CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – U.S. District Judge Stephen Limbaugh Jr. has granted an insurer's request to go after the owner of an Ellington restaurant for $109,049.50 in fees and expenses related to litigation involving a fire loss.
Depositors Insurance Co. had sued Hall's Restaurant seeking a judicial determination of whether it was required to cover a March 2012 fire loss that the insurer determined was intentionally set.
It filed a motion to "pierce the corporate veil" of the restaurant to satisfy the judgment from owner Carolyn Hall.
Background information in Limbaugh's order indicates that after Depositor's conducted an investigation of the fire, it denied coverage "on the grounds that the fire was intentionally set by, or at the direction of, Carolyn Hall."
To date, according to Depositors, its expenses and fees in suing to determine "the rights and obligations of the parties to the insurance contract," have not been paid, states the ruling issued on June 2.
The underlying coverage dispute was ultimately decided by a jury in May 2014, which found in favor of Depositors Insurance Co. Two months later, the court granted the insurer's request for fees and expenses.
"This court granted plaintiff’s motion for attorneys’ fees because the intentional misconduct on behalf of the insured directly caused plaintiff to incur the claimed attorneys’ fees," Limbaugh wrote.
In ruling for Depositors, he further wrote: “Ultimately, although the Halls may have operated the restaurant appropriately for some time, the jury concluded Carolyn Hall burned (or directed the burning of) the restaurant in order to collect the insurance proceeds. She then caused the corporation to file the fraudulent insurance claim, causing the insurance company’s injury. Now the corporation is unable to pay the judgment against it. Because retention of the corporate form here would result in injustice, the court will grant plaintiff’s motion to pierce the corporate veil. Plaintiff shall file a proposed judgment with the court within seven days.”