Customers accuse Dorchester Co. contractor of abandoning paid-for projects

Several customers say that a Dorchester County contractor they hired has abandoned their projects and are out thousands of dollars.
Published: Jul. 17, 2023 at 5:38 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 17, 2023 at 6:30 PM EDT
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DORCHESTER COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - Several customers say that a Dorchester County contractor they hired has abandoned their projects and are out thousands of dollars.

Last July, Lynn Mizzell hired Ronald Brent Ergle with Palmetto Restoration Services to build a garage after finding them on their Facebook page.

She saved up for years to pay for it.

“Talked a great game. I thought that contract meant something. But it’s just worthless paper,” she said.

Mizzell paid Ergle $40,000 after he assured her in writing he had a license, but never did.

In fact, Ergle’s been fined by the state twice for operating without a license. The first was in 2018 for work done in Aiken dating back to 2009. The second came a week before Mizzell sent the money, split into five payments.

The cease-and-desists came with a $500 fine each.

His wife, Casey Ergle, had a license for the business for carpentry, roofing and aluminum siding, but it’s the wrong type for this kind of work. It expired last month.

“He fooled me,” she said.

According to Berkeley County, no permits had been pulled or issued for Mizzell’s address in recent years.

Mizzel says some work was completed but delays continued as Ergle made excuses.

“He was taking his kids on spring break or his daughter got sick and was in the hospital and... then it was rain,” she said.

He continued to respond to messages on and off again about when the work would start again until about the end of May. That’s when she said he went completely silent.

“He is taking people’s money. He may as well have walked in my house and walked out with 40,000,” she said.

Turns out Mizzell wasn’t alone.

“I’m angry, you know, I’m a pretty patient guy, but you know there it comes to a point where we’ve been taken advantage of,” customer Mark Gander said.

Gander also says he stopped hearing from Ergle and the work on his new garage stalled a few months ago.

He has paid a little more than $35,000 but suspects some of the completed work will have to be redone due to exposure to the elements.

There are at least five customers in the area, including Mizzell and Gander, who claim they’ve paid Ergle around $200,000 combined and are still waiting on their projects to be completed.

Two other customers sued him last month. One was for “breach of contract” and another for “loss of trust.”

Bankruptcy filing

On May 30, Ergle filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy but actually signed the documents a week prior on May 23.

That was the last day Mizzell had heard from him.

According to the filing, Ergle estimates that he owes $450,000 in liabilities and is representing himself.

A meeting of the creditors was held on July 12, but Ergle didn’t call in for the first meeting of creditors last week stating he was out of town and didn’t have his documents.

Ergle previously filed for Chapter 7 in Tennessee in 2012.

It’s unclear how this may affect customers seeking reimbursement.

Calls and emails made to Ergle went unanswered initially. A call to Ergle was returned by a person stating they were his brother and that Ergle had recently suffered from a stroke. That same number was used to leave a voicemail for a customer from Ergle himself, stating that it was his personal number.

When finally reached by phone, Ergle denied that he lied about his identity or that he was stealing money, only saying that he was behind on work. He refused to answer questions regarding the bankruptcy filing.

Ergle claims dozens of receipts he’s provided show that he has purchased the materials for all the projects and has promised to deliver them to his customers.

He also denied not having a license or permits for the projects but could not provide supporting documentation by publication.

Do your homework

When it comes to hiring contractors, it’s really important to do your homework first.

The South Carolina Labor, Licensing and Regulation Department has a variety of searches to help provide consumers with information about who you might be hiring.

Click the links below to access:

License Search

Final Orders

File a Complaint