Love me, leave me, pay me.
July 25, 2008 8:23 AM   Subscribe

A jury in Georgia this week awarded a woman $150,000 after she sued her fiancé for breaking off their engagement three days before the wedding....Adding insult to injury, the groom-to-be, Wayne Gibbs, informed his intended, RoseMary Shell, of his decision by leaving her a note in the bathroom." Shell sued for breach of contract ..."[She] said she has suffered emotionally since their breakup." "Gibbs testified that he paid $30,000 of Shell's debt while they were engaged" and "argues he got cold feet after he found out Shell hid [other] debts from him." [video | 0:50] She refutes Gibbs's claim that she was swimming in debt. [video | 03:33].

"'He asked me to marry him. He gave me a ring and I gave up my life and my career. He told me he would pay my bills, that we would be married by the holidays and we would live happily ever after. I believed him.'

Shell's lawyer Lydia Sartain successfully argued before a jury that Gibbs owed Shell what she'd lost in salary plus pain and suffering.

'He callously allowed her to quit her job, move into his house where she had no income and then after a couple of months he just put her out on the streets and said "You know, you're on your own",' said Sartain." *
posted by ericb (72 comments total)

 
This was a central plot element in Pickwick Papers, it landed Mr. Pickwick in gaol.
posted by stbalbach at 8:29 AM on July 25, 2008


This is a scary precedent. Hope it's overturned on appeal...
posted by tadellin at 8:30 AM on July 25, 2008


I ain't sayin' she's a golddigger...
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:32 AM on July 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


*leans to side, farts*
posted by quonsar at 8:33 AM on July 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


And now, if you please, I'm ready to try
This breach of promise of marriage!

posted by alasdair at 8:36 AM on July 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


Tsk, tsk. Always make sure to get a pre-pre-nuptial.
posted by XMLicious at 8:39 AM on July 25, 2008


It's funny how something that turns out so painfully for the guy can also be a confirmation that it was still the right decision.
posted by Benevolent Space Robot at 8:40 AM on July 25, 2008 [11 favorites]


He should have insisted on a pre-engagement agreement, of course.
posted by washburn at 8:40 AM on July 25, 2008


He got off cheap at twice that price.
posted by rusty at 8:42 AM on July 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


"They say I shot a man named Gray and took his wife to Italy,
She inherited a million bucks and when she died it came to me.
I can't help it if I'm lucky."
posted by danep at 8:45 AM on July 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


That's what I love about the american judicial system: always thinking of new business opportunities to keep the economy strong!
posted by blue_beetle at 8:45 AM on July 25, 2008


She didn't have to give up her income. That's ridiculous.
posted by agregoli at 8:47 AM on July 25, 2008


My uncle's ex-wife won just over a million dollars in a lottery about ten years after they split up. When people asked him if he regretted leaving her, he'd always say "One hundred thousand a year to stay with her? Not worth it."
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:49 AM on July 25, 2008 [4 favorites]


I was tremblin', as I put on my jacket
It had creases as sharp as a knife
I put the ring in my pocket
But there was a note
And my heart it jumped into my mouth

It read, "Darlin', I'm sorry to hurt you.
But I have no courage to speak to your face.
But I'm down in Virginia with your cousin Lou
There be no wedding today."

So help me, please doctor, I'm damaged
You can put back my heart in its hole
Oh mama, I'm cryin'
Tears of relief
And my pulse is now under control
posted by Sailormom at 8:50 AM on July 25, 2008 [4 favorites]


Come on - is there any chance in hell this won't be laughed out of court on appeal? Is a ring now considered a contract?
posted by spicynuts at 8:50 AM on July 25, 2008


So wait, suddenly the state of Georgia wants women to be independent and have jobs and for their menfolk to NOT be able to toss them out without notice?
posted by DU at 8:50 AM on July 25, 2008


Shouldn't the debt allegations be fairly easy to prove or disprove?
posted by butterstick at 8:52 AM on July 25, 2008


This will not end well, it will end magnificently!
posted by Pastabagel at 8:52 AM on July 25, 2008


These news stories are really poorly written. It's ironic that there's more about this in the UK Daily Mail here than in Georgia/Florida's own media outlets.
posted by crapmatic at 8:53 AM on July 25, 2008


The crazy thing is that I think she deserved something. This is more than the average marriage proposal, she quit her job and moved in reliance on him promising to support her.

