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The 4th DCA recently held in Chubb Indemnity Ins. Co. v. Stoyanovich, 38 Fla. L. Weekly D1745a (Fla. 4th DCA 2013), that Florida law prohibiting claims for alienation of affection or other claims that arise out of an oral contract to marry did not preclude a subrogation action for damages arising out of the loss of an engagement ring following the termination of an engagement.

Chubb's insured, Hank Freid, presented Marie Stoyanovich with a very expensive engagement ring, which she accepted. Ms. Stoyanovich later broke off the engagement and claimed that she had lost the ring. Mr. Freid then filed a claim for the loss under his insurance policy with Chubb and the claim was paid. Chubb then filed an action against Ms. Stoyanovich for breach of her duty of care to prevent loss or damage to the ring.

The trial court dismissed Chubb's action against Ms. Stoyanovich on the ground that Gill v. Shively, 320 So. 2d 415 (Fla. 4th DCA 1975), barred causes of action arising out of oral contracts to marry. Gill relied on § 711.01, Fla. Stat., which prohibits actions for alienation of affection or breach of contract to marry.

The 4th DCA reversed and concluded that neither Gill nor § 711.01 concerned gifts or property arrangements between parties. Consequently, Florida law did not preclude Chubb from bringing a subrogation action against Ms. Stoyanovich to recover for the loss of the engagement ring.



This summary was prepared by Amy Baker of our firm.


Amy Baker

 

 

38 Fla. L. Weekly D1745a

 

Torts -- Negligence -- Breach of bailment -- Insurance company's subrogation action for reimbursement of amounts it paid for loss of engagement ring, filed against former fiancee who broke off engagement and claimed she did not know whereabouts of ring when insured demanded its return -- Error to dismiss claims as barred by section 771.01 -- Statute does not affect rights of parties relative to gifts passing between them

CHUBB INDEMNITY INSURANCE COMPANY, a foreign corporation, a/s/o Hank Freid, Appellant, v. MARIE STOYANOVICH, Appellee. 4th District. Case No. 4D12-3523. August 14, 2013. Appeal from the Circuit Court for the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit, Broward County; Marc H. Gold, Judge; L.T. Case No. 09-06764 (14). Counsel: Robert I. Buchsbaum and Craig M. Greene of Kramer, Green, Zuckerman, Greene & Buchsbaum, P.A., Hollywood, for appellant. No brief filed for appellee.

(Stevenson, J.) Appellant Chubb Indemnity Insurance Company ("Chubb Indemnity") appeals the dismissal of its claims of (1) negligence and (2) breach of bailment in favor of appellee Marie Stoyanovich, the defendant below. Ms. Stoyanovich, in breaking off a wedding engagement, claimed she did not know the whereabouts of the engagement ring when Hank Freid, the insured and disappointed suitor, demanded its return. As a result, Chubb Indemnity paid Mr. Freid $206,000.00 under his insurance policy. In this subrogation action, Chubb Indemnity sought reimbursement from Ms. Stoyanovich, claiming she breached a duty of care in preventing loss or damage to the ring while it was in her possession. The trial court dismissed both counts, holding that any causes of action for damages arising out of an oral contract to marry are barred in Florida pursuant to Gill v. Shively, 320 So. 2d 415 (Fla. 4th DCA 1975).

We reverse, finding that the trial court misread Gill, which expressly stated that section 771.01, Florida Statutes, "only bars actions for damages for alienation of affections, criminal conversation, seduction, or breach of contract to marry, and does not affect the rights of parties relative to gifts passing between them." Id. at 417 (emphasis added). Accordingly, section 771.01, Florida Statutes (2009), does not bar Chubb Indemnity's claims for negligence and breach of bailment.

Reversed and remanded. (Damoorgian, C.J., and Singhal, Raag, Associate Judge, concur.)






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