For nearly six years, Honey Do Men Gutters Inc. has been trying to collect a $61,814 payment for work on Teba Gumbs’ home in Peekskill, and for six years Gumbs has eluded collection of that debt.
Now a federal bankruptcy judge has granted Honey Do a preliminary victory, awarding the Carmel repair and remodeling company $19,520 in attorney’s fees and holding out the possibility of an award on the original debt.
Honey Do “paints a troubling picture of Mr. Gumbs’ extensive and prolonged failure to honor his discovery obligations,” U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Sean H. Lane ruled on Feb. 15, “despite many hearings … and repeated admonishments by the court.”
Gumbs hired Honey Do in spring 2016 to extensively renovate his house, according to court records. The contract was set at $51,000 but ballooned to $72,514 for additional modifications.
Gumbs paid $9,500, leaving a $61,814 balance.
In 2017, Gumbs petitioned for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection, declaring $303,194 in assets, consisting mostly of the house, and $462,034 in liabilities, mostly to numerous banks and credit card companies.
Gumbs was employed as a cook at White Plains Hospital. He and his wife, a dietician who worked at another hospital and who was not a party to the bankruptcy, were making about $110,000 a year in salaries and rental income.
In 2018, Honey Do accused Gumbs of fraud in an adversary proceeding filed in bankruptcy court.
Company president Darrell Babboni claimed that Gumbs had falsely represented that he had secured financing for the project, then a home improvement loan, then home refinancing, but he did not intend to pay for the materials and work.
Honey Do asked the court to strike Gumbs’ answer to the adversary complaint, enter a default judgment against him, and make him pay legal fees the company incurred in trying to get bank account records, credit card records and other discovery documents.
The court repeatedly gave Gumbs chances to produce documents. Judge Lane ordered him in July to produce the records in two weeks, for instance. A month later, the court explained that the requested documents were necessary and warned Gumbs that he could be sanctioned for not complying.
In October, the court warned Gumbs that Honey Do could file a default motion and noted that his actions could be seen as “lack of good faith.”
Gumbs still did not produce the records.
In December, Honey Do filed a motion for default judgment and sanctions. On Jan. 13, Gumbs’ attorney, his third in four years, confirmed that Gumbs had not complied with his discovery obligations.
Lane instructed the attorneys to try to negotiate an agreement. The negotiation failed.
Gumbs did provide information on three bank accounts, Lane noted, but that was well short of the 11 accounts he had claimed to have. He also responded to some of Honey Do’s questions but his answers were not signed under oath.
Lane found Gumbs’ noncompliance willful. He had been given ample time, numerous warnings and extensive due process. His failures were not the fault of anyone else and they “reflect his bad faith.”
The judge awarded $19,520 in attorney’s fees to Honey Do. He took under advisement the requests to strike Gumbs’ answer and to grant default judgment.
Yonkers attorney Carlos J. Cuevas represents Honey Do. Poughkeepsie attorney Ronald R. Tomlins represents Gumbs.


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