Family Law

This summary also appears under Negligence & Intentional Tort

 

Issues: Divorce; Intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED); Walsh v. Taylor; Lewis v. LeGrow; Issue preservation; Napier v. Jacobs; Personal property division; Berger v. Berger; Sparks v. Sparks; McDougal v. McDougal; Johnson v. Johnson; Division of the marital debt; Division of real estate proceeds; Personal protection order (PPO)

Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)

Case Name: Fernandez v. Fernandez

e-Journal Number: 57486

Judge(s): Per Curiam – Donofrio, Gleicher, and M.J. Kelly

 

Holding that "ample evidence supported the trial court's ruling" finding the defendant-husband liable for IIED, and that it "reached fair and equitable conclusions" as to the parties' personal property, division of their debt, and the division of real estate sales proceeds, the court affirmed the trial court's order. The trial court previously entered the parties' divorce judgment, which reserved for future adjudication plaintiff's tort claims and the division of some property and marital debt. After a trial, it entered an opinion and order finding for plaintiff on her claims of assault and battery and IIED, awarding her $10,000 in damages for pain and suffering, awarding defendant $3,000 in damages for his loss of personal property, requiring him to pay two-thirds of the marital debt totaling $29,678.62, and equally dividing $72,739 in proceeds from the sale of marital real estate. Reviewing the record in the light most favorable to plaintiff, the court concluded that "sufficient evidence supported the trial court's finding that defendant inflicted extreme, outrageous, and intentional conduct in the form of several assaults." Plaintiff estimated that during their marriage, "defendant had pushed her hundreds of times and struck her repeatedly." She testified about acts of violence that he committed in the marital home on 2/13/08, 6/7/09, and 6/30/09. The 6/7/09 incident resulted in the police arresting defendant and photographing plaintiff's injures. She secured a PPO against him. He acknowledged that he entered plaintiff's house in violation of the PPO on 6/30/09, although he testified that he acted in self-defense during that incident. As the trier of fact "the trial court possessed the prerogative to weigh the witnesses' credibility and draw reasonable inferences from the evidence." The record reasonably supported its finding "that defendant had initiated the assaults and not acted in self-defense. And ample evidence supported the trial court's conclusion that the series of violent acts and threats that defendant undertook against plaintiff qualified as extreme and outrageous." There was also sufficient evidence that "defendant's actions caused plaintiff severe emotional distress." She testified to sleeplessness due to his "threats to take the parties' son and hurt her," and that she still suffered nightmares, was easily startled and afraid, and could not perform her job as effectively as before the 6/30/09 incident. The court also was not left with a definite and firm conviction that the trial court made a mistake as to the personal property division. Further, it concluded that the trial court equitably divided the parties' debt, and equitably awarded each party 50% of the proceeds from the sale of 2 properties.

 

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