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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cincinnati's Home Remodeling Job From Hell: Scion Of Macy's Dept. Store Chain Disputes $808,000 Contractor Bill

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- David Lazarus and his wife, Jan, say in a court filing they've spent $715,211.27 remodeling their Anderson Township home. They claim their contractor, Brand Construction Co., "failed to perform the project in a workmanlike manner." The contracting firm contends the job cost $807,806.34 and the couple still owes $92,595.07 on top of what it has already been paid. David Lazarus hails from the merchant family that put together Federated Department Stores Inc., the retailing giant that changed its name to Macy's Inc. in 2007. Macy's corporate headquarters are in downtown Cincinnati. Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Bob Ruehlman has scheduled the lawsuit for an August 9, 2010 jury trial.

Lazarus contributes to a Cincinnati blog called My Wine Education. He's recently opened a wine shop, Water Tower Fine Wines, in Cincinnati's Mount Washington neighborhood. On the shop's Website, Lazarus describes himself as a "lifelong entrepreneur." He seems to have retailing in his genes:

"About Us
Water Tower Fine Wines is owned by David and Jan Lazarus.
David is a lifelong entrepreneur, whose first enterprise stemmed from a lizard he caught in his parents back yard when he was in second grade. Many years and many sales driven jobs later he discovered the joys of wine with his wife Jan. Over the past fifteen year he has held positions at several wine related businesses in Cincinnati. In 2009, David decided it was time to once again sign his own pay check and share his passion for wine with all who wanted to learn. Retailing is in his blood, just two generations removed from the “Merchant Prince”
Fred Lazarus Jr, who revolutionized department store retailing in this country in the mid 20th century with Federated (Lazarus and Macy’s, amongst others).
Jan also comes a family of entrepreneurs. Her parents opened several general stores in rural east central Kentucky while she was growing up. Jan was the only one in her family to leave her hometown, coming to Northern Kentucky nearly thirty years ago to become a medical technologist, a field in which she remained for 27 years. Seven years ago, Jan returned to school to become a registered dietitian, which had been her dream for many years. She is now a diabetes educator for the Northern Kentucky Health Department. Jan is also responsible for the fantastic food spreads that complement the wine tastings at Water Tower Fine Wines. Don’t hesitate to ask Jan for tips on healthy eating and incorporating wine into a healthy lifestyle

In the lawsuit, Brand Construction v. David Lazarus, et al, Case No. A0905435, David and Jan Lazarus say they have had to incur costs to "finish, repair and/or revise the work performed" by the remodeling contractor. They said they are entitled to a $100,000 setoff for overcharges and double charges. Brand Construction said it has sent bills which haven't been paid. The firm says it has fully complied with all of its contractual obligations: "Accordingly, as a result of Mr. and Mrs. Lazarus' failure to pay Brand in full for the labor, materials and services it provided at the residence, Mr. and Mrs. Lazarus have been unjustly enriched at the expense of Brand."

So what are some of the disputed costs? $1,981.77 for painting the laundry and wine room; $452 for a corian shelf and shampoo alcove; $400 for repairs to a cupola; $832 to change color of downspouts to yellow from white, $636.72 to install, trim and paint door to cake room.

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