By Lauren Victory


ELGIN, Ill. (CBS) — Who doesn’t have a home renovation horror story?

Susan Kuta sure has one. The work on her home was left unfinished – with a hole even left in the wall. She fought her contractor in court and won thousands of dollars, but still doesn’t have her cash.

As CBS 2’s Lauren Victory reported Tuesday, sometimes even when you win, you still lose.

Victory knocked on contractor Craig Newman’s door and was not exactly surprised that he wasn’t home. Or maybe he was.

The Kane County Sheriff’s office said not answering the door is kind of Newman’s M.O. Someone tried and failed to serve court papers to the Elgin contractor from unhappy customer Kuta 13 different times.

The reports from the sheriff’s office said when their deputies came with the court papers, they observed “TV on, visibly won’t answer door, avoiding,” and “no answer, vehicle here.”

On April 2, Kuta showed CBS 2 Newman’s list of broken promises. She had paid him $8,000 from her late husband’s life insurance policy to make her home whole again.

By that interview, it had been nearly 12 months since the handyman stopped showing up.

“He had his chances,” Kuta said on Wednesday of last week. “You know, I gave him – it was a year before I started all the legal work.”

Since then, Kuta has sued Newman for $8,000 and won. But CBS 2 Legal Analyst Irv Miller said that doesn’t mean anything yet.

“It’s a piece of paper,” Miller said. “It’s not a ‘Judge Judy’ situation where you know, judgment for the plaintiff and you walk out in the hallway and it’s all over.”

Illinois law says Newman needs to show up to court to explain his financial situation before Kuta can collect.

“This guy could turn around and declare bankruptcy, and then she gets nothing,” Miller said.

Alternatively, Newman can just delay everything – as long as he avoids delivery of the legal papers.

“It just keeps on adding up, with each go around that he doesn’t show,” Kuta said.

It amounts to $700 and counting for failed door knocks and court fees.

“It’s not easy to find a person if that person doesn’t want to be found,” Miller said.

He said Kuta’s options are to “stick with it or give up.”

“No, I’m not giving up,” Kuta said.

Kuta recently hired a private investigator to tail Newman. The Better Business Bureau rated his company, Stiggs Contracting, with an F because Kuta is not his only unsatisfied customer.

Newman did not return Victory’s calls for this story in April, and he did not answer the phone this time either.

Lauren Victory