A lesbian couple in Tennessee whose home was burned to the ground last September, is now the target of a federal lawsuit by their insurance company, who claim the couple themselves caused the fire.
The suit stems from a claim by Carol Ann and Laura Stutte that their house in Vonore, Tenn., was destroyed in a blaze reported Sept. 4.
The couple’s insurance company, American National Property and Casualty Company, has already denied the claim and is now asking the court to void the policy.
“It was determined through investigation that the preponderance of the evidence shows that the loss was intentionally caused by the defendants. Under Tennessee law, such intentional destruction of the property voids all coverages under the policy,” the lawsuit states.
The couple filed a lawsuit earlier this year against the woman they believe set the fire — their next-door neighbor, Janice Millsaps.
The Stutte’s allege that Millsaps harassed them over a period of five years, including poisoning their dogs and threatening their lives, because they are gay.
They said then that the word “Queers” had been spray-painted in black letters on a detached garage near the charred ruins of their home.
“My reaction to the lawsuit is that this is an insurance company that declined to pay their claim and is looking for a way to get out of paying the claim,” said attorney David Massey, a member of PFLAG, or Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, and who is defending the couple.
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office investigation is ongoing, and there have been no criminal charges filed in relation to the fire.