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Marriage of Feldner

Court of Appeal of California
40 Cal. App. 4th 617 (1995)


Facts

William Feldner (defendant) and Celena Feldner (plaintiff) were married in 1954. William worked as a contractor. William entered into a contract to build a home for the Allens. In 1988, a note for $35,000 was signed to insure William’s fee for the project. In 1989, William and Celena separated. In 1990, the Allens filed a lawsuit against William for breach of contract. William had worked on the Allen home for over four years. In the Allen lawsuit, William was found to have breached the contract by failing to complete the home on time, complete the work specified by the plans, provide remedial work, and include specified items in the home. In 1992, the Feldners filed a marital-dissolution action. There was little evidence presented regarding the nature of the Allen lawsuit in the dissolution proceeding. William did not seek reimbursement from the community for post-separation funds used in effort to fulfill the Allen contract. Celena did not seek reimbursement for potential liability from the Allen contract due to William’s nonperformance. The Allen lawsuit awarded $43,500 in damages to the Allens for emotional distress. Neither party requested that the trial court retain jurisdiction to determine whether liability from the Allen lawsuit was tort liability or to determine whether the tort liability was a community or separate obligation. The trial court ruled that the Allen lawsuit was a community debt incurred during the marriage and that each spouse was obligated to pay any debt incurred. Celena filed a motion for reconsideration and attached the court’s opinion from the Allen lawsuit, detailing the facts regarding the contract and William’s breach of the contract. The trial court denied the motion for reconsideration. Celena appealed the trial court’s ruling.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Sills, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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