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Jaclyn Smith-Tillman Sues Rusty Hyneman



Jaclyn Smith-Tillman Files Suit Against Rusty Hyneman

Copyright WHR 2006

by Sadie Fowler

Jaclyn Smith-Tillman filed a seven-count lawsuit against Rusty Hyneman, Connaway & Associates and Great American Insurance Companies March 2, 2005. The complaint results from the 2005 sale of Black Hawk farm and the transfer of ownership of RPM.

Hyneman purchased Black Hawk, located on Hwy. 231 North in Shelbyville, in 2005 for $2.3 million. RPM was also part of the sale’s agreement, such that Hyneman would transfer ownership of the champion to Smith-Tillman. It was also agreed upon in the Sales Agreement that RPM would have to be insured for $750,000.00.

According to the Shelbyville Times Gazette, “As part of the transfer of property, Hyneman agreed to transfer RPM to Smith-Tillman…RPM was to be insured in the amount of $750,000. Hyneman showed evidence that there was a policy in effect in that amount, Smith-Tillman said.”

The following are two addendums of the Black Hawk sale’s agreement, signed by both parties:

• “Seller [Jaclyn Smith] to view the insurance policy on RPM and make sure that it will carry over to the Smith’s upon the purchase of RPM or that some cash agreement can be reached on the policy. Seller wants a vet check of RPM.”

• “RPM has to be able to be insured for full medical and with collick insurance at $750,000.00 to cover the balance of the sales price of $2,300,000.00.”

After the agreement was complete, Smith-Tillman applied for a new policy for RPM through Connaway & Associates (represented by Camille Akin), the company recommended by Hyneman – the same company RPM was insured by under Hyneman’s ownership. Also at this time, Smith-Tillman agreed to “repay Hyneman’s initial premium for the insurance,” according to the Shelbyville Times Gazette. “

Akin told Smith-Tillman that they could only insure RPM for $500,000 and they also required addition vet work to be completed. Dr. Akin has signed a statement saying that an examination was done, however, Smith-Tillman denies this and claimed that no examination was performed on July 9, 2005.

RPM died 11 days later as a result of an obstructed bowel and Smith-Tillman is claiming that had that exam taken place, her horse could have been saved. Connaway & Associates as well as the insurance carriers have refused to pay the insurance benefit.

The Report contacted Akin, who said that based on the advice of her attorney, she could not comment on the case. She did, however, comment, “I am praying for Jaclyn.”

Smith-Tillman is suing for compensatory damages in the amount not to exceed $1million and punitive damages as allowed by law. She is also requesting a trial, according to the Times Gazette.

The Report is reprinting a copy of the complaint filed by Smith-Tillman with permission. The complaint is as follows:

Complaint:

Comes now the Plaintiff, Jaclyn Smith-Tillman (one and the same person as Jaclyn Smith, (“Plaintiff”) and makes the following complaint against William R. “Rusty” Hyneman, Connaway & Associates, Inc., Camille Akin, Mark Akin, DVM, and Great American Insurance Company.

INFORMATION AS TO PARTIES (***CENTERED***)

1. The Plaintiff, Jaclyn Smith-Tillman (“Smith”), is a resident of Bedford County, Tennessee.

2. The Defendant, William R. “Rusty” Hyneman “”Hyneman”), is a resident of Shelby County, Tennessee, residing at 6465 North Quail Hollow Road, Suite 103, Memphis, Tennessee 38120 or at 109 Union Street, Shelbyville, Tennessee 37160 who transacts business within Bedford County, Tennessee.

3. The Defendant, Connaway & Associates Equine Insurance Services, Inc. (Connaway), is believed to be an Arkansas corporation; although the corporation is not authorized to conduct business in Tennessee, it has, in fact, conducted business within the State of Tennessee, particularly in Bedford County, Tennessee, and is subject to the jurisdiction of this Court. The company is in the business of selling insurance within the State of Tennessee. The registered agent for service of process for Connaway & Associates, Inc. is believed to be Laura Powell Connaway, 6504 Beacon Street, Little Rock, Arkansas 72207.

4. The Defendant, Camille Akin, is believed to be a resident of Shelby County, Tennessee, and is an insurance agent selling insurance within the State of Tennessee who is an employee of Connaway and Associates. Defendant Camille Akin may be served with process at 734 Deans Creek Road, Collierville, Tennessee 38017.

5. Defendant Mack Akin is a resident of Shelby County, Tennessee and is a licensed veterinarian within the State of Tennessee. Defendant Mark Akin may be served with process at 734 Deans Creek Road, Collierville, Tennessee 38017.

6. Defendant, Great American Insurance Company is believed to be a corporation authorized to write policies of insurance within the State of Tennessee and is in the business of writing policies of insurance within the State of Tennessee. Great American may be served with process through the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance.

JURISDICTION AND VENUE

7 This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to Tenn. 16-10-101 et seq.

8. Venue is proper in Bedford County, Tennessee. First, this cause of action arises out of the sale of real property within Bedford County, Tennessee. Second, the acts complained of in this matter took place within Bedford County, Tennessee. Second, the acts complained of in this matter took place within Bedford County, Tennessee and the Plaintiff’s cause of action arises in Bedford County, Tennessee.

FACTS AND BACKGROUND

9. In early 2005, Hyneman approached Jaclyn Smith regarding the purchase of certain real estate owned in Bedford County, Tennessee.

10. Hyneman and Smith conducted certain negotiations for a period of time and arrived at a written agreement for the purchase of approximately one hundred (100) acres of real property in Shelbyville, Bedford County, Tennessee. A copy of the written agreement for the purchase and sale of real property is attached to this complaint as Exhibit A. (In this complaint, the agreement attached as Exhibit A will be referred to as the Sales Agreement.”

