Looking for advice for a friend (legal, sort of. Long.)

Well, not actually my friend. My wife’s friend/co-worker.

Here’s the story, or at least what I know of it.

This gentleman(whom we’ll call Pete), started dating a woman around December of last year. The relationship seemed to be going well, if a bit oddly in some regards.

The woman(whom we’ll call Susan) seemed to be a good match. They had some interests in common (biking, music, etc) and got along quite well. In February (I think) he proposed.

They were supposed to be wed in the middle of June. About 2 weeks before the wedding, she wanted to attend some “couples counseling” out of the blue. He agreed, though he wasn’t sure why she thought it was necessary. Susan seemed to discuss some concerns that things were going quickly. She still wanted to get married, but was worried that things were moving along more rapidly than was healthy.

Pete said that he just wanted her to be happy, and would do whatever she wanted. He specifically asked if she wanted to postpone the wedding, to which she said “not right now”.

A week before the wedding, she arranged a meeting with the two of them and her lawyer, and instructed Pete to bring his tax statements from the last several years, as well as any other legal documents (house deeds, etc).

Upon arrival, he was shocked to learn that she essentially wanted to know how much he was worth, how much money he had in savings, and all the details of his monetary worth. This was fairly meager, as he had spent his savings wooing her (including a trip to Chicago, and an $8000 wedding ring set).

At this time he also learned that she had close to half a million dollars in savings, mostly from 2 previous marriages wherein she had sued for money in addition to divorce (the last marriage had lasted last than 6 months, but was still worth over $100 G’s).

2 days before the wedding, she cancelled the wedding. A week later she went to his apartment and accused him of cheating, of lying, of being gay, and generally of being a bad person.

For the record, he’s not gay, and has not been (as far as my wife knows) cheating. He also didn’t have a profile on Infidelity.com, which was understandable, since it’s not a pickup or dating site. Really, a lot of this stuff came out of left field.

A few days after this, Pete received and e-mail from Susan, with an itemized list of expenses (dress, makeup, tanning, etc. etc. etc.) totally up to about $12000 that she demanded he pay her. She carbon copied this to her lawyer (who happens to be her good friend who also handled her last 2 divorces). She stated that she’s being nice enough to not go for “emotional pain and distress”.

He had stated all along that he was willing to pay for the honeymoon expenses (we are sure, though have no proof, that after the wedding date she went on the honeymoon trip, as she disappeared for a week).

He has asked for the ring back. She is refusing, saying she will be keeping it as it was a gift.

Pete has stated he will be contacting a lawyer, as she appears to be coming after him with everything she’s got.

What I’m hoping I can supply him with is a list of legal cites that might help him out in his pre-lawyer discussions with her.

This is in Pennsylvania.

Suggestions, advice?

For what it’s worth, our current theory (my wife and I’s) is that this whole thing was a very elaborate scam to get at his non-existant fortune. It’s also possible that the woman is batshit crazy.

Poor guy doesn’t even drink, so he can’t go out for a night of “forget the woman” drinking. Ah well.

Have him call a lawyer. Best advice that can be offered, only advice he or you should be taking off a message board. Be sure he specifically asks about the legal status of the ring (“gifts in contemplation of marriage”).

Agree on the former, but not the latter. She’s not crazy… just evil.

He needs a lawyer ASAP.

Wow. What a lot of nerve.

Can he make a list of all the money he spent, and bring it and her list when he goes to meet with his own lawyer?

If it were me, I’d ask a lawyer about that, and also about “emotional pain and distress” possibilities, for the accusations at the apartment, and the financial meeting a week before the wedding, and calling off the wedding with 2 days notice…because I’m not nice. It may all be pointless, but it couldn’t hurt him to ask his lawyer.

And I’d say not to have any pre-lawyer discussions with her, other than “Hold onto it until I can give you my lawyer’s information.”

(Disclaimer: IANAL. Obviously)

I hope a lawyer is able to assist him, what a bitch.

IANAL. Just my common sense two cents.

IIRC, whoever breaks up the engagement does not keep the ring. She broke the engagement, she has to give the ring back.

I would consider the e-mail demand a “shot across the bow” scare tactic, and unless he receives something more formal from an attorney, he should ignore it.

It might be best to cut his losses and have no further contact with her, unless and until he gets a notice from an attorney (and quite frankly, I wouldn’t put it past her to dummy up something on official-looking letterhead, pretending to be from an attorney. Have him check any such names with the state bar association.)

He might need a lawyer later, but right now, unless he signed something, I don’t see where he owes this woman anything.

And tell him to get counseling. Proposing to a woman after two months of dating is ridiculous.

Poor guy. He needs a pitbull lawyer, as this woman seems to have made a career of taking guys for everything they’re worth. She seems to think he is a “nice guy” and will just roll over and pay up - I hope he proves her wrong.

I hope so to.

I know he’s looking for a lawyer, so that’s covered already.

