A Lemont-area family featured last year on Fox's "Renovate My Family" filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the network, the Hollywood production company, an Illinois developer and DuPage County, claiming shoddy work created safety hazards in their home.
Gary and Sharon Rosier were selected for the reality show because their home needed to be made accessible for their son Steven, 18, who lost the use of his limbs after a snowboarding accident two years ago. When the seven-day project was done, the Rosiers say, they found wobbly railings, dangerous and incomplete electrical work and inadequately designed rooms.
"This family had already been dealing with the tragic situation of their son's horrible accident," said their attorney, Mark Belongia. "Then they went from the thrill of someone offering to get help to this situation, where their entire lives have been made worse."
The Rosiers signed a contract with Rocket Science to be part of the reality home-makeover show, which has been canceled but will air never-seen episodes starting Aug. 8. Their lawsuit says Rocket Science used pressure tactics and gave the Rosiers false information--including promises to find doctors to cure Steven-- to get their cooperation.
The producers, the Rosiers say, promised to bring joy to a family torn apart after Steven's accident. The goal of the show, according to Fox's Web site, was to make the home accessible to Steven by adding a wheelchair ramp, wider doorways and an exercise pool.
The work was done in seven days, which TV industry experts say was designed to create tension and bring viewers to the show.
When the renovated home was "revealed" to the Rosiers on July 23, 2004, producers had to re-film the scene a few times because the family didn't look happy enough, Gary Rosier said.
"We were horrified at what we saw," he said.
The suit also says that general contractor David Dressler Inc. performed "incompetent" and "negligent" work on their home. The suit lists some of the "hundreds" of problems with the renovated home: smoke alarms that didn't function; mold growing inside the house; exposed electrical wiring; the furnace installed in an inaccessible crawl space; and improperly installed plumbing, electrical wiring and railings along the wheelchair ramp. The Rosiers say the refurbishment also eliminated needed storage space, forcing them to use boxes throughout the home to hold their belongings.
Now, I can sympathize with the family's plight. They were hoping their home would accomodate their new reality of a disabled member of the household. Maybe they should have gone with Ty and the Extreme Home Makeover crowd at ABC (American Broadcasting Company). Or is their craftsmanship just as suspect?
Anyone who has ever done any home renovating knows that the process is time-consuming. And to have it all done in a week--what were they thinking? They should have had a lawyer involved up front to ensure all details were taken care of once the director said "Cut!", the lights were turned off, and the cameras stopped rolling.
Who knows, maybe this case will go before Judge Judy or Judge Joe Brown or even The Peoples' Court. Aren't those the actual venues to petition a complaint about a reality TV show? I would like to see a reality TV show about reality TV shows gone awry!
Linked to story: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/nearwest/chi-0507210153jul21,1,3409010.story?coll=chi-newslocalnearwest-hed