Being dumped by the person you were planning to marry is an emotionally wrenching, if not humiliating, experience. But can you sue over it? It’s highly unusual, but a few states allow this type of lawsuit. It helps if you can show that you actually lost money as a result of the runaway bride or groom, as opposed to simply being embarrassed.
In a North Carolina case, Crystal Dellinger began dating her boyfriend, Cliff Barnes, while she was still in high school. After graduation, she helped Barnes run a convenience store he had purchased. Later, she agreed to help Barnes open a second store instead of looking for a job. Ultimately she helped him establish four stores, working without pay for a year so he could put the profits back into the business. When Barnes asked her to marry him, he promised he’d sell all the stores once day and she’d never have to worry about money. She accepted.
Meanwhile, he bought an old grocery store, which she spent months helping him fix up. All this time he kept putting off the wedding, saying they couldn’t afford to take time off from the business. Several years later, Barnes began seeing another store employee and broke off the engagement. Dellinger took Barnes to court with an unusual lawsuit for “breach of contract to marry,” and a jury awarded her a substantial sum based on the work she had put in under false pretenses.