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HGTV show “Love It or List It” was sued by North Carolina homeowners Deena Murphy and Tim Sullivan after they accused the show’s production company, Big Coat TV, of breach of contract. According to court records, the lawsuit filed in Chatham County was eventually settled. That happened after the production company countersued the homeowners. A judge ruled in the show’s favor on some parts of the lawsuit, which accused Murphy and Sullivan of libel, slander, and product disparagement. 

The episode featuring Murphy and Sullivan aired in 2016 after “Love It or List It” filmed several episodes in the U.S. Previously, the show had focused on homes in Canada, specifically the Toronto area, where hosts Hilary Farr and David Visentin live. Court records show the two sides agreed to dismiss the case after reaching an undisclosed settlement agreement.

According to the lawsuit, Murphy and Sullivan appeared on “Love It or List It” to have their rental property renovated. According to ABC News, the pair put $140,000 of their own money into the project. But they said the company hired by the producers of the HGTV show, Aaron Fitz Construction, left home “irreparably damaged.”

According to the lawsuit, the floor was damaged, some windows were painted shut, and the contractors used “low quality” and “inferior products during the work done on the home. They said $65,000 of the money they set aside for the work was misused by the production company and added. Their lawyers wrote in the lawsuit complaint that the producers had the “incentive” “to make decisions that favor the television show but not the homeowners,” according to ABC News.

Sullivan told CBS News, “We took out a substantial loan for this, and you know, we put in some of our own money. … We were excited about the home.” Murphy added, “We feel stressed out, sad, disappointed.” Their attorney, Jim White, told CBS News, “For the homeowners here, this is a renovation project, and for Big Coat, it’s a TV show. We allege that Big Coat hired contractors who did substandard work.”

According to CNN, the lawsuit said Big Coat TV paid $85,000 to the contractor and kept the rest of the $140,000. “Instead, Big Coat hired its subcontractors and supervised their work, acting as an unlicensed general contractor, the suit states. “The result of this improper conduct was the kind of substandard work the statutes are designed to protect consumers against. Big Coat’s negligence destroyed the floors of the Plaintiffs’ house, and the work that was done was generally performed badly, for the most part using inexpensive, low-quality materials,” CNN reported.

In 2022, HGTV told The New York Times the network wants “homeowners who are featured in our series to be happy.” They said homeowners are included in the planning process and are told who will participate in the renovation work. The statement added, “The homeowners and the contractors agree upon the business relationship and contractual agreements for the renovations. When we learn of a business dispute, we encourage the contractors and homeowners to work together to resolve the issue.”


– Excerpt from an article for heavy by Tom Cleary. Read the full article here.


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