Something Borrowed, Someone Sued: One Bride Wins $150,000 After Being Jilted While Another is Sued for Being Too “Ugly”

RoseMary Shell was not willing to become just another jilted bride. When Wayne Gibbs refused to be her husband, a personal injury lawyer was willing to say “I do.” Now a Georgia jury has awarded Shell $150,000 for the breaking of a marital contract by her former fiance. In the meantime, a Hindu family in Massachusetts is suing for a contractual breach in an arranged marriage when the girl proved unattractive.

Gibbs broke of the marriage in 2007. Shell argued that she had already quit her job due to his promise of marriage and suffered emotional distress due to the termination of the marriage.

Gibbs testified that he had no idea how much in debt Shell was when he agreed to marry her and that he had already paid off $30,000 of her debt (and taken her on trips) when he finally decided that he wanted out. It probably didn’t help with the jury that he broke it off rather unromantically with a note left in the bathroom.

Of course, usually such promises are treated as unenforceable until the deed is done. After all, a court can hardly order fulfillment of the contract in a type of marital servitude. While palimony is possible after a long period of cohabitation in most states, a marriage promise very rarely is actionable.

Yet, recently in Massachusetts, an arranged marriage was called off when the Hindu family of the groom claimed that the girl was too ugly with protruding teeth and bad complexion. The family in Belchertown (yes, there is a town called Belchertown) actually filed for damages in response to the poor quality of the bride. For this story, click here.

The groom’s father, Vijai B. Pandey, 60, filed suit after meeting the girl in New Delhi and finding, according to the complaint, “she was ugly … with protruded bad teeth, and couldn’t speak English to hold a conversation.”

For the full story, click here and here.

8 thoughts on “Something Borrowed, Someone Sued: One Bride Wins $150,000 After Being Jilted While Another is Sued for Being Too “Ugly””

  1. Maybe this is another example when a prenuptial agreement might have helped. If nothing else, when the negotiations on the prenup break down, they have both saved alot of money and stress. Even if the groom to be signed and then backed down, at least they both know what to expect in damages.
    One other thing,I do not agree with the jiltee keeping the engagement ring. I don’t mean that from a legal standpoint. If I am going to pay $150,000 to a woman I am not even married to, I’d have to have the ring back. It would be a deal breaker for me. Maybe its a pride thing, but I would want the ring.

  2. Correction, Mark, if anything it is another reason not [to promise] to get married.


  3. Arlene:

    I see your point. However, this would seem to create a new and broader alternative to palimony lawsuit. Here, you are entitled to enforcement of an oral contract that is not guaranteed until vows are taken. I just wonder where we would draw the line.


  4. Not only is this a mature person, but it is harder to find a good paying job when you are a matures person, who gave up her job but also sold her home and with the housing market probably took a loss. In this particular case only, I agree with the judgment.


  5. rafflaw
    1, July 24, 2008 at 8:07 am

    I am not sure if this case walked into my office that I would have taken it. It just has a dirty feel to it


    I knew there was something I liked about you.

  6. Contract or no I don’t think the Massachusetts judicial system should be, uhh..”pandering” to mr Pandey.


    Leaving ones job to get married is a common occurance and a personal decision of the bride, so I don’t see how any award could be produced for what essentially constitutes “bad judgment” on her part.

    Even if their is a contract, I’m not even sure it would be recognized by Mass or US law.

  7. That was one expensive jilting. $150,000 for saying I think we should not get married is pretty rough, but the jiltee did give up her job to marry this guy so I can see the contractual issues. If only he hadn’t ended the relationship via the note in the bathroom. It may have been cheaper for him to go through with the marriage and get a divorce.
    As to the Hindu woman who was ugly, I don’t know what to say. Isn’t beauty in the eye of the beholder? Can a jury hold a father liable for thinking his daughter is beautiful? From a practical sense, I am not sure if this case walked into my office that I would have taken it. It just has a dirty feel to it. And from the comment in the story that the father of the would be groom has a litigious history behind him. If the bride’s family is not fortunate enough to live in “Belchertown”, but resides in India, it will be a tough collection, even if the Groom’s family wins the case. Is it possible that their was a written contract here?

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