Castle v. Dimugno
If a party proves statutory theft, a court may award treble damages, pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes §52-564. Allegedly, the defendant, Donald Dimugno, had a power of attorney for his mother and falsely claimed that his mother, Mary Dimugno, was incapable of acting as trustee of the Mary Dimugno Revocable Trust. Donald became the de facto trustee, while his mother remained the technical trustee. In 2011, Dimugno was removed as trustee, and his niece, Ann Marie Castle, became the trustee. Castle sued her uncle and alleged breach of fiduciary duty and civil theft. Mary Dimugno credibly testified that her joint bank account with Donald was only to be used to pay her bills, and she denied that Donald painted or repaired her house. Donald's relationship with his mother was characterized by a unique degree of trust and confidence. Donald knew more about the trusts and Mary's assets and had greater expertise, knowledge and skill. The court found that Donald deceived Mary, stole her money and failed to make proper accountings. Donald concealed his conduct and that tolled the statute of limitations until July 20, 2011. The court found that between 1996 and 2005, the defendant took $124,555 from the trust's Schwab account. The defendant also commingled his mother's funds with his own and took $156,440 of his mother's money for his own use, without permission. The court found that the defendant breached his fiduciary duty and engaged in civil theft in the amount of $281,008. The court awarded triple damages in the amount of $843,025.