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Thomas v. LaRosa

400 S.E.2d 809 (1990)

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Thomas v. LaRosa

West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals

400 S.E.2d 809 (1990)

Facts

In 1981, Karen J. Thomas (plaintiff) and James D. LaRosa (defendant) agreed to live as husband and wife. LaRosa was unable to legally marry because he had never obtained a divorce following the deterioration of his previous marriage. In 1984, LaRosa wanted to relocate from West Virginia to Georgia for business opportunities. LaRosa told Thomas that he would financially support her and her three daughters for the rest of their lives if she moved with him; provided him services as a companion, confidante, and housekeeper; and assisted him with his business opportunities. Thomas agreed to LaRosa’s offer. Thomas, her three daughters, and LaRosa all relocated to Georgia and lived together in a house that Thomas and LaRosa bought. Throughout the relationship, Thomas helped LaRosa by serving as a sounding board for various business opportunities and accompanied him on business trips. LaRosa continued to financially support Thomas and the three daughters. LaRosa provided Thomas with $3,000 per month and took care of the household expenses. However, by 1998, the relationship between Thomas and LaRosa deteriorated. LaRosa then refused to continue providing Thomas and her daughters with financial support. In response, Thomas filed suit against LaRosa to enforce the agreement, which Thomas claimed to be an oral contract. Thomas argued that LaRosa entered the contract not for a sexual or meretricious relationship but because of the business-related services she was able to offer. The circuit court held that the agreement was not for business-consulting services and was not enforceable. The question of whether the agreement was enforceable was then certified to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals for review.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Neely, C.J.)

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