Church wins settlement in arson suit

Saturday, October 5, 2002

STEELVILLE, Mo. -- An insurance company sued after it refused to pay a claim for a church destroyed by arson has settled the case.

The fire on Jan. 17 last year destroyed the Rivers of Life Fellowship Church on the outskirts of Steelville, about 100 miles southwest of St. Louis. Damage was estimated at $800,000, and investigators said the fire was set with flammable liquid.

The pastor, David Cartee, was charged with second-degree arson. But a Crawford County judge dropped the charge for lack of evidence.

A U.S. District Court document dated Sept. 27 announced the church's settlement with its insurer, GuideOne Mutual Insurance Co. of West Des Moines, but did not disclose terms.

But a St. Louis attorney for GuideOne, Russell Watters, said the company agreed to pay the 100-member congregation $325,000, in addition to $337,047 paid to the church's lender.

The church had hoped for a higher settlement but is pleased with the results, said Jerry Cape, past president of its governing board.

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