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FEATHERSTON v. HARTFORD FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY

November 28, 1956

OCTAVIA FEATHERSTON, ASSIGNEE OF HELEN WESTFALL, HELEN WESTFALL, AND ALFRED FEATHERSTON, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
HARTFORD FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY, DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John E. Miller, District Judge.

Statement

This case was tried to the Court, without a jury, on October 24, 1956, and at the conclusion of the trial the Court took the case under advisement pending receipt of briefs of the parties in support of their respective contentions.

The briefs having been received, the case is now ready for final disposition by the Court. And the Court, after considering the pleadings, evidence, and briefs of the parties, now makes and files herein its Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, separately stated.

Findings of Fact

1.

The plaintiffs are each citizens of the State of Arkansas, and each of them reside in the Western District thereof. The defendant is a Connecticut corporation. The amount involved, exclusive of interest and costs, exceeds the sum of $3,000.

2.

The plaintiff, Helen Westfall (she has since remarried and her name is now Helen Westfall Golden; but in this opinion the Court will refer to her as Mrs. Helen Westfall), is the insured in the instant case. Her first husband, Mr. Westfall, died in January 1953. At that time she took some of her furniture to the home of her son, Joe Westfall, in El Dorado, and some to the home of her brother, Buck Green, in Patmos, Arkansas. She then moved to Hope and lived with her mother until March of 1954, when that home burned. Shortly after the fire in Hope, Mrs. Helen Westfall moved into the home of her son and daughter-in-law, Joe and Benfadene Westfall, in El Dorado, Arkansas.

Joe and Benfadene Westfall had some domestic difficulties, and on June 11, 1954, Benfadene left the home, taking with her some of the furniture. She intended to return and to take some more of the furniture, but before she could accomplish this Joe Westfall had all the remaining furniture removed to the home of Mrs. Helen Westfall's brother, Buck Green, in Patmos, Arkansas. Part of the furniture and other personal property removed by Joe to Patmos was owned by the plaintiff, Helen Westfall. Some of the property had been purchased by Joe Westfall during his marriage to Benfadene Westfall, and a few of the items were the separate property of Benfadene Westfall.

3.

At the time the property was removed from El Dorado to Patmos, Joe Westfall gave his mother, Helen Westfall, all of the property he owned since he did not intend to keep house in the future.

4.

When Helen Westfall moved into her brother's home in Patmos part of her property was put in the house and part of it was put in the barn. An insurance agent or salesman came to the home and looked over the property in the house and in the barn. Thereafter, on June 15, 1954, the policies involved herein were issued to Mrs. Helen Westfall, policy No. 36009655 insuring the items in the house in the sum of $5,000 and policy No. 36009656 insuring the items in the barn in the sum of $2,000. While these policies were in full force and effect a fire occurred on August 3, 1954, completely destroying all the personal property in the house and in the barn.

Thereafter on September 30, 1954, Mrs. Helen Westfall executed proofs of loss on the two policies in question, claiming that her total loss was $9,599.31. The defendant contended and now contends that Helen Westfall did not own all of the property in question, and that the value of the property was less than the amount claimed by Mrs. Helen Westfall. For that reason the defendant refused to pay the total ...


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