District Court, Farmington Department The Honorable Michael
G. Allphin No. 144700136
Lieberman, Attorney for Appellant.
J. McNeill, Eric B. Vogeler, and Jenna Hatch, Attorneys for
Jill M. Pohlman authored this Opinion, in which Judges
Gregory K. Orme and J. Frederic Voros Jr. concurred.
Cristy DeAvila, now known as Cristy Brown, appeals the trial
court's division of marital assets under a decree of
divorce. We affirm.
Brown and Pericles DeAvila married in 2004, separated in
2013, and divorced in 2015. At a one-day bench trial, the
parties disputed, among other things, the division of two
assets relevant to this appeal, namely, the insurance
proceeds stemming from the destruction of a vehicle (the
Lexus) and the stock from DeAvila's company (the Sector
At trial, Brown took the position that the Lexus was her
separate property and that she should retain all of the
insurance proceeds. Brown had listed the Lexus in her name on
her financial declaration, and she testified that DeAvila
bought the Lexus and gave it to her as a gift for her
birthday. According to Brown, DeAvila had a vehicle
"through [his] business, " and Brown had paid the
insurance on that vehicle. When the business vehicle was
totaled, DeAvila used proceeds from the insurance to buy the
Lexus. Brown further testified that the Lexus was
"destroyed" during the parties' separation and
that she believed DeAvila was responsible for the damage
because she "saw him driving by [her] house" within
fifteen minutes of hearing "loud bashes" in her
garage. After this incident, which totaled the Lexus, Brown
received an insurance check for $17, 371. Because, in her
view, DeAvila "intentionally destroyed" the Lexus,
Brown alternatively asserted that even if the Lexus was
deemed to be marital property, DeAvila was "not entitled
to the benefit of the insurance proceeds under the collateral
DeAvila asserted that the parties were "jointly listed
as owners" of the Lexus. He testified that he purchased
the Lexus, believed he was an owner, and titled it in his
name. DeAvila provided supporting evidence, including the
2009 bill of sale and the sales contract for the Lexus, which
named DeAvila as the buyer. He also provided an exhibit with
the application for original title, identifying himself as
the primary owner and Brown as the secondary owner, but the
record does not contain a copy of the original certificate of
DeAvila further asserted that shortly after the Lexus was
damaged, Brown re-titled the Lexus "exclusively in her
name." In support, he provided a corrected certificate
of title, dated after the Lexus was damaged, which listed
only Brown as an owner. In his trial brief, he stated that he
was "being prosecuted for charges associated with damage
done" to the Lexus, and at trial he invoked the Fifth
Amendment to the United States Constitution, refusing to
answer questions about whether he damaged the car.
Nonetheless, DeAvila claimed that Brown should pay him
one-half of the insurance proceeds as his marital share.
With regard to the Sector 10 stock, Brown asserted that
Sector 10 was a publicly traded company whose stock was
traded "'over the counter'" and testified
that the stock's market price as of the day of trial was
five cents per share. She testified that she held Sector 10
stock in her name, amounting to at least 400, 000 shares.
Brown urged the trial court to award DeAvila "his
separate assets, including all shares in the Sector 10
[entities], " stating that "[w]hatever shares . . .
are out there . . . he should be awarded those shares."
She further urged the court to value the Sector 10 stock at
the market price of five cents per share.
DeAvila, for his part, alleged in his trial brief that he had
transferred to Brown "at least 11 million shares of
Sector 10 stock, " which were worth ten cents per share
in 2008, totaling $1.1 million. He further alleged that Brown
had dissipated that asset, and he sought a judgment for his
half of the value of that stock. At trial, he testified that
the current Sector 10 stock price was "[f]ive to seven
cents" per share. But DeAvila also testified that the
company had no value and was "going to basically file
[for] bankruptcy" due to the fact that attorneys who
were handling litigation on its behalf on a contingency fee
basis had recently "dropped" the case. In closing
argument, he encouraged the court to value the shares at five
cents per share.
During his testimony, DeAvila referred to the company's
Form 10-K that Sector 10 had filed with the Securities and
Exchange Commission approximately one month before trial. The
10-K stated that Sector 10's common stock had "an
average market value of $.05 per share" and indicated
that the stock traded on the Pink Sheets. The 10-K also
disclosed pending litigation matters and resulting
uncertainties, and showed that ...