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Insurance denies claims of 80-year-old Air Force veteran after water main break damages his car, property

'You can't prove (NKWD is responsible)'
Jack Duncan says a water main break caused $6,000 damage to his new car
Posted at 4:57 PM, Apr 04, 2022

ERLANGER, Ky. — The Northern Kentucky Water District is in hot water with an 80-year-old Air Force veteran over a water main break across the street from the veteran's home. It caused $6,000 damage to Jack Duncan's car. The water district refuses to reimburse him and challenged him to take the issue to court.

"They told me 'you can't prove (NKWD is responsible),'" Duncan said. "I'm a man who believes in standing up for what you say and what you do. The water company should stand up to say 'hey, it's our water pipe. It did the damage. Let's pay for it.'"

Almost five months after a busted water main under Coralbell Court tossed debris onto Duncan's car, Traveler's Insurance, which represents NKWD, denied his claims.

"Lies and alibis," Duncan said.

Initial police reports labeled the damage "criminal mischief." Erlanger police corrected the mistake. Then, NKWD wanted Duncan to prove the district owned the water line and required he dig up evidence of negligence, Duncan said.

"In essence, you've got a camera so I won't say it: 'tough luck,'" he added. "Basically that's all it boils down to. It's just lousy. Just do it right. Do it the way you're supposed to do it. You gotta fight for everything you get anymore. I don't mind fighting for it. But damn it just gets a little old after a while fighting for something like that. I don't know what to say or do."

NKWD's lawyer told WCPO 9 News that Duncan could "file a civil lawsuit" over his losses or, like the district, consider "it an act of God."

In an email, a spokesperson for the Kenton County Attorney, which does not handle such claims, offered little guidance.

"Without knowing factual details or basis of denial, I cannot speculate on a viable remedy," Chris Nordloh, records custodian for the Office of Kenton County Attorney said. "We refer individuals to private counsel or the NKBA (Northern Kentucky Bar Association) for referral in these instances."

It is a theme that Northern Kentucky law professor Ken Katkin repeated as a warning for other Kentuckians facing similar struggles with their water provider.

"(The water companies) don't automatically have liability," he said. "If they had been given actual notice that there was a problem out in the area where the pipe ultimately burst and they didn't do anything about it after they'd been told they need to do something. Or if they had workmen out in the area recently and the workmen did something that actually caused the break, that would potentially carry liability. If it's just worn out over time that's probably not going to rise to the level of actual negligence. Then the city is probably not going to be liable."

None of that surprises Duncan. He is hardly happy, though.

"I served my time and I stood up," Duncan said. "Now, here I am, 80 years old. I'm not asking anybody to shed mercy on me. Just do what's right."