December 7, 2017
from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia
(LIT-19-12) (Hon. Gerald I. Fisher, Trial Judge) (
Morris, with whom David I. Ackerman was on the brief, for
William E. Davis for appellee.
Glickman, Fisher, and McLeese, Associate Judges.
MCLEESE, ASSOCIATE JUDGE
John and William Mazor ("the Mazor brothers") sued
their father Julian Mazor ("Mr. Mazor") and their
father's second wife, appellee Elizabeth Farrell, to
recover funds misappropriated from the estate of their
grandmother Esther Mazor. The trial court found Ms. Farrell
liable to the Mazor brothers for unjust enrichment of over
$300, 000. In the present appeal, the Mazor brothers
challenge the trial court's decision that they were not
entitled to prejudgment interest on that award under D.C.
Code § 15-108 (2012 Repl.) (in action to recover
"liquidated debt on which interest is payable by
contract or by law or usage, " judgment shall include
award of prejudgment interest). We affirm.
following facts either are undisputed or were found by the
trial court. Ms. Mazor died in 1993. Mr. Mazor was a
co-trustee of two trusts (Trust A and Trust B) to be funded
equally from Ms. Mazor's residuary estate, valued at over
$3 million. Trust B was established for the benefit of the
Mazor brothers and Trust A would benefit Mr. Mazor during his
lifetime with any remainder going to Trust B.
trust was initially funded. Instead, funds from the estate
were placed into an account owned and controlled by Mr.
Mazor. Mr. Mazor used the funds for himself and Ms. Farrell,
without regard to whether the funds belonged to Trust A or
Mazor brothers eventually sued Mr. Mazor and Ms. Farrell to
recover funds misappropriated from the estate. Mr. Mazor
defaulted on the Mazor brothers' claims against him, but
Ms. Farrell contested her liability.
Mazor and Ms. Farrell were married in 1999. By marrying Mr.
Mazor, Ms. Farrell forfeited alimony payments she had been
receiving from her previous marriage. Until the Mazor
brothers filed suit, Ms. Farrell did not suspect, and had no
reason to suspect, that Mr. Mazor had misappropriated estate
funds to support their marriage.
Farrell benefited from Mr. Mazor's misuse of estate funds
in several ways. She drew from accounts containing funds
traceable to estate funds for daily household and living
expenses throughout the marriage. In 1999, the couple used
approximately $1 million traceable to estate funds to
purchase and improve a house in Washington, D.C. In 2005, Mr.
Mazor provided $330, 000 to Ms. Farrell for the down payment
on a house in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, $234, 000 of which was
traced to estate funds. Mr. Mazor also provided Ms. Farrell
with approximately $86, 000 traced to estate funds to cover
mortgage payments for the Cape Cod house.
Mazor brothers sued Ms. Farrell for unjust enrichment,
seeking among other things repayment of funds traceable to
the estate, title to and rents from the Cape Cod house, and
prejudgment interest. The trial court granted summary
judgment on the issue of liability, concluding that it was
undisputed that Ms. Farrell benefited from funds
misappropriated from the estate. The ...