Ok, I plead guilty to not being a “tort reformer”. I generally do NOT support eliminating or even reducing the rights of the seriously injured to recover compensation, including for pain and suffering, from “tortfeasors”, that is, those who injured them through wrongdoing, negligence or carelessness. That being said, I think the State of North Carolina needs a little tort reform.
The local newspapers have been reporting on a curious case of a Wells College dean (Aurora, New York) who was sued by the spurned wife of the man she now resides with. The heartbroken cast-off convinced a North Carolina jury to award her $9 million for her loss (must have been quite a man!). It probably didn’t help that the alleged husband-thief missed the trial (she says she was not notified in time). Now the temptress is asking the judge to toss out the verdict.
Could this happen in New York? No. But it could have happened before 1935, which is the year New York, like almost every other state in the Union, abandoned the archaic “alienation of affection” tort, which allowed a deserted spouse to sue his or her adulterous spouse’s lover to recover damages.
Divorce is bad enough, but allowing the spurned spouse to sue the interloper for damages just adds insult to injury and prolongs the pain and turmoil. As a leading North Carolina lawyer has said, “an alienation-of-affection case just polarizes everyone and devastates everything in its path including the children and both spouses. The world has changed. Women are no longer viewed as property. Alienation-of-affection is something that dates way, way back, and if there was ever a law that needed to be removed, this is it.”
Amen to that. Come see me with your car accident case, your dog bite case, your medical malpractice case, your construction accident case, or whatever personal injury or accident case you might have, but please don’t come to me with your “she ran off with my husband” case!