Nancy Lasater filed a civil suit instead of a divorce action against her husband John Guttmann, claiming, among other things, that he defrauded her. She says he misrepresented the state of their finances and remained silent when there was a duty to speak. She said he falsely blamed her for their finances, misrepresented his own income and misstated how he spent their funds.
The court held that there was no fiduciary or confidential relationship between the parties, and therefore no duty to disclose a material fact.
The court found that John’s statements were his opinions and not material facts that could not support a fraud claim by Nancy. And even if they were facts, the court said, Nancy could not have reasonably relied upon them. The court said she could have easily discovered the truth by opening one of the hundreds of bank statements that had been sent to their home over the years or by a review of their tax returns.
In affirming dismissal of the civil suit, the court said, “We decline to open the door to tort suits arising from disagreements over allocation of marital resources when these grievances properly can be remedied in the divorce setting.” Lasater v. Guttmann, 194 Md. App. 431; 5 A.3d 79 (2010).