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Jones v. Swanson

United States Appeals Court for the Eighth Circuit
341 F.3d 723 (2003)


Facts

Donna Jones, a nurse in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, married Richard Jones (plaintiff) in 1981. In September 1998, Mrs. Jones saw an old flame, Todd Swanson (defendant), for the first time in 20 years.  Swanson, an orthopedic surgeon in Las Vegas, returned to Sioux Falls to visit his father in the hospital. Mrs. Jones and Swanson met the next day, at which point she expressed dissatisfaction with her marriage despite continuing to love her husband “as the father of her children.” The pair kissed and told one another that it had been a mistake to end their relationship years ago. After the meeting in Sioux Falls, Swanson and Mrs. Jones commenced a long-distance affair. In November, Mrs. Jones told her husband that she was thinking of divorce. Swanson visited Sioux Falls over Thanksgiving, and Mr. Jones suspected the affair. Mrs. Jones admitted to it. She and Mr. Jones began couples therapy to work through their issues. In January, Mrs. Jones moved out of the marital home. She saw Swanson that month, and he suggested they stop seeing each other. In February, however, he again expressed his love for her. In April, Mrs. Jones moved back in with her husband, and they began counseling again. Later that month, however, Swanson came to town. Mrs. Jones contacted him, and they slept together. In May, Mr. Jones sued Swanson for alienation of affection. He then filed for divorce. A jury in the trial against Swanson rendered a verdict in Mr. Jones’s favor and awarded him compensatory damages of $450,000 and punitive damages of $500,000. Swanson appealed.

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