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  1. #1
    Swinging in the hammock Ilikai's Avatar
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    Fox's Renovate My Family being sued

    http://www.dailyherald.com/news/cookstory.asp?id=75624


    Family suing reality TV show over repairs

    By Rob Olmstead
    Daily Herald Staff Writer
    Posted Thursday, July 21, 2005

    When a reality-show television producer says “Trust me,” run.

    That’s the lesson Gary and Sharon Rosier of Lemont Township say they learned when Fox Broadcasting’s “Renovate My Family” promised them a new and improved home designed to accommodate their recently paralyzed son, Steven.

    Instead of a handicapped-friendly home that made their life easier, they got a shoddy wreck of a house that latest estimates say will cost $350,000 to fix, the Rosiers’ attorney, Mark Belongia, said.

    “Essentially what they did is build a movie set,” Belongia said.

    Wiring remains exposed; door knobs are round, impossible for Steven to grasp; a dryer is vented into the home rather than out of it; smoke detectors don’t work; plywood covers basement windows; siding and plumbing was improperly installed; the furnace has no foundation and is stuffed in a crawl space and sod was installed directly over limestone paving, Belongia said.

    “They didn’t care (that it was impossible for the grass to live). All they needed was for it to be green for the episode they shot of the people coming home,” said Belongia, who filed suit on behalf of the family Wednesday in Cook County Chancery Court.

    Fox Broadcasting in Los Angeles referred all calls to the production company, Rocket Science Laboratories, which did not return phone calls.

    While the Rosiers, who live near I-55 and Lemont Road, did sign a contract giving Rocket Science considerable latitude, their suit claims they were told at the time of signing that it was not a final contract, just something they needed to sign to be considered for the show. The company refused their requests to let them consult a lawyer before signing, telling them time was of the essence, the suit claims. For those reasons, it should be void, Belongia said.

    The family, which was approached by a producer at the 2004 Boat and RV show at McCormick Place, thought the show would make their home more handicapped-friendly, Belongia said.

    Their son Steven was 15 when he was paralyzed in a March 2003 snowboarding accident.

    As a carpenter and an office worker, respectively, Gary and Sharon Rosier didn’t have a lot of money to plow into rehab, Belongia said.

    One of the things the Rosiers asked was that the oak floor Steven and Gary installed together before Steven’s accident be left alone. Instead, it was replaced with laminate, the suit said.

    Among the other problems is an “endless” pool installed in Steven’s room intended for therapy.

    “It was so powerful it forced him under and almost drowned him,” Belongia said. His mother had to rescue him, he said.

    In addition, the suit claims, a deck, barn and patio that Gary Rosier had built were demolished.

    “Fox tore it all out and threw it in the garbage,” Belongia said.

    To add insult to injury, about $13,000 in power tools Gary Rosier had at the home were missing when the family returned, the suit claims.

    The family has also learned that, despite assurances, they are liable for the taxes on the home “improvement,” the suit claims

    The work on the home, which consisted of tearing the structure down to the foundation and rebuilding it in nine days, was done in July 2004. The show aired in September.

    The Rosiers also are suing DuPage County, claiming it never performed a final home inspection on the work. Officials with the county could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
    Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO what a ride!" -- Steve Parker

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    This story has been reported pretty thoroughly on my local news. The homeowners showed all of the screw-ups, unfinished projects, all of the shameful things that this show left them to clean up.

    I noticed that the above article didn't discuss one thing. It's been difficult for the family to sue because of the nearly-two-dozen-page contract they signed prior to filming the episode. I hope this lawsuit means that an attorney is now determined to force Fox to do the right thing and fix this mess.

    Shameful, shameful, shameful.

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    FORT Fogey AIWANNABE's Avatar
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    That's what you get for having the Dahm triplets working on your house.

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    Their first clue to run should have been when Fox refused to allow them to consult a lawyer when they requested it. The second clue should have been when they found out that tearing the home down to it's foundations and rebuilding would all happen in 9 days . Sure, it can happen, but any home torn down and rebuilt in 9 days would always be suspect for quality imho. :nono

    However, having said that, I do hope they win their lawsuit, for two reasons:
    • They deserve to win due to the merit of their case, and
    • If they do win, I'm hoping it sets a precedent for reality-type 'home improvement' shows to do a real home improvement, as opposed to doing just what is necessary for camera appeal.
    For anyone who reads news about reality shows and shows like Clean Sweep, and especially Trading Spaces, it's been fairly common knowledge that the work they do is usually superficial and 'temporary', and rarely something that is meant to last longer than a few months. Other common complaints (and viewers already know this) are that the 'improvements' are cheap and rarely take the homeowner's lifestyle and common sense into account. And the stories of the messes the tv crews leave behind are part of the package. We won't even go into the design nightmares topic! (I'm not saying all shows like these are guilty of this, just that enough are that it's not really surprising when you hear nightmare stories of what they did)

    One of those rare exceptions that I'm aware of seems to be In A Fix, where the workmanship and attention to detail seem to be of good quality and actually does improve the home. IAF has featured homes of 2 people I know personally and these people said they were really impressed with the quality of the work done by the cast members (both mentioned Sparky's electrical work in particular). And in posts and news articles where homeowners featured in IAF spoke of their experience, everything I've read/heard has been positive. I'm sure there must be some bad experiences, but apparently not enough to be newsworthy or post-worthy.

