RIPLEY - A Kanawha County businessman is hoping to salvage a goldmine of gifts he gave to his former fiancee before she sends him further down the shaft.

Donald L. Tate filed suit in Jackson Circuit Court on June 17 against his ex-fiancee, Annetta S. Fields. In his complaint, Tate is seeking a court order for partition of property he and Fields hold joint title, and return of the ring he gave her for their engagement.

According to court records, Tate, 53, of Charleston, purchased 18 acres of land along Spencer Road in Ripley on Dec. 27, 2005. The cost of the property alone was $120,000.

Since then, Tate has invested another $69,000 into the property to pay for such things as closing costs, real estate taxes, insurance and various improvements including a new roof and siding on a building. Though records show the deed to the property was placed under both Tate's and Fields' names, Tate "paid from his separate funds" all the "costs associated with the acquisition and ownership of the subject real estate."

When the property was purchased, Tate and Fields were engaged to be married. However, they broke-off their engagement in May 2008.

Records are unclear as to the reason for the break-up.

Nevertheless, Fields, 44, continues to reside at the property Tate purchased. Despite his requests she do so, Tate alleges that Fields "has paid not rent, no real estate taxes, no insurance premiums, and no cost of improvements to the property."

Likewise, Tate as made repeated demands that Fields return the 3.02-carat diamond solitaire ring he gave her for their engagement. Records show the estimated value of the ring is $29,500.

Since Fields has refused to comply with Tate's requests, he is seeking the court's intervention.

He is asking that the court award him either 100 percent interest in the property, and the improvements he made, or 100 percent of the net proceeds of from any court-ordered sale of the property. Also, Tate believes he's entitled to the market rental rate the time Fields has remained on the property.

Lastly, he's asking the court to order Fields to return the engagement ring, or pay him its fair market value.

Tate is president and CEO of the Fas Chek Supermarket chain. Tate entered the automobile business when he and Mark Porter, owner of Mark Porter GM Supercenter in Pomeroy, Ohio, purchased Tom Peden's GM, Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge dealership in December.

The Tate-Porter Family Automall officially opened for business on Jan. 6. It was not among the dealerships both GM and Chrysler chose to close due to their respective bankruptcies as part of the federal government taking ownership in the companies.

Leah R. Chappell, with the Ripley firm of Adams, Fisher and Chappell, is representing Tate.

The case has been assigned to Judge Thomas C. Evans III.

Jackson Circuit Court Case No. 09-C-73

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