Bride sues ex-fiancé for allegedly breaching promise to marry

Bride sues ex-fiancé for allegedly breaching promise to marry

Kenyon Wallace Toronto Star

It was supposed to be a storybook wedding.

The flowers were ordered. The band and banquet hall were booked. The bridesmaids and flower girls had their dresses.

Love was in the air.

Then it all came crumbling down when Lauren Serafin says she discovered that her fiancé, Robert Leighton, had an alleged one-night stand with a woman during his bachelor party in Las Vegas just a month before the wedding date.

Now Serafin has filed a legal complaint against her ex-husband-to-be for breach of promise to marry and infliction of emotional distress in a case that will no doubt be a lesson to would-be philanderers that what happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas.

According to court documents, Serafin claims that Leighton and several of his male co-workers, friends and family members headed to Las Vegas about a month before the couple’s planned Aug. 21, 2010, wedding.

Serafin alleges it was there that her ex-fiancé met a woman named “Danielle” at a night club, where the two engaged in “amorous acts in public, including, but not limited to, kissing, dancing and other physical contact.”

Leighton and the woman then left the night club and went to his hotel room, where, the suit alleges, they engaged in sexual intercourse while Leighton’s pals were present in the adjoining room.

“[Leighton] had met Danielle less than twenty four hours prior to engaging in sexual intercourse with her,” Serafin alleges in her complaint at law filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County in Illinois this month.

Serafin is a labour lawyer at the Chicago law firm Hennessy & Roach. Leighton is also a lawyer and practises intellectual property law at the firm Sidley Austin.

Serafin and her lawyer, Enrico Mirabelli, did not respond to interview requests from the Star. Calls and emails to Leighton were not returned.

None of the allegations has been proven in court.

Serafin says it wasn’t until 10 days after Leighton had returned home that she learned of her ex-fiancé’s alleged indiscretion when she discovered text messages on Leighton’s cellphone from Danielle suggesting that “something happened” in Las Vegas.

When confronted by Serafin, Leighton denied that anything happened between himself and Danielle, the suit claims, “seemingly believing that ‘what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas’.”

After further pressing by Serafin, however, Leighton allegedly admitted he knew the other woman and that they had “made out,” but denied having sexual intercourse with her. Leighton then told Serafin he had no intention of marrying her anymore, and moved out, according to court documents.

Leighton eventually admitted that he “hooked up” with Danielle in Las Vegas, the suit alleges, and blamed Serafin for his actions.

Serafin says she continues to suffer “severe emotional distress,” including depression and humiliation, brought on in part by having to break the news to all her family and friends that the wedding was being called off.

Serafin also says Leighton “knew or should have known the possibility of transmitting a sexually transmitted disease” to her. She does not claim to have contracted any STD.

She is now seeking nearly $63,000 in damages to recoup the costs of planning the wedding, including her dress and veil, flowers, invitations, dresses and gifts for her bridesmaids and a catering order with the Ritz-Carlton Chicago.

She is also asking the court for “other relief,” a legal term for more money to compensate her for emotional distress.

“What she’s trying to do here is not only get actual damages, but something for the pain and suffering her former partner allegedly caused her,” Linda Lea Viken, president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, told the Star from her office in South Dakota. “Logically, that could be a doubling or tripling of the actual damages.”

Serafin and Leighton became engaged in July 2009 and were expecting 170 people to attend the wedding, according to Serafin’s claim.

Karen Stewart, president and CEO of Fairway Divorce Solutions, a Calgary-based company specializing in alternative divorce mediation, said she believes Serafin should not view herself as the victim and agree to split the cost of the wedding preparations with Leighton.

“In every single relationship that’s not totally right, there are yellow flags, but we tend to ignore them,” Stewart told the Star.

“She should be thanking her lucky stars. She could have married him. For $30,000, that’s a pretty cheap life lesson.”

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