Pardalis & Nohavicka Romance Law Update: Cohoes City Court Asked To Distribute Unmarried Couple’s Assets
This week’s case brings with it a sad story of money invested in a romantic relationship and the demand for return of the money when the relationship ended badly.
Johanna and Eric fell in love and moved in together into Eric’s apartment. Johanna invested her own money for purposes of her own comforts and improving the property for a future sale and relocation of the couple to Florida. “She was in love and so much so that she never saw the end coming — but it came.”
On a cold day in May 2017, Eric told Johanna he was going fishing, but he wasn’t — he was leaving her for another woman. A few days later, Eric told Johanna that she could stay at the house until November 1, 2017 and that he would pay her several thousand dollars for the money that she spent to improve the house. An agreement was reached, but time passed and Eric did not pay. The texts and phone calls began Eric got an Order of protection and Johanna was required to move out. Johanna sued for her money and the value of the time she was evicted from her home because of the order of protection, which she would have been entitled to remain until November 1, as Eric promised.
Judge Marcele, sitting in the City Court of Cohoes, NY, noted that “This type of question regularly haunts the court and is fraught with all sorts of misconceptions by the parties who demand economic redress for a failed relationship.” Judge Marcele found that, “while Eric was a cad,” there was no breach of contract. But he found that fairness dictated that Eric was required to pay Johanna something. He awarded Johanna $2,974.50 — ruling that Johanna’s reliance on the promises to let her stay rent-free and to pay for her contribution to the home were reasonable and that she was forced to leave the home on August 22, depriving her of 2 ¼ months of rent-free living – and the cost of the bathroom fixtures, fans, vanity, faucets, door, television mount, light fixtures, toilet and blinds.
In the decision, Judge Marcele instructs us on the theory of promissory estoppel – when a clear promise is made to someone who relies on that promise they will be made whole if they are injured as long as it was reasonable to believe the person making the promise. It is called Equity.
Here is the case: http://www.courts.state.ny.us/reporter/3dseries/2018/2018_50004.htm