Broken EngagementFrequently we hear of lawsuits involving a broken heart. This usually happens when two people become engaged and later one decides the prospective marriage is not for them. We have all heard the story of the runaway bride or groom where the bride or groom ends the relationship and leaves one standing at the altar, or just simply calls of the engagement. As a result, the hurt party wants to be reimbursed for the expenses they paid in reliance on the anticipated wedding, or want the engagement ring to be returned to them.

Cost of Promise to Marry?
While this may sound like something in a movie or something we expect to see on court shows such as Judge Judy, there have been actual events in which this has occurred and civil lawsuits have been filed. Earlier this month, a 29-year-old Manhattan consultant filed a lawsuit in the Manhattan Supreme Court to recover damages for costs related to his planned marriage and a portion of the rent of two apartments he says she owes him when the couple lived together. In this breach of promise to marry lawsuit, he is demanding damages in the amount of $25,668 for wedding costs, $19,269.90 in cash he claims she withdrew from a bank account, and approximately $8,400 in rent. The former bride has returned the $32,000 engagement ring and believes that she should not be held liable for any additional costs.

Heart Balm Cases
Although it may be a surprise to many, some states recognize lawsuits which are based upon claims for a breach of promise to marry. In the states that permit a woman or man to sue the other when they terminate an engagement, it is because in those specific states, the marriage proposal is recognized as a legally enforceable contract and a court could award damages to reimburse expenditures of the injured party for his or her reliance on the upcoming wedding. Essentially, these are civil actions that have a combination of tort law and contract law elements. Courts across the country have offered different opinions about the nature of these kinds of actions. In some jurisdictions these actions, which are also known as heart balm cases, are barred by a state’s statutory provisions.  However, this kind of action may also be a basis for a lawsuit in another state, but only under limited circumstances according to the state’s law.

What do you think? Should the ex-fiancé be found liable for damages?