McGrath v. DockendorfAnnotate this Case
In 2012, Ethan Dockendorf proposed to Julia McGrath and offered her an engagement ring worth approximately $26,000. In 2013, Dockendorf broke off the engagement, and the parties never married. Dockendorf subsequently filed an action in detinue seeking the return of the ring. McGrath demurred to Dockendorf’s complaint, arguing that it was barred by Va. Code 8.01-220, the “heart balm” statute. The trial court found that the ring was a conditional gift and that section 8.01-220 did not bar the action in dentine for recovery of the ring. The court then ordered McGrath to either return the ring within thirty days or it would enter judgment in the amount of $26,000 for Dockendorf. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the heart balm statute does not bar a detinue action to recover conditional gifts, such as an engagement ring, that were given in contemplation of marriage.