What I don't understand is this statement: 'He callously allowed her to quit her job, move into his house where she had no income and then after a couple of months he just put her out on the streets and said "You know, you're on your own",' said Sartain."

She was "out on the streets" "on her own" before he proposed, and she managed a six-figure salary. It was only a year. Couldn't she just get another job?
posted by Pastabagel at 9:00 AM on July 25, 2008


Allowed her to quit her job ... did he have some power to prevent her from doing that?

All the people in AskMe who suggest that someone should quit their job are going to be in a lot of trouble!
posted by a robot made out of meat at 9:04 AM on July 25, 2008


Would this survive an appeal? The entire point of an engagement is to commit to the idea of marriage before signing, you know, contracts.

My hypothesis, which I am presently pulling from my rather cavernous butt, is that Rosemary's talented attorney (who could also function as Rosemary's talented doppelgänger) told the jury all about how Rosemary made all these sacrifices for a guy who made financial promises, but who then left her for another woman and broke off the engagement via a note. Which is certainly super classy of him, and that paints one picture of the situation. Verbal agreements about money are nothing to sneeze at, even if this case gets completely overturned on appeal.

However, and this is where the hypothesis from my butt comes into play, I can't help but wonder if it dawned on Gibbs that this woman was a leech, and somewhere in the process of finding another woman who didn't expect him to be an ATM with a dick, he figured out that engagements were made to be broken and that paying off your fiancée's enormous debts, even after she quits her supposedly lucrative job, is not a good omen for a lifelong commitment.

It's also very possible that they're both jerks, in which case may two large boulders fall upon each of them.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:05 AM on July 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


It's a cheap shot, but I've said it before and I'll say it again -- we gays are so NOT what the sacred institution of marriage needs defending from.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:06 AM on July 25, 2008 [15 favorites]


I sometimes wonder if it's peculiar to me that stories like this put me completely off marriage.

I'm not kidding. Stories like this, and stories of divorce that I've heard and read, have made me completely swear off the institution. It literally seems like walking into a trap that has a big sign over it saying "surrender your valuables, livelihood and sex life within."
posted by shmegegge at 9:09 AM on July 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


The judgment seems reasonable to me given the financial inconvenience he caused her. And her possible hidden debt issue is offset by his cheating.
posted by shoesietart at 9:11 AM on July 25, 2008


It literally seems like walking into a trap that has a big sign over it saying "surrender your valuables, livelihood and sex life within."

They're not all bad, shmegegge. Good partners support each other and are in it to win it. It's just you hear all about the bad ones.
posted by agregoli at 9:14 AM on July 25, 2008 [6 favorites]


And her possible hidden debt issue is offset by his cheating.

Yeah, I'm willing to believe that he had been perfectly fine with paying for her debt before his common sense belatedly caught up with him. Or before he simply decided he liked another woman better. I might be giving him entirely too much credit by implying that he had common sense.

It would also make sense if they were both walking stereotypes - he unwilling to turn down the advances of a lady, she unwilling to turn down being taken care of by a man.

The judgment seems reasonable to me given the financial inconvenience he caused her.

On the one hand, she voluntarily quit her own job, and she would not be the first person to have moved for a relationship and then had the relationship not work out. On the other hand, we don't know the exact nature of the promises he had made her.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:21 AM on July 25, 2008


And if the courts take her side, it will do a heckuva lot more to hurt marriage than Teh Gays OMG.

