Long v. Long

Decision Date03 January 2000
Docket NumberNo. 52,52
Citation129 Md. App. 554,743 A.2d 281
PartiesLynn L. LONG v. Melvin C. LONG, Sr.
CourtCourt of Special Appeals of Maryland

T. Joseph Touhey, Glen Burnie, for appellant.

John A. Blondell, Glen Burnie, for appellee.

Argued before THIEME, ADKINS and JAMES S. GETTY (Ret'd, Specially Assigned), JJ. THIEME, Judge.

Lynn L. Long ("Wife") brings this appeal on a ruling by the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County regarding property and alimony issues for a divorce action filed over three years ago. Wife filed her initial complaint for absolute divorce on November 15, 1996. Melvin C. Long, Sr. ("Husband"), answered and filed a counter-complaint on December 6. Discovery proceedings took up 1997. After a three-day trial ending on January 2, 1998, the parties submitted proposed findings of fact and trial memoranda.

In a memorandum opinion dated August 31, 1998, the chancellor made his findings of fact, and the court granted Wife a divorce based on Husband's adultery. The court awarded Wife a monetary award of slightly less than 20 percent of the total marital property, but denied Wife's request for indefinite alimony. Instead, it granted her rehabilitative alimony for four years. It also awarded Wife $6,000 in attorney's fees. Wife filed a motion for clarification of judgment in September 1998, and, after a hearing on December 9, the chancellor issued a memorandum opinion on February 12, 1999. The court declined to alter the other awards, but increased Wife's attorney fees to $20,000. She now appeals and presents questions two through five that follow. Husband counter-appeals on question one.

1. Did the trial court err in its valuation of Husband's business?

2 Did the trial court err when it found that the entire increase in the value of Husband's business was marital property?

3. Did the trial court err when it granted Wife a monetary award of less than 20 percent of the marital property?

4. Did the trial court err or abuse its discretion, given Wife's age, employment history, and medical condition, when it denied her request for indefinite

alimony and instead awarded her alimony of $3,000 per month?

5. Did the trial court err in failing to

award Wife a share of Husband's pension fund?

We answer "no" to the first, second, and fifth questions and "yes" to the third and fourth, and we explain.

A Background Information

Husband and Wife, both age 52, were married in Dallas, Texas, on February 14, 1988. It was a second marriage for both parties. No children were born of the marriage, although both parties have children from their previous marriages.

Wife resided in Dallas, where she lived for approximately 20 years, at the time she met Husband there. Before her marriage to Husband, she owned an automotive touch-up business for approximately 15 years, and she also helped her former husband establish a business. She has three children, now adults, from her first marriage. She was in the process of a divorce from her former spouse when she met Husband.

Husband, who had founded a commercial photographic processing business, Photographic Processing, Inc. ("PPI"), in Maryland with his then-estranged wife in 1969, had moved to Texas to start a new business. There, he entered into a partnership with Sheila White, Wife's close friend, who was also engaged in photo processing. The business venture did not succeed, but after Ms. White's introduction, Husband married Wife on February 14, 1988. Eventually, Husband and Wife, together with Wife's two daughters, moved to Maryland.

Husband had retained an interest in PPI, and on December 15, 1988, he bought out his ex-wife's 500 shares of PPI stock for $250,000. At present, Husband's business continues to make payments on that purchase and will do so until 2004. Two years later, Husband filed documentation with the State to change the name of PPI to "MCL Holding, Inc." At the time, he also applied to form a new corporation called Photographic Processing, Inc. ("PPI/MCL") No assets were acquired by PPI/MCL at that time. During testimony, Husband stated that the reshuffling of business names and assets was for estate planning purposes. The new corporate entity continued to grow during the marriage.

Before and during the marriage, indeed from his childhood, Husband has avidly collected model trains, a past-time in which Wife also participated during the marriage, by frequently attending model train shows and conventions with her husband and manning the family display table. Husband estimated the value of his extensive collection to be $200,000, based on a recognized evaluation tool, but Wife's estimator calculated that the collection was worth $406,428. The train collection is not insured, and there exists no inventory or valuation pre-dating those prepared for trial.

At trial, Husband sought to convince the chancellor that he already owned 95 percent of the present collection at the time of his marriage to Wife. He could produce no records, receipts, log books, inventories, or even specific recollections of his purchases to substantiate his claim. He insisted, however, that the numerous boxes of trains in his collection followed him from Maryland to Dallas and back again. Wife, her daughters, and a family friend testified that the collection at the time of the marriage consisted of eight to ten boxes of trains occupying one corner of one small bedroom. Husband recounts that he moved to Dallas using his Lincoln automobile to tow a U-Haul trailer. Husband and his children claimed that he moved 65 to 75 boxes of trains in that trailer and that the trains occupied a full bedroom in the family home. Another witness and fellow collector, Ron Borsella, testified that Husband's train collection in 1985 was quite large and opined that a train collection close to the 1985 size or present size would not fit into the largest U-Haul trailer available. Whether Husband sold a significant number of trains during his first marriage, temporarily diminishing the size of his collection, is unclear; however, he did testify that two of his automobiles were purchased using proceeds from pre-marital train sales.

