By Suzanne Le Mignot

CHICAGO (CBS) –– A Chicago business owner claims he felt pressured into signing up for a service, and now he’s being sued for more than $17,000 to fulfill a contract.

Peter Papageorge says a Compsolve salesperson showed up unexpectedly at his business, Peco, Inc. The garment manufacturer says he was told federal work safety regulators are “targeting” his industry.

“They put the fear of God in you,” Papageorge tells CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot. “They told me the initial smallest fine that OSHA charges is $7,000.”

Papageorge says he felt pressured into signing a contract for an OSHA compliance seminar. He paid about $4,000. Now, Papageorge is being sued by Compsolve for more than $17,000 to fulfill the contract’s training-renewal fee.

In a statement, Compsolve says it is within its legal rights.

“We are A + rated by the BBB,” the company says. “This complaint stems from the fact that Mr. Papageorge is being sued by our company for breach of contract. That is why we have a court system in this country — they can take all the evidence into account and decide who is in the right.”

CBS 2 found at least 48 civil suits filed by Compsolve against businesses, seeking payment. Twenty-eight of those companies are in Cook and Kane counties. The rest are in Florida and Michigan.

In response to those suits, Compsolve says, “If a company breaches our contract, we are going to sue them.”

Compsolve’s website has positive testimonials, saying companies have received “an excellent presentation” and that Compsolve is “very professional and thorough.”

“I think they did a nice job of training us, but beyond that, that’s four and a half hours and I already paid $4,000,” Papageorge says. “That’s all you’re getting from me because I don’t want other business people to have this happen to them.”

The state of Illinois offers a free OSHA inspection through the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. If violations are found, the business is also allowed to correct those violations without any penalty.

The National Safety Council can also provide a list of agencies that can give advice about OSHA compliance. Meantime, the Better Business Bureau says Compsolve’s A-plus status in Buffalo, N.Y. was recently downgraded, pending complaint reviews.

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