I-Team: Disabled man says unlicensed contractor caused injury and headaches
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Despite being a paraplegic, Samuel Johnson, Jr. can usually get around in his wheelchair without any worries.
"I’ve never had a fall since being here,” says Johnson.
That is until some construction workers repaired the sidewalk in front of his place at Country Meadow Apartments.
"These gentlemen put in a makeshift runway for me to get back into my apartment but they didn't make it safe,” says Johnson.
The veteran adjusted until one day in March.
"I go to put my key in and next thing I know, my wheelchair is going backwards,” says Johnson.
The I-Team obtained Samuel’s 911 phone call through the Freedom of Information Act. On the tape, Johnson tells dispatchers that he fell. Later in the tape, a neighbor comes to help Johnson saying "yea, he seems like he's in some pain."
Johnson complained to management about the shoddy work hoping the contractor--Chris Putman with Concrete Solutions---would fix it.
"All of this could've been prevented,” says Johnson.
Johnson says he has no issues with his apartment complex management. The issue is with the contractor. While the problem looks like a small step, it's actually a steep incline for a wheelchair and trying to get in is a big life change for Samuel."
“It’s almost like, you had to get a motorcycle start to get a ramp and make a jump,” says Johnson. “That's basically what it felt like."
Management at Country Meadows offered a quick fix but Samuel says that’s not enough. He called the contractor, Chris Putman with Concrete Solutions asking for a remedy.
“Mr. Putman basically told me, I don't care, I have nothing to say to you,” says Johnson.
The I-Team called Chris Putman. He declined an on-camera interview, saying Samuel’s claims are a sham.
"I'm like, I'm just calling you in reference to my fall. I know you fell and,” says Johnson quoting Putman who he says showed no concern about his injuries.
The I-Team did some digging on Putman and Concrete Solutions.
Local court records show Putman pleaded guilty to practicing a regulated occupation without a license.
State records show Putman's Michigan Builders License was sanctioned three times and revoked in 2005 for fraud and deceit.
The I-Team also found several small claims court judgements against Putman but he didn't have to pay because he filed for personal bankruptcy.
Newschannel 3 spoke with three people who have sued Putman. They all make the same claims as Johnson.
"People need to be held accountable,” says Johnson. “You can't take advantage---just because I’m in a wheelchair, you can't take advantage of me."
The Michigan Department of Civil Rights is investigating for housing discrimination.
The I-Team also learned that Concrete Solutions is not registered with the state.