TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – James Staten, owner of the now-shuttered Olympus Pools, and his wife Alexis, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this week.
The filing offered insight on the debt of both the couple and the company, accused of collecting payments for hundreds of swimming pools it failed to complete.
The case is being watched closely by consumers wondering where their money went and if they can get any of it back.
Attorney John Anthony is not part of this case but reviewed the case file.
“The owners can’t hide behind the corporate veil for their own business decisions and errors,” he said.
Business obligations are included in this bankruptcy filing and Anthony says allegations of misuse of funds could make consumers part of this case.
“Normally, that corporation, the liability would stop there, but if what’s really gone on here is that we have dozens of homeowners who innocently put down deposits expecting the jobs to get completed, that is something that could give rise to individual liability,” he said.
Anthony recommends impacted consumers attend the first creditor meeting.
“That would be a good chance to get the principals under oath and you can ask them questions. It’s not going to go on for two days, but in a case like this, I’m sure the U.S. Trustee will allow some liberality as far as individuals asking questions,” he said.
Back at the Schouest’s backyard disaster, there are many questions. For one, Tiffany wonders why the Staten’s bankruptcy filing includes a list of “necessary expenses” of $17,888 – a month.
“I mean almost $18,000 a month you want after you’re going to file bankrupt, after you left all of us, took all of our money, hundreds and hundreds of pools, millions and millions of dollars, where did it go?” she asked.
The creditor hearing is set for Oct. 28 in downtown Tampa. That is the hearing where Anthony recommends potential creditors ask questions. The deadline to file individual claims is December 15.
Impacted consumers can also file with the state’s construction recovery fund. Keep in mind, though, there is a cap, and there likely isn’t enough money to cover all claims.