Fans of HGTV's supremely popular home renovation series Windy City Rehab have been inundated with news about the legal troubles that stars Alison Victoria and Donovan Eckhardt have been going through because of the builds they created for the show. Its early 2019 premiere quickly led to numerous reports of stop work orders, anger from neighbors, and a long string of lawsuits which have yet to be completely resolved. Now, Eckhardt has filed a lawsuit of his own, but where does he stand with Alison Victoria in all of this?
Season 2 of Windy City Rehab saw Alison Victoria have to deal with a lot of the legal troubles, which appeared to be linked back to Donovan Eckhardt's mishandling of many of the business aspects of their work. According to the Chicago Tribune, he's now suing both HGTV's parent company and the production company for the series, Big Table Media, for defamation and emotional distress to the tune of at least $2.2 million. But, Victoria is not listed as a defendant in the case.
Eckhardt and his company, Greymark Development Group, had their ability to file for new work permits suspended on May 29, 2019, and the city of Chicago also temporarily suspended Greymark's general contractor license around the same time. In his suit, Eckhardt is blaming the problems with the city on "aggressive filming and production deadlines" and noted that "the pace of construction and the unforeseen difficulties of performing renovations of older properties led to a theme of constant crisis management."
His lawsuit also alleges that, the day after his permit privileges were revoked, an executive producer for Windy City Rehab told him that they would no longer work with him on the show, and that Victoria used a different contractor for Season 2. Eckhardt's filing also claims that any "statements suggesting Donovan misappropriated, embezzled or wrongfully derived money from past projects are false," even though the show certainly made Victoria seem to be the "unknowing, innocent victim." The lawsuit also reports that Victoria was actually "intimately involved in the creation of every budget,” as well as the “procurement of every loan."
While Season 1 of Windy City Rehab appeared to be smooth sailing (as much as any home renovation show can be) to viewers, all of the reported difficulties that Alison Victoria and Donovan Eckhardt had in the subsequent months led to a very different Season 2. Fans watched as Victoria and Eckhardt's partnership fell apart on camera, with Victoria claiming that she let Eckhardt handle all of the business aspects so that she could simply design beautiful homes. There was even a tense scene where she confronted him about a large sum of money his company was given, which, supposedly, should have been turned into progress on a renovation, but hadn't been.
While I'm not an attorney, and can't imagine what this lawsuit means for the already fractured business relationship that Donovan Eckhardt and Alison Victoria have (she said last year that she'd been going through the lengthy process to separate their interests), it is interesting that he's not listed Victoria as a defendant.
She did not waver, in Season 2, when claiming that she knew nothing about how Eckhardt was handling their financials and other business aspects of their projects. Victoria did, also, make it seem like all of their troubles stemmed from how he ran things and she had nothing to do with it. Eckhardt is saying he has experienced depression and anxiety from his portrayal on the season, as well as suffering social media attacks from fans.
One of the likely reasons behind the suit, aside from Eckhardt trying to reclaim some of his good name, is probably to recoup some of the losses from 2020, as his filing states that Greymark lost substantial revenue last year, compared with its losses in 2019.
There are sure to be more updates on this case and others which are still pending for Donovan Eckhardt and Alison Victoria, so be sure to stay tuned to CinemaBlend for the latest. You can catch repeats of Windy City Rehab Seasons 1 and 2 on HGTV, so check listings for times, but for more to watch, check out our guide to early 2021 TV premieres!