Ronald was a divorced father of two when he met and fell in love with Bonnette.
At the time, he owned numerous real estate properties. He wanted to ensure
that those properties could be used to support his two children while
they were minors and to provide for their college educations. He also
wanted to ensure, if something happened to him, his wishes would still
be accomplished. Bonnette swore her love for Ronald, and promised to use
his property for his children's welfare if something were to happen
to him. Bonnette also swore to Ronald that she was sexually passionate
about him, something he had to have before he would marry again. With
Bonnette's promises to Ronald, he married her and changed title to
his separate properties to joint tenancy.
Thirteen years and two children later, Bonnette admitted to Ronald that
she had never been sexually passionate about him, and the marriage ended.
In the divorce proceedings, Bonnette claimed her one-half interest in
the properties under California's family code laws. To reclaim ownership
of the properties, Ronald sued Bonnette in civil court for fraud. He could
not sue for alienation of affection or breach of promise suits (known
as anti-heart-balm cases), because they had been outlawed by the California
legislature in 1939. He claimed she lied about her love and sexual passion
for him, and that fraud induced him to marry her. The jury trial agreed
with Ronald and awarded him $242,000 from Bonnette. Bonnette appealed.
The appellate court agreed with Bonnette, whatever terminology is used
and whatever legal cause of action is used, the case remained an anti-heart-balm
case and not actionable in court:
"…Words of love, passion and sexual desire are simply unsuited
to the cumbersome strictures of common law fraud and deceit. The idea
that a judge, or jury of 12 solid citizens, can arbitrate whether an individual's
romantic declarations at a certain time are true or false, or made with
intent to deceive, seems almost ridiculously wooden, particularly where
the statements were made prior to marriage and the marriage lasted more
than 13 years…"
Although promises of everlasting love and affection are broken all the
time, the courts will not legislature will not attempt to prevent/control
them through laws, nor will the court attempt to litigate them in California.
Ronald's desire to protect his separate property and his children's
future would have been better served with a