Dismissal is upheld, but sanctions are overturned in conversion case
Bruce VandenBrink sued Kevin and Tammie Miller and Kevin's business after loans he made to Kevin went unpaid. VandenBrink had made loans to Kevin to "flip" homes and eventually Kevin stopped making payments on the loans. Tammie was not an owner of the business and had never signed a promissory note, however, she appeared to work in the business and was a signatory on the accounts through which the loaned money was expended. VandenBrink testified that he thought she was in business with Kevin and thought she was "unjustly enriched" at his expense.
After a bench trial, the judge dismissed the claims against Tammie and awarded sanctions to her. The judge deemed VandenBrink's allegations against her to be unsupported by even a "shred' of evidence and awarded her $40,000.00 for legal fees and costs.
The Court of Appeals unanimously overturned the sanction award while upholding Tammie's dismissal. It concluded that when the action was started, VandenBrink had reason to believe that he could prove that Tammie had misused the loan proceeds which were, indeed, disbursed through the Millers' personal account.