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Rhode Island Court Hears Case After Relationship (Rather than Legal Marriage) Goes Sour

Generally, a relationship ending doesn’t result in a court appearance unless you were married. This case is an exception. In a very interesting case heard by the Rhode Island Superior Court, an ex-boyfriend sued his ex-girlfriend for fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and unjust enrichment. If you believe that you may have a case against your ex-partner or ex-spouse, a knowledgeable Rhode Island family law attorney can help you to decide whether you have a claim.

The Ex-Boyfriend’s Allegations

As noted above, the plaintiff/ex-boyfriend in this case brought suit against his ex-girlfriend for negligent misrepresentation, fraud, and unjust enrichment. After seven years in a romantic relationship together, the defendant/ex-girlfriend and the plaintiff broke up. He alleges that she falsely represented to him that his life would be enhanced by being with her, and in reliance on this promise he devoted his time, energy, and expertise to her. He also alleges that he provided financial advice to her that will eventually save her tax money. Thus, he argues, it is unfair for her to keep that benefit while not giving him the benefit of lifetime security (presumably by remaining in a relationship with him).

The plaintiff explained that during the relationship he stayed with the defendant several nights a week, gave her gifts including jewelry and meals, tutored defendant’s children, and helped with renovations on her home. In terms of the tax benefits, the plaintiff told the defendant that she should request a tax ruling from the IRS relating to her grandmother’s trust. Plaintiff claims that this advice would eventually save the defendant a substantial amount of taxes.

Rhode Island Law

Before the hearing the defendant filed a motion for summary judgment. Motions for summary judgment will be granted when there are no material issues of fact between the parties and one party is entitled to judgment. In other words, everyone agrees on the basic facts of the case and the law makes clear who the prevailing party should be.

In order for the plaintiff to prevail on a fraud claim, he would need to prove that the plaintiff intentionally misled him and he relied on the misrepresentation which caused him injury. Here, the court held that the plaintiff did not satisfy any of the elements of fraud. Nowhere did the ex-girlfriend promise to be with him forever. Further, the benefits he provided were the same benefits that anyone in a romantic relationship with another person would provide. Along the same lines, the court also held that the defendant was unable to prove negligent misrepresentation.  Thus, the court threw out the claims of fraud and negligent misrepresentation but allowed a hearing on the unjust enrichment claim.

In the end the court granted summary judgment for the defendant on the unjust enrichment claim as well. The plaintiff had no expertise in tax law, and the defendant’s family worked with a qualified tax lawyer to make all the tax decisions for the trust. The plaintiff himself could not articulate what he contributed except for telling his ex-girlfriend to talk to a tax attorney. Unjust enrichment is only applicable when one party gets a benefit from another and it would be unfair to let them keep that. Here, the plaintiff could not articulate a benefit given, thus summary judgment was granted to the defendant on all counts.

Contact an Experienced Rhode Island Family Law Attorney Today!

If you are having problems with an ex, an experienced Rhode Island family law attorney may be able to help you. The knowledgeable attorneys at Bilodeau Capalbo, LLC, can help answer any questions you may have. Call (401) 300-4055 or use the form on this web site to contact us today for a free consultation!

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