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Spouse Cheated? There's an $8.8M Cause of Action for That

By William Vogeler, Esq. | Last updated on

Alienation of affection is a holdover from another era, before chivalry and duels died.

How old is it? Like Alexander Hamilton v. Aaron Burr old, but that was "an affair of honor."

Alienation of affection is the other kind of affair. Like when you want to shoot somebody in the groin, but instead you get to sue their pants off.

Criminal Conversation

Here's what happened in North Carolina, one of a handful of states that still recognize claims for alienation of affection and criminal conversation -- a euphemism for extramarital sex. Keith King exercised his rights there against Francisco Huizar.

According to reports, Huizar had been "seeing" King's wife for 16 months. It got legal when his wife, Danielle Swords, left him and the company they ran together.

The split cost King about $2.2 million in actual damages, he alleged, and the judge gave it to him. Then the judge spanked Huizar with another $6.6 million in punitives for being a dictator.

Not really, just saying that Huizar paid for his behavior. Not only did he take King's wife, he tried to choke out King in a gunless duel.

Gunless Duel

Cheri Patrick, the defendant's lawyer, said Huizar didn't break up the marriage because it was already over. Patrick also blamed the law.

"The alienation of affections law in North Carolina is archaic, demeans the obligations of spouses in a marriage, and should be stricken," she told CNN.

Patrick is appealing, legally speaking, but it won't help anybody caught in the act in other states. Hawaii, Mississippi, New Mexico, South Dakota and Utah also have laws against "seeing" spouses outside of marriage.

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