841 F.2d 251 (8th Cir. 1988), 86-2571, Mississippi Lofts, Inc. v. Lexington Ins. Co., of Wilmington, Del.

Docket Nº:86-2571.
Citation:841 F.2d 251
Party Name:MISSISSIPPI LOFTS, INC., a Missouri corporation, Appellant, v. LEXINGTON INSURANCE COMPANY, OF WILMINGTON, DELAWARE, Appellee.
Case Date:March 11, 1988
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
 
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Page 251

841 F.2d 251 (8th Cir. 1988)

MISSISSIPPI LOFTS, INC., a Missouri corporation, Appellant,

v.

LEXINGTON INSURANCE COMPANY, OF WILMINGTON, DELAWARE, Appellee.

No. 86-2571.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

March 11, 1988

Submitted Jan. 13, 1988.

Page 252

Arthur G. Muegler, Jr., St. Louis, Mo., for appellant.

Joseph L. Leritz, St. Louis, Mo., for appellee.

Before JOHN R. GIBSON, Circuit Judge, FLOYD R. GIBSON, Senior Circuit Judge, and BEAM, Circuit Judge.

BEAM, Circuit Judge.

Mississippi Lofts, Inc. (Lofts) appeals from a jury verdict rejecting Lofts' claim against the Lexington Insurance Company of Wilmington, Delaware (Lexington). Lofts seeks to recover the cost of repairing a fire-damaged building, claiming coverage under a fire insurance policy issued by Lexington. Lexington's sole defense to the demand for the payment of claims under the policy is that the fire resulted from arson. The jury accepted Lexington's arson theory, and judgment was entered on the verdict by the district court, 653 F.Supp. 345. 1 On appeal, Lofts contends that the district court erred in 1) denying Lofts' motions for a directed verdict and for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, and 2) erroneously instructing the jury. 2 We have considered the arguments of the appellant, and find that the judgment of the district court should be affirmed.

  1. Background

    Lofts was formed by two individuals, Dale Young and John Fears, to facilitate the purchase of a building located at 1601 Locust Street in downtown St. Louis, Missouri. Young and Fears planned to renovate the building for use as rental apartments. They each took a 50% interest in the corporation and became its only officers. The St. Louis building was purchased by the corporation for $300,000 and was eventually insured with Lexington for $3.5 million.

    The project had progressed no further than initial cleanup of the building when Young and Fears realized that they had neither the funds nor the experience to complete the undertaking. At this point, Dale Young's brother, Jim Young, who had previously been involved in several real estate ventures, acquired Fears' interest in the corporation. Jim Young promised Fears that if the corporation ever became profitable he would return Fears' initial investment. Jim Young took some further steps toward improving the property, but little work was actually accomplished beyond the initial cleanup.

    The building was destroyed by fire on September 13, 1984. Several individuals, including eyewitnesses, firefighters, and expert investigators testified at trial that the fire was...

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