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Bono v. Clark
California Court of Appeal
128 Cal. Rptr. 2d 31 (2002)
In 1960, John Bono and his brother purchased 97 acres of real property in Gilroy, California, for $12,500. The brothers divided the property so that John separately owned about 46.5 acres. In 1977, John married Virginia Bono (plaintiff). John and Virginia lived in a rundown trailer on his property, which, according to Virginia, was worth $50,000 at the time. During their 17-year marriage, the Bonos used the trailer as their residence. The Bonos made extensive improvements to the trailer, converting and adding rooms, so that the trailer grew from 600 square feet to 1,920 square feet in size. Virginia claimed that the cost of the improvements using community funds was at least $77,500. In 1994, the Bonos separated. In 1998, John died. In 2000, the executor of John’s estate, John Clark (plaintiff) sold John’s property for $555,000. Thereafter, Virginia sued Clark seeking a declaration of her community-property rights. A trial was held in which Virginia testified to facts supporting her entitlement to a pro tanto community interest in John’s property. The trial court decided as a matter of law that Virginia did not have a pro tanto community interest and, instead, that Virginia’s consent to the use of community funds to improve John’s separate property was a gift with no right of reimbursement. Virginia appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Wunderlich, J.)
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