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BC homeowner sues pool installer who kept money then reportedly ‘died’

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A Surrey pool builder who agreed to build a North Vancouver homeowner an in-ground pool last fall is being sued for breach of contract and return of the fees paid.

John Sulentich, “doing business as Maui Pools Ltd.,” was hired to do the job and installed portions of the frame for the pool before he disappeared, according to a lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court.

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“Sulentich has not returned to the property or done any work on the property since Sept. 29, 2023,” according to the lawsuit filed by homeowner Lee Nystrom, a North Vancouver businessman.

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Nystrom said in the lawsuit he had sent him two bank drafts, one on Sept. 1, 2023, for $36,115 and one for $27,680 on Sept. 29, 2023. The remaining amount was due upon completion, it said.

“Sulentich has failed to complete project and has breached the contract,” the lawsuit states.

Nystrom has had to hire a new contractor to complete the job, for $50,000, it said.

He had repeatedly demanded Sulentich pay him back the $63,795 he was paid but has had no response.

About two months after the pool work had began, Nystrom received a message from someone who said he was Sulentich’s brother.

“This individual told Nystrom that Sulentich was ill and in the hospital,” the claim said.

The brother sent Nystrom a photo of Sulentich lying in a hospital bed.

“Subsequently, this individual told Nystrom that Sulentich had died,” said Nystrom in his claim.

In January, “Nystrom learned that Sulentich was not deceased” and was working at a Surrey company, where he paid him a visit.

“Nystrom approached Sulentich and confirmed it was in fact him and demanded that Sulentich return the $63,795 paid to him,” the claim said. “Sulentich refused.”

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Nystrom said he is suing Sulentich for $113,795, the amount of the breached contract plus the $50,000 he paid to the second contractor to complete the job, the claim said.

The allegations have not been proven in court.

“I did build it and I have pictures of my guys building it,” said Sulentich when reached by phone.

His Linked In page lists him as the owner of Maui Pools, from 2000 to present, but he said he never built the pool as Maui Pools, saying his ownership of that company is “old.”

He said he hasn’t been served the claim and he had no further comment.

The lawsuit said Maui Pools was dissolved on Dec. 12, 2011, for failure to file business documents, or about 12 years before he signed the contract with Nystrom.

B.C.’s business registry shows Maui Pools was incorporated as a business on March 14, 2008, and on Oct. 20, 2011, was listed among other companies that had been given notice of the province’s intent to dissolve them.

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