I mean, if this became a precedent, then getting engaged just became extremely risky. Why bother?
posted by emjaybee at 9:22 AM on July 25, 2008


And the moral of the story is beware of sociopaths.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 9:24 AM on July 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's ironic that there's more about this in the UK Daily Mail here ...

That article is referenced in the very last link (the * in the more inside).
posted by ericb at 9:27 AM on July 25, 2008


Ianal but I seriously hope the pain and suffering will be overturned on appeal. It appears they are both quite old, but worried about smallish sums, so I deduce that neither had great jobs, but she sacrificed considerable seniority, which may yield some damages that survive appeal.

But both their lawyers win either way. :) Just one more reminder that marriage doesn't serve any purpose in today's society. So final outcome is hopefully, they will both owe their lawyers lots for the lesson that marriage is a bad idea.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:29 AM on July 25, 2008


On the one hand, she voluntarily quit her own job, and she would not be the first person to have moved for a relationship and then had the relationship not work out. On the other hand, we don't know the exact nature of the promises he had made her.

I think quitting your job to get married is a little different than quitting your job to date someone. If it were only dating, then anyone moving to be with someone else has to ask, what happens if it doesn't work out.

If he was having second thoughts or had changed his mind, he should have dealt with it in a better manner. One, don't start dating someone else while you're engaged. Two, tell your fiancee you've changed your mind. Three, ask how you can help her get back on her feet.

And she looks pretty "mature". Finding high-paying work again might be difficult.
posted by shoesietart at 9:35 AM on July 25, 2008


This is Judge Judy, isn't it?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:41 AM on July 25, 2008


my own misgivings about marriage aside, I think what disturbs me most about this is the idea that all unfortunate or tragic occurences in a person's life should in some way be compensated for by someone. Someone can be blamed, no matter how myopic the viewpoint has to be to do so, so someone should be sued. What I mean is that weddings being cancelled at the last minute, even in circumstances such as these, are natural occurences. People fall out of love, or they get engaged for the wrong reasons, or they're simply selfish. It happens all the time. It's a reasonable possibility in any engagement, and even if this dude is a total douchebag there's a certain responsibility for one's own life and the risks one takes that this decision seems to completely dissolve. This is life. It's tragic, but we've all got to deal with the consequences of our actions, even if that action is loving a man who didn't deserve it. I'm sorry for all the parties involved, frankly, and I don't think either one of them is necessarily the villain here, or that either one got what they deserved. But this sounds like she's being compensated because life isn't fair, and I'm sorry but that's not how it works. These things happen, and failing to marry someone is a natural occurence, not an instance of legally actionable offense.
posted by shmegegge at 9:42 AM on July 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


I think quitting your job to get married is a little different than quitting your job to date someone.

She did not quit her job to get married. She quit her job to get ENGAGED. Again I ask, is it now legally defensible to claim a ring and "will you marry me" as an actual legal contract with the same strength as a marriage license?
posted by spicynuts at 9:43 AM on July 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


It's a cheap shot, but I've said it before and I'll say it again -- we gays are so NOT what the sacred institution of marriage needs defending from.

It's like someone put an engagement ring on the Invisible Hand of the Free Market, and then got sued by It.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:47 AM on July 25, 2008


Is a ring now considered a contract?

In some regards, it already is considered a contract. In New York State, if a man gives a woman an engagement ring and the engagement later ends, the woman is legally required to return the ring if he requests in back. Now, this has been fought in the courts quite a few times, there have been times where the woman has been allowed to keep the ring, but the precendent that an engagement is a legal contract of sorts, is real. In fact, it's so real, that men in New York State are encouraged to not propose during holidays, birthdays, or whatever so that the ring can't be labeled as a "gift" rather than an "engagement ring".
posted by Stynxno at 9:54 AM on July 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


In college, I had a girlfriend who liked to say that we were "engaged to be engaged". Thankfully that relationship ended by my junior year.

I can't wait to see what papers she serves me with.
posted by turaho at 9:55 AM on July 25, 2008


Wow. LOLGEORGIANJURIES, eh?

