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BOGGS v. BOGGS (03/24/72)

decided: March 24, 1972.


Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County, Sept. T., 1970, No. 116, in case of Mary Louise Boggs v. Dr. Thomas R. Boggs, Jr.


Nochem S. Winnet, with him Sidney M. DeAngelis, and Bean, DeAngelis, Kaufman & Giangiulio, for appellant.

Stephen A. Sheller, with him Paul C. Astor, Stephen G. Yusem, High, Swartz, Roberts & Seidel, and Astor & Weiss, for appellee.

Wright, P. J., Watkins, Montgomery, Jacobs, Hoffman, Spaulding, and Cercone, JJ. Opinion by Hoffman, J. Wright, P. J., would affirm on the opinion of the court below.

Author: Hoffman

[ 221 Pa. Super. Page 23]

This is an appeal from the order of the lower court denying the wife-appellant support from her estranged husband.

[ 221 Pa. Super. Page 24]

In December, 1969, the husband-appellee married the appellant. This was the second marriage for both, and at the time of the marriage they were in their forties. Prior to the marriage, appellant was institutionalized in a mental hospital for a brief period of time and was considered to be emotionally unstable and mentally disordered by the various doctors who had attended to her. Appellee consulted with several psychiatrists and doctor friends who knew appellant to ascertain if he should marry her in light of her known psychiatric problems. Appellee was advised that he should, but he was warned that appellant suffered from "situational depression". After the marriage took place the relevant events, as set forth by the lower court, were as follows: "[i]n February of 1970, Mrs. Boggs decided that she wanted to go on a honeymoon. When her husband explained that he could not go at that time because he could not get coverage for his duties at the hospital (defendant is the head of the newborn pediatrics department at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital and also on the staff of Children's Hospital) she became bitter and petulant. She expressed her bitterness by three 'suicide attempts'. It is noteworthy that during each attempt she was in close proximity to her husband and his medical expertise and consequently was never in any real danger. In fact, she berated her husband for taking her to a hospital on one occasion saying that he should have handled it himself. On another occasion she emerged from the bathroom and announced, 'I have just taken twenty aspirin tablets, what are you going to do about that?' Mrs. Boggs subsequently admitted that this episode was a mere attempt to garner sympathy and attention and was not designed to be fatal. She also admitted that she had used false threats of suicide in the past, prior to her marriage to Dr. Boggs, to obtain money from her parents.

[ 221 Pa. Super. Page 25]

"Shortly thereafter, the prosecutrix decided that she wanted to go to Germany and again the defendant explained to her that his duties at the hospital precluded such a trip at that time. Mrs. Boggs resolved that she and two of her children would go anyway and requested her husband to procure for her a credit card to finance the journey. Defendant declined to do so and suggested that she use traveler's checks instead. Mrs. Boggs was enraged and, characteristically, stated that she would make the defendant's life miserable; she was true to her word. She stated that she would procure a credit card from another man -- one with whom she had been intimate prior to her marriage to Dr. Boggs. She also asked the defendant if he would permit this man to visit her while she was in Germany. She threatened to expose what she conceived to be defendant's 'fraudulent income tax return'. The prosecutrix did in fact go to Germany, returning on July 13, 1970. The cost of the trip, approximately $4,500.00, was charged on another man's credit card and ultimately paid by Dr. Boggs. While there is conflicting testimony on the point, it appears that Mrs. Boggs took her prophylactic diaphragm with her on the trip. Upon her return she told the defendant that she would continue to see other men as she wished [and] . . . her conduct became petty, nasty and brutish -- in a word: feral.

"In August of 1970, the prosecutrix launched a campaign of harassment against Dr. Boggs and his daughter, Stephanie, that almost defies belief. Dr. Boggs testified that his wife told him that, 'he would never see such harassment as she could give'. As we noted previously, she was true to her word. Mrs. Boggs ripped the defendant's decorative swords from the hall, broke a model ship, removed antiques from the home, and threatened to burn or sell pictures that had been painted by the defendant's deceased wife. She removed

[ 221 Pa. Super. Page 26]

Stephanie's pictures from their frames and threatened to cut them to pieces. Dog excrement was piled on top of Stephanie's bed (by the prosecutrix or one of her children) and the cleaning woman was told not to remove it. In addition, Mrs. Boggs told Stephanie that ...

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