Fitch v. Valentine

959 So. 2d 1012 (Miss. 2007)

 

RULE:

The commonly stated elements of the tort of alienation of affections are (1) wrongful conduct of the defendant; (2) loss of affection or consortium; and (3) causal connection between such conduct and loss. The Supreme Court of Mississippi has recognized that persuasion, enticement, or inducement which causes or contributes to the abandonment is a necessary component of "wrongful conduct." In order to maintain this action it must be established that the husband/[wife was induced to abandon the wife/husband by some active interference on the part of the defendant. Thus, to determine whether this standard was met, following denial of a judgment notwithstanding the verdict motion, a court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, and it must be determined if reasonable and fairminded jurors in the exercise of fair and impartial judgment might reach different conclusions, as to that evidence.

FACTS:

After the appellee husband's wife had an affair with the appellant boyfriend and left the husband for him, the husband filed an alienation of affection action against the boyfriend. Judgment was ordered in favor of the husband and the jury awarded the husband $ 754,500 in damages. On appeal, the judgment was affirmed.

ISSUE:

Was the jury verdict supported by overwhelming weight of evidence showing that the elements to establish a claim for alienation of affections were present?

ANSWER:

Yes.

CONCLUSION:

The court held that the trial court did not err by denying the boyfriend's motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict because a reasonable juror could conclude that all elements of the tort were met. The evidence showed that: (1) the husband was granted a divorce on the grounds of adultery; (2) after the daughter of the wife and the boyfriend was born, the husband began finding large amounts of cash throughout the house; (3) the wife told a coworker that the boyfriend had given her money to buy a car; (4) the coworker testified that the wife told her that if she quit her job the boyfriend would take their daughter away from her; and (5) the husband testified that his marriage failed because his wife could not resist all of the boyfriend's money and absent the boyfriend his marriage would have remained intact.

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