Court affirms valuation of hoof trimming business

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A trial court did not abuse its discretion in ordering an ex-husband to pay a portion of an expert’s fee for valuating his hoof trimming business upon the dissolution of his marriage, the Indiana Court of Appeals held Thursday.

The appeals court also found the Jay Circuit Court did not abuse its discretion when it determined the value of the business.

Brian and April Weigel divorced after nearly nine years of marriage. During the marriage, Brian Weigel owned and operated Weigel Hoof Trimming. At a final hearing, April Weigel’s expert witness, Tyson Stuckey, testified as to his valuations of the business. He indicated that depending on the strategy employed, the business is worth between $45,300 and $184,000.

The judge adopted the lesser of the two valuations based on the fact that a significant portion of the business value is generated by the personal goodwill of Brian Weigel.

Brian Weigel argued in Brian Weigel v. April Weigel, 38A02-1404-DR-280, that Stuckey’s opinion as to the value of the business included personal goodwill, which must be excluded from the value of a business in a marriage dissolution. But evidence of value is relevant to the determination of a valued asset, and Stuckey’s opinion was clearly relevant to the issues in the case, Senior Judge John Sharpnack wrote.

Sharpnack also noted that Stuckey testified there can be a goodwill component in the type of valuations he performed, but did not identify whether the goodwill was entirely enterprise goodwill, entirely personal goodwill, or a combination of those. Thus, the judge’s finding that a “significant portion of the business value is generated by the personal goodwill of” Brian Weigel was incorrect, but is a harmless error, the appeals court held.  

The evidence, in the form of Stuckey’s expert testimony, supports the portion of the finding that assigns the value of $45,300 to the business.

Because the court did not abuse its discretion in admitting Stuckey’s testimony as to his valuations of the business, the court did not abuse its discretion in ordering Brian Weigel to share in the cost of obtaining the valuation of the business and the corresponding testimony at the final hearing, the COA held.

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