Money can’t buy Mario Williams love, but it can sure buy huge diamonds — and plenty of lawyers.
Shortly before signing the most lucrative contract ever awarded to a NFL defensive player (6-years, $100 million), Williams proposed to long-time girlfriend Erin Marzouki on February 20, 2012. The custom, platinum engagement ring from Valobra Master Jewelers weighed in at a whopping 10.04 carats for a total of $785,000.
The engagement, however, lasted less than a year as the couple called off wedding plans in January. Now, Williams is suing Marzouki in the District Court of Harris County, Texas to get the ring back (full text of the lawsuit is below).
Specifically, Williams (who is represented by Monica Orlando) is seeking injunctive relief to prevent Marzouki from transferring or disposing of the ring. He is also accusing Marzouki of the tort of conversion, common law fraud, promissory estoppel, and theft.
Marzouki has responded with a lawsuit of her own accusing Williams of harassing her with a frivolous lawsuit. Her lawyer, Tony Buzbee, maintains that Williams has stated on numerous occasions that he wants Marzouki to keep the ring.
Buzbee also warned that “This is a stupid lawsuit because it has no legal merit, and it’s a stupid lawsuit because it’s not going to be good for his career,” Buzbee said. “(Williams) is a victim of his emotions and of bad legal advice. What he’s done is kick an anthill, and you know what happens when you kick an anthill.”
Both parties are scheduled to appear before District Judge Larry Weiman on Friday. So before Judge Weiman begins evaluating the case, we dug into Texas law to see just who might prevail. Unfortunately for Marzouki, the NFL’s richest defender is about to get a lot richer when he wins his lawsuit.
The Texas Appellate Court held in 2003 that “a gift to a person to whom the donor is engaged to be married, made in contemplation of marriage, although absolute in form, is conditional; and on breach of the marriage engagement by the donee the property may be recovered by the donor.” Curtis v. Anderson, 106 S.W.3d 251, 255 (Tex. App. Austin 2003). In Curtis, the court held that because it was the donor’s fault that the marriage did not come to fruition the donor could not recover the engagement ring. Unlike Curtis, in Williams’ case, it was not his fault that the marriage did not occur — or so he claims. As long as Williams can prove that it was Marzouki who ended the engagement, then he is entitled to the ring or Marzouki would be in breach of contract under the conditional-gift rule under Texas law.
Ultimately, Williams better hope his cold feet are not obvious to the judge or he will be out an icy $785,000.