I-TEAM UPDATE: Judge rules in favor of local landscaper

Friday, December 21, 2018

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- According to court documents, a Columbia County judge has ruled in favor of Dustin VanHouse in the case involving Regina Kirkland.

For previous information on this story, click here.

Thursday, December 20, 2018
News 12 @ 6 O'clock / NBC 26 at 7

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- A landscaper at the center of an I-Team investigation faced one of his accusers and a judge on Thursday. Dustin VanHouse was in Columbia County Magistrate Court.

The I-Team first uncovered a pattern of problems with him this summer.

This all started over a deposit check, but after the I-Team started digging, both sides admit it's turned into something more.

"I've got materials that I've purchased. I've got time involved. I've got a check bounced. I've got News Channel 12 on my back. This cost me way over her deposit," Dustin VanHouse said in court.

"This isn't about money anymore," he said.

It's fair to say that might be the only thing Dustin VanHouse and Regina Kirkland can agree on.

"That's why we're at where we are today," Regina Kirkland said. "I started digging, and you started digging. When I contacted you and found out that this is a long history of him doing this to people. And he's got to be stopped," she said.

We first introduced you Kirkland this summer. She paid VanHouse a $1,000 deposit for work on her sprinkler system and sod, but he never did any of the work.

Almost 4 months to the day we took you to Regina's yard, she took Dustin to court.

"Last night, his lawyer called me. Wanted to get together last night at 8 pm. Then again this morning, he tried to resolve the issue, and I told him, 'I gave you 8 months," Kirkland said.

Dustin VanHouse acted as his own lawyer today, though.

“I don't understand. I've never understood that," VanHouse said. "Why do people look down on a businessman, a person that owns a business, runs a business, going to court?"

As we've reported, court is familiar territory for him.

Meredith Anderson: “You said in there, the truth comes out in the courtroom. Do you stand by that?"
Dustin VanHouse: "I stand - the system isn't perfect, but it's the best one that we have, and sometimes, sometimes it goes, sometimes it doesn't go so well. Sometimes it does. But I think overall, it's a really good system."

He hopes that system rules in his favor today. VanHouse says he deserves to keep that money. Kirkland says she deserves her money back.

This is Magistrate Court, but now, it's also in another court: the court of public opinion. That's where you get to decide.

Dustin VanHouse: "What I want to happen? I want everybody to be happy."

Regina: Kirkland: "I can't say I didn't warn you. It's on you."

The judge said she would make her decision this afternoon and stick it in the mail. So it looks like we'll know something next week.

Meanwhile, he told you this summer he'd do an interview on a rainy day when he couldn't work. Today makes 52 rainy days, or 52 chances.

It''s fitting when he went on camera today, it was raining at the courthouse.