Wednesday, January 02, 2013

If It Don't Mean A Thing, You Better Give Back That Ring

An interesting little case that I just finished up gives insight into an obscure area of Michigan law that doesn't come up too often.

My client, a man, proposed marriage to a lady and bought her quite the valuable engagement ring.

Valuable as in more than my annual salary.

For various reasons, the wedding was called off. She refused to return the ring.

Luckily for him, in Michigan the law is quite clear: According to the case of Meyer v Mitnick, 244 Mich App 697; 625 NW 2d 136 (2001):

Because the engagement ring is a conditional gift, when the condition is not fulfilled the ring or its value should be returned to the donor no matter who broke the engagement or caused it to be broken.

In other words the engagement ring is by law a gift that is given only in anticipation of the marriage actually taking place, and if it does not, then the ring must be returned to the giver of the gift.

Defendant's representative had tried making demands for some money in order for the ring to be returned. After being told that the law is very clear, and that if we have to go forward with a hearing Defendant is going to be ordered by the judge to return it and pay for conversion damages and attorney fees, they have agreed to return the ring forthwith.

I now have a very happy client. Hopefully, he'll also be a bit wiser about spending that kind of coin on his next engagement ring.


ProudHillbilly said...

Interesting. I wonder if other states make it this clear?

Aaron said...

It depends on what state you're in as there's a variety of results.

Montana is a you give it, it's now theirs state.

In California, the answer depends on who is at fault for the engagement falling through.

New York is like Michigan that it goes back to the donor.