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Judge rules in favor of exterminator over DA-elect

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HAMMOND — District Attorney-elect Mary E. Rain has been ordered by a Hammond town judge to pay more than $1,000 to an Onondaga County man for the removal of bats from her Watertown property.

The more than four-month legal battle between Al’s Critter Solutions owner Albert J. LaFrance and Ms. Rain ended on Nov. 20, when Hammond Justice Lisa A. Provost ordered Ms. Rain to pay Mr. LaFrance $1,590 for his services. She will also have to pay a filing fee of $20.

In his lawsuit filed with the Ogdensburg City Court on July 2, Mr. LaFrance alleged that in August 2012 Ms. Rain gave him approval over the phone to remove between six and 12 bats and seal entrance ways from them at her 441 Broadway Ave. E. rental property in Watertown. The bill totaled $1,890.

Ms. Rain paid $300 of that bill and refused to pay the remaining $1,590, Mr. LaFrance said.

The case was transferred to Hammond Town Court on Sept. 18 by St. Lawrence County Judge Jerome J. Richards after both judges of Ogdensburg City Court filed Certificates of Disqualification.

Ms. Rain said she didn’t approve the work or the estimated amount. She said she was sent a written contract by mail and that Mr. LaFrance then completed the work on his own.

Court documents show that Mr. LaFrance did send a written estimate, which followed his verbal estimate over the phone, for which he said he received approval.

Ms. Rain added she learned after the work was done that Mr. LaFrance had physical disabilities and had she known she would not have let him on the roof or in the attic of the building. She also testified that she owns the building with a business partner and never would have agreed to spend more than $500 without consulting her partner.

Judge Proven said she was “unpersuaded” by Ms. Rain’s arguments and that the possibility that Mr. LaFrance had disabilities had “no bearing on the current dispute. The court credits the testimony of the plaintiff and finds it unlikely he would have completed the extermination if he was not given an affirmative indication to do so,” the Hammond justice wrote.

Mr. LaFrance said he was grateful for the court’s ruling.

“I have a lot of faith in the courts,” Mr. LaFrance said. “I didn’t have a signed contract. I was brought up old-school and take people by their word. I guess I learned the hard way.”

And while the ruling helps Mr. LaFrance recover the funds he said he lost from his work, “it no way covered the three trips back and forth” from his Manlius home three hours away.

Ms. Rain, in a text message said, “I respect the court’s decision and will comply with it.”

Mr. LaFrance said he has since received a check in full from Ms. Rain with a note stating that the matter is concluded.

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