Wassmer v. Velez (G.R. No. L-20089)

Facts:

Plaintiff Beatriz Wassmer and defendant Francisco Velez decided to get married. Two days before the wedding date, Francisco left a note for his bride-to-be saying that the wedding have to be postponed because his mother disapproves of it, and he will be leaving. The next day, he sent a telegram saying that he will be returning soon, but Francisco never appeared nor was he heard from again. Beatriz sued for damages and the court ordered defendant to pay damages. On appeal, Francisco asserted that he cannot be held liable from an action for breach of promise to marry.

Issue:

Whether or not defendant may be held liable.

Ruling: YES.

It must not be overlooked, however, that the extent to which acts not contrary to law may be perpetrated with impunity, is not limitless for Article 21 of said Code provides that “any person who wilfully causes loss or injury to another in a manner that is contrary to morals, good customs or public policy shall compensate the latter for the damage.”

Surely this is not a case of mere breach of promise to marry. As stated, mere breach of promise to marry is not an actionable wrong. But to formally set a wedding and go through all the preparation and publicity, only to walk out of it when the matrimony is about to be solemnized, is quite different. This is palpably and unjustifiably contrary to good customs for which defendant must be held answerable in damages in accordance with Article 21 aforesaid.

The record reveals that plaintiff and defendant applied for a license to contract marriage, which was subsequently issued. Their wedding was set. Invitations were printed and distributed to relatives, friends and acquaintances. The bride-to-be’s trousseau, party dresses and other apparel for the important occasion were purchased. Dresses for the maid of honor and the flower girl were prepared. A matrimonial bed, with accessories, was bought. Bridal showers were given and gifts received. And then, with but two days before the wedding, defendant, who was then 28 years old, simply left a note for plaintiff stating: “Will have to postpone wedding — My mother opposes it…“ He enplaned to his home city in Mindanao, and the next day, the day before the wedding, he wired plaintiff: “Nothing changed rest assured returning soon.” But he never returned and was never heard from again.

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