    So I hope if these people win their case, that all shows like Trading Spaces and Renovate My Family take notice that there better be some substance in their work, better pay attention to homeowner special needs and lifestyles, and had better do the work for quality's sake instead of the camera's sake. And if a 'reality home-improvement' show can't operate under those conditions, then I'd rather not see that show on the air. I'd really love to see a legal precedent set regarding this.


    And to update the old adage of 'Let the Buyer Beware', we add 'Let the Reality Home Improvement Show Participant Beware'.
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    Swinging in the hammock Ilikai's Avatar
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    As far as I know, there has only been one lady that was upset with the design on IAF and she was pretty much a bitch that couldn't be pleased anyways.
    Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO what a ride!" -- Steve Parker

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    Kanai Nemeses's Avatar
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    Update

    Here's another article about this lawsuit. It gives a bit more details about it.

    From the Chicago Tribune...

    Family says TV show left an unhappy ending
    By Shia Kapos
    Special to The Tribune
    Published July 21, 2005


    A Lemont-area family featured last year on Fox's "Renovate My Family" filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the network, the Hollywood production company, an Illinois developer and DuPage County, claiming shoddy work created safety hazards in their home.

    Gary and Sharon Rosier were selected for the reality show because their home needed to be made accessible for their son Steven, 18, who lost the use of his limbs after a snowboarding accident two years ago. When the seven-day project was done, the Rosiers say, they found wobbly railings, dangerous and incomplete electrical work and inadequately designed rooms.

    "This family had already been dealing with the tragic situation of their son's horrible accident," said their attorney, Mark Belongia. "Then they went from the thrill of someone offering to get help to this situation, where their entire lives have been made worse."

    The Rosiers signed a contract with Rocket Science to be part of the reality home-makeover show, which has been canceled but will air never-seen episodes starting Aug. 8. Their lawsuit says Rocket Science used pressure tactics and gave the Rosiers false information--including promises to find doctors to cure Steven-- to get their cooperation.

    The producers, the Rosiers say, promised to bring joy to a family torn apart after Steven's accident. The goal of the show, according to Fox's Web site, was to make the home accessible to Steven by adding a wheelchair ramp, wider doorways and an exercise pool.

    The work was done in seven days, which TV industry experts say was designed to create tension and bring viewers to the show.

    When the renovated home was "revealed" to the Rosiers on July 23, 2004, producers had to re-film the scene a few times because the family didn't look happy enough, Gary Rosier said.

    "We were horrified at what we saw," he said.

    The suit also says that general contractor David Dressler Inc. performed "incompetent" and "negligent" work on their home. The suit lists some of the "hundreds" of problems with the renovated home: smoke alarms that didn't function; mold growing inside the house; exposed electrical wiring; the furnace installed in an inaccessible crawl space; and improperly installed plumbing, electrical wiring and railings along the wheelchair ramp. The Rosiers say the refurbishment also eliminated needed storage space, forcing them to use boxes throughout the home to hold their belongings.

    Work done in Steven's bedroom and bathroom also is problematic, his parents said during a recent tour of their home.

    Round doorknobs were installed instead of the latches Steven needs because he has limited use of his hands. And once he wheels into the specially designed shower, Steven says, he can't reach the faucet.

    The lawsuit also says DuPage County failed to inspect the home, a claim chief inspector Steve Cyrier says "is not true."

    "It was done. It happened ... I did some of the final inspection. At the time of inspection it [the house] met code," Cyrier said, adding that he couldn't explain without more research why the Rosiers or their attorney haven't been given a copy of the final report.

    He acknowledges there could be problems with the home, but he said they aren't the kind of things a final inspection would reveal.

    "If something gets built in a week, you can expect problems," he said. "We just do the best we can. The code is a minimal standard."

    Dressler, a high-end home builder in northern Illinois, did not respond to repeated calls to talk about the Rosier case.

    Fox officials referred calls to Rocket Science. Matt Laviano, business and legal affairs manager for the producer, said he could not comment on pending litigation, but before the lawsuit he had said Fox and the production company were trying to find a way "to make everyone happy. ... We want to find a way to work this out."

    The Rosiers say their original home essentially was paid for and had the homey touches of Gary Rosier's carpentry expertise. After the renovation, the home's estimated value was $350,000, their lawyer said, "and it needs $350,000 in repairs. It's essentially worthless."

    The Rosiers' lawsuit seeks monetary damages and asks that a judge set aside the contract based on "fraudulent inducement in getting the family to sign," Belongia said.

    Copyright © 2005, Chicago Tribune
    The name of the production company for the show slays me: Rocket Science
    Considering what they did to this family, I guess saying "remodeling my home isn't rocket science" would be a good thing.
    I live in my own world. But it's ok, they know me there.
    Kid Nation... a sad day for society when the exploitation of children becomes acceptable entertainment for television viewers.
    "Online communities, like the Fort, are very snarky and borderline cynical when it comes to celebrities and their shenanigans." -- Leo, FoRT Writer

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