Hundreds join lawsuit against trash collection company
The Indiana Attorney General says hundreds of people essentially had their money thrown away by a trash collector.
Tippecanoe Waste Removal, Inc., based in Lafayette, is accused of deceiving and misleading its customers by suddenly ending trash service and using corporate profits to buy personal items. The lawsuit against them has grown to more than 750 customers.
It's something Frank Niemiec took for granted, until it was gone.
"You don't think much of trash, but when it backs up, there's a lot to it, to tell you the truth," Niemiec said. "It was about five bags wide and three bags high - about 15 full trash bags stacked in our garage."
In January, Niemiec and hundreds of his neighbors suddenly found themselves without the trash service they'd paid for in advance. He's one of hundreds of customers who've joined a lawsuit filed by the Indiana Attorney General against Tippecanoe Waste Removal, Inc.
The now-closed company was originally sued at the end of January, accused of taking people's money without taking their trash. Now, its owners are accused of throwing that money away on their own personal items.
"After awhile, I mean, they do have a service and we paid for the service and they really need to do it," Niemiec said.
At first, TWR blamed weather delays when the trash trucks never came. But customers say that went on for weeks. No service, their bags piling up outside.
Roger Rhine even went to the facility to ask what was happening.
"There was trash everywhere and trucks were full and dumpsters full and...it didn't look good. There was even trashed piled at the company's front door," Rhine explained.
On Monday, the Attorney General named the company's owners, Kurt and Melissa Kanable, in an amended lawsuit. After examining bank records, investigators say they discovered the owners used corporate money to pay for personal expenses - everything from students loans and child support to groceries, clothing, even video games.
The financial loss for customers in the lawsuit now totals $47,160. For Frank Niemiec, it's about 42 bucks. For Rhine, about $50. That covers three months of service they paid for, but never received.
"It's not a tremendous amount of money, but it's still $42.50," Niemiec said, "and they should be held accountable."
Now hundreds of Hoosiers in the same boat hope the state lawsuit gets that money back.
Attorney General Zoeller says he will do everything he can to make restitution.