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Law School Case Brief

Curtis v. Anderson - 106 S.W.3d 251 (Tex. App. 2003)


Absent a written agreement a donor is not entitled to the return of an engagement ring if he terminates the engagement. 


Michael Curtis broke off the parties' engagement, as he felt his fiancée, Michele Anderson, had some sexual hang-ups, issues with men, and a volatile temper. Curtis claimed he and his Anderson had an agreement that the ring was to be returned if the marriage did not occur. Curtis sued for breach of an oral agreement and conversion, and the trial court granted Anderson a summary judgment. Curtis argued on appeal that he was entitled to the return of the ring, as it was a conditional gift, and that Anderson’s possession of the ring became an unlawful conversion when she refused to return the ring.


Was Curtis entitled to the return of the ring?




The appellate court held that Anderson was entitled to retain the ring. The alleged "mutual agreement" regarding the return of the ring was clearly made in contemplation of, or in consideration of, marriage, and had to be in writing under the provisions of Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 1.108 (1998). Also, the donor was not entitled to the return of the ring under the conditional gift rule. The appellate court noted that previous decisions held that the recipient of an engagement ring had to return it if she broke the engagement, and held that the same rule should apply to the situation where it was the donor who broke the engagement. Conversion had not occurred, as Curtis was not entitled to the ring.

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