Originally created 03/01/97

Company sues store manager who set fire



AIKEN - The former manager of Family Dollar Store in New Ellenton pleaded guilty to burning down the store in 1995, so he should have to pay $217,000 for damages, according to a lawsuit filed Friday by the store's Georgia insurance company.

Royal Insurance Co., with a claims office in Atlanta, filed the lawsuit in Aiken County Court of Common Pleas against Jackie Tyrone White.

Mr. White, 25, pleaded guilty in March 1996 to setting the fire that destroyed the discount store Aug. 23, 1995. He was arrested and charged with third-degree arson one day after confessing to police at New Ellenton Police Department.

He received a 10-year prison sentence, suspended to five years' probation, and was ordered to pay restitution of $2,250. A second charge of breach of trust with fraudulent intent was dismissed as part of the plea agreement, court records show.

No one was injured in the fire. However, the Food Lion next door sustained water and smoke damage. The grocery store reopened for business the next day.

According to the lawsuit, Royal Insurance paid about $217,000 to Family Dollar Store Inc. to settle insurance claims related to fire losses. However, the fire was "intentionally set by an employee of the store, Jackie Tyron(e) White," the lawsuit states.

The suit asks for a nonjury trial.