[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.