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Wilson v. Fletcher

United States District Court, Eighth Circuit

December 20, 2013

HAROLD B. WILSON, GRACY SEDLAK, Plaintiffs,
v.
JOSEPH FLETCHER, ORA THOMAS FLETCHER, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

CHERYL R. ZWART, Magistrate Judge.

The court has reviewed the documentation from Joseph Fletcher, Gracy Sedlak, Harold Wilson, and Ora Thomas Fletcher produced in response to the Memorandum and Order dated September 25, 2013, (Filing No. 63).[1] During that hearing, the court agreed to review the facts reflected in those documents. The court's interpretation of those facts is outlined in the attached "Questions to Parties." The court also agreed to recommend terms for final settlement of this case. The court's proposed settlement terms are outlined in the attached "Settlement Agreement Questions, " and the explanation provided below. Although substantial documentation was provided to the court, the undersigned magistrate judge cannot track all the receipts and distributions of Harold Wilson's money by Joseph Fletcher. And the remaining questions will likely never be answered no matter how much work the parties and court invest into the project. Without substantial expenditures on expert witnesses, subpoenas, and depositions, the money trail cannot be fully understood and even then, questions will likely remain. The court therefore recommends to the parties that they settle this case under the following terms:

Joseph Fletcher and Ora T. Fletcher will jointly and severally owe to Harold Wilson the amount of $25, 000 for funds given to Ora T. Fletcher without Harold Wilson's permission. Jointly and Severally means either Joseph Fletcher and Ora T. Fletcher can pay it all back, or they can share that responsibility: But either way, they both owe Harold Wilson for the $25, 000 of Wilson's funds received and used by Ora T. Fletcher.
In addition to the $25, 000 owed for funds given to Ora T. Fletcher without Wilson's permission, Joseph Fletcher would be required to pay:
• $26, 000 to Gracy Sedlak, which represents the amount of Wilson's money that Joseph Fletcher was told to give to Gracy Sedlak, but which Joseph Fletcher kept for himself instead.
• $36, 300 to Harold Wilson, which represents the total amount of Wilson's money received by Joseph Fletcher through checks from the MidWestOne Bank, ($44, 516.00), plus one-half of the distributions for which there is no documentation indicating who received the money (1/2 of $13, 988.67), plus the money that is simply missing with no documentation whatsoever, ($10, 786.78), minus the $26, 000 amount Joseph Fletcher owes to Gracy Sedlak.

Based on the court's review of the documents and the parties statements, it is likely some of the money documented as distributed by Joseph Fletcher, but to unknown persons, was given out with Wilson's permission. Some was not. There is no way to figure out which of these expenditures were authorized. So in the interest of resolving the case now rather than face the same unanswered questions at trial, the parties should split that amount ($13, 988.67), with Joseph Fletcher owing half of it to Harold Wilson.

But as to the money which is simply missing, Joseph Fletcher should be required to pay all of that back. By way of explanation:

• Until Joseph Fletcher opened a separate account for Wilson's money at the MidWestOne Bank, he deposited Wilson's money in his own account.
• At the time the new account was set up in April 2011, there remained $34, 456.75 of Wilson's money that Joseph Fletcher had received but has no record of distributing to anyone on Wilson's behalf.
• Joseph Fletcher transferred only $1800.00 of this money into the MidWestOne account when that account was opened.
&bull: Joseph Fletcher later moved money into the MidWestOne Bank account on two occasions without receiving a new institutional distribution from Wilson; on April 25, 2011 in the amount of $10, 500, and on June 9, 2011 in the amount of $10, 400. Presumably these amounts were from Wilson's money which remained in Joseph Fletcher's account even after the MidWestOne Bank account was opened.
&bull: So of the $34, 456.75 that remained in Joseph Fletcher's account when the MidWestOne Bank account was opened, it appears more than $11, 000 was never transferred out of that account to the MidWestOne Bank account, and there is no record of what happened to it. This amount likely includes the $10, 786.78 of Wilson's money that is missing. It appears Joseph Fletcher kept it and as such, he should be ordered to pay it back.

If the parties do not settle the case under the terms suggested, the court will need to decide which facts are disputed and, if any, set this case for trial. The parties will be required to respond to statements outlined in the attached Questions to Parties" so it ...


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