One of the homeowners suing Rutherford County Mayor Bill Ketron’s insurance agency over an alleged breach of contract said, “This is just not right.”
Susan Calvin and her husband, Charles Daniel Calvin, filed a civil lawsuit in August 2018 against Universal International Insurance Agency Inc., according to documents from the Rutherford County Circuit Court. The couple claims in the lawsuit that they hired the agency to obtain homeowners insurance and that they paid the agency, but they were not covered when their house was damaged by frozen pipes around January 2018.
Susan Calvin told The Murfreesboro Post on Thursday that, “I just literally feel like that every day that passes is compromising the structure of our home. It needs to be fixed.”
Heather Parker, the plaintiffs’ lawyer, said no trial date has been set. She said she is trying to subpoena records.
Bill Ketron did not return phone calls seeking comment. Ketron’s daughter, Kelsey Ketron Randolph, was the agent and the Calvin’s point of contact, according to the Tennessee Insurance Division. Randolph’s lawyer, Aubrey B. Harwell Jr., would not allow her to answer media questions during an insurance hearing Wednesday.
Breach of contract claimed
The Calvins claim that Universal committed a breach of contract, according to the lawsuit. They say they could not repair their home in a timely manner; thus, their home suffered more damage, with estimates totaling $127,230.45. They also claim damages from the premium they had paid in the amount of $1,608.12. They say agent Randolph did not apply that amount to their escrow, thus they never had insurance coverage.
The plaintiffs say in the lawsuit that they should receive punitive damages “based upon Defendant’s breach because Defendant fraudulently, intentionally, or recklessly and willfully, disregarded its obligations under the parties’ agreement.” The plaintiffs ask for judgment of $500,000, plus costs. They also demand a jury trial.
Randolph was the agent and primary point of contact for the Calvins, the Tennessee Insurance Division said in a cease and desist order barring her from selling insurance due to an allegedly inactive license. Her license expired on Aug. 31, 2016, the division said.
Susan Calvin asked, “Why didn’t she do her job correctly to start out with? You read about things like that but think it happens to someone else.”
The damage includes buckled floors and damaged air ducts, Susan Calvin said. She said she is unable to invite friends and family over to the house the couple has owned since 1995.
“I just want it fixed,” she said.
Susan Calvin said she recommends homeowners check out people they do business with. Randolph sent workers to the house to give repair estimates but never did anything else, Susan Calvin said. Universal has not attempted to make the situation right, she said.
Around Sept. 8, 2017, Universal asked Wells Fargo, which held the escrow account, to send it a check to cover the premium, the lawsuit says. The bank sent the check, addressed to Appalachian Underwriters Inc. (AUI), for $1,608.12, the amount of the premium.
The lawsuit says, “on or about September 15, 2017, Defendant Universal cashed the check from Wells Fargo. Defendant Universal failed to obtain the homeowners’ insurance policy that Plaintiff had paid Defendant to obtain. Around January 2018, the Calvins tried to make a claim because the house’s pipes had frozen, the lawsuit said.
The Tennessee Insurance Division says that Randolph “initially appeared to begin the claims process and even sent workers to Calvin’s home to conduct an inspection. However, the Respondent (Kelsey Ketron) soon stopped providing updates on the claim and then ceased communications with Calvin altogether.”
Wells Fargo referred the homeowners to AUI, which said they had no record of a policy and the policy number they had received from Randolph “was not the correct format for any policy issued by Appalachian,” the Tennessee Insurance Division said.
The Tennessee Insurance Division says that on July 23, 2018, Randolph received and signed for a copy of an inquisitorial order in the case and that on the same day, she signed and mailed a Universal check of $1,608.12 to Wells Fargo with a loan number for Susan Calvin. The division says that on June 30, 2018, Wells Fargo applied the check to Calvin’s escrow account, which still had a negative balance because of a charge of $1,891 for “forced place insurance,” which the division said was “a direct result of the false statements the Respondent made to Wells Fargo on September 8, 2017.”
The state’s cease and desist order says Randolph has “falsely held herself out to be a licensed insurance agent and falsely negotiated insurance in Tennessee without being licensed to do so” and “intentionally misappropriated a consumer’s homeowners insurance premium check.”