Wife's mental health was also an issue at trial. Wife testified that she suffers from agoraphobia, a mental disorder characterized by abnormal fear of open spaces, public places, and the out-of-doors. She claims to have suffered from this malady for 20 years, and that the disease has affected her life, marriage, and ability to engage in normal employment, social affairs, and such everyday activities as driving a car for any significant distance or time. Agoraphobia is associated with severe or recurrent major depression, fear of contact with unfamiliar people or places, and panic disorder.

Wife testified that she has been in treatment with a psychiatrist and a psychologist for years and that she must take larger-than-prescribed doses of medication to engage in any outdoor activity or even to drive. Wife's expert witness and treating psychologist, Dr. Scott Smith, testified that Wife's phobia predated the marriage. Her condition has varied over the years and, at present, she is healthier than she has been at some points in the past. Dr. Smith testified, however, that her illness was likely to continue indefinitely and will probably prevent her future employment. He has recommended that she apply for Supplemental Security Income.

Husband acknowledged Wife's mental health problems during his deposition on April 4, 1997, but at trial he sought to minimize his knowledge of her condition, contending that she does not suffer "one bit" from any debilitating condition. He and his witnesses pointed out that Wife has held various jobs and traveled by air to visit family members, has attended conventions, family outings, and company functions with Husband, and has taken vacations. He also presented evidence of Wife's trips to shopping malls, exercise studios, and church, including photographs of her driving a car. According to her psychologist, however, part of Wife's treatment plan includes efforts to leave the house and engage in various activities.

Wife's employment history, in contrast, has been spotty. Although she worked in a photographic laboratory immediately after her marriage, she had not been employed for several years before this litigation. At the request of Husband, Wife gave up her automotive touch-up business in Texas. After moving to Maryland, she initially tried to open another touch-up company but, in her words, the laws are "different here" than in Texas and she failed to turn a profit. She obtained a job at Gantos in Marley Station Mall, but soon quit. Later, a friend offered, and she accepted, a job managing a Frederick's of Hollywood store at the same mall. She soon quit that job as well. She also worked for a mortgage banking company in Rockville, and she has maintained a cosmetology license for 29 years. Wife testified, however, that Husband requested that she not work, because she "was costing him money."1 Wife has also never worked for PPI/MCL, having been barred from association with the company by an agreement between Husband and his ex-wife, Sharon Long.

At the time of the trial, Husband was paying $3,000 per month to wife under a pendente lite order, in addition to paying the monthly mortgage on the marital home in Pasadena. The parties owned six vintage vehicles and home furnishings valued at $60,000. Husband has a $500,000 life insurance policy with Great Western, the current value of which is $8,578.48. In addition, he owns a pension, described as the "PPI Money Purchase Plan," to which he has contributed since 1974. It is undisputed that assets and interest were added to the pension plan during the marriage. Wife owns some jewelry, including a $6,000 diamond ring and a $10,000 replacement stone for her wedding ring, along with china and crystal.

At separation, Wife took sums in the joint checking accounts for her own use....

To continue reading

Request your trial
54 cases
  • Brewer v. Brewer
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • March 31, 2004
    ...to divide marital property equally between parties, the division of such property must be "fair and equitable." Long v. Long, 129 Md.App. 554, 577-78, 743 A.2d 281 (2000) (citations omitted). To achieve that result, a trial court may grant a monetary award "to correct any inequity created b......
  • St. Cyr v. St. Cyr
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • June 1, 2016
    ...health, but found, contrary to his assertion, that the state of his health was not interfering with his ability to work”); Long, 129 Md.App. at 581, 743 A.2d 281 (holding that trial court did not err in finding that wife was “at least somewhat capable of supporting herself,” where evidence ......
  • Abdullahi v. Zanini
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • June 26, 2019
    ...Ward v. Ward , 52 Md. App. 336, 339, 449 A.2d 443 (1982) ), cert. denied , 381 Md. 677, 851 A.2d 596 (2004). Accord Long v. Long , 129 Md. App. 554, 578, 743 A.2d 281 (2000). "[T]he decision whether to grant a monetary award is generally within the sound discretion of the trial court." Coll......
  • Reichert v. Hornbeck
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • March 20, 2013
    ...acquired during the marriage happened to be titled.” Doser v. Doser, 106 Md.App. 329, 349, 664 A.2d 453 (1995). See Long v. Long, 129 Md.App. 554, 579, 743 A.2d 281 (2000). In Ward v. Ward, 52 Md.App. 336, 449 A.2d 443 (1982), this Court explained: The monetary award is thus an addition to ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT