Bankruptcy No. 04-02390.
September 27, 2004
ORDER RE MOTION TO DETERMINE OWNERSHIP OF ENGAGEMENT RING
This matter came before the undersigned on September 21, 2004 on the Motion to Determine Ownership of Engagement Ring Listed as Personal Property in Voluntary Petition. Movant Mitchell Albert appeared with Attorney Corey Lorenzen. Debtor did not appear nor anyone on her behalf. After the presentation of evidence and argument, the Court took the matter under advisement. This is a core proceeding pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 157(b)(2)(A).
Movant Mitchell Albert seeks return of an engagement ring he gave Debtor Alysia Marburger. The engagement was broken off prepetition. Mr. Albert asserts he is the rightful owner of the engagement ring. Debtor did not file a response to the motion or appear at the hearing. She listed the engagement ring as personal property with a value of $500 on Schedule B and claimed it exempt. It is undisputed that Mr. Albert gave Debtor the ring in contemplation of marriage.
State law governs the resolution of property rights within a bankruptcy proceeding. Chiu v. Wong, 16 F.3d 306, 309 (8th Cir. 1994). Under Iowa law, an engagement ring given in contemplation of marriage is an impliedly conditional gift. Fierro v. Hoel, 465 N.W.2d 669, 672 (Iowa Ct.App. 1990). It is a completed gift only upon marriage. Id. "If the wedding is called off, for whatever reason, the gift is not capable of becoming a completed gift and must be returned to the donor." Id.
The Court concludes that the engagement ring belongs to Mitchell Albert. Under Iowa law, Debtor must return the ring to Mr. Albert. WHEREFORE, Mitchell Albert is the owner of the engagement ring listed in Debtor's schedules.
FURTHER, Debtor Alysia Marburger shall return the ring to Mitchell Albert on or before October 8, 2004.