Yet another lawsuit has emerged against the team behind HGTV’s Windy City Rehab. This time, a family that invested $3 million in projects featured on the reality series are suing stars Alison Victoria Gramenos and Donovan Eckhardt. They accused them of “a deliberate and fraudulent scheme to misappropriate funds.”
The lawsuit claims the stars of the show, which focuses on Chicago homes being renovated, of “bungling” and mismanaging “nearly every project they were associated with.”
Gramenos and Eckhardt have split as professional partners, but alleged efforts by Gramenous to pin the blame on Eckhardt are noted in the suit. “Alison has claimed that she was caught unawares by Donovan’s fraud — notwithstanding her own secreting of funds from closing proceeds.”
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The suit was filed Tuesday in Cook County circuit court by Michael Ward Jr., a former friend of Eckhardt; his brother, Thomas Ward; and their father, Michael Ward Sr. They claim they invested $3 million for a 50% stake in Alovanward LLC, which funded six projects featured on the TV show and another rehab that was not televised.
The lawsuit claims they were led to expect a good return on investment and were enticed by Eckhardt and Gramenos’ claims to be expert house flippers, as well as Eckhardt’s alleged relationships with city building officials.
“In an effort to gain access to the Wards money, Donovan — individually and with the affirmation of Alison — falsely claimed he had specific expertise in the city of Chicago whereby his personal relationships with city building officials and ready access to additional working capital would streamline the ‘flipping’ process and ensure maximum return,” the lawsuit says.
The Wards say the venture fell apart because of the stars’ “sheer ineptitude and duplicity” and “gross mismanagement … including the absence of workmanlike standards and adherence to building codes, that marred nearly every Alovanward project they were associated with.”
Gramenos is pointing the figure at Eckhardt, claiming she was merely the designer, while he was the licensed developer and general contractor.
The lawsuit claims the plaintiffs lost $2 million on the projects and only discovered the “ineptitude” by watching the TV show.
The lawsuit was filed April 10 in Cook County, Illinois by homeowners Shane Jones and Samantha Mostaccio. Their home was featured on Season 1 Episode 7 of the show. They allege negligent construction on the $1.3 million home in the complaint.
The court papers allege they have experienced several construction and warranty defects, including water damage, cracking concrete columns and a garage which has allegedly required more than $100,000 in repairs.
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