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Arson Charge Fuels State Farm Lawsuit Over Cafe FireLock Icon

2 min read

Should an insurance company have to pay a claim after arson destroyed a Wynne restaurant in 2018?

That’s what State Farm Fire & Casualty wants to know.

It filed a lawsuit last month asking a judge to determine its obligation to make an insurance payment to Leann Young of Forrest City; her company, Young Karma Inc.; or anyone else as a result of the September 2018 fire that ruined Colby’s Cafe & Catering.

Young operated the restaurant with her husband, Rodney Young. He was charged in November 2018 with arson. But days after his arrest, the 53-year-old died. His death resulted in his pending felony charge being dismissed from Cross County Circuit Court.

Police believed Rodney Young started the fire because Colby’s Cafe owed about $150,000 in taxes, according to State Farm’s lawsuit.

Police investigators found video footage of him at the restaurant around 4 a.m., just before the blaze started.

Rodney Young denied being the firebug.

State Farm’s policy would provide $122,500 worth of coverage for the loss, plus the policyholder could collect for losses such as personal items and an insured’s loss of income.

State Farm doesn’t believe the loss is covered, citing several reasons, including that the fire was intentionally set by someone who had an interest in the property, according to its lawsuit.

Leann Young hadn’t responded to the lawsuit, and she couldn’t be reached for comment as of Thursday morning.

The Youngs bought the restaurant in 2009, but it had been in operation since the mid-1970s, according to a June 2015 article in Arkansas Living.

“We use the original recipes with a twist here and there,” Rodney Young said in the article. “We do things the old-fashioned way and don’t use any mixes.”

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