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Couple had hoped to build accessible home with medical malpractice settlement, but now they feel victimized again

Couple had hoped to build accessible home with malpractice settlement, but it goes disastrously
Couple had hoped to build accessible home with malpractice settlement, but it goes disastrously 03:58

HOMER GLEN, Ill. (CBS) -- A suburban man was left severely disabled after an infection, followed by medical malpractice.

He also won a large settlement, and the plan was to use part of it to build an accessible home – so he could at least be more comfortable.

But all sorts of things went wrong with that effort – and now, the family feels victimized all over again.

Tom Reynolds has been sleeping in his living room for 12 years. A 2010 brain injury prevents him from reaching his real bed upstairs.


He gets up to freshen up every day. Sometimes, that means he gets into a patient transfer lift from his bed and then has his hair washed in the kitchen sink – because the main floor of his house does not have a shower.

It was not supposed to be this way. Wife Amanda Lessner explained medical malpractice caused Reynolds' condition.

A hospital settlement they finally received was supposed to build a $2 million home in Homer Glen – which could be completely accessible.

Provided by Amanda Lessner

"It's not easy living like this," Lessner said, "and for such a terrible thing to occur to him, quality of life is important. Keeping his spirits up is important."

Lessner hired Group A Architecture more than three years ago to begin sketching out plans.

"Having a shower on the main level; having an overhead lift system so we're not relying on our own strength," Lessner said. "Bottom level is where all the therapy was supposed to occur."

In August 2020, Lessner signed a contract with Leevy Yoesep of Yoesep Construction. The agreed-upon schedule showed occupancy for the new house in December 2021.

But like these projects often do, things got delayed.

"He kept making me promises that these crews were supposed to show up. He had a crew of framers, crew of excavators," Lessner said. "Every time I went over there, there was nobody working other than Leevy, or mostly his son."

In November 2021, the house was nowhere near finished – it didn't even have a roof. And that was a month before move-in, per the construction timeline.

Provided by Amanda Lessner

"And I confronted him about this on more than one occasion," Lessner said.

By then, the couple had paid the construction firm $967,467.25 – nearly $1 million.

"What is the problem? What is the trouble?" Lessner said. "I don't feel comfortable about giving you more money, because you keep making promises - and it's getting to the point where I no longer believe you."

Lessner wound up firing Yoesep Construction and the architect, and filed a breach of contract complaint against both of them in August 2022.

We tried to track Yoesep down at the Arlington Heights address listed on his website. It was a house.

The person inside said Yoesep was the previous owner and had retired.

Yoesep did reply to CBS 2 via email. He wrote: "Like you said they are just allegations and they certainly will be proved wrong in the court of law. Per my attorney's advice I have no comments at this time. I'm sure you guys know how to report a story without examining all the facts. Take care."

He declined an interview opportunity.

Architect Robert Kirk told us via email: "I recommend that you work on some more substantial news. Nothing out of the ordinary here."

Meanwhile, a new builder took over the job – and it turned out his team had a lot more work than anticipated.

An independent structural engineer assessed the partially-built house and found "beams that are inadequate." A few of them were sagging, the engineer told CBS 2.

At least some of the work was not up to code, he added.

"I was floored," Lessner said.

The structural issues set the couple back more time and money.


Victory: "How many different hits can you guys take?"

Lessner: "Well, you know, I don't know. I don't want let this to defeat me. We've already been through a lot. This house was the last piece of it."

As to the estimate now when they can move into the new house, Lessner said, "We're hoping by spring."

But interest rates are high, and cash is running low. They don't know if they can afford to finish what they started.

The couple told Victory they have been forced to scale back the size of the house dramatically because of all the construction drama.

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