Heartbalm Statutes and Deceit Actions

This Note considers whether actions in deceit based on fraudulent marriage promises should be deemed barred by the heartbalm statutes. It determines that they should not. Part I examines the policies and arguments against the common law breach of promise to marry action that are embodied in the heartbalm statutes and looks at the limits courts have placed on the reach of the statutes. Part II re-examines the deceit action in light of the purposes of the heartbalm acts and their intended scope, as well as in light of criticism of the action by the courts and commentators. In particular, Part II focuses on limiting damages under the deceit action and curbing its potential for abuse. If the action is properly circumscribed, it can provide a needed remedy without disturbing the policies that underlie the heartbalm acts.