The Missouri Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday in a civil case involving a Columbia man accused of conspiring to burn down a woman’s mobile home.
A civil lawsuit was filed on behalf of Marcia Green against Mehrdad Fotoohighiam, James Hall and Davis Reed for conspiring to burn down her mobile home in 2014. A jury awarded Green at least $2.75 million in actual and punitive damages in 2018. Last year, the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District upheld this verdict.
Fotoohighiam was also charged with first-degree arson in relation to the same incident. A Boone County jury acquitted him after five days of testimony last August. Hall, who Fotoohighiam had allegedly hired to burn down Green’s trailer, also was acquitted of arson in July 2018.
But Fotoohighiam was held liable for the incident in a civil case.
The lawyer representing Green asked the court Tuesday to affirm the ruling of the Western District, Green’s motion for summary judgment as well as deny Fotoohighiam’s motion for a new trial.
The role of conspiracies regarding the civil case was one of the main topics of discussion during Tuesday’s oral arguments before the court.
Lawyers representing Green and Fotoohighiam disagreed whether the multiple conspiracies surrounding the incident played a role in the result of summary judgement by a Boone County judge, and the verdict that ruled in favor of Green.
Michael G. Berry, one of the attorneys representing Fotoohighiam, mentioned how there were “just too darn many conspiracy theories floating around in this case.” He asked the court to reverse the trial court’s judgment in favor of Green. Berry also requested the court grant Fotoohighiam a new trial “on all issues,” according to court documents.
“Marcia’s shotgun approach to her conspiracy claim— more accurately, alternative conspiracy theories— creates sufficient doubt over the truth of her conspiracy-based allegation to create a genuine (triable) issue of fact,” according to court documents.
Berry also presented the idea that the circuit court misapplied the law by overruling Fotoohighiam’s motion for a new trial, according to the brief filed on Fotoohighiam’s behalf.
One of the lawyers representing Green argued Fotoohighiam “had his day in court.” He pointed out “the involvement of one individual does not absolve the other ones.” Furthermore, he thought the conspiracies surrounding the case didn’t conflict with one another.
Furthermore, he mentioned how Fotoohighiam did not file a response to Green’s motion for summary judgment and also failed to appear at the hearing for that motion, according to court documents.
There is not set date as to when the Missouri Supreme Court will make its decision.
Fotoohighiam still faces charges of conspiracy to commit murder in the first degree and attempted murder in the first degree for a separate incident. As of Tuesday, there is not a set trial date for that case.