Thursday, September 27, 2007

Tennessean Logo

Can't keep engagement ring if wedding called off, court says

Don't hock that engagement ring just yet.

If you don't get married, you're not entitled to keep the ring, the Tennessee Court of Appeals said Monday.

In a ruling that appears to be the first appellate decision of its kind in the state, the court said that if the wedding is canceled, the person who gave the engagement ring is entitled to get it back.

"In summary, we hold that an engagement ring is given in contemplation of marriage, and as such, is impliedly a conditional gift," the unanimous opinion, written by Judge Charles D. Susano, said.

If the marriage doesn't take place, "the engagement ring goes back to the one who gave it."

The decision stems from a legal battle over an engagement ring that began in a Knox County court. The ruling involves a woman who is a reporter for WSMV in Nashville.

On Christmas Day 2005, Jason Crippen placed an engagement ring on Catharyn Campbell's finger and proposed marriage.

After the couple broke up, Crippen asked for the ring back; Campbell would not give it to him.

The opinion doesn't describe the ring or give its value.

Crippen's attorney, Adam Priest of Knoxville, said he couldn't give the value of the ring without permission from his client.

Crippen sued Campbell to get the ring back, but a Knox County circuit judge said she was entitled to keep it because it was a gift.

Campbell would not comment after the ruling Monday, but her attorney said he was disappointed that the appeals court didn't consider the ring a gift.

"I believe this gift took on unique and special meaning considering it was a Christmas Day gift," attorney James K. Scott said.

The Court of Appeals ordered Campbell to return the ring.