The names of all of the people in this story are made up by me and are fictional in order to protect their privacy.
In a recent trial before me as an arbitrator in Manhattan’s Small Claims Court, the plaintiff, here called “Murray”, is seeking damages of $5,000, the Court’s maximum, from his friend Shelley, here sued as “Shelley’s Jewelry”.
It appears that Murray purchased an engagement ring from Shelley for $4,500. He wants an additional $500 for his pain and suffering, after his fiancée threatened to break the engagement when she rejected his ring.
I knew at the outset that the trial would be a spirited one, as the courtroom quickly filled with friends, family, witnesses and several supporters on both sides of the dispute.
Murray and his fiancée Miriam were planning a big engagement party. Miriam wanted to wear an engagement ring like the one she saw in a fashion magazine. That ring was for sale in an expensive store in New York City and cost $20,000.
Murray said that he could not afford it. However, he had a friend named Shelley, a jeweler in Manhattan’s diamond district. He asked Shelley to duplicate the ring at an agreed cost of $4,500 cash, and Shelley said he would do so.
The couple made it clear that they wanted the ring by a certain date because Miriam wanted to wear the ring at her engagement party.
Shelley assured them that they would have the ring on time.
Two weeks before the party, Shelley called Murray to say that the ring was ready. Murray, Miriam and Miriam’s father went to see it.
Miriam said that she was very disappointed because it did not look like the photo in the magazine.
Shelley agreed to work on it, and said that he would add a few more diamonds at his own cost to make both his friend and Miriam happy.
One week before the party, the ring was ready to be picked up. The bride to be went with her future husband and her father to pick up the ring.
She was still not satisfied, and again said that it did not look exactly like the ring in the photograph.
Shelley explained that it could never be an exact copy, but agreed once again to work on the ring at his own expense.
A few days later, Miriam was still not pleased. She said that she did not have the ring of her dreams and that the ring was not satisfactory.
Miriam angrily rejected the ring, and threatened that she would break off the engagement.
Her father agreed with her, as did several witnesses who then expressed their opinions. At this point, much shouting ensued.
Should I award Murray for his cost of the rejected ring?
To see my decision, click on the link below – Decision