Columbia man ordered to pay $2.75 million in arson case
COLUMBIA - A Columbia man acquitted on arson charges will still have to pay damages to the alleged victim.
On Tuesday, the Missouri Court of Appeals Western District upheld an earlier ruling mandating Mehrdad Fotoohighiam pay $2.75 million to Marcia Green.
Court documents say Green was inside her Rock Quarry Road mobile home sleeping when a fire broke out in December 2014. She was burned and suffered carbon monoxide poisoning.
In September 2018, a jury awarded Green $100,000 for her injuries, $150,000 for property damage and $2.5 million in punitive damages.
Fotoohighiam is accused of paying $500 to James Hall to set the home on fire.
Witnesses testified Fotoohighiam had been feuding with the homeowner because he wanted to purchase the property she owned.
Hall was acquitted of an arson charge in July 2018.
In his appeal of the civil suit, Fotoohighiam argued information Green gave an earlier statement of facts that conflicted with her deposition testimony.
The court opinion says Fotoohighiam failed to respond to the statement of facts in a timely manner. Thus, the court concluded that he "admitted each and every fact recited in Marcia’s motion, including the fact that he hired Hall to set fire to Marcia’s mobile home".
Fotoohighiam, 64, was arrested in 2015 after barricading himself in his home. He triggered a 7-hour standoff with the Columbia Police S.W.A.T and Crisis Negotiation Team.
He was charged with arson but acquitted after an 8-day trial in August.
Prosecutors later charged Fotoohighiam after he allegedly made plans to have his wife and the judge in his arson case killed while he was in jail.
Fotoohighiam faces charges of attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder in that incident. A hearing is scheduled for December 16.