August 1993, Rodger Lindh proposed with a $17,400 engagement ring to Janis Surman. Two months later the engagement was broken with a mutual understanding. Rodger and Janis reconciled, with Rodger again proposing with the same engagement ring, which Janis accepted. Unfortunately a year later Rodger broke the engagement off again and asked the ring back. This time however Janis refused to give back the ring. Rodger sued and Janis appealed.
The main purpose of this article is to decide whether the receiver of an engagement ring must return the ring or its equivalent value when the donor breaks the engagement. Pennsylvania law treats the giving of an engagement ring as a conditional gift. “ A gift given by a man to woman on condition that she will embark on the sea of matrimony with him is no different from a gift based on the condition that the receiver sail on any other sea.” If the anchor of contractual performance sticks in the sands of irresolution and procrastination, the gift must be restored to the donor.
In this case the parties disagree, over whether fault (on the part of the donor) is relevant to determining return of the ring. Janis contends that Pennsylvania law has never recognized a right of recovery in a donor who serves the engagement. Jane feels that because she is not the one ending the engagement she is entitled to keep the ring. The issue that must be resolved is whether we will fallow the fault-based theory argued by Janis, or the no-fault rule advocated by Rodger.
The approach that has been described as the modern trend is to apply a no-fault rule to engagement ring cases. The decision of superior court was in favor of Rodger Lindh.
2Olbekson v. Huber 2002 Mont. Dist. LEXIS 2935 (Dist. Ct. Montana 2002) Ch 24
In May 1994, Leo and Emelia Huber rented a house to Lois Olbekson, who was the daughter of their friends. Lois hoped to be able...