BOULDER, Colo. (March 19, 2021) – The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors – InterNACHI® – is focused on maximizing the value it provides to its members. That focus, however, does not prevent InterNACHI® from defeating the once-proud organization known as the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) again, in federal court.
In 2017, InterNACHI’s sole national competitor, the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), filed a federal lawsuit in ASHI’s hometown of Chicago against InterNACHI® and its founder, Nick Gromicko, over a constitutionally protected joke Nick made in 2016 about ASHI. InterNACHI® and Nick challenged ASHI’s decision to litigate in Chicago, and the court agreed. On April 27, 2018, the court, siding with InterNACHI® and Nick Gromicko, dismissed ASHI's case.
At that point, ASHI's leadership should have realized that their case had no merit. But instead of accepting a quick, early, inexpensive defeat, ASHI decided to re-file its lawsuit against Nick Gromicko and InterNACHI® in July 2018 in Nick's home state of Colorado. Since then, InterNACHI®, Gromicko, and ASHI have been engaged in this protracted, expensive lawsuit that ASHI’s board of directors, presidents, and executive director inexplicably thought was worth wasting their members' hard-earned dues on.
ASHI's lawsuit was used to engage in a desperate effort to find dirt on Nick Gromicko. ASHI's lawyers went on a broad fishing expedition through InterNACHI’s corporate records and finances. ASHI turned InterNACHI® upside down and deposed Nick under oath multiple times, including a single deposition that lasted 13 hours straight, asking him detailed personal questions and about InterNACHI's inner workings. ASHI also deposed InterNACHI’s CEO, and the Dean of the InterNACHI School, and InterNACHI's Director of Communications about InterNACHI’s operations and finances. ASHI hired two different law firms and multiple experts, and reviewed tens of thousands of pages of private InterNACHI® documents. But after years of probing and sifting through emails, records, and financial transactions, ASHI's elaborate fishing expedition resulted in ASHI coming up empty-handed.
After four years of ASHI spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on lawyers digging into Nick Gromicko's entire life history, going all the way back to his place of birth, ASHI found nothing improper. And so, just before the scheduled jury trial, U.S. Federal Judge Brooke Jackson dismissed ASHI’s entire case. ASHI lost, again.
However, before ASHI filed its lawsuit, InterNACHI® noticed that ASHI’s website was promoting ASHI Associate Members as being “Educated. Tested. Verified. Certified.” on its “Find an Inspector” search tool prominently displayed on ASHI's homepage. Nick Gromicko knew this wasn’t true for all ASHI members, and he knew that this practice was harmful to the unsuspecting public. It also steered business away from real home inspectors. To prove the problem with ASHI’s promotion of all of its members under the “Educated. Tested. Verified. Certified.” slogan, Nick Gromicko asked a convicted felon, who was also legally blind, to join ASHI. This woman had just gotten out of prison after approximately three years. She was deemed so visually impaired that she was unable to drive a car. But she had the one thing ASHI wanted. She had a credit card. And with nothing more than a credit card, she was able to join ASHI after simply paying them a fee. She never took an inspection course. She never took an ethics exam. She knew nothing about home inspections. She wasn't certified. She wasn't verified. She was a felon who spent years in prison. And she couldn't drive because she was blind. She even called ASHI and alerted them to these facts. Nevertheless, ASHI unconscionably grabbed her money and promoted her to the public alongside real home inspectors, under the tagline "Educated. Tested. Certified. Verified." in its “Find an Inspector” search engine for two years.
Ironically, while ASHI was failing to find dirt on InterNACHI®, ASHI tried to quickly clean up its own act. ASHI frantically scrubbed its entire website of its “Educated. Tested. Verified. Certified.” slogan that was emblazoned across every page of its website for five years. ASHI no longer claims all of its members are educated. ASHI no longer claims all its members are tested. ASHI no longer claims all its members are verified. ASHI no longer claims all its members are certified. ASHI also purged its rolls of hundreds of Associate Members who never proved to ASHI that they deserved being held out to the public as “Educated. Tested. Verified. Certified.” home inspectors. InterNACHI® commends ASHI for these 11th-hour changes, but simply stopping an unfair business practice does nothing to address the harm ASHI caused by foisting uneducated, untested, unverified and/or uncertified inspectors on the world. InterNACHI® remains committed to resolving the harm that ASHI caused when it promoted uneducated, untested, unverified, and uncertified people under their “Educated. Tested. Verified. Certified.” slogan.
ASHI knew at the outset of its case that Nick's comment about ASHI was a matter of free speech, protected by the supreme law of our land, the U.S. Constitution. But, instead of acting like reasonable board members and officers, ASHI’s leadership decided its members’ financial resources were best used to fund a futile litigation. There are legitimate questions about whether ASHI’s board members and former president Mike Wagner will be sued for mismanagement of ASHI’s dwindling financial resources. There are also legitimate questions about ASHI’s decision to consolidate its lawsuit with a similar lawsuit that EBPHI brought against Nick Gromicko and InterNACHI® that was also dismissed with prejudice this month. More information about Nick's recent victory against EBPHI and the NHIE can be found at www.nachi.org/ebphi-loses
InterNACHI® is thrilled that it prevailed in the lawsuit ASHI filed against them, and is proud that its countersuit caused ASHI to end its false advertising. And to make certain ASHI never does it again, InterNACHI® has filed a counterclaim against ASHI seeking to prohibit them from resuming the use of its false slogan. InterNACHI® also seeks to have ASHI disgorge the millions of dollars it earned from its false advertising. But for InterNACHI’s willingness to file this countersuit, ASHI would still be promoting legally blind felons to unsuspecting consumers, and ASHI’s website would still be steering home buyers away from actual home inspectors. More information about InterNACHI's efforts to stop ASHI from ever again harming consumers and inspectors will be released in the coming weeks. And we fully expect to watch as ASHI loses, yet again.