Kelsey Ketron’s attorney Aubrey Harwell says she’s committed no fraud or crime.
Scott Broden, USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee
- Martin Construction and Restoration paid $11,973 to renew liability and pollution insurance.
- The policy, however, was not renewed, the lawsuit states.
- The Smyrna construction business lost an estimated $50,000 in new business while being uninsured.
- Universal International Insurance is a family business owned by Rutherford County Mayor Bill Ketron.
Universal International Insurance agency where Tennessee GOP official Kelsey Ketron is employedÂ recently settled a breach of contract lawsuit with a Smyrna company, court records show.
Martin Construction and Restoration Co. “had to reject $46,800 worth of business as a result of being without insurance due to (Universal International Insurance agency’s) failure to renew plaintiff’s insurance policy,” according to a lawsuit filed in Rutherford County Circuit Court on April 20, 2017.
When it was initially filed, the lawsuit demanded a jury trial and $150,000 from the agency, but the case was settled June 17 for an undisclosed amount. The agency’s attorneyÂ also had to pay the plaintiff’s court costs of nearly $390.
Before the settlement, Ketron received a May 29 cease and desist order from the state accusing her of “fraudulent” insurance practices involvingÂ Shelbyville homeowner. The home was uninsured when a pipe burst in January 2018, causing $127,230 in damage, according to different lawsuit. A judge grantedÂ Ketron’s attorneys a continuance on Wednesday in order to prepare their defense in a hearing to determine if she can resume working in the insurance field.Â
Ketron is the daughter of Rutherford County Mayor Bill Ketron. She was elected to serve as a member of the Tennessee Republican Party Executive Committee for District 13 in August, the same day her father won the mayoral election.
Universal International Insurance is a KetronÂ family business in Murfreesboro. Bill Ketron referred further comment about the lawsuit with the Smyrna business to the agency’s Knoxville attorney Broderick L. Young.
“The allegations were denied,” Young said during a phone interview. “A compromise was reached, and the matter was settled.”
What happened with Smyrna business
Kelsey Ketron, right, listens as her attorney Aubrey Harwell speaks in her defense. Ketron, a Tennessee Republican Party Executive Committee member, faces charges that she engaged in “fraudulent” insurance agent practices by causing a home owner to not have insurance coverage for $127,230 in damages from a frozen pipe that burst January 2018.Â (Photo: Scott Broden/DNJ)
According to the settled lawsuit,Â Martin Construction and Restoration wrote anÂ $11,973Â check to Universal toÂ renew a liability and pollution insurance policy with Berkley Insurance in JulyÂ 2016.
Six months later, the construction company learned the policy renewal had not been paid and coverage would be canceled because UniversalÂ “failed to renew the insurance policy” the construction businessÂ paid for,Â the lawsuit states.
After numerous emails from Martin ConstructionÂ to Universal, Ketron “advised that everything had been taken care of.” On Dec. 4, 2016, however, the construction firm was notified payment had not been received by Berkley, so the policy was canceled,Â the lawsuit states.
Martin Construction continued to seek answers from Universal and in January 2017, Ketron emailed a copy of a check indicating it was used to renew the Berkley policy, according to the lawsuit.
“However, the check was dated July 29, 2017, more than a year after plaintiff paid the premium,” the lawsuit says.
Smyrna business loses profits
The construction company said itÂ requested certificates of insurance from Universal in February 2017, but none were provided. Martin Construction also asked forÂ a refund of the nearly $12,000 it paid for the policy, but never received it, according to the lawsuit.
The Smyrna business’ Berkley Insurance also was turned over to collections for non-payment, the lawsuit adds.
“Plaintiff has been damaged by being unable to accept approximately $50,000 in new business, causing plaintiff to lose substantial profits that would have been gained from the new business,” the lawsuit says.Â
Universal’s license status
The Universal International Insurance business entity license expired on March 1, 2019, said Kevin Walters, a spokesman for the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance.
“In Tennessee, entities are not required to have a license, thus the companyâ€™s expired license would not have an impact to consumers,” Walters said. “Business entities are required to have one Designated Responsible Licensed Producer (DRLP). Bill Ketron is the DRLP for Universal with an active license that expires Sept. 30, 2019.”
Kelsey Ketron had been a licensed insurance agent from Feb. 16, 2012, through Aug. 31, 2016, according to the state cease and desist order.
State charges Kelsey Ketron: Tennessee GOP official Kelsey Ketron accused of ‘fraudulent’ practices, ordered to stop selling insurance
Kelsey Ketron’s lawyers given more time: Judge grants continuance to Tennessee GOP official Kelsey Ketron in insurance fraud case
Ketron gives up state senate seat: Rutherford County Mayor-elect Bill Ketron will resign from Tennessee Senate on Friday
Reach Scott Broden at email@example.com or 615-278-5158, and follow him on Twitter @ScottBroden.
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