Alison Victoria Gramenos and Donovan Eckhardt, the stars of HGTV's home series Windy City Rehab, are being sued, once again, because of home rehabilitation projects seen on their show. This time, though, instead of coming under fire just for alleged shoddy workmanship, Gramenos and Eckhardt are also being accused of misappropriating funds from some of their flipped homes.
On Tuesday, Michael Ward Jr., his brother Thomas Ward, and their father Michael Ward Sr., filed suit against Alison Victoria Gramenos and Donovan Eckhardt at the Cook County, Illinois circuit court. According to the Chicago Sun Times, the suit alleges that the Windy City Rehab stars were actually in charge of "a deliberate and fraudulent scheme to misappropriate funds," as well as "bungling" and mismanaging "nearly every project they were associated with," and Eckhardt of lying to them about having close connections with those in the city buildings department of Chicago.
The Wards say they invested $3 million to receive a 50% stake in Alovanward LLC, a company which paid for six rehab projects seen on Windy City Rehab, and another rehab job which was not featured on the series. The lawsuit claims that Eckhardt, with Gramenos' affirmation, lied by telling them that he was especially suited for rehab projects in Chicago because of his relationships with city building officials, and also claimed to have easy access to additional money which would "streamline the ‘flipping’ process and ensure maximum return," on the Wards' investment.
The suit also alleges that the business partnership fell apart because of the "sheer ineptitude and duplicity" of Gramenos and Eckhardt and the "gross mismanagement" which plagued almost all of the Alovanward projects the two worked on with the Wards. The family says they signed on to have their initial investment repaid, and then share in further profits, with them, currently, still being owed almost $2 million.
The Wards are asking that a judge order Alison Victoria Gramenos and Donovan Eckhardt to complete the repayment of their investment, as well as order a full accounting of the properties they invested in which were seen on Windy City Rehab, while also asking for punitive damages of an undisclosed amount.
This is hardly the first time that the stars of Windy City Rehab have found themselves in trouble, especially of the legal kind. It was just in January of this year that a couple who bought one of the homes they flipped sued Eckhardt and Gramenos for "defective and shoddy work," consumer fraud, and breach of warranty and contract because of the state of the home they bought from them. The couple claimed that, the day after closing on their home, an upper floor shower leaked into the kitchen ceiling below, with that only being the start of many additional problems with the house.
Last summer, Eckhardt's company had its permit privileges revoked by Chicago's buildings department (in addition to his contractor's license being temporarily revoked), with the original year-long ban eventually being cut down to only 45 days. In addition to that, he and Gramenos weren't allowed to take out any permits for new building projects that didn't relate to fixing work on existing jobs. This ban came about because of numerous complaints from those who live near several of their properties, with regards to loud work crews, safety issues and trash being left at their sites.The city was also none too pleased with Eckhardt and Gramenos for having crews complete work without permits and failing to put up safety barriers.
It seems like Donovan Eckhardt and Alison Victoria Gramenos have some issues when getting work done for their Windy City Rehab houses, but, so far, the show is still scheduled to come back for Season 2 on HGTV, and was originally scheduled to begin in July.