The legal troubles are growing for a local contractor accused of bilking customers out of thousands of dollars in recent months.
Atty. Gen. Phill Kline's office last week filed a consumer-protection lawsuit against Douglas County resident Brian Blevins, owner of Central Plains Construction, 1951 E. 1300 Road. The lawsuit comes after at least eight customers have sued Blevins in Douglas County District Court in the past year, alleging he took payments from them and then either didn't finish the work, finished it late or did a shoddy job.
Blevins' version of events is that he simply got in over his head after he started his construction business about a year ago. He said he had problems with employees beginning in July and suffered a broken leg in November - setbacks that caused him to be unable to finish projects.
"I'm not out to try and take advantage of anyone," Blevins said. "The last thing I wanted was for anyone to get hurt."
Kline's lawsuit does not name individual customers of Blevins but says that as of Feb. 23, the office had received complaints from seven consumers about transactions dating to October 2005.
"A common theme among the complaints ... is that Defendant Blevins solicits transactions for which he accepts payment and does not perform some or all of the services which he represented he would perform," the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit alleges seven counts of violations of the Kansas Consumer Protection Act and asks that Blevins be ordered to pay at least $60,000 in total penalties, plus additional penalties for cases that involved senior citizens.
District Court Judge Robert Fairchild earlier this year ordered Blevins to pay $50,000 in consumer-protection penalties after finding he failed to build a deck and repair water damage as promised for Lawrence resident Terri Davis. Fairchild found that Blevins committed "unconscionable acts."
Davis still is seeking to collect the money, and her attorney is asking Fairchild to hold Blevins in contempt of court for failing to appear at a hearing on the case last Friday.
Blevins said he had an appointment to go to Kline's office on Monday for a meeting about the new lawsuit.
"I don't think that they're going to go through with the lawsuit," he said.
But Kline spokesman Whitney Watson said nothing has changed.
"We're proceeding with the lawsuit against Mr. Blevins," he said.
Two of the customers who successfully sued Blevins in Douglas County in recent months - one for stucco work that wasn't done and another for a deck that wasn't built - declined to comment Thursday when reached by phone.