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Law School Case Brief

Neal v. Neal - 125 Idaho 617, 873 P.2d 871 (1994)


When a case comes before the court on a petition for review from an opinion of the appellate court, the court does not focus on the opinion of the appellate court, but rather on the decision of the district court. A district court's dismissal in the form of a summary judgment is reviewed under standards applicable to a summary judgment. On appeal from an order granting summary judgment, the court reviews the pleadings, depositions and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, to determine whether there is a genuine issue as to any material fact and whether the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.


A husband and a mistress were having an affair. The husband filed for divorce, and his wife filed a complaint against both her husband and the mistress for tortious interference with her marital contract, including a claim of criminal conversation; intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress, including fear of contracting a sexually transmitted disease; and battery in the form of non-consensual sexual intercourse. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss, which the trial court granted. It then denied the wife's motion for reconsideration. The appellate court affirmed, and the wife sought further review by the Supreme Court of Idaho.


Can a wife avail herself of the remedy of tortious interference in order to make the husband and mistress liable for their adulterous relationship?




The Supreme Court of Idaho reviewed the judgment under the summary judgment standard because that was how the trial court treated the motion to dismiss. The court held that (1) because criminal conversation has been abolished as a cause of action, divorce was the exclusive remedy for a breach of a duty of mutual respect, fidelity, and support; (2) that wife failed to state sufficient facts to satisfy the requirement of a reasonable fear in order to recover for emotional distress; and (3) there was a genuine issue of material facts as to whether wife actually consented to the alleged act of battery.

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