This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
In Re the Marriage of:
Vicki Lynn Chalupsky, petitioner,
Lloyd Leslie Chalupsky,
Filed October 26, 1999
Ramsey County District Court
File No. FX951124
Steven T. Hennek, Hennek, Klaenhamer & Lees, P.A., 2595 Hamline Avenue North, Suite A, Roseville, MN 55113 (for respondent)
Heather E. McCleery, 1100 West Seventh Street, St. Paul, MN 55102 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Crippen, Presiding Judge, Short, Judge, and Forsberg, Judge.[*]
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
This dissolution case involves property division issues. On appeal, Lloyd Leslie Chalupsky argues the trial court erred in characterizing his workers’ compensation settlement, a 1992 Ford truck, and the homestead sale proceeds as marital property. We affirm.
D E C I S I O N
Whether property is marital or non-marital is a question of law, but we defer to the trial court’s underlying findings of fact. Olsen v. Olsen, 562 N.W.2d 797, 800 (Minn. 1997). Property acquired during marriage is presumed to be marital property. Minn. Stat. § 518.54, subd. 5 (1998). Upon the commingling of non-marital and marital property, the non-marital investment loses that character unless it can be readily traced. Carrick v. Carrick, 560 N.W.2d 407, 413 (Minn. App. 1997). A party claiming property to be non-marital must prove the necessary underlying facts by a preponderance of the evidence. Olsen, 562 N.W.2d at 800. A trial court’s findings will be set aside if they are clearly erroneous. Minn. R. Civ. P. 52.01.
Chalupsky argues the trial court erred in finding he had failed to overcome the marital presumption for a 1992 workers’ compensation settlement. See Van de Loo v. Van de Loo, 346 N.W.2d 173, 176 (Minn. App. 1984) (holding purpose of recovery of settlement proceeds, rather than timing of recovery, controls its characterization as marital or non-marital). Compensation for a personal injury is non-marital if it is intended to replace injuries personal to the spouse, such as good health. Id.; Gerlich v. Gerlich, 379 N.W.2d 689, 691 (Minn. App. 1986) (holding workers’ compensation settlement was non-marital because it was based on personal injury). By contrast, money obtained to compensate for wages lost during a marriage is marital property. Van de Loo, 346 N.W.2d at 176. Compensation received for lost wages or lost earning capacity sustained by either party after dissolution is non-marital property. Ward v. Ward, 453 N.W.2d 729, 732 (Minn. App. 1990), review denied (Minn. June 6, 1990).
The record demonstrates: (1) the parties were divorced by judgment entered March 3, 1997; (2) the 1992 workers’ compensation stipulation provides $109,500 in settlement for Chalupsky’s temporary total disability benefits, temporary partial disability benefits, permanent total disability benefits, permanent partial disability benefits, economic recovery compensation, impairment compensation, monitoring period compensation, supplementary benefits, rehabilitation and retraining; (3) the stipulation does not indicate the relative percentages for permanent partial disability, compared to other benefits; (4) the settlement proceeds were deposited into the parties’ joint account; (5) during the 1997 dissolution hearing, Chalupsky testified he did not know the nature of the workers’ compensation settlement; and (6) during a 1999 hearing, Chalupsky testified the settlement was solely for future lost wages. Under these circumstances, the trial court correctly found that Chalupsky had failed to overcome the marital presumption for the 1992 workers’ compensation proceeds.
Chalupsky also argues he met the requirements for tracing a non-marital interest in a 1992 Ford truck and the parties’ homestead. See Nash v. Nash, 388 N.W.2d 777, 781 (Minn. App. 1986) (holding that simply routing funds through joint account does not transform non-marital property into marital property), review denied (Minn. Aug. 20, 1986). Even if the workers’ compensation settlement was non-marital, the trial court properly denied Chalupsky’s claim because he commingled the funds with the assets the parties’ used to pay living expenses. See Haaland v. Haaland, 392 N.W.2d 268, 272 (Minn. App. 1986) (holding money from inheritance lost non-marital character because funds passed through joint account and were used for general family expenses). Under these circumstances, we cannot say the trial court erred in its property award.
Affirmed.[*] Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.