When someone sues you, that person usually wants money. But not always. In a recent divorce case, Richard Batista, a New York surgeon has asked his estranged wife to return, of all things, the kidney he donated to her in 2001.
Unfortunately for Dr. Batista, he probably won’t get his kidney back. In a rare display of judicial restraint, courts in New York haven’t generally enforced these types of claims. It’s not because the judges aren’t willing to do so. It’s because of the near-impossibility of placing a value on a kidney or other body part. And, at least in New York, your spouse’s kidney apparently isn’t considered a “marital assets” subject to division.
Dr. Batista should perhaps have known better. He admits that one of the reasons he donated his kidney was to save his troubled marriage. Unfortunately, it didn’t work: his wife not only survived, but sued for divorce in 2005.
If there’s a moral here, it’s that someone who sues you can ask for just about anything. He or she might not get it, but you still have to spend time and effort defending yourself in court against even the most frivolous claims. Hopefully Mrs. Batista—and her estranged husband—both have good asset protection plans in place.
Copyright © 2009 by Mark Nestmann
(An earlier version of this post was published by The Sovereign Society.)