Lawsuit claims contractor overcharged World War II more than $50,000 for shoddy home repair

John Turnley's lawsuit alleges that he was charged $8,640 for screws.
John Turnley's lawsuit alleges that he was charged $8,640 for screws. Photo provided

A contractor took advantage of a 91-year-old World War II veteran in Floyd County by charging inflated prices for shoddy home repairs, according to a claim in a lawsuit filed Thursday.

Among other things, the contractor, Ronald Wright, charged John Turnley $8,640 for screws, according to the complaint in Floyd Circuit Court.

A home inspector later said he found only a few new screws added to the metal roof of the house, and no evidence that others had been replaced, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit said Turnley paid Wright $51,611 in less than three months, beginning about May. The estimated value of Turnley's house is about $41,000, the complaint said.

Wright and his attorney did not return calls Thursday.

Turnley said that from 1944 to 1946, he served aboard a destroyer that patrolled the Atlantic seaboard from Maine to Cuba, searching for German submarines.

After the war, he worked 52 years for Kentucky Power, retiring in 1999. These days, he takes part in a line-dance group that performs at nursing homes.

"That gives me a little exercise," Turnley said.

Turnley lives alone and was mentally sharp during an interview Thursday. However, he went through a period earlier this year when his competence and ability to comprehend "fluctuated" because of health problems, including seizures, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges that Wright approached Turnley and told him that his house in Martin needed significant repairs. Among other things, Wright said the driveway was sinking and the basement walls were in danger of collapsing, the lawsuit said.

Turnley's daughter Connie Ballard, who lives in Lexington, said in a sworn statement that Wright told her it was dangerous to live in the house.

Ballard said she learned only after the checks were written that her father had paid Wright more than $50,000 for repairs. She was later given power of attorney for her father.

Gerald Walker, a licensed inspector who looked over Turnley's home in September, said in a report included in the lawsuit that some work Wright allegedly did was shoddy, while in other cases he billed for work that it was not clear he did.

For instance, Walker said, Wright charged Turnley for stabilizing a basement wall, but the inspector found no evidence of any work having been done.

Wright also charged to level Turnley's house, but it was not evident that that work was done, Walker said.

Walker said Wright charged to replace several floor joists, but replaced only one; installed a new vanity in the bathroom but did not attach it to the wall; and charged to spray for termites even though he isn't licensed to do that.

Wright also removed a wall to install a new bathtub, even though it didn't need to be removed, and he charged for the extra work, Walker said.

Ballard said in an affidavit that she thinks Wright took advantage of her father "when he was not in his right mind."

Turnley said he couldn't remember writing some checks to Wright, Ballard said.

Prestonsburg attorney Ned Pillersdorf prepared the lawsuit for Turnley and Ballard.

It alleges Wright made false statements and violated the state consumer-protection law.

The lawsuit seeks return of the $51,000 and other damages.