Court-Ship Follows Dashed Date for Prom

Originally published May 11, 1989, Sun-Sentinel

He was a high-school basketball star with a bright future. She was a 15-year-old freshman with high hopes for prom night.

But Marlon Shadd didn’t take Tomontra Mangrum to the April 7 formal. So she took him to court.

Shadd is still a Palm Beach Lakes High School student with a bright future. But he is also a defendant in a court claim for $49.53.

On Wednesday, the two high-school students appeared at the Palm Beach County Courthouse, where Mangrum’s mother demanded that the no-show beau pay the cost of the new shoes, the flowers and the hairdo.

“I talked to him on April 2, and he said he already had his tux and the tickets,” said Tomontra Mangrum, a freshman at Berean Christian School. “I was very upset when he didn’t show up.

Shadd, of West Palm Beach, who has signed a letter of intent to play basketball for Kansas State University, said the whole thing is a misunderstanding.

He said a fractured ankle kept him from the prom, and he said he told her so on April 2. Besides, he had to go out of town to see recruiters at the University of South Florida that night.

“I can’t believe this,” he said. “She said she didn’t believe me when I told her I fractured my ankle.”

The whole thing began during a February trip to Orlando, where Palm Beach Lakes faced a regional playoff game. That`s when Shadd asked her out, Tomontra Mangrum said.

He says the word came through a note passed to him one night.

“She said in a note it would make her year if I would ask her to the prom,” said Shadd, 17. “So I asked her.”

That settled, Mangrum’s mother said she immediately began to coordinate the plans with her daughter and Shadd.

She bought a $280 dress — black and white ruffles to match the balloons that would float across the grand ballroom at the Palm Hotel.

On prom night, Shadd never showed up. No phone call, no nothing.

“I called and called and called until I got his mother,” said Valerie Mangrum, of Royal Palm Beach. “She was very upset about this.”

Joan Bryant, Shadd’s mother, says she didn’t speak to Mangrum until April 9, when the woman banged on her front door at 7:30 in the morning.

“I’m sure he wouldn’t have let her down like that,” Bryant said. “I don’t think he owes any money. He told her he fractured his ankle. Why couldn’t she accept that?”

Valerie Mangrum disagreed.

“I have incurred some bills and I felt that he should be responsible,” she said.

After prom night, the dress went back to the store, but the $26 shoes could not be returned. The Mangrums also demanded $23 for the hairdo and 53 cents for flowers in Tomontra’s hair.

Filing the claim cost $31.75, but if the Mangrums win the July trial, Shadd may have to pay that too.

“I don’t think it’s funny,” Bryant said. “Evidently she’s got money and time and I don’t.”

County Judge Howard Berman is taking the case seriously.

“The issue is, was there a valid contract? We had an offer and we had an acceptance,” Berman said. “Could she have gotten another date to the prom?”

After Wednesday’s hearing, Shadd and his mother sat outside the courtroom shaking their heads.

“You should have gone with her,” she said. “She’s a pretty girl.”

Copyright 1989, Sun-Sentinel

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