September 9, 2010

A woman gets $5.8 million in damages from the woman who stole her husband.

It's the tort called "alienation of affection" — and it worked in North Carolina.
"If you want to have an affair, you need to choose someone who doesn’t reside in North Carolina to have it with because you are going, you’re gonna’ open yourself up to a liability if you do so."

52 comments:

kentuckyliz said...

Is anyone thinking about Elizabeth Edwards?

Trooper York said...

The only worse place for adultery is Arizona where they passed a new law against the Illegal Alienation of affection.

The cops can stop you and ask if you are screwing around.

You can look it up.

Synova said...

Honestly?

In order to sue this way the person suing has to more or less prove that it was intentional, that the other woman really did set out on purpose to get the husband.

Because divorce is so damaging to a person financially, and because marriage is (for better or worse) a public commitment involving the state, I think that both the injured party and the state have a legitimate interest in seeing some sort of measure in place to discourage the deliberate sabotage of a marriage by an outside party.

But then... I'm all in favor of finding "fault" in divorces. Unless both parties go out of their way to present their parting as amiable, someone is getting their life screwed over by someone else and it really ought to matter who is doing the screwing.

peter hoh said...

We'll see if those pro-adultery activist judges manage to throw out the judgment on appeal and overturn the law, just like they did in Missouri back in 2003.

Seven Machos said...

Good luck collecting.

ChasMartel said...

Wyoming statutes, section 1-23-101 provides:

The rights of action to recover money as damage for the alienation of affections, criminal conversation, seduction or breach of contract to marry are abolished. No act done in this state shall give rise, either in or out of this state, to any of the rights of action abolished. No contract to marry made in this state shall give rise, either in or out of this state, to any right of action for the breach thereof.

Wyoming statutes, section 1-23-104 provides:

Any person who violates any of the provisions of W.S. 1-23-102 or 1-23-103, is guilty of a felony punishable by a fine of not less than one thousand dollars ($1,000.00) nor more than five thousand dollars ($5,000.00), or by imprisonment for a term of not less than one (1) year nor more than five (5) years, or both.

Seven Machos said...

Chas -- What's 102 and 103?

Emil said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
commoncents said...

GREAT POST!

I like your blog and will be back!

Steve
Common Cents
http://www.commoncts.blogspot.com

Revenant said...

This seems like a silly law.

I can understand being able to sue the husband. He was party to a contract (the marriage) which he violated. But the other woman never promised not to sleep with HIM.

rhhardin said...

The tort of hearts.

Terrye said...

I don't know about this. Think of the con...find someone with money, have an affair with them and then your "spouse" sues them for a lot of money...might work.

There is such a thing as free will, and if the woman wants to go after her husband fine and dandy, maybe he should sue her for being a lousy wife. Once this suing thing gets started it is hard to stop because just about everyone sees himself or herself as a victim at one time or another.

yashu said...

What Revenant said, precisely.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Hey someone farted downwind from me and I was yawning. Can I sue?

Sorry but the legal profession in this country is a joke.

Synova said...

"...everyone sees himself or herself as a victim at one time or another."

Which means that no one is a victim?

Follow that logic through.

traditionalguy said...

The law has the history of providing a writ to redress injustices, but also forbidding private retaliation. The extreme damage intentionally done to the innocent spouse by a scheming outsider demands a severe RETALIATION. If this is not a court issue, then what is? By accepting these cases the law does its job of preventing private retaliation. Think of it as a step up from allowing slow physical torture of the offender.

shoutingthomas said...

Too many lawyers. Too many judges.

They got a lot of time on their hands.

Lucrative business, isn't it?

Pogo said...

Apparently the case was won when author Erica Jong testified that this was not a zipless fuck.

Sixty Grit said...

It's a good law. It focuses one's mind.

WV: fanti - stopping short of becoming a fantasy.

Lucien said...

As I recall details of the case (HT Volokh Conspiracy)it was a default (or close to) by the defendant.

MadisonMan said...

I wonder about the history of such a law. What compelled the Legislature to think it was a good idea?

And what Revenant said at 3:51.

Jason said...

