Ryan Strasser, an attorney from Washington, D.C., is suing his ex-girlfriend in order to get back a $100,000 engagement ring that he purchased just months before their breakup.
His complaint states,
After roughly a year together, in anticipation of marriage, Mr. Strasser purchased a 4.06-carat, $100,000+ diamond engagement ring, which he offered to Defendant with his proposal of marriage. Defendant accepted the ring and the marriage proposal upon which the offer of the ring was predicted. Roughly eleven months later, the parties’ marriage plans collapsed with a highly contentious break up that ended their engagement.
The ex-girlfriend/defendant is Sarah Jones Dickens, an art history student at Duke University.
According to the complaint,
Mr. Strasser and Defendant (the “Parties”) met as college classmates at Duke University in approximately 2004. Despite taking different paths after college–Mr. Strasser earned a law degree and a Master of Public Administration, whereas Defendant studied art history in Cambodia and later enrolled in a Ph.D. program at Duke University–the parties enjoyed a friendly relationship for many years and eventually began dating in early November of 2015.
The complaint states that at the time they started their relationship, Sarah had little to no income and resided with her parents in North Carolina.
She moved into Ryan’s condominium where, according to the pleadings, she “did not contribute to the mortgage or expenses.” And Ryan “operated as the parties’ sole breadwinner.”
Shortly after moving in, Sarah “requested that Mr. Strasser consider moving the Parties and their pets into a larger, more spacious residence.”
By June 2016, Ryan signed a lease agreement for a new apartment in a high-end section of Washington, D.C. His monthly rent payments were $4,800 per month.
The couple then began to talk about marriage. The engagement ring, in particular, was discussed in great detail.
The Parties had some preliminary discussion about the parameters of an engagement ring that Mr. Strasser would eventually buy for the purpose of proposing to Defendant. Mr. Strasser indicated that he was willing to purchase a diamond of approximately 4 carats and had contemplated a budget of approximately $40,000. Defendant stated that whatever she would eventually want likely would cost more that that.
Sarah knew exactly what she wanted.
Defendant declared that she had to have an engagement ring of about 3.5 to 5 carats with an inclusion rating of no “worse” than VS2 and a color rating of no “worse” than G, ratings regarding the quality of the diamond in question. She also advised that her diamond could have no florescence. Defendant further determined that she wanted an Old European Cut diamond.
The couple eventually agreed upon a diamond ring being sold by Betteridge, a reputable jewelry store in Greenwich, Connecticut.
The ring was being sold for $119,000. However, after some negotiation, Ryan purchased the ring for $99,800.
Ryan needed a loan to make the purchase.
In February, 2017,
Mr. Strasser proposed in a public location with a professional photographer present to document Mr. Strasser asking Defendant to marry him. The photographer witnessed Defendant accept Mr. Strasser’s proposal and witnessed Mr. Strasser slip the ring on Defendant’s ring finger as soon as Defendant agreed to the marriage proposal.
Less than a year later, in December 2017, “the Parties’ relationship soured and grew especially tumultuous.”
The complaint states that the relationship ended in January 2018 “after a particularly dramatic weekend.”
Sarah refused to return the ring.
The couples’ fathers attempted but failed to negotiate an agreement for the ring’s return and Ryan was forced to file a lawsuit.
Ryan’s attorney now argues that
under D.C., law the giving of an engagement ring as part of a proposal to marry is a conditional gift, whereby title to the Engagement Ring reverts to the donor if a wedding fails to occur due to a broken engagement.
Ryan wants a judgment declaring him to be “the sole owner of the Engagement Ring” and a court order directing Sarah to deliver the ring to him and to pay his legal costs.