You're not allowed to get cold feet anymore? Fie on this.
posted by Mister_A at 9:56 AM on July 25, 2008


tadellin writes "This is a scary precedent. Hope it's overturned on appeal..."

Why would it? It looks like pretty straight forward contract law murkied up by everything having been verbal.
posted by Mitheral at 9:58 AM on July 25, 2008


I'm inferring from the articles that she was already ENGAGED when she quit her job, not that she was hoping to get engaged.

Engagements are broken all the time. But I think if a groom-to-be changes his mind he should reimburse the bride for expenses she has incurred. I'm thinking here primarily of the various wedding deposits. I also think engagement rings should be returned. I think this holds true if the
bride-to-be backs out.

Just because things haven't worked out doesn't mean the person who acted in good faith should be shafted. You're acting in reliance on an agreement you've made. If you've fallen out of love or realize that marrying this person would be a horrible mistake, be a grownup, tell the other person and don't stick them with the check. Try and mitigate the financial loss the other person has incurred by relying on an agreement you know longer wish to adhere to. This might also mitigate the hatred of a thousand suns that person probably feels for you.
posted by shoesietart at 10:02 AM on July 25, 2008


She did not quit her job to get married. She quit her job to get ENGAGED. Again I ask, is it now legally defensible to claim a ring and "will you marry me" as an actual legal contract with the same strength as a marriage license?

I'm a little amazed that so many people seem to think this is some new legal departure. Clearly you don't read enough Victorian novels. "Breach of promise" is an old--VERY old--concept. Women have been suing men for breach of promise for centuries--and winning. Men, of course, couldn't sue women: the origin of the common phrase "it's a woman's prerogative to change her mind."
posted by yoink at 10:17 AM on July 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Shell told The Times of Gainesville she is "thrilled."

Yeah, I'll bet. she left her $81,000 a year job, and twelve months later walked away with $180,000 ($150,000 plus the $30,000 of her debts that he already paid). He may have handled it poorly, but I'm having a hard time seeing her as being in the right here.
posted by quin at 10:18 AM on July 25, 2008


In other news, hell still hath no fury like a woman scorned, although Beelzebub in R&D says that they're developing some "promising concepts".
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:22 AM on July 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


In college, I had a girlfriend who liked to say that we were "engaged to be engaged".

"Her?"

not too obscure?
posted by roystgnr at 10:38 AM on July 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


"Juror Delitha Smith told Channel 2 Action News that she didn't agree with the outcome, but gave in to the other jurors.

'He paid her a bundle, along with the engagement ring that was really worth a lot of money,' Smith said."*
posted by ericb at 10:41 AM on July 25, 2008


"Oh, what's that darling, you can't find a man to take care of you? Here, have his money."

This is the year 2008, right?
posted by Dark Messiah at 10:58 AM on July 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


More info here. They had been dating before, and they broke up, and she got a job that paid $81K. Then he came back to her and asked her to marry him and to leave her job and move back in with him (i.e., far away from her job). And the new job that she was able to find only paid $31K.

He asked her to leave her job, promising that he was going to take care of her. That's a really serious request. You shouldn't do that unless you're willing to back it up. If you're not sure, don't ask. Duh.

He could have said, instead, "look, you're doing really well for yourself right now. I still really love you and want to make this work. Maybe I could move in with you down here, or we could try things long distance for a while." But no, he had to make her move to him. It's unfortunate that he changed his mind, but she relied on his promise to her detriment.
posted by onlyconnect at 10:59 AM on July 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


And her possible hidden debt issue is offset by his cheating.
posted by shoesietart at 12:11 PM on July 25


No it isn't. First they were not married, they were engaged. Second, to the extent there was an agreement between the two of them, it was that she would quit her job and move in with him, and he would pay her debt. Of course, "the debt" is what she disclosed to him. What she didn't disclose to him isn't debt he's obligated to pay, because she never gave him anything extra in exchange for him paying her unknown or hidden debt.