I think in the absence of alienation of affection remedies they should legalize dueling.

traditionalguy said...

Madison Man...Ask the Crack Emcee about the damage done by the seduction of a married person for profit. Today the law in many states has progressed to intentional efforts to encourage divorce so that easy money can be made off the wrecked and defenseless persons, much as a pirate's booty can bes shared among the crew. If Piracy is another exciting local business, as it is in Somalia, then by all means also change your state's traditional legal restraints on piracy while you are at it.

Clyde said...

I'm guessing that's far more satisfying to her than keying his pickup truck and slashing his tires.

WV: messe. I think that says it all!

bagoh20 said...

If marriage conveys ownership of your spouse's affection, can you sue your own spouse for withholding it? How about suing the porn sites for this?

Fred4Pres said...

kentuckyliz, that was my first thought. Followed by karma.

bagoh20 said...

If a hungry dog shows up at your door, and you feed him, it's not your fault he ran away from his first home.

Pogo said...

Elizabeth Edwards would have to sue J. E., much as he was mainly in love with himself.

Michael said...

Machos:

1-23-102 makes any contracts purporting to satisfy any of the causes of action abolished in 1-23-101 void and makes it unlawful to cause anyone to execute such a contract or attempt to commence a proceeding to enforce such a contract.

1-23-103 makes it unlawful to file a pleading or make service of process for any of the abolished causes of action.

So 1-23-104 provides a penalty essentially for attempting to recover by contract or legal action any of the causes of actions abolished by 1-23-101.

Oh, and it applies not only to parties but to their lawyers too.

holdfast said...

This is one of the torts they teach in First Year Torts, but claim that you'll never see in real life. I guess "they" were wrong (sorry Dean Blom).

John said...

Maybe if this woman had lost some weight and put out a little more often, her husband wouldn't have been screwing around. That sounds harsh. But who is to say this woman isn't a shrew and just as at fault as the other woman. It is just the kind of personal matter courts are not equipped to deal with. It is a stupid tort. I am really starting to think that the government needs to get out of the marriage sanctioning business altogether.

Republican said...

Are any of you aware that the defendant was BFF with the wife? Who was pregnant? Who invited the BFF to come stay and help decorate the nursery for the new baby?

You think the wife was a "lousy" wife, who needed to lose a few pounds or put out more? (You mean lose a few pounds by delivering the baby she was knocked up with from putting out?)

The BFF is not innocent. She made a choice along with the betraying immoral spouse, to screw each other.

#Idiots

Joe said...

From the article "The 45-year-old radiologist launched a legal case to reclaim $5.8m (£3.7m), a sum based on the amount of money she would have earned if she had remained married to her husband."

Huh?

John said...

Republican

That is what you say. You don't know anything more than anyone else. It is none of yours or my business. And it is just the kind of personal conflict that has no place in the courts. If the other woman is guilty, she can answer to God for her actions. I don't see where you or I or some judge is in any position to judge any of the people involved in this.

I would advise you to pray and look to God for your moral values. And stop praying to government. The government isn't going to save man or his soul. God will. The government needs to stay out of it.

ChasMartel said...

This is known in the trade as a "Heart Balm" action. And as pointed out above, it is a felony for a person and their lawyer to file such a suit in Wyoming.

I'm wondering how many other states have made these actions illegal, or at least abolished them?

bagoh20 said...

The only one who broke a contract was the husband. The defendant, as a friend, was an ass, but what are friends for?

AST said...

This is an old old tort. It had a good reason for existence, in that destablizing marriages and families of others can have devastating consequences. We seem to have decided somewhere along the way that personal impulses are more important than the good of society, in favor of the "open marriage" model.

If people would be responsible on their own, we wouldn't need laws, but they won't and we do.

wv: marig - it may be misspelled, but its still worth saving.

jamboree said...

@John God's not going to do shit about this. Marriage is a contract and it belongs in the secular courts as any other broken contract would. "Wait for the afterlife" is your solution for damages to the spouse? Are you fucking kidding me?

