Thursday, Oct 27 at 11:30 AM
(KMOV) -- Good luck trying to sue one local contractor, his customers say he's impossible to find - after he takes their money. He uses Missouri law to form all kinds of companies and his customers say he's playing the system.
One customer, Laura Newsom, is fed up after hiring the Concrete Company LLC to poor a concrete patio. She says a guy named Chris Cortner was happy to take her money.
She paid him a third of costs up front, $1,000, and says he has done nothing.
Bill Hollander sued a different Cortner company, Missouri Concrete LLC. Documents show Cortner's wife as the registered agent, but the companies appear similar.
Hollander says his client paid $2,000 for a driveway but Cortner never did the job.
Hollander says finding Cortner was impossible - so he served the Secretary of State Robin Carnahan's office with the lawsuit - which is allowed under Missouri law when a Limited Liability Company doesn't keep a current address.
Cletus Stratman couldn't find Cortner either.
Stratman had the pleasure of dealing with another Cortner creation, Competitive Inc.
In my “experience bad bad bad, he's a predator" said Stratman.
He says he paid Cortner for concrete work on this warehouse.
Stratman says Cortner didn't pay the concrete supplier.
That supplier put a lien on Stratman's building, so Stratman had to pay for the concrete twice because if he didn't cover Cortner’s debt his building would have been sold in public auction.
At this point Cortner has cost Cletus Stratman more than $200,000.
Cortner and the companies he incorporates have faced plenty of lawsuits.
Breckenridge Materials is suing Cortner for more than $22,000 but a county sheriff couldn't find him to serve the papers. Another company that lists Cortner as the registered agent - Intella Tech - was sued for $50,000. News 4 tried tracking down Cortner at 2 of his listed LLC addresses but couldn't find him.
After News 4 got involved Cortner sent the Newsoms a certified letter saying he would give back $700 out of the $1,000 they gave him. But that has not happened yet. He also said, "For your information in future dealings with contractors I suggest you speak with an attorney not the newschannel." He also suggested the news should do a story on "lying, dishonest homeowners who screw contractors as they feel the need."
In Missouri anyone with $50 can form an LLC.
The Cortners have formed 12 of them - plus 3 additional companies.
That office says they have no active investigations involving the Cortners or their companies.
Cortner told News 4 he's working in Arkansas because business around St. Louis has dried up. He told News 4 he doesn't own all these companies, he just incorporates them for other people, but for whom he wouldn't say. He also said the Newsoms and Bill Hollander's client fired him from the job and that's why they didn't get done.
If you have had a problem with Chris Cortner, contact Chris Nagus at firstname.lastname@example.org