Richard Lopiano (plaintiff) and Shelley Lopiano (defendant) married in 1962. In 1992, Richard was severely injured while on the job, and his injuries left him permanently disabled. Richard filed a negligence action. A jury awarded Richard $2,820,000, but the trial judge reduced the award to $800,000. A portion of the award was for pain and suffering and lost wages. Following the dissolution proceedings, the trial court determined that Richard’s personal-injury award was subject to equitable distribution, which is the fair, but not necessarily equal, division of marital property in a divorce proceeding. Richard appealed, alleging that the portions of the award set aside for pain and suffering and lost wages following dissolution of the marriage were separate property and were thus not subject to equitable distribution.