Wilson v. Wilson
Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia
706 S.E.2d 354 (W. Va. 2010)
Mr. Wilson (husband) (defendant) and Ms. Wilson (wife) (plaintiff) were married. The couple formed Hunter Company of West Virginia (Hunter), a real estate development business. The husband and the wife each owned half of Hunter’s stock. Hunter was hired by National Land Partners (NLP) as an independent contractor to manage real estate development projects. NLP paid Hunter in the form of manager fees. Hunter oversaw a variety of individuals to carry out this task. However, Hunter could not hire these individuals without the approval of NLP. Also, Hunter did not pay any of these individuals directly. In fact, the only individual that Hunter paid directly was the husband. Hunter’s agreement with NLP contained a payment provision in the event the husband died. The provision provided that NLP would pay Hunter based on the progress of its work at the time of the husband’s death. Hunter was a very successful business due to the husband’s work. The wife filed a petition for divorce. The wife sought distribution of the NLP manager fees on projects in which Hunter was engaged at the time of divorce. The family court found that Hunter had enterprise goodwill. Accordingly, the family court held that the manger fees were marital property subject to distribution. The Circuit Court of Berkeley County reversed, finding that Hunter had only personal goodwill associated with the husband as an individual. The wife appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Workman, J.)
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