In fact, one could argue that that fidelity runs only one way here, that she must be faithful to him, but he has no contractual obligation to be faithful to her, because her fidelity could be construed as the consideration she's paying him to pick up all the unspecified debt she did not disclose. Because the parties are unequal with regards to financial risk (i.e. he bears the sole financial risk of her hiding debt from him) then she must bear the sole risk of infidelity, i.e. that he can hide other lovers from her, but she isn't allowed to do the same for him.

Or to frame this another way, if his infidelity is going to carry a financial penalty, then it is only fair that the law provide some mechanism for contractually binding her to provide sex to him in exchange for financial support. Can a pre-nuptial agreement mandate a certain minimum frequency of sex? I don't think so, because the law typically does not enforce contracts in which sex is a consideration (but I am not sure). See what a lovely road were traveling down now?

The alternative to all of this is that people act like fucking grown-ups and not run to the courts everytime they spot a lose penny in someone's pockets.

You took on the debt, sweetie you pay it the fuck off by yourself or you do the honorable thing and kill yourself. Don't act like a dopey whore and ask your boyfriend to pay your massive debts when you know full well that because he loves you (or he's afraid you'll leave him), he won't tell you to go fuck yourself. Don't take advantage of loved one's for money.

And guys, stop the fucking belly-aching. Guess what, society still expects you to man up and pay for everything. The law recognizes working women as a curious novelty, and now you see how that screws over both women and men. Furthermore, don't ask a woman to move in with you under the pretense of an imminent marriage if you are sleeping with someone else. No matter who you are, you aren't cool enough, slick enough, or rich enough to pull off juggling that complex a situation. And if you are cheating on her, why would you want her that close anyway. Make up your mind, stupid.
posted by Pastabagel at 11:07 AM on July 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


What ever happened to keeping the ring as terms of a broken engagement?
posted by Willpsy at 11:08 AM on July 25, 2008


More info here. They had been dating before, and they broke up, and she got a job that paid $81K. Then he came back to her and asked her to marry him and to leave her job and move back in with him (i.e., far away from her job). And the new job that she was able to find only paid $31K.

He asked her to leave her job, promising that he was going to take care of her. That's a really serious request. You shouldn't do that unless you're willing to back it up. If you're not sure, don't ask. Duh.


Yeah, that's the clincher right there. Verbal agreements about moving and money are serious business.

What ever happened to keeping the ring as terms of a broken engagement?

There are situations where that might be justified and situations where that might be laughably inappropriate.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:11 AM on July 25, 2008


Yo Pastabagel, she had already picked up the pieces of her shattered life and moved on and was fully ready to pay off her own debt, had found a good job, etc. And then he asked her to quit her job and move back in with him and get married. I'm not sure why you call her a "dopey wh*re" for believing him. Maybe she was naive, but I don't understand what that has to do with calling her a low class prostitute and encouraging her to kill herself.
posted by onlyconnect at 11:16 AM on July 25, 2008


"Her?"

not too obscure?


Actually, she died in a kiln explosion.

not too obscurer?
posted by turaho at 11:25 AM on July 25, 2008


shmegegge: That's an unfortunate view of marriage. FWIW, my wife and I would each be fairly hopeless on our own (me more than her, but still). Together, we're pretty damn solid. A good marriage adds up to much more than the sum of its parts.
posted by rusty at 11:28 AM on July 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


If the US wants its antifeminist backlash, it's gotta take the bad with the good. When a society exalts Victorian ideals of womanhood (prudery, mothering, not being "shrill"), Victorian law starts looking like it makes sense again. Yoink's right--this is a seriously old-school tort.
posted by cirocco at 11:32 AM on July 25, 2008


I'm not sure why you call her a "dopey wh*re" for believing him. Maybe she was naive, but I don't understand what that has to do with calling her a low class prostitute and encouraging her to kill herself.
posted by onlyconnect at 2:16 PM on July 25


