116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Cedar Rapids homeowner faces lawsuit, even though she paid contractor for derecho repairs
Legal bills if the case goes to trial will be more than the cost of the repairs
CEDAR RAPIDS — When Susan Moore handed over a $22,000 check to the project manager who oversaw repairs at her Cedar Rapids house after the 2020 derecho, she said she believed the money was going to the right place.
Now the contractor is dead and the out-of-state roofing company is suing Moore for nearly $30,000.
“When there is a catastrophe, we are vulnerable,” said Moore, 56.
Moore was at work when the storm struck Aug. 10, 2020. When she got home, she found a disaster zone of downed trees. The wind had blown her back door open, stranding branches in her living room. The siding of her two-story house was pocked with holes from flying rocks and her shingles were strewn across the neighborhood.
“My neighbors had somebody here from Dyersville and they put a tarp on it for me,” she said of the roof. “I left that night because I had a gas leak in my house when I got home from work. I was afraid to sleep here in the dark.”
Her insurance agent recommended Ray Vance to help her through the insurance process to get a new roof and siding, Moore said. Vance, of Cedar Rapids, started GoVance Development LLC on Sept. 29, 2020 — six weeks after the derecho, according to the Iowa Secretary of State’s website.
Vance was working as a project manager for Regions Commercial Roofing, and out-of-state firm operating out of the Quad Cities.
“About a month and a half after he came over, he started working with all the insurance adjusters,” Moore said of Vance. “I really didn’t do anything. He helped me pick out the siding and roof. He had me sign a contract. He did everything.”
Moore’s insurance paid for replacing the roof, siding and gutters. She paid $1,000 and her insurer paid $8,079 to get the project rolling. In June 2021, Vance came to collect the final payment of $22,000, Moore said.
“He told me who to make the check out to, and I did, because I trusted him,” she said. “GoVance Development.”
Within days, Regions representatives called Moore and told her not to give the check to Vance, saying he didn’t work for them any longer. Company President Eric Gonzalez even came to Moore’s house one day while she was at work to attempt to collect the check, she said.
When Moore called Vance, he insisted he’d take care of the situation. But four months later, Oct. 19, 2021, Regions filed a lawsuit against Moore in Scott County District Court, alleging she failed to pay the remaining $28,775 for the work on her house.
The suit also asks a jury to make Moore pay interest, attorney fees and finance charges.
“Lots of sleepless nights and anxiety about it,” Moore said about how she felt when she learned of the suit.
Moore hired an attorney and on Nov. 23, 2021, filed a counterclaim against GoVance Development, claiming she paid Vance. She showed The Gazette confirmation of the cashed check, a receipt from Vance dated June 14, 2021, and a handwritten note that appears from be from Vance confirming she paid him $22,000.
But on March 19, Vance, 43, of Cedar Rapids, died unexpectedly, according to his obituary.
When The Gazette asked Gonzalez, the Regions president, why the company had sued Moore and not Vance, given the documentation of the cashed check, Gonzalez referred the newspaper to his attorney, Heather Carlson, who did not return a call Friday.
“We wouldn’t be pursuing something if there wasn’t something wrong,” Gonzalez said April 13.
About the company
Although Regions was incorporated in Colorado, the website says it’s based in Dallas/Fort Worth with offices in Texas, Iowa, Colorado and Minnesota. The Better Business Bureau gives the company an A+ rating with a 4.36 out of 5 average for 11 reviews.
The two lowest reviews come from customers who appear to have been hit by the 2020 derecho.
“They did our siding in (information deleted by the bureau) when we were hit by a derecho storm,” according to a review from Naomi S. on Jan. 10. “We told them this was being taken care of by insurance and now we're being sued for the remaining balance!!! Why would the homeowner be responsible when it was an insurance issue.”
Nick A. gave the company two stars on Oct. 10, 2020:
“If you work with them, learn your roofing terms and understand that everything you want done MUST be written in the contract or they will try to get out of it. I am going to give them 2 stars because the new shingles did look nice on that property, but the missing soffit, unrepaired fascia, and unrepaired ceiling joists are pretty unacceptable.”
Regions has sued two other Cedar Rapids residents for non-payment of roofing or siding repairs following the derecho, according to Scott County records.
Legal costs mount
The case against Moore is scheduled to go to trial Dec. 12, with no settlement in sight, according to an April 14 letter from Moore’s attorney, Jeffrey Taylor of Klinger, Robinson & Ford, which Moore provided to The Gazette.
“I am not pushing for a settlement because I think your case is weak, I am raising it simply because I know you are concerned about attorney fees and if we go to trial the amount you will pay will be in excess of the amount you are owed,” Taylor wrote. “With Ray being dead we obviously do not have the ability (in all likelihood) to collect from him, so that certainly hurts.”
Eric Vance, Ray Vance’s brother, said news of the lawsuit involving his brother was “pretty shocking.”
“He did 20 to 25 years of construction. He was a hard worker,” Eric Vance, of Glendale, Ariz., said of his brother. “I knew he switched when that derecho happened. He switched from concrete to roofing, thinking he could make money.”
Eric Vance can’t help but think there’s more to the story than the legal filings show.
“This would be really surprising to me if was true. If there wasn’t more to it,” he said. “I wish we could find out what that was.”
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