Clients sue Toledo contractor over unfinished projects
Two local families say they paid a contractor in southern Toledo thousands of dollars for work that was never completed.
LUCAS COUNTY, Ohio — When longtime Georgia resident Candice Gordon returned to northwest Ohio last year to be closer to her family, she and her husband spent months looking for a house before finding the one they loved. But there were a few issues.
“There was no fence and we have an autistic daughter,” Gordon said.
Her 9-year-old daughter, Allie, is autistic and non-verbal. The family became concerned for their safety when they saw there was a creek in the backyard of their new Dutch home.
They decided to have a fence built to protect it and started looking for a contractor. In November, they found Danny Baran, a southern Toledo resident and owner of Baran’s Fences and Decks, on the Nextdoor app.
“When we started, he absolutely seemed like a 1000% guy, you know, just a decent guy,” Gordon said.
Baran presented them with a written estimate of $3,200 and agreed to start the project on December 5. He said it would be finished no later than December 8. Baran started on time as promised, but soon the deadline passed and the job wasn’t finished.
“And a three-day period turned into this excuse, this excuse, this excuse, this excuse,” Gordon said.
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First, the weather was bad. Then, on December 20, Baran said he was sick with COVID-19. Then, on January 3, he didn’t show up at all.
Baran texted Gordon, who said his mother was critically ill.
“They had to put his mother in hospice, that’s what he told me at the time, which kept him from going out to do the job that day,” Gordon said. “They realized she wasn’t going to make it, so he had to put it off for another day.
When Baran said his mother died a few days later, Gordon offered him time to grieve.
“We totally got it all, no problem,” she said. “We had absolutely no problems with Danny until the very end of – the end of what was happening.”
But January has passed and Baran has still not returned to the site. The fence materials had now been sitting on the Gordons’ lawn for months. At this point, the Holland Homeowner’s Association was hitting them with charges and $300 of their materials were missing.
Gordon said she later got a call from their local Lowes. The store told him that Baran was trying to return the materials for cash.
“His story was that he was basically going to rob Peter to pay Paul,” she said. come and finish our work and then pay us back what he owed us. Don’t believe that was his plan.”
In mid-March, the Gordons set out to complete the fence on their own, spending thousands of dollars more. And Gordon said the sections Baran installed were crooked, raised and poorly made.
Worst of all, 11 investigators were able to see that there was still a space large enough for the Gordons’ daughter to pass right by the creek.
“Almost everything we paid Danny to do, he didn’t, and he stiffed us, ripped us off, and we’re pissed,” Gordon said.
Gordon returned to the Nextdoor app to warn others to stay away from Baran, only to find someone else had already beaten him to it.
That person was Victoria Semones, of Maumee, whose story shares many similarities with that of the Gordons. But there was a major difference between his experience and that of the Gordons. Semones said Baran never even started.
“He never contacted us again, we actually contacted him around February 9 I think, and from then on it was just an apology,” Semones said.
As their court remained bare, they heard the same excuses from Danny as Gordon. However, unlike Gordon, Semones soon grew suspicious and began digging herself.
“As talking to each of them, everyone’s story seemed very similar,” Simones said. all different scenarios.”
For example, Victoria Semones’ husband John received a text message from Baran on March 2 claiming that his mother had passed away. This was two months after sending a similar text to Gordon.
Feeling they had no other choice, Semones decided to take the case to Maumee Small Claims Court on Tuesday. Semones texted 11 Investigates on Thursday saying Baran was a no-show. The court has scheduled a second appearance for July 26.
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“We’re not going to get our money back, but if we can stop this from happening to other people, that’s what I need,” Semones said.
11 Investigators attempted to contact Baran to hear his side of the story. According to Baran, he is the victim in this scenario and he believes his former clients are running a smear campaign.
Baran initially said he would be willing to speak to 11 Investigates on camera, but then stopped responding to calls and texts.
11 Investigators again reached out to offer him another chance to speak, and he said he would like to speak his mind, but only after the court case is resolved.
For these former clients, the trial is a chance to obtain justice.
“I obviously want to see him repay everything he took from us, everything he took from everyone,” Gordon said. “I just want him to get justice, I want karma to kick his butt.”
If you have a tip that our 11 Investigates team should consider, you can email us directly at [email protected]
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