Judge’s Ruling Paves Way for Mobile Home Wrongful Eviction Suit

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A Jefferson County judge last week refused to throw out a lawsuit alleging that the corporate owner of 17 Kentucky mobile home parks illegally evicted residents, forcing them to abandon trailers that they owned.

The lawsuit was filed last October by Virginia Chappell, a former resident of Autumn Lake Pointe in southwest Jefferson County. It accuses Erlanger-based SSK Communities of breach of contract, abuse of process and violations of the Kentucky Consumer Protection Act. Although the suit was filed by 16 current and former residents of SSK-owned parks, it seeks to represent all SSK residents statewide.

SSK asked that Jefferson County Circuit Judge James Shake dismiss the lawsuit. Shake denied the request and ruled that the residents had cited enough “bare bones” factual statements to allow their claims to go forward.

SSK spokeswoman Kathy Groob said, “We will continue to vigorously defend our company’s interests and to protect our residents and their families living in our communities.”

One of SSK’s owners is Nathan Smith, the campaign chairman for Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway’s bid for the governor’s office.

The lawsuit, filed by Louisville attorney James Craig, alleges that SSK employed two tactics to force residents out of their homes. It would refuse to renew leases, even if residents were current on their monthly payments, the suit states. And SSK would allegedly evict residents who refused to pay water and sewer bills “in some case as high as 10 times a normal bill.”

Either way, the suit states, residents would have to choose between spending up to $5,000 to move their trailer or leaving it behind. Chappell paid to move her trailer last September to another park not owned by SSK.

In Jefferson County, SSK owns Autumn Lake Pointe, Ashley Pointe, Barrington Pointe, Johnsontown Pointe, Logans Pointe, Mills Pointe and Whispering Oaks. The lawsuit says states SSK sells mobile homes, rents out mobile homes for $800 and up, and accepts mobile home owners for about $300 a month for lot rental and utilities.

Ashley Pointe was the subject of an investigation last summer by The Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting. The KyCIR article cited frequent sewage system leaks that drew complaints from residents and led to enforcement actions by the Jefferson County Health Department and the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection.

 

Reporter James McNair can be reached at jmcnair@kycir.org or (502) 814-6543.

 

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