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One need not specifically ask “Will you marry me?” to make a marriage proposal official, a Manhattan judge has ruled. Supreme Court Justice Faviola Soto ordered Emily DiGaetano to return a $53,000 engagement ring to her ex-fiance, Manhattan 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, 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. Joseph DeSimone and Bernard Clair of Clair, Greifer represented Lucchetti. Solo practitioner Jo Ann Douglas represented DiGaetano. While the two sides may have agreed on the controlling law regarding no-longer-needed engagement rings, they disagreed as to whether their clients were in fact ever engaged. DiGaetano claimed her former beau “did not intend to marry her as he would not set a wedding date and had one other romantic interest during their alleged engagement,” according to the decision. She also “hurl[ed] painful allegations of fault” against Lucchetti in order to establish his lack of intent to marry. Justice Soto nonetheless granted Lucchetti’s motion for summary judgment. “There is a strong public policy against public trials of heart-wounding tribulations,” Soto wrote, citing Friedman v. Geller, 82 Misc. 2d 291. “Stripping the defendant’s affidavit of all fault allegations, what we have left is insufficient to establish an issue of fact which precludes summary judgment,” she concluded. Clair said that while state courts may be divided, the law in the 1st Department regarding the post-break-up return of engagement rings is well settled. “Our courts recognize that an engagement ring is a type of gift that enjoys a special status,” he said. “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.” Douglas declined to comment. The decision, however, turned out to be superfluous. The day before Soto issued it, the two sides agreed to a settlement and DiGaetano returned the ring.

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