Catalano v. Catalano is an unpublished 2018 appeal from the Court of Appeals. The case addressed the treatment of tax implications for the parties’ agreement that my client would remain on his ex-wife’s employer provided health insurance but that he would reimburse her for the “cost of this coverage.” For the first few years, ex-wife was able pay my client’s premium from pre-tax earnings, while my client reimbursed her the actual dollar amount her insurance premium increased because she was covering him. Essentially, she paid his premium in pre-tax dollars and was reimbursed in post-tax dollars, saving $1,503 in taxes over that time period–an amount stipulated by both parties’ experts.

At a certain point her employer changed its policy and, so long as my client remained on the policy, she had to pay all her family’s health insurance premium in post-tax dollars. She now argued that the costs of coverage included tax implications and attempted to hold my client in contempt for not reimbursing her for the increased taxes she paid as a result of him being on the coverage.

At trial the family court refused to hold my client in contempt but did order that he had to reimburse her the cost of the increase she had in taxes due to paying health insurance premiums in post-tax dollars. It denied my client’s request for $1,503 reimbursement, and ordered him to pay part of ex-wife’s attorney’s fees.

On appeal we argued that the family court erred in finding “cost of this coverage” included tax implications when ex-wife had benefited for three years from the opposite interpretation. We also argued that the family court erred in not requiring ex-wife to reimburse my client $1,503 if it was going to accept ex-wife’s interpretation of this coverage language, erred in awarding attorney’s fees, and erred in double counting the tax implications from my client’s coverage. The Court of Appeals rejected these arguments in a summary opinion and the Supreme Court rejected my request for certiorari.

Catalano is one of my most disappointing losses in the appellate courts. I remain convinced my client was done a grave injustice by the family court and the appellate courts.

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