It wasn't directed to her specifically. But the words are intended to be harsh because the moment you start contractually binding romantic arrangements with financial considerations, or leveraging the former for the latter, you enter the same class of contracts that includes sex-for-money or companionship-for-money. And there isn't anything inherently morally wrong about those kinds of contracts either. And in case I hadn't made it clear, he's a dopey weasel also. These kinds of situations usually require stupidity on both sides.
posted by Pastabagel at 11:50 AM on July 25, 2008


So basically once you get engaged the meter's running on pre-alimony? The idea of compensation for the emotional suffering is particularly disgusting.
posted by Wood at 11:55 AM on July 25, 2008


Housewife Charged In Sex-For-Security Scam (The Onion)
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:08 PM on July 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Stories like this, and stories of divorce that I've heard and read, have made me completely swear off the institution. It literally seems like walking into a trap that has a big sign over it saying "surrender your valuables, livelihood and sex life within."

Further ammunition from AskMe yesterday.
posted by Durin's Bane at 12:21 PM on July 25, 2008


Can a pre-nuptial agreement mandate a certain minimum frequency of sex? I don't think so, because the law typically does not enforce contracts in which sex is a consideration (but I am not sure).

Actually, a ketubah, often incorrectly referred to as the marriage contract signed just before a Jewish wedding ceremony, is actually a pre-nup designed to protect a woman from the gaps in traditional marriage and inheritance laws. Pretty much every Jewish married couple in the world has one. And it does lay out certain minimum requirements for sexual fulfillment...for the man to satisfy the woman, that is. The ketubah can even adjust the allowances for amount of sex per week, based on what kind of physically strenuous job the husband has. And not getting laid enough is grounds for the wife to file for divorce. (See also JewFAQ.org on sex.)

(Of course, a religious pre-nup don't apply in civil court, but hey, since you asked...)
posted by Asparagirl at 12:29 PM on July 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Again I ask, is it now legally defensible to claim a ring and "will you marry me" as an actual legal contract with the same strength as a marriage license?

Well, under the Statute of Frauds, contracts for marriage were usually required to be in writing in order to be enforceable. But it looks like GA has a different Statute of Frauds. So it's probably just a weird Georgia thing.
posted by dilettante at 1:25 PM on July 25, 2008


First and third links of the FPP are the same; wondering why you felt the need to pad the number of links?
posted by davejay at 1:58 PM on July 25, 2008


First and third links of the FPP are the same; wondering why you felt the need to pad the number of links?

To give attribution to the appropriate quote, as the quote just before it referenced a different article. I suppose I could have used an asterix, as I did in the [more inside] quote.
posted by ericb at 2:03 PM on July 25, 2008


*asterisk* (hey)!
posted by ericb at 2:05 PM on July 25, 2008


Oh, I'm sailin' away my own true love,
I'm sailin' away in the morning.
Is there something I can send you from across the sea,
From the place that I'll be landing?

No, there's nothin' you can send me, my own true love,
There's nothin' I wish to be ownin'.
Just carry yourself back to me unspoiled,
From across that lonesome ocean.

Oh, but I just thought you might want something fine
Made of silver or of golden,
Either from the mountains of Madrid
Or from the coast of Barcelona.

Oh, but if I had the stars from the darkest night
And the diamonds from the deepest ocean,
I'd forsake them all for your sweet kiss,
For that's all I'm wishin' to be ownin'.

That I might be gone a long time
And it's only that I'm askin',
Is there something I can send you to remember me by,
To make your time more easy passin'.

Oh, how can, how can you ask me again,
It only brings me sorrow.
The same thing I want from you today,
I would want again tomorrow.

I got a letter on a lonesome day,
It was from her ship a-sailin',
Saying I don't know when I'll be comin' back again,
It depends on how I'm a-feelin'.

Well, if you, my love, must think that-a-way,
I'm sure your mind is roamin'.
I'm sure your heart is not with me,
But with the country to where you're goin'.

