Osborn v. Home Ins. Co., 67880

CourtCourt of Appeal of Missouri (US)
Citation914 S.W.2d 35
Docket NumberNo. 67880,67880
PartiesCharles OSBORN, Respondent/Cross-Appellant, v. The HOME INSURANCE COMPANY, Respondent, and Charlie's Warehouse Foods, Inc., John Gowan and Anita Gowan d/b/a Gowan's Foodliner, Inc., individually, and John Gowan and Tom Turner as statutory trustees of Gowan's Foodliner, Inc., Appellants/Cross-Respondents.
Decision Date02 January 1996

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cape Girardeau County; John W. Grimm, Judge.

Kent M. Bevan, Dysart, Taylor, Penner, Lay & Lawandowsky, Kansas City, Keith D. Sorrell, Spain, Merrell & Miller, Poplar Bluff, for appellant.

C.H. Parsons, Jr., Parsons, Wilson & Satterfield, Dexter, for respondent.


Appellants/cross-respondents, John Gowan and Anita Gowan d/b/a Gowan's Foodliner, Inc., individually, and John Gowan and Tom Turner as statutory trustees of Gowan's Foodliner, Inc., appeal from the judgment of the Cape Girardeau County Circuit Court apportioning $275,000 in insurance proceeds. Respondent/cross-appellant, Charles Osborn, also appeals. We affirm.

Charles Osborn ("landlord") was the fee simple owner of a parcel of land in Butler County, Missouri, and the owner of a commercial grocery store, Charlie's Warehouse Foods, Inc., located there. On September 3, 1990, John and Anita Gowan, doing business as Gowan's Foodliner, Inc. (collectively "tenant"), purchased from landlord the inventory, equipment, business name, and goodwill of Charlie's Warehouse Foods, as well as a covenant not to compete. Also on September 3, 1990, landlord entered into a written lease agreement with tenant for the purpose of leasing the grocery store's building to tenant.

The lease was for seven years, with an option to renew all the terms for an additional five-year term. Rent was $3,200 per month for the seven-year initial term and the five-year option. Section XIII of the lease, "DAMAGE TO PREMISES BY FIRE, CASUALTY OR BY TAKING FOR PUBLIC USE," provided that in case the building was "taken for any street or other public use," or "destroyed or substantially damaged by fire or casualty, or condemned by the action of a governmental body or other public authority after the execution hereof and before the expiration of the said term," either landlord or tenant could elect to terminate the lease. Section XIV of the lease, "INSURANCE," provided in pertinent part:

The Tenant shall insure, at his sole expense, the building on the demised premises against the risk of fire in the minimum amount of Three Hundred Thousand Dollars ($300,000.00). The Landlord shall appear as sole loss payee....

Tenant purchased an insurance policy for the building from The Home Insurance Company ("insurer") and paid all premiums as due. The amount of coverage on the building was $576,000. The deductible was $1,000. The named insured was Charlie's Warehouse Foods (now owned by tenant), with landlord listed as an additional insured. The policy was in full force and effect at all times relevant to this action.

On August 28, 1993, almost exactly three years after tenant and landlord entered into the lease agreement, Charlie's Warehouse Foods was completely destroyed by fire. The building lease was terminated on that date.

Due to conflicting claims to the insurance proceeds for the building, insurer filed an interpleader action pursuant to Rule 52.07 and paid the entire amount of coverage for the building, $576,000, to the circuit clerk. The parties stipulated the only claimants were landlord and tenant. The parties further stipulated landlord was entitled to the first $300,000 of the $576,000 in proceeds, which the trial court accordingly ordered disbursed.

The dispute, then, concerned the balance--$275,000, or $276,000 minus the $1,000 deductible. Landlord and tenant filed motions for summary judgment, each claiming entitlement to the entire amount. The trial court denied both motions and a bench trial was held. John Gowan testified on behalf of tenant, stating his opinion that the fair market value of the lease was $5,000 per month, or $1,800 per month more than the lease agreement's rental value. For his part, landlord testified with respect to the parties' rent negotiations: "I started out at [$3,500] and then I went down to [$3,200]." Landlord opined the fair market value for the lease was $3,200 per month.

On February 22, 1995, the trial court entered findings of fact and conclusions of law. The court found tenant had an insurable interest in the building it leased from landlord. The court further found the fair market value of the lease was $3,500 per month. The court ruled tenant was entitled to damages equal to the difference between the fair market value of the lease ($3,500) and the contract rental specified in the lease ($3,200)--$300 per month--"for the 108 months [nine years] remaining on the lease and option periods," a total of $32,400. The court ordered the $276,000 in proceeds distributed in the following manner: the $1,000 deductible returned to insurer; $32,400 paid to tenant; and $242,600 paid to landlord. Both sides appeal.

Tenant contends the trial court erred in its allocation of proceeds to landlord, claiming landlord did not prove his entitlement to any proceeds exceeding the $300,000 agreed to by the parties. Landlord responds the court properly distributed the proceeds to landlord, but claims the court erred in not reducing to present value the portion of proceeds awarded tenant.

Our review is governed by Murphy v. Carron, 536 S.W.2d 30, 32 (Mo. banc 1976): we affirm the trial court's judgment unless it is not supported by substantial evidence or against the overwhelming weight of the evidence, or erroneously declares or applies the law. Where the evidence is conflicting, we defer to the trial court's findings of fact. Id. In interpleader actions, each claimant is regarded as a plaintiff and each bears the burden of proof on his or her respective claims. Star-Times Publishing Co. v. Buder, 245 S.W.2d 59, 69 (Mo.1951); Century 21 Al Burack Rltrs. v. Zigler, 628 S.W.2d 915, 916-917 (Mo.App.E.D.1982).

There is no dispute tenant had an insurable interest in the building. See G.M. Battery & Boat Co. v. L.K.N. Corp., 747 S.W.2d 624, 627 (Mo. banc 1988) (lessee has an insurable interest in leased premises, "if...

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    • Missouri Court of Appeals
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    ...Land Clearance for Redevelopment Auth. v. W.F. Coen & Co., 773 S.W.2d 465, 471 (Mo.App. W.D.1989). See also Osborn v. Home Ins. Co., 914 S.W.2d 35, 37-38 (Mo.App. E.D.1996). In valuing a billboard structure which belonged to a lessee but which passed to the condemning authority, it has been......
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    ...the use and occupancy of the land for the remainder of the lease term exceeds the rent specified in the lease." Osborn v. Home Ins. Co., 914 S.W.2d 35, 37-38 (Mo.App. E.D.1996). The lessee bears the burden of proving the existence of a bonus value, St. Louis County v. Boatmen's Trust Co., 8......
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    ...to the trial court's findings of fact where the evidence is conflicting, but not to its determinations of law. Id.; Osborn v. Home Ins. Co., 914 S.W.2d 35, 37 (Mo.App.1996). III. PRINCIPLES GOVERNING EMINENT DOMAIN AND The power of eminent domain is the inherent power of a State to take pri......
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