The Missouri Supreme Court has affirmed that Columbia businessman Mehrdad Fotoohighiam is liable for a fire that burned down a woman’s south Columbia mobile home, injuring her and destroying all of her belongings.
The unanimous 15-page decision was written by Judge Zel M. Fischer and announced Tuesday. The court heard oral arguments on June 23.
A jury awarded Green at least $2.75 million in actual and punitive damages in 2018. Fotoohighiam appealed the verdict. The Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District upheld the jury verdict last year.
Green said she was happy about the ruling.
“Another step in the right direction to resolution,” she said.
But she added: “It’s not resolved ... It isn’t over until one is able to collect on the decisions made by the courts.”
Fotoohighiam also faced criminal charges in connection with the fire. However, a Boone County jury acquitted him last of first-degree arson.
In the civil verdict, Fotoohighiam’s lawyers argued before the Missouri Supreme Court that the circuit court was in the wrong for granting Green partial summary judgement regarding liability in the case. Fotoohighiam’s legal team also argued that the court should not have overruled Fotoohighiam’s motion for a new trial.
The Supreme Court found “the circuit court did not err in entering summary judgement on the issue of liability in Marcia’s favor,” according to the decision.
Michael Berry, one of the lawyers representing Fotoohighiam, argued Green’s side introduced “a multiplicity of conspiracy theories” about how Fotooghiam was allegedly involved with the arson of her home before the Supreme Court in June.
Conspiracies and whether or not they were valid was one of the main topics of the oral arguments in the case. Berry argued that since some of the theories regarding arson conflicted with each other, they were invalid.
One of the lawyers representing Green, Andrew Veatch, responded to Berry’s claim that even if one of the men who was allegedly a conspirator in the arson had no involvement, that did not exonerate the other conspirators.
Neither Marcia Green nor Andrew Veatch could be reached for comment on the ruling.
Fotoohighiam is being held in the Boone County Jail on a $5 million dollar cash-only bond in a separate case.
Berry argued that Fotoohighiam had never personally met one of the conspirators, even though the man worked for his business.
Veatch argued that someone like Fotoohighiam could find someone to take part in the arson scheme without meeting him in person.
In the case still pending against him, Fotoohighiam faces charges of first-degree conspiracy to commit murder and first-degree attempted murder. One of the two people believed to have been the intended target in that incident was Boone County Circuit Judge Jeff Harris, according to the probable cause statement.
As of Tuesday, there was no trial date for that case.