Arkansas Supreme Court Upholds Insurance Ruling Against Alamo Ministries

Times-Record, Arkansas/March 14, 2014

By Jeff Arnold

The Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a lower court decision, finding that two insurance companies who sold policies to a Tony Alamo-connected business aren't required to indemnify him or the business against several lawsuits filed against Alamo.

Alamo and Jeanne Estates Apartments, which was owned by a church that is an arm of Alamo Christian Ministries and controlled by Alamo, were among the defendants named in three lawsuits: one filed in Sebastian County Circuit Court by Christhiaon Coie, seeking to enforce a 1995 judgment entered against Alamo in Crawford County Circuit Court in 1995 for $100,000; a second filed by Seth Calagna and Spencer Ondrisek, who won a $30 million judgment in a federal lawsuit in June 2011 when a jury found Alamo ordered them beaten while they were children and members of Tony Alamo Christian Ministries; and a third federal lawsuit filed by seven women Alamo was convicted in 2009 of physically, sexually and psychologically abusing when they belonged to his ministry.

In July 2009, a federal jury in Texarkana, Ark., found Alamo guilty on 10 counts of transporting minor females in interstate commerce for the purpose of criminal sexual activity. In November 2009, Alamo was sentenced to 175 years in prison.

The women won a $525 million judgment last month in Miller County Circuit Court against Twenty First Century Holiness Tabernacle Church, an arm of Alamo Ministries, after the group failed to respond to the civil suit, according to The Associated Press.

In May 2011, Truck Insurance Exchange and Farmers Insurance Exchange filed a complaint for summary judgment in Sebastian County Circuit Court, arguing they weren't required to indemnify Alamo or the company against the three lawsuits under the terms of the policies they sold Jeanne Estates Apartments between 1998 and 2009, after JEA submitted claims for coverage in Coie, Ondrisek and sexual abuse cases.

In November 2012, Circuit Court Judge James Cox ruled in favor of the insurance companies, finding among other things, the policies didn't provide coverage for the policy holders related to actions taken outside the scope of their duties at JEA or for actions that are a willful violation of penal statute or ordinance.

Further, Cox noted that the allegations, the abuse of the corpse of his deceased wife, Susan Alamo, and judgment in the Coie case, occurred before the policies were sold to JEA.

In its ruling Thursday, the Supreme Court affirmed Cox's decision, saying the policies did not exist to provide JEA or Alamo coverage "for this type of alleged harm."

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