Bresler v. Wilmington Trust Co., No. 15-2086 (4th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff Fleur and her son, Sidney, filed breach of contract claims against Wilmington. A jury determined that defendants breached an agreement to lend money for the acquisition, maintenance, and certain investments relating to life insurance policies obtained for Charlie and his wife, Fleur. The jury awarded $23 million in damages. The district court then determined post-trial that Wilmington breached an agreement to return certain funds to the Estate upon Charlie's death, and ordered Wilmington to return those funds in accordance with the parties' agreement. The court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in admitting an expert's testimony, because plaintiffs' noncompliance with Rule 26 was harmless in the context of the events that transpired. Furthermore, the district court did not abuse its discretion in rejecting Wilmington's Daubert challenge. The court rejected Wilmington's challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence adduced at trial, and affirmed the district court's order requiring Wilmington to return to the Estate the $5 million in collateral payments that Charlie had made. The court affirmed the portion of the damages award representing the net-in-trust shortfall, because that award was not reached against the clear weight of the evidence, and would not result in a miscarriage of justice. Finally, the court held that the jury properly awarded plaintiffs $3.9 million in consequential damages, and that this award was neither contrary to the clear weight of evidence nor one that would cause a miscarriage of justice. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment.