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Perrill v. Perrill

Court of Appeals of Indiana

May 28, 2019

Shaun Perrill, Appellant-Petitioner,
v.
Brandy Perrill, Appellee-Respondent.

          Appeal from the Hendricks Superior Court The Honorable Robert W. Freese, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 32D01-1709-DN-552

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT Monty K. Woolsey Carmel, Indiana Andrew R. Bloch Carmel, Indiana

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE William O. Harrington Danville, Indiana

          TAVITAS, JUDGE.

         Case Summary

         [¶1] Shaun Perrill ("Husband") filed this interlocutory appeal after the trial court concluded there was no enforceable premarital agreement (the "Agreement") between Husband and Brandy Perrill ("Wife"). We reverse and remand.

         Issues

         [¶2] Husband raises several issues on appeal, which we consolidate and restate as:

I. Whether the trial court erred in concluding there was no meeting of the minds between the parties to form an enforceable contract.
II. Whether the trial court erred in failing to admit testimony regarding Wife's excluded property.
III. Whether the trial court erred in concluding the Agreement was unconscionable.

         Facts

         [¶3] Husband and Wife met in 2000 when they were both students at Purdue University. Wife graduated in 2001, and Husband graduated in 2002. Husband and Wife began living together in 2002. The couple eventually moved to Hendricks County in 2003.

         [¶4] Husband began working at Matrix Label Systems, one of his family's businesses. Wife began working at Hendricks College Network and is now the executive director. At some point early in the couple's relationship, Husband mentioned to Wife that he would be interested in having Wife sign a premarital agreement if the couple were to marry. Husband's family had several family businesses that Husband sought to protect. The couple were engaged to be married in 2005, and they married in 2008.

         [¶5] Shortly before Husband's and Wife's wedding day in October 2008, Husband presented Wife with the Agreement. Wife asked an attorney to review the Agreement for her. Wife testified that she only saw one version of the Agreement, which was the version that she signed.[1] Wife claims she did not make any changes to the Agreement before she signed. Wife also testified that, as part of the Agreement, she was asked to provide a list of property that would be identified as her excluded property in the event the couple divorced.

         [¶6] The Agreement consisted of three main parts. The first section is the main portion of the Agreement, which covers nine pages, and includes the signature of both parties and the notary. In this portion of the Agreement, Husband and Wife agreed that each would:

retain the value of certain of [his or her] own individual assets and property that [he or she] now owns or later receives as a gift or inheritance, including any increase in the value of such property, . . . the same as though [he or she] were not married and free from any control, interest, claim or right whatsoever of the other Party whether growing out of the marital relationship or by reason of death.

         Appellant's App. Vol. II p. 151. This section defines Husband's excluded property as follows:

In the case of Husband, Excluded Property shall mean and include all of the common stock or ownership units or other such ownership interests in and of Compatible Technologies, LLC owned by Husband and shall also mean and include the membership or ownership interests of Moon Limited Partnership, now owned by Husband or received in the future by Husband, and any income, dividends, increase or decrease in value, or proceeds thereof, including any increase in the value of such shares, membership, or other ownership interests, or arising under the terms of Husband's employment with compatible Technologies, LLC or Moon Limited Partnership as now in effect or as hereafter agreed, provided, however, that Husband's salary from Compatible Technologies, LLC shall not constitute Excluded Property. Husband's Excluded Property shall also include any property acquired with Excluded Property. Husband's Excluded Property shall also include any gifts or inheritances later received from his family.

Id. at 152-53. The next part of the Agreement is "Exhibit A," which is defined in the main Agreement as Wife's "financial and asset information" as well as Wife's "excluded property." Id. at 152. Finally, the third part of the Agreement is "Exhibit B," which is defined as Husband's "financial and asset information." Id.

         [¶7] Wife asked Rebecca Cotney to serve as a notary for purposes of executing the Agreement. Cotney's signature notarizing the Agreement indicates that both Exhibit A and Exhibit B were included with the Agreement. Husband testified that, after he and Wife signed the Agreement, he placed the Agreement in a fire-proof filing cabinet.

         [¶8] After Husband filed a petition to dissolve the marriage on September 13, 2017, Wife filed a motion to determine the enforceability of the couple's Agreement on March 7, 2018. Wife testified to the foregoing facts and her uncertainty regarding the Agreement she actually signed. Wife does not recall if she received a copy of the Agreement at its execution. The next time Wife recalls seeing the Agreement after its execution was in 2017 when this matter began. Wife noticed, however, that when she received a copy of the Agreement in 2017, it did not appear to be the same Agreement she signed because her Exhibit A was not attached. Instead, there was another document titled "Exhibit A" which appeared to list items belonging to Husband, and no Exhibit B was attached. ("Version 1").

         [¶9] On November 1, 2017, Wife sent Husband a request for production of documents, requesting that Husband produce a complete copy of the executed Agreement. In response to the requests, Husband produced another version of the Agreement, which did not include a page entitled Exhibit A. In this version, Husband's excluded items list was attached as Exhibit B ("Version 2"). This Exhibit B was slightly different than the exhibit produced in Version 1.

         [¶10] Wife testified that she prepared Exhibit A and gave it to Husband; however, at the hearing, Wife did not recall the items she included on Exhibit A. On the other hand, Husband stated that he "[did] not recall [Wife] giving [him] [E]xhibit A." Tr. Vol. III p. 56. Husband stated that he was aware when the parties signed the Agreement that Exhibit A was not attached.[2] Husband did not believe that Wife prepared an Exhibit A because, according to Husband, Wife did not own any property of value at the time.

         [¶11] After an evidentiary hearing on the issue, the trial court entered its findings of fact and conclusions of law on May 3, 2018, and concluded, in relevant part,

31. Sometime on or after October 16, 2008, Wife prepared an Exhibit "A" list of what Wife wanted to be her "Excluded Property" under the Antenuptial Agreement . . . . In addition, Wife delivered Wife's Exhibit 'A' List of Excluded Property to Husband.
** * * *
36. Wife understood and intended that she executed the Executed Antenuptial Agreement with Wife's Exhibit 'A' ...

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