11. As part of the consideration for Smith’s transfer of real property to Hyneman, Hyneman agreed to transfer to Smith a champion Tennessee Walking Horse stallion named RPM. The written agreement explicitly called for RM to be fully insured for the amount of $750,000.00.

12. Hyneman produced documentation indicating that he held an insurance policy for the horse in the amount of Seven Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dollars ($750,000.00) and suggested Connaway as an appropriate broker of insurance to secure the new policy for RPM.

13. The transaction for the purchase of real property by Hyneman closed on or about May 27, 2005, in Shelbyville, Tennessee.

14. Prior to the closing, Smith completed an application for insurance upon RPM in the amount of $750,000.00.

15. At the closing, Hyneman presented Jaclyn Smith with an insurance binder for a policy upon the life of RPM in the amount of $750,000.00. The binder was made by Connaway and Hyneman indicated he had made the first premium payment upon the policy.

16. At the closing on May 27, 2005, Smith tendered to Hyneman a check in the amount of $7,249.00 to reimburse Hyneman for his payment of the first insurance premium for the policy to cover RPM. Hyneman directly represented to Smith that he had already paid that amount to Connaway. These statements by Hyneman were false when made, and Hyneman knew that the statements were false.

17. Immediately following the closing, Connaway issued and invoice to Smith in the amount of $30,825.00 for the policy premium on RPM. A copy of the invoice is attached as Exhibit B to this Complaint.

18. On June 1, 2005, Connaway contacted Smith and informed her that, contrary to the representations and promises that had been made by Hyneman, Connaway, and Connaway’s agent, Camille Akin, an insurance policy for RPM would not be issued in the amount of $750,000.00, but rather would only be issued in the amount of $500,000.00. Connaway also demanded further veterinary certification in order to provide even the policy of $500,000.00. None of these conditions or limitations had been told to Smith prior to the closing by either Hyneman or Connaway or Connaway’s agents.

19. Smith immediately attempted to contact Hyneman and also contacted Hyneman’s real estate agent in Shelbyville, Tennessee, Mr. Tom Insell. Hyneman informed Smith, either directly or through Insell, that the matter would be corrected and that the policy would be issued in the amount of $750,000.00.

20. In the next month, Smith repeatedly contacted Hyneman and Connaway to determine if the policy had been issued for RPM. Hyneman repeatedly assured Smith that he was tending to the matter and that the policy of insurance would be issued.

21. On June 24, 2005, at the request of Connaway and Associates, Smith completed a new application for insurance upon RPM.

22. On June 26, 2005, the original binder/policy of insurance allegedly “expired”. At this time, Connaway began to demand additional documentation in order to “apply” for another policy upon RPM. Hyneman continued to assure Smith that the matter would be handled and that a policy in the amount of $750,000.00 was in force.

23. Hyneman then secured the services of Mark Akin, DVM to check the health of RPM for the insurance policy.

24. On July 9, 2005, Mark Akin, DVM traveled to Bedford County, Tennessee to perform a physical check of RPM.

25. Despite completing a form stating that he physically examined RPM, Mark Akin, DVM did not perform any examination of RPM, and, in fact, was never in the presence of RPM on July 9, 2005.

26. On July 9, 2005, Mark Akin, DVM, relayed to Smith from Hyneman that the insurance would be in place as promised. Akin also returned the check for the premium payment that was given to Hyneman at closing. He instructed Smith to make her check payable to Connaway and Associates and mail the same, along with the vet certificate, to Connaway and Associates in Little Rock, Arkansas.

27. On July 18, 2005, Smith completed and returned to Connaway additional documentation requested by Connaway pertaining to insurance for RPM.

28. On July 20, 2005, RPM died. The cause of death of RPM was an obstructed bowel. Upon information and belief, this condition would have been discovered and could have been corrected had Mark Akin, DVM actually examined RPM on July 9, 2005.

29. Connaway and Great American Insurance have refused to pay the insurance benefits due for the death of RPM.

COUNT 1

FRAUD AND CIVIL CONSPIRACY TO DEFRAUD

30. Each allegation of each preceding paragraph of this Complaint is incorporated herein by reference.

31. Hyneman, Connaway, Camille Akin, and Mark Akin engaged in a course of action designed to deceive Smith.

32. It was a condition of closing under the Sales Agreement that “RPM has to be able to be insured for full medical and with collick insurance at $750,000.00 to cover the balance of the sale price of $2,300,000.00.” (Sales Agreement, Addendum #1)

33. Hyneman, and his agents Camille Akin, Connaway, and Mark Akin, DVM, repeatedly made false statements of fact in order to mislead Smith regarding the existence of an insurance policy for RPM in the amount of $750,000.00, the insurability of RPM in the amount of $750,000.00, and the status of the insurance policy upon RPM in the amount of $750,000.00.

34. All of these statements were made with the intent to mislead and defraud Smith.

35. All of these statements were false and Hyneman, Connaway, Camille Akin, and Mark Akin either knew the statements were false when made, or made the statements in reckless disregard for the lack of truth of the statements.

36. Further, Hyneman, Connaway, Camille Akin, and, later, Mark Akin acted in concert in order to mislead and deceive Smith, thus engaging in a series of acts in concert with one another, with a design and common purpose to deceive and defraud Smith.

37. The actions of Hyneman, Connaway, Camille Akin and Mark Akin have caused substantial damage to Smith, in an amount of at least $750,000.00.

38. The actions of Hyneman, Connaway, Camille Akin, and Mark Akin are such as to warrant an award of punitive damages under the law of Tennessee in that the actions were done fraudulently, intentionally, recklessly, and/or maliciously.

(continued -- see "Jaclyn Smith Suit Continued"

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