DURHAM, NC – Man ordered to pay $8.8 million to the ex-husband of the woman he had an affair with.

This story is pretty unremarkable except for some really interesting legal anomalies because of where it takes place.

Other than that, it’s like half the divorces in the country: filled with the tawdry desperation, lies and deceit found when an unhappily married person tries to fill the gaping hole in their heart with Something New.

The 30,000 foot view: a woman in a bad-from-the-start marriage meets Something New and has an affair, breaking up the marriage in the process.

Her erstwhile husband files a civil suit against Something New and is awarded $8.8 million in damages using a law that only exists in North Carolina and five other states.

The detail is involved and convoluted, and reading it gave me a headache, but we’re going to bull through it and summarize a bit.

Danielle King married Keith King (who is 15 years older than Danielle) in 2010. Keith is a former professional BMX bike competitor that owns a “BMX bike stunt show company” and still rides in his own shows… and that’s a young man’s game.

The marriage is reported to have been bad from the beginning. Allegations on Danielle’s part range from controlling and manipulative behavior to porno-perving and a mandatory bikini-and-high-heels dress code.

Danielle King

In August 2015, Danielle met Something New, d/b/a Francisco Huizar III (pictured), at a BMX trade show in New York. By her own admission, she pursued him.

That same month Keith noticed phone calls to a strange number on his phone bill and called Francisco to tell him to cut off all contact with his wife.

But by the end of that month, Francisco had installed himself in a rented room within a mile of the King’s not-so-happy home. Things proceeded apace.

Francisco stuck to Danielle like glue, following her when her husband gave her a “spa weekend at the beach” and later renting a nearby beach house when the King family went on vacation in the spring of 2016.

That’s right, they have a five-year-old daughter. Of course there’s a child involved.

At some point, Danielle applied for a domestic violence protection order; a district court judge eventually ruled this to be a “frivolous lawsuit” and fined her $15,000 for wasting everyone’s time.

In January 2017 the Kings finally separated, and Francisco installed Danielle in an apartment. A subsequent visit to the new love nest by the allegedly unknowing Keith led to a scuffle that ended with Keith in a headlock, reportedly causing him to develop PTSD.

All of which finally brings us to the civil suit that Keith filed in April 2017. Of the things for which he sued Francisco, two are the peculiarities that I promised you. Both are archaic common law torts that have been abolished in most of the US.

In NC they have stood the test of time, appeals, and multiple legislative attempts to lay them to rest. The first is criminal conversation. In NC, if you have sex with a married person, their better half can sue you for civil damages, simply because you put your genitalia where they don’t belong.

And remember that civil lawsuits for money have a lower standard of proof than criminal cases (‘preponderance of evidence’ vs. ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’).

The second charge is even more interesting; it is called alienation of affection. Basically, if you interfere with a marriage in NC and destroy the “genuine love and affection” therein, you can be sued for civil damages.

In essence, state law treats the bond of love between two married people as real property that can be damaged or destroyed; since it is real property, said destruction is actionable.

It is worth noting that you do not have to interfere sexually in a relationship to be sued for alienation of affection. Nosey Nellies have been sued for talking someone into divorce. Pastors too.

This particular case was a slam-dunk, because Francisco did not even bother to show up. An entry of default was recorded on Jan. 3 of this year, and was just upheld by a state Superior Court judge.

Of the $8.8 million a judge ordered Francisco to pay, $2.2 million was compensatory damages and the rest was punitive damages.

Good law? Bad law? What do you think?

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