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Take my wife, please (but pay $112K in punies)

[UPDATE: The Supreme Court denied cert in the case. See more here.] 

Average salary of a plumber: $37,000

Plumber finding true love: Priceless

Losing true love to a millionaire: $754,500 ($112,000 in punitive damages).

Now that millionaire, Mississippi real estate mogul Jerry Fitch, is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to step in and toss the punitive damage award in the “alienation of affection” case filed by his wife’s plumber ex-husband.

Fitch’s wife, Sandra, met her current husband when she went to work for his real estate company. At the time she was married to plumber Johnny Valentine, but she soon began an affair with – and became pregnant by – Fitch. After initially denying the affair, DNA testing on the child revealed what Valentine suspected.

While most states have eliminated the “alienation of affection” cause of action, reasoning that it is based on the antiquated notion that a man’s wife is his property, Mississippi has not – and Valentine sued Fitch on the theory and won the $754,000 award. Fitch appealed and lost. (If you are looking for more details on the case, you can find them in the Supreme Court of Mississippi decision here.)

Now Fitch wants the punitive award of $112,000 kicked (Perhaps he’s not as bothered by the $642K regular damages award for taking another man’s “property?”).  His argument: punishing adultery went out with the dark ages.

“There is simply no rational basis for state-sanctioned punishment of intimate association between consenting adults,” stated Fitch’s Court filing, seeking to stay the award until the Court can hear the appeal.

 UPDATE: SCOTUSBlog reports that Mr. Fitch is out of luck, as Justice Antonin Scalia denied his petition.

One comment

  1. I happen to be a woman, so I am going to write from a female perspective, but the masculine/feminine pronouns can easily be reversed.

    This woman was married, had an affair with her millionaire, married boss, destroyed two familes. This woman had no respect for the contract of marriage she had with her husband, made a laughing stock out of him, hurt him, humiliated him.

    She had no respect for the wife and family of the boss, for the contract of marriage the boss’ wife had with the man. She hurt and humiliated this woman. She destroyed the home and family this woman spent her life building.

    The millionaire boss, likewise, had no respect for the contract of marriage he had entered into with his wife. He had no respect for the marriage and feelings of the Plumber.

    Two, low-life, immoral scumballs–they actually deserve each other.

    If a third party enters your home and steals something, say an inconsequential knickknack that may hold sentimental value, the home owner can seek redress through the law.

    The person can be arrested, charged with a crime. The owner may get his stolen item back, or the thief will be ordered to make restitution.

    At the very least, she will get some chance at justice.

    But, a person can destroy the home you have spent your life building by having the morals of an alleycat, wreck your faith in your chosen spouse, cause you all sorts of heartbreak, hurt your children (if you have them) by destroying their home, security, and family, and they should not have to pay?

    This millionaire needs to shut up and pay the plumber. He (and this woman) caused him PAIN, distress, stress, cost him $$$ in hiring lawyers for the divorce.

    Come on. I just saw this woman and her millionaire boss/husband on the Today show. Does anyone here really believe she LOVES this old man? He just sat there, like a lump. She just wanted a man with money–she is no better than a hooker. She had sex, got pregnant, to get rich–make money, and to steal a HUGE share of the inheritance from the children by his first marriage.

    If more states brought back the Alienation of Affection laws, allowing wronged spouses to seek financial redress against third parties who wreck their families and home, cause them all sorts of emotional and psychological harm, then we would have fewer cases like the Dan & Betty Broderick case, or that woman in Texas who ran her husband over as he left a hotel with his receptionist.

    Having your home ruined, having absolutely no chance of justice legally, facing the prospect of losing your home, your health insurance, your standard of living, feeling powerless, etc is HORRIBLE! The pain, the distress of the wronged spouse is very real.

    Wronged spouses DESERVE some legal recourse, some satisfaction. The Fitches need to pay the Plumber and be glad his pain and injured sensibilities found satisfaction with a lawsuit instead of at the business end of a shotgun.

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