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With this ring, I thee sue . . . One need not specifically ask, “Will you marry me?” to make a marriage proposal official, a New York judge has ruled. Faviola Soto, a justice for New York County Supreme Court, a trial-level court, ordered Emily DiGaetano to return a $53,000 engagement ring to her ex-fiance, New York businessman Vito W. Lucchetti, holding that the ring was a gift in contemplation of marriage. “Both parties agree that the law requires that gifts made in contemplation of marriage, i.e., an engagement ring, can be recovered without regard to fault,” Soto wrote in Lucchetti v. DiGaetano, No. 109231/05. “Although defendant claims that there were no ‘magic’ words spoken on the exchange of the ring such as ‘Will you marry me,’ it is clear from the facts that she accepted the ring as an engagement ring,” the judge concluded. Lucchetti gave his ex-future-bride-to-be the white-gold ring in July 2003. After the engagement ended, he filed an application for a temporary restraining order to prevent DiGaetano from selling the ring. She cross-moved for summary judgment and attorney fees. “Our courts recognize that an engagement ring is a type of gift that enjoys a special status,” said Bernard Clair, one of Lucchetti’s attorneys. “It’s deemed conditional until the marriage actually takes place. If it does not take place, then it’s one of the rare times that the court will rule that the gift never was completed-even though it sits on the finger of the recipient.” The decision, however, turned out to be superfluous. The day before it came down, the parties agreed to a settlement and DiGaetano returned the ring. -New York Law Journal Film was fishy Imagine seeing yourself in a movie. Except you’re a cartoon, and you’re there by virtue of alleged intellectual property theft. That’s what Dennis Sternberg, a New Jersey dentist, said happened to him in 2003, when the movie Finding Nemo was released. In the film, a scuba-diving dentist takes the title character and puts him in an office fish tank. Sternberg, also a scuba-diving dentist, was known to capture fish and put them in his office fish tank, too. In fact, he alleges in a suit filed originally in New Jersey but now moved to San Francisco federal court, he wrote a story about the idea and pitched it to The Walt Disney Co. in 1996. The studio turned down Sternberg’s idea for “Peanut Butter the Jellyfish,” a story involving fish, an Aqua-Lung-toting dentist and a character named “Nemo,” alleges the complaint against Pixar Animation Studios and Disney. Sternberg, angling to get a cut of the Finding Nemo profits, said his twin passions have been long entwined. “I’ve been scuba diving for as long as I’ve been a dentist,” he said. “And I’ve been a dentist for 30 years.” -The Recorder Very bad clown A man dressed as a clown who assaulted another man and stole his bicycle at last year’s Burning Man festival has been sentenced after the victim’s friends tracked down the disguised assailant. Dennis Hinkamp had to have two plates implanted in his arm after the attack at the annual counterculture festival on Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. Though his attacker disappeared into the crowd of painted and costumed celebrants, Hinkamp’s friends launched an Internet search to find him. They linked him to a group called Anarchoclowns, and finally to a hospital in Washington state, where Johnny Goodman was a nursing student. Goodman confessed and was sentenced on one count of conspiracy to commit theft, a gross misdemeanor. “If you’re a nursing student in Seattle and you’re a clown, you’re pretty identifiable,” said Hinkamp’s friend, Jim Graham of Felton, Calif. -Associated Press

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