SAN DIEGO - June 28, 2012 - It's not the best idea in the world to give a woman a $32,000 engagement ring if she's already broken up with you once.
But Steven Silverstein lucked out. When his fiancée Kendra Platt-Lee dumped him the second time, presumably for good, before their planned September 2012 wedding, she gave back the ring.
Nevertheless, Silverstein is suing Platt-Lee in the Supreme Court of the State of New York to get back money he says she owes him from a joint checking account, and for rent he paid when they lived together. Twice.
Steven, have you ever heard the phrase, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me!"
Silverstein, an upper East Side businessman, seems well enough off that he doesn't need the money to cover his bills. He's looking for the court system to make him feel better.
According to the lawsuit, Silverstein and Platt-Lee, a flight attendant from San Diego who also has "Hooters girl" on her resume, met and began dating in 2008. They got engaged in 2009, and rented an apartment together for $2,595 a month. Silverstein paid the rent, claiming it was a gift to his fiancée based on the "promise" she would marry him.
Then they broke up, got back together a year later, and moved into another apartment. Silverstein also paid the rent on this modest apartment at $3,945 monthly. Wow, sounds like a dump. They became engaged at the end of 2011, and set a wedding date of September 22, and split a $16,359 deposit for The Allegria Hotel in Long Beach, Long Island. Silverstein says in his lawsuit he also coughed up deposits for a wedding band, DJ, and photographer.
But in April of this year, Platt-Lee apparently thought the better of it despite the bling on her finger, and broke up with Silverstein for good. Now Silverstein says Platt-Lee broke the bank along with breaking his heart, and he wants that money back.
Silverstein says Platt-Lee withdrew $54,367.87 from their joint bank account the day she broke up with him, which was $19,269.90 more than she was entitled to have.
He also says she now owes him her half of the rent during the different times they lived together, because he only paid the rent in anticipation of getting married. This amounts to $28,643 and change.
Finally, he wants back half of the $27,513.38 in deposits and "potential obligations" for the wedding including the hotel, deposits to Hank Lane Music (the band), Jonathan DiPrisco AKA "DJ Structure the Spin Doctor" (you have got to be kidding), Anthony Vasquez Photography, Joseph Edwards Wedding Filmmakers, and NY Lounge Décor.
"I may have broken his heart but I didn't rip him off," Platt-Lee told KGTV 10 News in San Diego.
Platt-Lee said the bank account was hers, and she added him. She says she paid plenty of joint expenses other than the rent, along with joint credit cards, and offered to sit down with him to go over all the bills but Silverstein never gave her a chance.
Platt-Lee says she isn't the one who wanted the lavish wedding, called Silverstein a "groomzilla." She points out that his name is the only one on all the wedding contracts.
Platt-Lee claims things got very ugly, telling KGTV Silverstein's sister was selling off her personal items on eBay before she put a stop to it and got them returned.
"At first I thought he was just angry. Now, I realize he's just plain mean," Platt-Lee told the television station."I would like to move on. He's not worth a second of my time anymore."
While this sordid tale might titillate people, there are some serious lessons to be learned if you are thinking about combining finances without the benefit of being married. If you decide to mingle your money in a joint bank account, realize that you lack the legal safeguards provided by being married. If your relationship ends for whatever reason, there are no guidelines or divorce process to separate those assets.
If you rack up debts like deposits to wedding DJs, they are joint debts and each person is fully responsible for the entire amount of the debt, just like you are a married couple but without any legal protections if you separate. You also risk one person taking all the money out of a joint account and there is nothing you can do to prevent it. At least in this case, Pratt-Lee left half the account for Silverstein.
As to the lawsuit Silverstein filed, the only way he can recover money through the civil courts is to prove some sort of oral contract existed. This is very tough if not impossible to do. If Pratt-Lee's name was on their bank account, she is equally entitled to the money in the account.
As usual, the only person likely to make money in this situation is Silverstein's attorney. He will pay out far more in attorney fees than he is likely to recover in damages.
It damages the court system and law as a profession when the system is misused and overburdened with lawsuits like this one. It's all about a jilted bridegroom getting a little payback for being humiliated. But it isn't likely to make Silverstein feel any better about having his heart broken as well as his wallet.
Thank you to photographer Daniel Dreifuss for granting the use of his photo of Pratt-Lee and Silverstein on the beach in La Jolla, California during happier times
Myra Chack Fleischer founded Fleischer & Associates in 2001 and serves as Lead Counsel with a focus on divorce, property, custody and support, settlement agreements, mediation, asset division and family law appeals. Read more Legally Speaking in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Fleischer & Associates on Facebook and on Twitter @LawyerMyra Copyright © 2012 by Fleischer & Associates, Attorneys at Law