INDECENT PROPOSAL BREACH OF PROMISE TO MARRY
Breach Of Promise To Marry
By Maury D. Beaulier, Esq.
How is that for an indecent proposal! Imagine how much more indecent the
proposal becomes if after the abortion, the promising party fails to follow
through on the other promises. This issue has been addressed recently by
Minnesota's Appellate Court.
Mike is married when he meets Rebecca. Despite his marriage, Mike and Rebecca
become fast friends. That friendship quickly blossoms into a covert romantic
relationship. All seems to be going well when Mike is contacted by an attorney
representing Rebecca. The attorney informs Mike that Rebecca is pregnant with
his child. Concerned about the pregnancy, Mike also hires an attorney in the
hopes of negotiating a settlement.
To settle the matter, Mike makes two offers: (1) to pay child support for the
minor child after it is born and paternity is established; or (2) to negotiate a
settlement with Rebecca that does not involve a child or support. As the
negotiations proceed, Mike offers Rebecca $75,000 plus medial and legal expenses
to terminate the pregnancy. He also promises that as soon as the pregnancy has
been terminated he will divorce his wife and marry her, reassuring Rebecca that
they can have many children in the future.
Rebecca agrees and the parties sign a formalized agreement that states each
has entered into the agreement free of coercion or duress and that after the
payment of medical expenses, attorney fees and $75,000 Rebecca will release Mike
from any further obligations.
Rebecca has the abortion performed in Wisconsin after a 24 hour statutory
After the abortion, Mike refuses to marry Rebecca and Rebecca files a lawsuit
seeking monetary compensation for (1) intentional and negligent infliction of
emotional distress, battery, fraud and misrepresentation. In the complaint filed
with the Court Rebecca alleges that Mike breached his promise to marry her and
stated that she suffered psychological damages by being coerced into an unwanted
Although the names have been changed and the facts are slightly altered, a
case such as this was recently addressed by Minnesota’s Court of Appeals raising
- Can a jilted lover sue for a breach of promise to marry?
Can a person who is paid to have an abortion sue under claims of tort?
The Court of Appeals answered - "NO" to both questions.
In its opinion, the Court stated that in 1978 the Minnesota state legislature
abolished civil actions for:
- breaches of promises to marry;
- alienation of affections, and
- criminal conversations.
That law is now codified in Minnesota Statutes § 553.01-03. The reason for
abolishing these claims is set out specifically in the statute itself which
"Actions based on alleged alienation of affections, criminal
conversations, seduction and breach of contract to marry, have been
subject to grave abuses, have caused intimidation and harassment, to
innocent persons and have resulted in the perpetuation of frauds. It is
declared as the public policy of the state that the best interests of
the people of the state will be served by the abolition of these causes
of action." Minn. Stat § 553.01.
Despite the fact that the Petitioner did not raise the claim of a "Breach of
Promise to Marry" by that title, the appellate court found that the causes of
action filed by the plaintiff for fraud, emotional distress and battery were
amounted to the same thing. The essence of each of plaintiff’s claims was that
the Defendant promised to leave his wife, marry the plaintiff and to have a baby
with her in the near future. As a result the damages or injuries alleged by the
plaintiff arise out of the breach of the promise to marry. The Court went on to
state that it did not matter whether the defendant intended to coerce the
Plaintiff by intentionally lying about his intention to divorce his wife and
marry plaintiff. Even if that was the case, the statute, as written clearly
abolishes promise to marry actions.
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