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Tag Archives: Heart-Balm Tort

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‘Empty-chair’ trial nets $30M bench verdict for jilted Wake woman (access required)

By PAUL THARP, Staff Writer paul.tharp@nc.lawyersweekly.com   A Wake County judge last week awarded the jilted spouse of Donald Puryear $30.162 million in her suit against the woman she accused of stealing his affections. The wealthy owner of a Raleigh trucking ...

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Heart balm’s constitutionality challenged in federal court (access required)

Claimants, attorneys and supporters have long argued that North Carolina's common-law heart-balm torts are designed to protect and preserve the sanctity of marriage. Hogwash, says Winston-Salem attorney John C. Vermitsky of Morrow Alexander Porter & Whitley. He says the torts are "tools used by vindictive spouses to put a scarlet red letter on their exes' [paramours] after a relationship is long over." Vermitsky said he has statistics that show that the few states that retain the heart-balm torts actually have higher divorce rates than states that don't.

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Does $5.9M verdict show bench trials are best for heart balms? (access required)

The latest large heart-balm award - a bench verdict this time - has North Carolina practitioners debating whether judges or juries are more advantageous for plaintiffs. Pitt County Superior Court Judge W. Russell Duke awarded a jilted spouse $5,896,943, plus $865,150 in prejudgment interest, in a July verdict. Greenville attorney Cynthia A. Mills (pictured) said the facts made it the best heart-balm case she had taken in 21 years of practice.

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Wrong address gets Calif. man new trial in heart-balm case (access required)

A California man targeted in a North Carolina alienation of affections case will get a new trial under an N.C. Court of Appeals ruling this week that threw out a $600,000 judgment against him. The reason: Court officials were one digit off in his five-digit San Juan Capistrano, Calif., street address, so he received only three days advance notice of his trial held in Guilford County. Keith Black, who represented the defendant in the case, said it was the only possible just outcome, seeing as his client didn't have enough notice to attend his own trial.

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Heart-balm tort back in the spotlight after $9 million verdict (access required)

North Carolina’s reputation for unique and antiquated laws got a boost last week when Cynthia S. Shackelford of Raleigh made the rounds in print and television media including “Good Morning America” touting a $9 million jury verdict entered March 19 ...

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