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VICTORIA J. FERRARO AND ANTHONY J. FERRARO v. SURINDER SINGH (07/05/85)

filed: July 5, 1985.

VICTORIA J. FERRARO AND ANTHONY J. FERRARO, HER FATHER, APPELLANTS,
v.
SURINDER SINGH



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Allegheny County, Civil Division, at No. 03319-83.

COUNSEL

Barbara J. Shah, Bethel Park, for appellants.

Larry A. Housholder, Beaver Falls, for appellee.

Brosky, Wieand and Lederer, JJ.*fn*

Author: Brosky

[ 343 Pa. Super. Page 578]

It is said that "hell hath no fury like a woman scorned."*fn1 The appellant who was, figuratively, left standing at the altar, now wishes to recover for damages arising out of a broken promise to marry. While we are sympathetic with her plight, she is doomed to be disappointed in the law as well as in love. The harsh requirements of statutory law do not permit us to afford her any relief.

Appellant contends that the Heart Balm Act*fn2 does not bar recovery of sums expended in reliance on a broken promise to marry; nor does it bar recovery for emotional distress. This appeal is from an order dismissing this civil case on preliminary objections. The first count sought reimbursement for expenditures made in anticipation of the wedding of the parties. The second count sought damages in tort for the intentional infliction of emotional distress. We hold that the trial court correctly decided the issue and, accordingly, affirm.

Appellant Victoria A. Ferraro and Surinder Singh, appellee, met through a dating service in March, 1982, and, after approximately six months, set a wedding date in October

[ 343 Pa. Super. Page 5791983]

.*fn3 In her complaint, appellant averred that in reliance upon this agreement to marry each other, she paid non-refundable deposits for the wedding music, photographer, reception hall and a custom-made wedding dress. Subsequently, in December, 1982, appellee returned to his native country, India, for the alleged purpose of having an elaborate wedding suit made for himself. Appellant further stated that appellee concealed his whereabouts and intentions from her from December, 1982 through March, 1983; that, in fact, he did not communicate at all with her during that period; and that in March appellant was informed by an employee at appellee's place of work that appellee had married another woman in India.

Appellant then brought this action against appellee for reimbursement of wedding-related expenditures and to recover damages for emotional distress suffered as a result of appellee's conduct. To say that she was furious is putting it mildly -- and rightfully so.*fn4 Appellee filed preliminary objections in the nature of a demurrer. The trial court sustained those objections and dismissed both counts of appellant's complaint.

Appellant's main contention is that the Heart Balm Act does not bar recovery of sums expended in reliance on an unfulfilled promise to marry. The trial court held otherwise. In relevant part the Act provides: "All causes of action for breach of contract to marry are hereby abolished . . . ." 48 P.S. ยง 171.

In clear and unambiguous language, the Act prohibits any cause of action arising out of the breach of the promise to marry another. Its simple mandate admits of no specious distinctions. Thus, it is not significant that damages are nominally sought for expenditures ...


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