsuit states.
As sewer pipes were moved, one of the sewer pipes was left disconnected, allowing about 200 gallons of raw sewage to spill under the shower, into the walls and underneath the house, the lawsuit states.
The couple say they made "numerous complaints" to the show's producers and contractors "about the failure to complete the work and the horrific smell but they refused to respond or make any repairs," the lawsuit states.
By early June, the couple began experiencing "severe headaches, fatigue, muscle aches, and abnormal drowsiness," while assuming it was the flu, the lawsuit states, and the next month their children began having coughing attacks and skin rashes. While their children were diagnosed with respiratory infections and put on medication, a doctor suggested the couple test for mold. After detecting moisture in the home, they hired plumbers who found raw sewage after opening an area of the wall, the lawsuit states.
By August, the couple and their children moved out of the house and into a hotel during the repair and remediation of the mold, water intrusion and sewage spill, and they didn't return until early December when they were notified it was safe to move back in, the lawsuit states.