Home Depot allegedly failed to take out plumbing permits when it contracted an unlicensed plumber ...

The New Jersey State League of Master Plumbers filed three municipal complaints against Home Depot for failing to take out plumbing permits when the company contracted an unlicensed plumber to install water heaters.

In July and August of 1998, Home Depot contracted Shower Door Dr. Water Heater Co., an unlicensed plumbing company from Glenside, Pa., to install three water heaters in three different towns in New Jersey, sources said. According to the League's president, Gary Devine, it is illegal to contract, install or advertise plumbing installations in New Jersey without a license.

"We're going to put a stop to it, and put [Home Depot] in front of judges," Devine said. Court dates for the complaints were to take place in August and September, but the attorney for Home Depot was granted two postponements for each case. The new court dates were set for Oct. 27 for the Haddon Township complaint, Nov. 17 for the Washington Township complaint and Nov. 24 for the City of Camden complaint.

Home Depot was found guilty in May for advertising water heater installations in its store in Morris County, N.J., and was fined $250.

The fines on the three complaints will be a second offense for the company.

The League also won two cases against Sears in November 1997 and December 1996 when the company was found guilty of advertising plumbing installations in its store and Yellow Pages ad. The League recently filed a third complaint with the company.

"People will say we're against competition, we're not. We're against people breaking the law," Devine said. "We're against people who are in the industry illegally, who didn't have to go through the sweat and guts of working in the trade. We did the schooling and tests, why shouldn't they?"