So take heed, take heed of the western wind,
Take heed of the stormy weather.
And yes, there's something you can send back to me,
Spanish boots of Spanish leather.

posted by onlyconnect at 2:09 PM on July 25, 2008


Here in British Columbia, you can sue from breach of promise. Someone I know looked into it when her fiance left her just after she bought the wedding dress, booked the reception hall, purchased the decorations, and so on. Her (live-in) fiance also left her with 10 months on a lease, after agreeing to move to a swanky oceanview urban condo. If she'd sued, she technically could have gone after all those costs, as well as half the amount of the lease and various other obligations. She could have gone after many of the costs incurred by her parents in committing to travel arrangements and so on. And that's before you even consider other financial obligations and opportunity costs of the relationship. She chose not to take on the stress of all that, and so was stuck paying for all the above costs herself, since her ex was nowhere to be found.

But someone who's left two days before a wedding? Her name might have been on all the contracts for caterers, hotel reservations, flights, attire and so on. We don't really know the whole story. And, if you're not certain about the promise to marry, you could do things to mitigate it before leaving a letter and taking off.
posted by acoutu at 7:35 PM on July 25, 2008


In other news, Georgian gay bars doing record business.
posted by rodgerd at 3:10 AM on July 26, 2008


No matter who you are, you aren't cool enough, slick enough, or rich enough to pull off juggling that complex a situation.

Speak for yourself, Pastabagel. You might not be, but I certainly am.

Having juries make this kind of award is always going to result in stupid decisions like this. She freely chose to leave her job to pursue this relationship, she should bear the consequences of her poor decision in that respect.

If this had been the UK courts, rather than Alabama -- even if the couple had actually got married -- the chances of the woman getting any kind of significant financial award would be minimal. We assume some sort of equality between the sexes, and given that there are no children, she'd take out of the marriage exactly what she put into it. In this case, nada.

Is she capable of supporting herself? Why yes she is. Let her get on with it.

And our legal position on engagements?

"In the strict legal sense of the word “contract”, engagement contracts are more a state of mind and are not legally binding contracts. They are a sign of intention, and an act of love and commitment towards two people. However, no part of the engagement agreement can be enforced by a court of law."

IANAL, etc.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:34 AM on July 26, 2008


Actually, PeterMcDermott, I don't think you're quite right. At least, not according to this site. It is true that you can no longer sue for breach of promise in the UK, but the courts will still adjudicate property disputes between engaged couples--according the status of "engagement" something of the force of a contractual relationship. This was the recommendation of the Royal Commission that (in 1969) decided to do away with breach of promise actions:

The Commission accordingly recommended that the procedure under section 17 of the Married Women's Property Act 1882* for resolving property disputes between spouses should be extended to engaged couples.

The Commission referred to the case where one spouse contributed money or money's worth to the improvement of the other's property (or the property of them both) and the contribution was of a substantial nature, he or she could acquire a beneficial interest in the property. It considered that this recommendation – which was implemented by section 37 of the Matrimonial Proceedings and Property Act 1970– should apply equally to engaged couples, it now does and is included in section 2 of the English Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1970.

posted by yoink at 6:49 AM on July 26, 2008


If this had been the UK courts, rather than Alabama -- even if the couple had actually got married -- the chances of the woman getting any kind of significant financial award would be minimal.

Really? McCartney's ex was just lucky, then?
posted by five fresh fish at 10:38 AM on July 26, 2008


Funny, but this exact same thing happened to my grandfather some 25 years ago, down to eerily similar details. He didn't get sued, though-- he bought her off with a new car and a few month's rent in a new apartment. But the claims she was planning on making were exactly the same.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 7:40 PM on July 26, 2008


Looks like someone didn't do their due diligence. Same thing happened to digg which was going to be bought out by Google for about $200 million, until Google actually had a chance to look over their books and source code.
posted by delmoi at 2:08 PM on July 27, 2008


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