Fitch v. Valentine

959 So. 2d 1012 (2007)

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Fitch v. Valentine

Mississippi Supreme Court
959 So. 2d 1012 (2007)

Facts

Johnny Valentine (defendant) was married to Sandra Day in 1993 and a son, J.V., was born to the marriage in 1995. After Day carried on a lengthy affair, Valentine sued Day for divorce in 1999. The trial court accepted Valentine’s testimony that the marriage was stable until 1997, when Day began working and carrying on an adulterous affair with her boss, Jerry Fitch (plaintiff). Fitch did not care whether the affair harmed Day’s marriage, and he gave Day a great deal of money. When Day became pregnant again, Valentine began to suspect that she was having an affair, but Day denied it. Valentine believed the child, K.V., was his, and when she was born, Valentine took care of and loved her. Valentine confronted Day again about the affair, but she still denied it. Valentine begged Day to quit her job, but she refused because the job paid her very well. The two separated, and DNA testing established that K.V. was not Valentine’s child. Valentine offered to raise K.V. if Day ended the affair, but Day refused. According to Valentine, his marriage ended because Day could not resist Fitch’s money, and the marriage would have continued if not for Fitch’s involvement. The trial court granted the divorce to Valentine on the grounds of adultery. Valentine then sued Fitch for alienation of affections (AOA), and the jury found for Valentine for $642,000 in actual damages for loss of his home; Day’s companionship, aid, services, and other elements of consortium; custody of J.V; and his relationship with K.V., whom Valentine had known as his daughter. The jury also awarded Valentine $112,500 in punitive damages. Fitch appealed, arguing that the cause of action for AOA should be abolished in Mississippi.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Randolph, J.)

Concurrence (Dickinson, J.)

Dissent (Easley, J.)

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