I know at this point, he’s not trying to get anything other than his tools (he was renovating her bathroom, since it was going to be “their” house when she called it off and hasn’t let him come back) and the ring.

Hmmm… he’s got the name of her Attorny, I’ll advise him to check it against a bar listing. That’s a good idea.

She keeps talking about how she’s trying to be nice, and just wants him to pay the amounts on her list (she’s updated it at least once that I know of) so as to keep it out of court, and that if he goes to court with her she’ll add “pain and suffering” to the amount.

I’d go ahead and have an initial consultation with a lawyer. Many of them will do that for free. That way he will have a lawyer of record if she does try to go ahead with any type of proceding. But definately do not have any sort of conversation with her or her lawyer without having one of his own.

I think she’s trying to scam him. Tell him no further contact with her, and since some of his tools and the ring are his, let his lawyer get involved.

I wonder if a quick background check on her might turn up some interesting ammunition he could use.

Standard disclaimers: I’m not your lawyer or the lawyer or anyone you know, I’m not licensed in Pennsylvania, and what I know about Pennsylvania law isn’t worth a pitcher of warm spit. Don’t read any further, and certainly don’t rely on anything I say. If you do, you’re dumb.

What the hell is her cause of action? Pennsylvania, like most states, abolished breach of promise causes of action as antiquated. See 23 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. 1902 (the “Heart Balm Act”). Which means that she doesn’t have a claim for money she spent in anticipation of marrying him, because the statute has abolished torts that are “bound up with” a broken promise to marry. In other words, if her theory is that she spent money in anticipation of marrying him, and he’s now not going to marry her and should repay her for the amounts spent, Pennsylvania expressly and statutorily has found that she has no claim.

Pennsylvania did not, however, abolish claims for pre-nuptial conditional gifts. See Pavlicik v. Vogtsberger, 136 A.2d 127 (Pa. 1957) (affirming verdict in favor of plaintiff for return of engagement ring because it was a conditional gift); compare Ferraro v. Singh, 495 A.2d 946 (Pa. Sup. 1985) (refusing to permit recovery by plaintiff for costs of wedding photographer and rehearsal hall when wedding was called off, because the Heart Balm Act prohibits recovery of “expenditures made in anticipation of the wedding”; “Appellant cannot evade the force and effect of the statute by bringing an action in tort for emotional distress grounded in behavior resulting in breach of the contract to marry”).

In short, your friend is correct to look for a lawyer who knows something about PA law; a quick bit of legal reseach and a nasty-gram or two later should put paid to her schemes.

Wow, if Campion’s post is anything to go by (hypothetically), she picked the WRONG state to pull this scam in.

From what I recall of my Family Law class yonks ago, most states abolished heart balm actions at around the same time.

Wow Campion. Thank you for your non-binding pitchers of Spit.

I’m going to send the guy a link to this thread (names changed to protect the innocent and criminally stupid).

Between this, and the excellent advice of my wonderful wife, he should come out of this just fine…

Please keep us updated. I (we) really hate it when there’s an interesting thread like this and there’s no followup. We’d like to know how it ends, good, bad, or otherwise.

ETA: I’d immediately make a trip to the prosecuting attorney for the recovery of the tools. I’m pretty sure that falls under some form of theft.

Hang on: it’s she who’s called things off; how does this make him liable in any way?

Well supposedly she had cause. Obviously she is full of crap but if she weren’t, him cheating and being abusive and her calling it off as a result of that changes the picture…but she’s a scam artist so the point is moot.

I think that if the guy had more net worth, she would have gone through with the wedding. I bet that she was disappointed as hell in her gross miscalculation as to his assets. I also think that she suggesting the therapy to build her case that there were problems.

I think that the lawyer should hire a PI to look into her past and see how many times she’s pulled this scam (other than the two marriages.) Maybe a case for criminal fraud could be made.

I’ll do my best to keep it updated.

She initially said that the decision to end the wedding was a mutual decision that they came to together, and she has gradually drifted that to him calling it off. So her plan appears to be to scare him into thinking that he’ll loose if it goes to court. IMO.

Knowing that a lot of what she’s claiming is bunk will be a good strong starting point for him.

I don’t know Pennsylvania law on this, though New York’s law is similar to that described to Campion.

I did, however, take an engagement ring case to trial, winning a judgment against the woman for the full retail purchase price of the ring, plus pre- and post-judgment interest. She had foolishly sold the ring at a significant discount after the suit was filed, and was out a lot of money. (Had she kept the ring, she could have just returned it, without being subject to interest.)

She also asserted several “heart balm” claims like breach of promise to marry, which were dismissed in the suit. I was mildly disappointed (though not really surprised) that she and/or her lawyer were not prosecuted under the New York statute that makes asserting such claims a felony.

Ditto. Also, I’ve never heard of an instance where the person doing the breaking up is allowed to keep the ring.

She’ll have to have proof if she’s going to bring all these accusations to court, but I’m guessing a little snooping around will reveal that she’s a crafty wench with a lucrative part-time scam.