Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Rivkin v. Postal case brief

Rivkin v. Postal case brief summary

SYNOPSIS: Plaintiff married man filed suit seeking a partition of property he jointly owned with defendant girlfriend and the return of his personal property that was still in her possession. The girlfriend responded with a counterclaim seeking damages for breach of promise to marry. The Chancery Court for Williamson County, Tennessee, awarded the girlfriend damages on her claim and divided the jointly-owned property. Both parties appealed.

-When the parties met, the man was a successful, award-winning music producer.
-The girlfriend was a young divorcee living with her parents.
-She knew the man was married with children.
-The parties began living together.
-The girlfriend became pregnant with the man's child.
-The man was the parties' sole source of support, and he was able to provide an exceptionally affluent lifestyle for the girlfriend and their child despite his continuing obligations to his wife and children. -The girlfriend did not work outside the home.
-The parties never discussed wedding plans.
-Though the man finally divorced his wife, he ended his relationship with the girlfriend.

-The appeals court found the girlfriend failed to meet her burden of proof on her breach of promise claim, because she presented neither written evidence of a contract or promise to marry, nor the testimony of at least two disinterested witnesses.

She failed to present any evidence regarding the sorts of injuries that would have entitled her to $150,000 in damages. The trial court also erred by awarding the girlfriend a cedar chest that had belonged to the man's grandmother, as the chest was clearly the man's separate property.

OUTCOME: The appeals court reversed the trial court's judgment with respect to the damages awarded to the girlfriend on her breach of promise claim, and with respect to the award of the man's cedar chest to the girlfriend. The remainder of the judgment was affirmed.

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