596 S.W.2d 639 (Tex.Civ.App.

Docket Nº:1286.
Citation:596 S.W.2d 639
Party Name:TEXAS FARM BUREAU MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, Appellant, v. W. W. BAKER et ux., Appellees.
Case Date:March 13, 1980
Court:Court of Appeals of Texas, Court of Civil Appeals of Texas
 
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Page 639

596 S.W.2d 639 (Tex.Civ.App. —Tyler 1980)

TEXAS FARM BUREAU MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, Appellant,

v.

W. W. BAKER et ux., Appellees.

No. 1286.

Court of Civil Appeals of Texas, Tyler

March 13, 1980

Page 640

Rehearing Denied April 3, 1980.

Page 641

Richard Grainger, Grainger & Price, Tyler, for appellant.

Glenn A. Perry, Gordon R. Wellborn, Wellborn, Houston, Bailey & Perry, Henderson, for appellees.

SUMMERS, Chief Justice.

This is a suit upon a fire insurance policy. W. W. Baker and wife (insureds), as plaintiffs, brought suit against the defendant, Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Company (insurer), for the total loss of their home and contents due to fire. The insurance company defended the case on the grounds of alleged arson.

The case was tried to a jury. In response to the special issues submitted by the court, the jury found that the value of the contents lost in the fire was $16,000.00 and that W. W. Baker did not start or cause to be started the fire in question. In accordance with the jury's verdict, the trial court rendered judgment against the defendant for $56,000.00, which amount represented the value of the contents as found by the jury together with the $40,000.00 face value of the policy on the home. From this adverse judgment, defendant has perfected its appeal to this court.

We affirm.

Appellant predicates its appeal upon four points of error, complaining that the trial court erred in excluding from evidence (1) testimony concerning plaintiffs' previous fire loss; (2) testimony concerning the fact that plaintiffs had previously offered the residence for sale at a price substantially less than the amount of insurance carried on the property; (3) testimony concerning the refusal of plaintiff, W. W. Baker, to submit to a polygraph examination; and (4) Defendant's Exhibit No. 1, the official report of the State Fire Marshal's office.

The home in the instant case was purchased by plaintiffs, W. W. Baker and wife, on March 1, 1976. At the time of purchase said home was in a badly rundown condition, and plaintiffs paid only $6,000.00 for it. Between the date of purchase and March 1977 the house was extensively repaired and remodeled. The plaintiffs also refurnished the house with new furniture.

From March until May, 1977, plaintiffs offered the house for sale, but received no firm offers. Their reason for placing it on the market was that Mrs. Baker had undergone extensive surgery and was not physically able to care for such a large house. They planned to move back to Mr. Baker's old home place and build a smaller home. However, when Mr. Baker realized what a financial investment he had in the home (the subject matter of this suit), he took it off the market and made no further attempt to sell it.

In August of 1977, James Sears, an agent for defendant Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Company, contacted plaintiffs and solicited a fire insurance policy with his company on their home and contents. Mr. Sears, who was experienced in appraising and evaluating property for purposes of insurance coverage, suggested that the plaintiffs insure their home for $40,000.00 and the contents for $16,000.00. Mr. Baker purchased such coverage under a policy issued by defendant company effective August 19, 1977, through August 19, 1978.

In the early morning hours of January 18, 1978, the house and contents were completely destroyed by fire. At the time of the fire, plaintiffs were in Houston, Texas, visiting their daughter, having left their home in Mt. Enterprise on January 17, 1978, at about 9:00 a. m. and arrived in Houston at about 2:00 p. m. on the same day. These facts were supported by the testimony of their daughter, Patsy...

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