The plaintiff and defendant were married on August 6, 1944. Shortly thereafter, on November 9, 1944, the plaintiff and defendant were involved in a car accident due to gross negligence on the part of the defendant, who owned and operated the vehicle. The following year, on June 28, 1945 the plaintiff petitioned the court for an annulment of marriage. The marriage was declared “null and void” (218) by the Probate Court. Two months following the annulment the plaintiff filed “action of tort (219) to collect for injuries incurred during the car accident.
As per the plaintiff and defendants request, the case was moved to the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts without judgment, with instructions as to judgment. Following the directions for ruling, verdict was given in favor of the defendant.
Source/Rule of Law:
When a tort is committed upon one another during the time a marriage is valid no cause of action can be taken once the marriage is dissolved or voided.
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Whether the defendant is liable for monetary compensation of injuries sustained by the plaintiff which requires that the defendant’s marriage to the plaintiff be considered void at the time in which the accident occurred and that annulment allows for tort action to be brought before the court when an annulment has taken place after the accident has taken place.
No, the defendant should not be held liable for the injury caused to the plaintiff as a result of a car accident during their marriage after the marriage has been annulled.
The court finds that though the marriage was annulled, and thus never happened, things that happened within the marriage cannot be erased. The court cites several cases of importance one of which is Dodworth v. Dale, 2 K.B. 503 (1936), in which the court states “that what has been done during the continuance of the de facto marriage cannot be undone- cannot be overturned by the operation of law” (221). Things that occurred during the voided marriage cannot be undone and as such, should not be brought back up whether the marriage was ended in divorce or annulment.