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McRae v. Robinson - 145 Miss. 191, 110 So. 504 (1926)

Rule:

There is a presumption, in suit by a husband against his wife's parent for alienation of affection, that the parent acted for best interest of child, and the husband has burden of showing that the parent was prompted by malice.

Facts:

Eloise Keeton, who was 18 years old at the time, met plaintiff Rayburn Robinson a street show. Without the knowledge of her mother, defendant Daisy Keeton, Eloise carried on a courtship with Robinson, which after two years, culminated in the couple's elopement. Eloise, however, later returned to her family after they found out that she had eloped. According to Robbins, Mrs. Keeton, with the help of her sons, defendants David F. McRae and Earl Keeton ("Sons"), attempted to have Robbins arrested for his covert relationship with Eloise. Robbins filed a lawsuit against defendants in Mississippi state court charging that they conspired together to alienate the affections of his wife and to procure his arrest falsely. The circuit court ruled in favor of Robbins. Defendants appealed. The Sons claimed the trial court erred by failing to give a peremptory instruction; Mrs. Keeton alleged the evidence was insufficient to support the judgment against her.  

Issue:

Did the circuit court err in its refusal to grant a general peremptory instruction in favor of defendants?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The court considered that, on the day following the marriage, one of Sons, Earl Keeton, attempted to charge Robbins with perjury. As to Mrs. Keeton, the court rejected her contentions that the testimony failed to show that she did anything to alienate Eloise's affections an that the peremptory instruction requested by her should have been granted. It was for the jury to say whether her words, acts, and conduct resulted in the alienation of her daughter's affection for Robbins and, if so, whether she was acting in malice or by proper parental regard for the welfare of her daughter. The court held that allegations that Mrs. Keeton had enticed Eloise away from Robbins and alienated her affection for him was not enough to show that Mrs. Keeton had actually done the acts charged and that they had resulted in Robbins' abandonment of Eloise. A material element was the intent or purpose that controlled Mrs. Keeton's action. The court reversed the judgment as to the Sons and remanded the cause as to Mrs. Keeton. 

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