Oops! Man’s classless break-up text cost him 53K

His parting text turned into her parting shot.

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Image: Mail Online
This is not the diamond ring involved in the case.

A New York man who broke off a 14-month engagement by text messaging isn’t entitled to get back the $53,000 diamond ring after a state Supreme Court judge ruled in the former fiancée’s favor, the Buffalo News reported.

Restaurateur Louis J. Billittier Jr. of Hamburg sued his ex-intended Christa M. Clark for the return of the 3-carat rock, apparently relying on New York case law that generally holds engagement rings belong to the giver in the event the marriage is called off.

But case law didn’t apply in the Billittier-Clark breakup because of a consolation text Billittier sent right after telling Clark the marriage was off. (The classiness, or advisability, of breaking off an engagement by text message isn’t at issue here.)

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Photo: Mail Online
Christa Clark

“Plus you get a $50,000 parting ring,” Billittier, 55, texted, according to the News. “Enough for a down payment on a house.”

Clark, 38, apparently took that text literally and kept the engagement ring, along with other jewelry and gifts Billittier gave her when they were still together.

Billittier didn’t ask for the other gifts back, but he did want the engagement ring. Clark refused.

During the ex-couple’s civil court trial in November, Billittier’s attorney asked him about that “parting” text.

“I was being sarcastic, like a game show host – you get a parting gift,” Billittier said, according to the News.

Sarcasm is rarely advisable in affairs of the heart. It didn’t get far with Judge Russell P. Buscaglia either.

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Photo: Facebook
Louis Billittier

“Parting gifts on game shows usually pale in comparison to the grand prize sought in such contests, unlike here where the ring is at the heart of this lawsuit,” Buscaglia ruled, according to the News.

He awarded Clark the ring or its fair market value.

“The text messages … have persuaded this court that it is highly probable that a valid gift was given to her after the engagement was terminated,” Buscaglia ruled.

The law might consider an engagement ring to be the would-be groom’s property if the marriage never takes place, but a gift, Buscaglia said, is a different matter.

“Many gifts are given for reasons that sour with the passage of time,” he noted. “Once a gift is given, it is irrevocable.”

And diamonds are forever.

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Joe Saunders

Joe Saunders, a 25-year newspaper veteran, is a staff writer and editor for BizPac Review who lives in Tallahassee and covers capital and Florida politics. Email Joe at [email protected].

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