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Moorhead judge rules woman owes money for engagement ring after breakup

MOORHEAD - He gave her an engagement ring on Feb. 14, 2003.

But, the couple parted ways in 2007, without ever getting married.

As part of the breakup, Lorie D. Erickson got things like furniture and in return agreed to give the ring back to Gary L. Brenden, according to testimony Brenden gave and documents he filed as part of a small claims case in Clay County District Court.

In response to the suit, Erickson, who lives in Moorhead, told Judge Steven Cahill she never agreed to return the ring.

She also told Cahill she sold the ring last September for $600 because she needed the money to support her children.

In his claim, Brenden, who also lives in Moorhead, said he paid $2,560 for the ring, which he described as having a .45-carat diamond and an 18-carat gold band.

In a memorandum filed with his decision, the judge sided with Brenden, citing an appeals court ruling that determined that when two people engaged to be married abandon their plans, the engagement ring, or its equivalent value, "shall be returned to the donor regardless of fault."

Cahill said neither party had presented evidence of the ring's current value.

So, the judge came up with a rough average using the initial price of the ring and the price Erickson said she got for selling it.

Cahill ruled Brenden is entitled to $1,550, plus fees of $60.

Brenden declined to discuss the decision but said it was fair.

Erickson said she was initially surprised by the lawsuit.

However, she said after talking to a friend who is a lawyer, she wasn't surprised the judge ruled the way he did.