Former Buffalo Sabre Matthew Barnaby has settled his lawsuit against his ex-fiancee, reclaiming the $50,000 diamond engagement ring he had given her.
Attorneys in the case said that the out-of-court settlement, agreed to last week, also saw former Miss Buffalo Amber L. Lindke, who broke off her live-in relationship with Barnaby in September, surrendering the title to Barnaby’s Cadillac Escalade.
In exchange, Barnaby paid Lindke $1,000, on top of a $5,000 payment he made to the 25-year-old Lockport woman when they broke up.
Lindke had said she was owed money for work she did on Barnaby’s website, www.mattbarnabyhockey.com.
“My client is reasonably satisfied the matter was resolved and she can get on with her life,” said George V.C. Muscato, her attorney.
“He wasn’t thrilled about having to pay,” said David H. Elibol, Barnaby’s attorney. “It was the practicality of the thing.”
Muscato said Barnaby paid his client $5,000 before the lawsuit was filed Jan. 28 in State Supreme Court in Niagara County. The suit demanded that Lindke return the ring and the vehicle title.
Elibol wouldn’t say why Barnaby paid Lindke $5,000 when they broke up.
“The details of that are really between them,” the lawyer said. “That payment occurred before George and I were even involved in the case.”
He said Lindke never sought money for her work on Barnaby’s website while the couple was together. “The only mention of payment came after the breakup of the relationship,” Elibol said.
“He’s got the ring back, and he got the title to the vehicle. That has value,” Elibol said.
The lawsuit said Barnaby, 39, gave Lindke the title to the Escalade in January 2012, the same month Lindke, a Canisius College graduate now doing marketing in the medical field, moved into Barnaby’s home.
That came in the wake of Barnaby’s conviction for driving while intoxicated the previous month in Clarence Town Court.
The guilty plea was entered eight days after Barnaby’s Dec. 5, 2011, arrest by an Erie County sheriff’s deputy, who said Barnaby was driving a Porsche Cayenne with a missing tire down Main Street.
The arrest cost Barnaby his job as an ESPN hockey analyst; he now coaches local youth hockey.
After Lindke moved out of Barnaby’s Clarence home, the Escalade stayed there, but Lindke held onto the title. The lawsuit said Barnaby had been paying for the insurance on the sport utility vehicle all along.
The case never went before a judge. Under New York law, the person who received an engagement ring is required to give it back if the relationship sours before marriage, regardless of whose actions might have caused the breakup.
The state’s Civil Rights Law allows either party to seek the return of any property transferred in contemplation of marriage, Joanna L. Grossman, a professor of family law at Hofstra University Law School, said in an email to The Buffalo News.
“Proof that the ring was given in honor of a birthday or holiday or for some combination of reasons can rebut the presumption that it must be returned, but most litigants who make this claim lose,” Grossman said.
Lindke told The News in January that Barnaby gave her the ring in June. Barnaby’s lawsuit said it happened in July.
“We settled it. The parties agreed to resolve their differences,” Muscato said. “It never should have gotten to this point.”