Sometimes even the best laid marital plans go astray. Usually when that happens, litigation does not ensue, but there are precedents for a cause of action for breach of a contract to marry. In one such recent case, a jilted bride-to-be recovered a substantial jury verdict from her fiancée after he called off the planned wedding. It was the second time that the same man had balked at marrying the same woman. This time, he had asked her to pull up stakes in Florida, where she then lived and worked, and move to live with him in Georgia. He also offered her a diamond ring and agreed to pay off about $40,000 in debt that she had accumulated. Only two weeks into the new arrangement, the man called off the wedding, citing his poor health and apologizing for making promises he would not be keeping.
Despite the canceled wedding, the couple stayed together for a few more months. Then the last straw came for the former bride-to-be when she found her boyfriend with another woman. He claimed that he had started his romance with the second woman only after the wedding was canceled, but this claim was belied by evidence that he had given that woman $500 just before his ill-fated marriage proposal to the plaintiff.
The plaintiff sued for breach of contract, seeking damages for financial and emotional harm. While it may seem that the most obvious injury in such cases is emotional in nature, in this case all but a small amount of the jury verdict was attributable to the value of the employment package that the plaintiff had given up to be with her fiancée. After coming to Georgia, she had struggled to find work and ultimately settled for a much less attractive job after the breakup.
No doubt it did not make a good impression on the jury that the boyfriend had broken the news that there would be no wedding by leaving his fiancée a note in the bathroom. This fact dovetailed nicely with the woman’s attorney’s closing argument, which could be summed up as “He’s a cad.”
If you have any questions, contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. at 732-863-9900, or firstname.lastname@example.org. He is happy to answer your inquiries.