Alienation of Affection Still Alive and Well in #Mississippi

Alienation of affection lawsuits are the subject of considerable debate in Mississippi.  Philip Thomas has blogged a number of times about the subject and advocates abolition of the tort.

SB2376 in the Mississippi Senate was proposed to do just that, but died in Committee this week.

Personally, I am in favor of allowing injured persons the right to hold those responsible for wrecking their marriage accountable.

The purpose of the tort of alienation of affections is the protection of the love, society, companionship, and comfort that form the foundation of marriage . . . . Permitting claims for alienation of affections protects the marriage relationship and provides a remedy to those who have suffered loss of consortium as a result of the conduct of others.

Knight v. Woodfield, 50 So. 3d 995 (Miss. 2011).

As noted by Philip Thomas, plaintiffs in these cases had a 6-0 trial record last year.  I was actually shocked to see that six cases went to trial because depending on the facts and the financial wealth of the defendant, the verdicts in these cases can be substantial.

About randywallace
I am a husband, father, attorney, outdoorsman and cook.

12 Responses to Alienation of Affection Still Alive and Well in #Mississippi

  1. Knowing that you have quite a sense of humor makes this a little hard to understand. Really?

  2. James says:

    SB 2376.

  3. Pingback: Alienation of Affection Cause of Action Survives Legislative Challenge | Mississippi Litigation Review & Commentary

  4. KNH says:

    I am glad they are still alive and well in Mississipi. I told my husband’s girlfriend I was going to sue her for same in 2005 wheb i found out about the affair they conducted in my home. But alas, I am in Ohio. When the second girlfriend came along I sued my husband for marital misconduct and it appears I will have enough money to live with all the heartbreak and loss of ten years of my life due to the stress of my husband’s adultery. Adultery is horrific and my husband sucks on every level.

  5. Bob Wolford says:

    Got to disagree with the good lawyer on this one- “Permitting claims for alienation of affections protects the marriage relationship and provides a remedy to those who have suffered loss of consortium as a result of the conduct of others.” Bovine excrement. The only legitimate scenario that I can see for this cause of action is when a young couple in their, say, 30’s are reasonably happily married and the wife, perhaps through her employment as a school teacher, meets the father of one of her students for a parent teacher conference. The father happens to be a wealthy professional (doctor, lawyer, entrepreneur, whatever), and is immediately infatuated with the young wife/school teacher and pursues her. The young wife, tired of the fights with her husband over family finances and their inability to do “fun things” like other couples seemingly do on an annual basis, decides that this 50 something year old is her ticket out, so she acts on the 50 something year old’s advances and leaves her husband of 10 years for the wealthy 50 something year old and immediately enjoys a 4,000 square foot home, a nice new SUV, trips to San Destin and season tickets to Ole Miss football games and time in the Grove. Meanwhile, the husband is left with a divorce on the grounds of adultery wondering what he did wrong. In that scenario, I can see an A of A action against the 50 something year old new husband, but what is that going to accomplish? A big fat check payable to the ex-husband, more resentment and hate from his ex-wife? The damage has been done, no amount of money is going to turn that around. The young wife was tempted away from her husband- it was HER decision to act on the advances of the 50 something year old.

    Now, I don’t mean to imply that women are weak minded and incapable of fidelity to their husband when a sugar daddy comes along- this scenario goes both ways: the husband in an otherwise happy marriage with no financial strains (take the 50 something year old above) with his 50 something year old wife who strives to be a good wife, mother to her high school age children and maintain an attractive physical appearance by going to the gym. The wife is also active in the community and her local church. In short, an excellent, loving wife and mother. All of a sudden, 50 something year old husband happens to meet a 30 something year old who happens to be an associate attorney at the law firm that is handling some legal business on the husband’s behalf. The 30 something year old flatters the 50 something year old with her flirting, and the 50 something year old pursues the 30 something year old and ultimately leaves a note on the kitchen counter explaining to his 50 something year old wife that he is no longer happy, no longer in love with her, etc., and that he just wants out of the marriage. Same thing as above- 50 something year old wife may have a claim of A of A against the 30 something year old associate. But remember, in both scenarios, it was the offending spouse who acted on the desire to leave the marriage and made the conscious decision to do so, however blinded by sex and/or money they may have been at the time. Again, in this scenario, the damage has been done- a judgment against the 30 something year old associate attorney is not going to reconcile the marriage between the 50 something year old ex-husband and his wife. It will, however, increase the resentment, hate and anger that the 50 something year old man and 30 something year old associate feel toward the 50 something year old ex-wife, who by this point has probably found somebody else and is now happily married.

    Okay, that’s my rant on alienation of affections.

    • randywallace says:

      Age of the parties isn’t much of a factor. Contributing to the demise of someone else’s marriage is. The MSSC in Fitch said “Alienation of affections is the only available avenue to provide redress for a spouse who has suffered loss and injury to his or her marital relationship against the third party who, through persuasion, enticement, or inducement, caused or contributed to the abandonment of the marriage and/or the loss of affections by active interference.”

      The jury in these cases is typically instructed that in order to find for the plaintiff it must be shown: (1) the defendant’s conduct was wrongful, (2) there was a loss of consortium by the plaintiff, and (3) the defendant’s conduct must be the cause of the loss of consortium.

      I don’t doubt there have been cases where a spouse was the instigator in the adulterous relationship and the jury has skipped over the third prong in finding for the plaintiff. However, I wouldn’t do away with a entire cause of action on that basis. We have appellate courts to fix jury errors.

      Provided it is timely filed within the one year SOL, a count for IIED is typically much harder to defend than alienation of affections.

      • Bob Wolford says:

        There are arguments on both sides, that’s for sure, and I understand your point about CoA or SC remedying a jury mistake. Seems to me that if an appellate court is going to throw out a jury verdict, they tend to do so on the basis of an erroneous instruction, not that the jury reached the wrong decision on the facts. And even then, your looking at a reverse/remand for new trial. Even assuming the CoA or SC tosses a verdict for AoA, the costs incurred by the appellant, to that point, are staggering and just as penalizing.

      • allthingsdivorce says:

        I will be a serious impediment to my husband’s post marital bliss. I read that description of spousal support in an online rant against alimony. I won lifetime alimony and I deserve it and I even have a thriving business in which I can totally support my current lifestyle. I no longer have a home and live above my business, but is a consequence of my husband’s adultery. I no longer want or need a home, an apartment is just fine after all the adultery that went on in my home and all the women that were entertained there. Forget it. I can’t even stomach the thought. So I surely wish alienation of affection were available to sue for in Ohio. I would win even bigger. And my spousal support is going into a fund that someday is going to do some good. I just don’t know what yet, but it will be for good.

  6. Bob Wolford says:

    allthingsdivorce- you just made my point about why alienation of affections should be done away with or at least seriously curtailed. You sound like a woman scorned who merely wants to continually punish your ex-husband, who by your own admission is apparently on the hook to pay you lifetime alimony despite your lack of need for such. Want some ideas on what to do with you ex-husband’s money? Here’s an idea- local humane society or battered women’s shelter or women/children’s advocacy group. What are you waiting for? Do some good now, something you can actually see and be a part of, move on with your life, and forget your ex-husband.

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