Contractors License Law

Law Talk

Sam K. Abdulaziz
Attorney at Law

Timothy Owen, a licensed contractor, verbally agreed to replace eighteen windows, install a sliding door, and some other doors etc. in a home. He performed the work in July and August of 2005. However, his contractor's license was not issued until September 2005.

On behalf of the homeowner, other contractors reviewed the quality of the work and it was found to be insufficient. When this was told to the contractor, Owen became angry and demanded more money, and eventually abandoned the project. The homeowner hired another contractor and the cost to correct was $13,265.00.

Steve Sands, the Registrar of Contractors, issued a Citation to Owen, based on violations of the Contractor's License Law. Specifically, the violations were engaging in the business of contracting without a license, willfully and materially departing from accepted trade standards for good workmanship, failing to correct or complete the project for the stated contract price, failing to include required provisions in the contract, willfully or fraudulently acting in a manor that substantially injured another and falsely claiming a workers compensation insurance exemption.

The Citation included a civil penalty in the total amount of $1,600.00 and an order of correction requiring the contractor to pay $7,880.00. The Citation was contested and a hearing was held before an Administrative Law Judge. Owen argued that the standard of proof at the hearing should be clear and convincing evidence. However, the Administrative Law Judge ruled that the standard of proof was a preponderance of the evidence (a lesser standard).

After four days of testimony, the Administrative Law Judge held that the alleged violations were true and increased the civil penalty to $2,000.00, finding that Owen's conduct was deceitful, etc. The Registrar adopted the Administrative Law Judge's proposed decision. Shortly thereafter, Owen filed a petition asking the court to set aside the decision on the grounds that the Administrative Law Judge applied the wrong standard of proof, the standard applied by the Administrative Law Judge was a preponderance of evidence, the lesser standard. Again, Owen argued that the standard should be clear and convincing proof. His reasoning was that there were other cases, where the standard was held as being clear and convincing evidence of proof when a license was going to be suspended or revoked etc. However, in those cases, it was to suspend or revoke a professional license. That is not the case in this trial.

In a lead case, the proper standard of proof in an administrative hearing to revoke or suspend a doctor's license should be clear and convincing evidence to a reasonable certainty and not a mere preponderance of evidence.

The Registrar's position was upheld. Most specifically, Owen did not cite any cases that show that clear and convincing evidence was the standard of proof that applies in a licensed contractor disciplinary proceeding.