In a recent unpublished trial court decision, a Trial Judge granted a motion for summary judgment requiring a man to reimburse a woman for the non-refundable portions of deposits spent on wedding vendors when the defendant broke off the engagement.
In this particular case, the Defendant proposed to the Plaintiff in July of 2003, and the couple began planning a wedding schedule for September 2004. The Plaintiff entered into contracts with and paid the deposits for several wedding vendors, including the limousine, wedding gown, reception venue, photographer, entertainment, etc.
However, in September of 2003, the Defendant broke of f the engagement. While the Plaintiff was able to recoup a portion of the deposits she paid to the various vendors, she was unable to obtain the full value of all of her deposits. In total, the Plaintiff alleges that she lost a total of approximately $20,500 in non-refundable deposits as a result of the broken engagement.
Thereafter, the Plaintiff and Defendant entered into a written and notarized Agreement wherein the Defendant agreed to reimburse the Plaintiff for the sum of $15,000 toward the amount of the non-refundable deposits within two years of the date of that Agreement. Thereafter, the Plaintiff drafted an Amended Agreement adding another $5,500 to the sum that was to be repaid by the Defendant. However, the Defendant did not sign this Amended Agreement.
When the Defendant failed to make any payments toward the non-refundable portion of the deposits for the wedding vendors, the Plaintiff filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, arguing that there was no issue of material fact that the Defendant owed her a sum of $20,500. The Defendant, of course, opposed this motion, arguing that there existed genuine issues of material facts warranting a Trial insofar as he was forced to sign the original Agreement wherein he agreed to repay the sum of $15,000, the Plaintiff indicated that she and her family would be paying for the entire wedding, and that the additional payments of $5,500 were gifts and not loans.
The Trial Court in granted the Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment with regard to the sum of $15,000 which was the amount of the original written agreement, finding that the Defendant failed to present any evidence that he was forced to sign that agreement. The Trial Court also stated that the Defendant’s argument that the plaintiff and her family were to be responsible for the cost of the wedding created no genuine issue of material fact, insofar as such discussions, had they occurred, would have pre-dated the break off of the engagement. Thus, the Court held that the Defendant was responsible for repaying the sum of $15,000 toward the non-refundable portion of the deposits for the wedding vendors.
However, the Trial Judge denied the Plaintiff’s motion for Summary Judgment for the additional sum of $5,500, insofar as the Amended Agreement was never signed. The denial of the Motion for Summary Judgment, however, does not mean that the Defendant was not responsible for repaying this sum. Rather, the denial of the Motion for Summary Judgment for the additional sum simply means that there was a genuine issue of fact as to whether or not the Defendant ever agreed to repay this sum requiring a additional discovery, and perhaps, a Trial.
In short, in granting the Motion for Summary Judgment for the amount of $15,000, the Trial Court relied heavily on the fact that there was a written agreement which was signed by both parties and notarized requiring the Defendant to reimburse the Plaintiff that sum. Therefore, it is advisable to consult with an attorney before entering into any written agreement with another party, as it may very well be upheld by a Court.