An Expensive Affair
Special Report - March 23, 2010
A North Carolina woman has been awarded $9 million in a suit filed against her husband’s mistress, whom she accused of breaking up their marriage by engaging in an affair with her husband. A Guilford County District Court jury spent two days on the trial, which included testimony by a private investigator about his time watching the husband and mistress together. The $9 million award is the largest in state history. In 1997, an Alamance county case awarded $1 million and a Forsyth county case awarded $1.2 million.
Cynthia and Allan Shackelford have been separated since April 2005, after Allan’s affair began with Anne Lundquist. Cynthia sued Lundquist, who is currently the dean of students at Wells College in New York, in 2007 for interfering in her marriage by engaging in an affair with Allan that began while Lundquist was the dean of campus life at Guilford College, where Allan provided legal services. According to the Washington Post, Lundquist intends to appeal the decision.
North Carolina is one of seven states that has the civil law actions of alienation of affections and criminal conversation. Alienation of affection establishes liability for a third party who commits wrongful and malicious acts that cause the loss of the love and affection between a married person and their spouse. Criminal conversation is a civil action against a third party for committing adultery with another person’s husband or wife. According to the Rosen law firm in Raleigh, on average, more than 200 such suits are filed each year in North Carolinawith two of the largest previous awards being $1 million in an Alamance county case and $1.2 million in a Forsyth county case. In 2009, the General Assembly amended the alienation of affection and criminal conversation torts to only apply to actions that occur before the date of a couple’s separation, and filed within three years of the last act.
“We would like for people to respect the sanctity of marriage,” Cynthia Shackelford told the Greensboro News & Record upon learning the jury’s decision. “We wanted a number high enough that it would keep other people from … going after other married spouses.”
Copyright © 2010. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.