Justinian C. Lane, Esq.
Let Justice Be Done, Though the Heavens May Fall
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Justinian Lane's Blog

Justinian's Blog

In support of “alienation of affection” lawsuits

Longtime readers of my blog won’t be surprised to know that I support another type of tort lawsuit:

A minority of states, including Mississippi, North Carolina, South Dakota, and Utah, still recognize a cause of action for alienation of affections against any person who wrongfully interferes with a person's marriage, thereby causing that person to lose his or her spouse’s affection. Lest you think these causes of action are a thing of the past, this past August, the Mississippi Supreme Court upheld a $1.5 million verdict against an attorney who had an affair with his client’s wife. The plaintiff, who had hired the attorney in connection with a medical malpractice case, prevailed on his claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress, breach of contract, and alienation of affections. Further, even after abolishing the tort of alienation of affections, some states, including California, Connecticut, Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Oregon, and Virginia, have allowed claims arising from an extramarital affair to be brought against certain professionals, including attorneys, psychiatrists/psychologists, and clergymen providing marital counseling services, on a theory of intentional infliction of emotional distress, professional malpractice, negligent counseling, and breach of fiduciary duty. For example, eight years after abolishing the tort of alienation of affections, the Kentucky Supreme Court upheld a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress against a priest who had an affair with the plaintiff’s wife to whom the priest was supposedly providing marriage counseling.

Source: Concurring Opinions

Honestly, I don’t see why we can’t allow these types of lawsuits.  I’d make it a strict liability offense and base it on the laws of trespass.  Yeah, I know it’s kind of an old-fashioned worldview to see a spouse as property, but we do say “my husband,” and “my wife.”