John said...

jambore,

Marriage is not a contract. It is a solemn vow before God between two people. To reduce it to a "contract" is to reduce it to nothing more than a business transaction. The state has no business being in marriages. And the state has no business making moral judgment on whether the wife or the girlfried or the husband is more at fault.

There is nothing lower on earth than government worshiping Christians. It is not just render unto Caesar people. It is render unto God as well. Expecting the courts to sort our your moral life or inflict your morality on everyone else is the road to hell.

Freeman Hunt said...

If we're going to have state-sanctioned marriage, this is logical. It's not just a contract between the two spouses but between the spouses and the state. The state is enforcing that these people are set apart in marriage and are not available.

It's possible to get married without the state involved. That would be a contract just between the two spouses.

John said...

"Wait for the afterlife" is your solution for damages to the spouse? Are you fucking kidding me?"

Are you fucking kidding me? You immoral statist pig. Who the hell is the state to determine what is moral and immoral? If you think it is wonderful for the state to do that when they are enforcing your morality, you better be ready to bend over when it starts enforcing other morality you don't like. It is called selling the rope.

Freeman Hunt said...

Or, as John describes, between the two spouses and God.

John said...

"The state is enforcing that these people are set apart in marriage and are not available."

Then why shouldn't adultery be a crime or at least a fineable civil offense? It has been in a lot of history. Do you really want to go down that road Freeman? I don't think you do. I certainly don't want the state playing moral police because I in no way trust it to enforce the right morals or do anything but rough, authoritarian justice.

John said...

"The state is enforcing that these people are set apart in marriage and are not available."

Then why isn't adultery a crime or at least a finable offense? Do you really want to go down that road Freeman? I don't. I don't trust the state to enforce morals because it is incapable of enforcing the right morals. And it certainly doesn't do justice beyond a rough authoritarian way.

Freeman Hunt said...

Then why isn't adultery a crime or at least a finable offense?

If you're going to have state-sanctioned marriage, it probably should be.

Note that I haven't expressed support for state-sanctioned marriage in this thread. I'm undecided on it.

peter hoh said...

Adultery used to be against the law.

One hundred years ago, at least some states had laws that prevented divorced spouses from marrying their affair partners.

Synova said...

"Maybe if this woman had lost some weight and put out a little more often, her husband wouldn't have been screwing around."

She was pregnant.

Undoubtedly because she doesn't put out.

"That sounds harsh."

I wonder why.

She had to show in court that her marriage was "good" before her "friend" came to help her get ready for the baby. "She's fat and refuses sex" would mean that she couldn't show that her marriage was good.

Synova said...

"And it is just the kind of personal conflict that has no place in the courts. If the other woman is guilty, she can answer to God for her actions."

No personal conflicts in courts? Excuse me? Answer to God? For destroying someone's life in the here and now? For denying a baby an intact family as it entered the world? For the negative financial impact guaranteed by a divorce?

Tradguy had it right you know. People are denied personal and direct retribution and in exchange for the promise that the state will do it for them.

Synova said...

I certainly expected to have a minority opinion on this, but wow.

Talk about anger.

If it's so vile, so horrible, so evil to even so much as accept that one person can screw over another person... just wow.

Divorces destroy lives and are probably the number one cause of poverty (as well as women and children ending up on welfare... which does make it an issue for the state) and we don't CARE anymore who screwed over who, who cheated, who broke the contract between the two people (ignoring the state and god, for the moment).

In what other contract does it not matter who violated it?

And I suppose some people are thinking, oh Synova, she's on about this because of personal experience and she hates the other woman. I've been married for more than 23 years. And what I think is that someone has been excusing their own actions and making excuses instead of admitting fault and having someone say that fault matters makes them feel bad inside... because being in "Love" makes it A-okay to destroy someone else's life.

peter hoh said...

Synova, Freeman, et al, if you're interested in a blog where the focus is on marriage and family, let me suggest http://familyscholars.org/

Seven Machos said...

Divorce is not a cause of poverty. But it's definitely associated with poverty. It's also associated with troubled kids.

M. Simon said...

Marriage has been a contract in Jewish law for over 500 years (maybe longer).

To get married by a Rabbi you have to have a contract. Even if it is a standard "preprinted" one.

Ketubah