In North Carolina, Cynthia Shackelford had been married to her husband, Allen, for 33 years. When Cynthia got suspicious that her husband might be doing something on the sly, a private investigator confirmed that her husband had been having an affair with Anne Lundquist. In North Carolina, there's an old law called "alienation of affection." Cynthia sued Lundquist under this law and was awarded $5 million in compensatory damages and $4 million in punitive damages. In this case, it was said that Lundquist knew Allen was married and pursued him anyway. "She set her sights on him. ... She knew he was married," said Cynthia. "You don't go after married men and break up families."
Lundquist didn't respond to requests for comment from this article by ABCNews
, but plans on appealing the case. In the meantime, Allen has commented that Lundquist isn't the reason his marriage failed and admitted to having numerous affairs, going all the way back to the first two years of his marriage.
North Carolina is one of just seven states to recognize alienation of affection claims, in which spouses can sue third parties that they allege interfered in their marriages. The origination of this law has some discomforting history, in that alienation of affection claims evolved from common law under which women were considered the property of their husbands. If another man was accused of stealing his "property," a husband could sue him for damages. Today, both men and women sue under the law.
What do you think, should more states allow you to sue a mistress for alienation of affection?