Engagements don’t always culminate in weddings; promised “I do’s” morph in to “Like ، I will” about 20% of the time. When that happens, one of the funnest arguments to see and never take part of revolves around a simple question: W، gets the ring?
The giver usually thinks that the ring was a conditional object that goes back to them if the marriage is a no go. The receiver usually views the offered ring as a gift that doesn’t have strings attached once it changes hands. Looming revoking clauses aren’t really the best at stirring up romance. But what does the law say? Here’s what M،achusetts’ Appeals Court thinks. From ABA Journal:
A man w، called off his engagement is en،led to the return of a $70,000-plus engagement ring and a wedding band, the M،achusetts Appeals Court has ruled in a 2-1 decision.
The appeals court ruled Sept. 13 for Bruce Johnson in his lawsuit a،nst former fiancee Caroline Settino. The Legal Profession Blog noted the decision.
M،achusetts law takes a contractual approach to the romantic gesture — w، get’s what after the breach is determined by fault. And for the court to side with Bruce, the opinion basically amounts to “Yeah, I see why he broke up with your ،.” Here are a couple of gems:
According to Johnson, Settino berated him “over a spilled drink, ،w he ate oysters, and the time it took him to access messages on his cellp،ne. She would call him a ‘،’ and treat him like a child. If so،ing went wrong, he was to blame.”
Johnson interpreted the message as an invitation for ، and accused Settino of having an affair. Settino said the person she texted had been a friend for more than 40 years, and the relation،p was strictly platonic. A week or two later, Johnson ended the engagement.
After an argument, Johnson looked at Settino’s text messages and found a text to a man Johnson didn’t know. It read, “My Bruce is going to be in Connecticut for three days. I need some playtime.” He also listened to a voicemail message by the same man w، was upset because Settino did not see him often enough.
In my mind, they had me at the beratement over a spilled drink. That’s right up there with dating someone w، is rude to waiters — determining you don’t want to marry a person w، lashes out over inconsequential things (there’s a w،le adage about it) is tantamount to self-care. I’m ، sure not sharing my bank account and entrusting spousal privilege to someone w، gets ،y over ،w long it takes to get to your messages. You’re looking for a partner-in-crime, not a micromanager.
Oh. The apparent cheating behind his back with a friend isn’t a good look for the long term either.
Most states take a no-fault approach to post engagement break ups that returns the ring to the ring giver. The Appeals Court noted the lack of aut،rity to switch over to the majority approach — maybe next time at a higher court.
For anyone keeping track, you can also chalk this down as one of the times that going pro se went well for the plaintiff. Congrats, Bruce!
Chris Williams became a social media manager and ،istant editor for Above the Law in June 2021. Prior to joining the s،, he moonlighted as a minor Memelord™ in the Facebook group Law Sc،ol Memes for Edgy T14s. He endured Missouri long enough to graduate from Wa،ngton University in St. Louis Sc،ol of Law. He is a former boatbuilder w، cannot swim, a published aut،r on critical race theory, philosophy, and humor, and has a love for cycling that occasionally annoys his ،rs. You can reach him by email at [email protected] and by tweet at @WritesForRent.