HOGLE v. HOGLE (Supreme Court, Columbia County)

During the marriage, wife operated a business selling Longaberger baskets. However in recent years, the business generated minimal income due to competition from eBay and decreased demand due to bad economy. Dispute existed between the remaining inventory and value of the baskets. Defendant-husband estimates 900 baskets are in wife’s possession and value of $100 each. Plaintiff-wife claims she has 500 baskets and defendant has 200 baskets and that there is limited, if any value. Court is left with no plausible valuation for the baskets and finds parties valuations not convincing and is doubtful that the business is viable. Court therefore orders plaintiff to turn over 150 baskets to defendant.

On the matter of the husband’s enhanced earnings due to the law degree and associated license obtained during the marriage, defendant claims plaintiff is entitled to an EEC award no more than 10% of the value (plaintiff’s expert valued at $118,000, both parties agree to value). Court awards 25% of enhanced earnings to plaintiff due to her having to leave her computer programming job to relocate to White Plains, where defendant attended law school. Plaintiff also provided primary family support during defendant’s education and law school loans were eventually paid with marital funds.

Of note is the defendant husband’s vocational economic consultant expert who opined that the plaintiff-wife has an earnings capacity of $56,613 (based on Bachelor’s degree discounted for rural market and discounted 10% for plaintiff’s age of 56). However, the expert failed to factor into the analysis the actual work-life expectancy while also failing to account for the fact that the wife has been out of the computer field for 25 years and therefore analysis comparing her to a recent college graduate was suspect. Irony arises from defendant, who at age 59, made clear his preference to retire while insisting plaintiff, age 56, return to the workforce.