Lawsuit blames Monroe County lesbian couple for fire

5:28 PM, May 27, 2011   |    comments
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A federal lawsuit is claiming a Vonore lesbian couple is to blame for a fire that destroyed their home.

Back in September, Carol Ann and Laura Stutte say they returned home from a weekend in Nashville to find their Monroe County home in ashes.

The next morning, they say they discovered the word "queers" spray-painted on their garage.

Back in February, the couple filed suit against a neighbor, claiming she set the fire and repeatedly harassed them, including poisoning their dogs and threatening their lives.

That neighbor has since filed an answer in the case, denying the claims.

But now, a new lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court is claiming the Stuttes are to blame for the fire.

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.

David Massey, a member of PFLAG, or Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, is defending the couple, saying the group will continue its support.

"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," Massey said. "I don't know what kind of evidence they claim to have, but whatever it is, I wouldn't believe it, because I believe them, I believe in them, I believe in their integrity, and all of us in PFLAG believe that they are the victims."

The attorney for the insurance company did not return to calls to 10News, and the Stuttes' attorney could not be reached.

Meanwhile, Monroe County Sheriff's Det. Travis Jones says the investigation into the fire is ongoing, and the FBI and state bomb and arson division is helping in the case.

No charges have been filed.




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