Christine M. Moore was loved and left.
Not one to let it go at that, she responded in a novel way: she sued her ex-boyfriend, Miles Benson, for $12,500 in damages for what her lawyer called a breach of a "quasi-contract."
Yesterday, her challenge to the presumption that all's fair in love withstood its first test in court. But the victory may be short-lived.
Fairfax Circuit Court Judge Quinlan H. Hancock refused to summarily dismiss the lawsuit, but he told Moore's lawyer, Karl Sorg: "I don't mean to be flippant, Sir, but you just slipped by this time by the hair of your chinny chin chin.
"I'm afraid to tell you," the judge said, "that I don't believe this type of action can stand up."
Neither Moore, 35, nor Benson, 45, a reporter for the Newhouse National News Service, was in court yesterday.
In court papers, Moore said she moved into Benson's Falls Church home amidst "vows of love and affection" and his promises to support her and provide her with a place to live. Relying on that promise, she contends, she surrendered the lease on her apartment and moved to his home last December.
Then she went on vacation to Florida and when she returned several weeks later, she said, Benson had married someone else and ejected her.
Her suit seeks recompense not for a broken heart, but for damages she said she suffered as a result of relying on his promise to provide her a place to live.
"We're simply asking for the relief that would be available to her no matter what sex she was, no matter what her relationship to him," Sorg said in court yesterday.
Benson's attorney, Joanne F. Alper, sought the dismissal yesterday based on the argument that any "quasi-contract" between the couple was illegal because cohabitation and premarital sex were illegal in Virginia at the time. "An illegal contract is unenforceable," said Alper.
(Both laws forbidding premarital sexual activity have since been declared unconstitutional, but the issue is before an appeals court.)
The court papers make no mention of any sexual relationship, which was why Hancock yesterday declined to dismiss the suit. The judge said that if any such evidence is submitted: "I think a motion for summary judgment dismissal will be in order."