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Fantasia beware: Hell hath no fury like an NC heart-balm jury

I am on the Fantasia beat, and that doesn’t mean I am bumping her hits “Truth Is,” “Hood Boy” or “When I See U.”

Truth is I am covering the drama that has enveloped the Charlotte rhythm & blues star (I would say Charlotte’s finest rhythm & blues star, but the city has a long legacy of stellar singers and performers from Jodeci’s K-Ci and JoJo to Anthony Hamilton).

I could just monitor the latest news on TMZ and RadarOnline, but as this is a publication that covers the law and lawyers in North Carolina, and as there is actually an N.C.-based lawsuit filed and pending involving the former “American Idol” champ, I trudged down to the Mecklenburg County courthouse to read the complaint and subpoenas filed in the case.

Barrino has not been sued. Her name appears in a domestic case brought by Charlotte resident Paula Cook against her husband, Antwaun Cook.

Cook is represented by Charlotte attorney Tamela T. Wallace.

The complaint contains causes of action for child custody and child support, post-separation support, alimony, equitable distribution and attorney’s fees.

It alleges that Barrino met Antwaun Cook at a T-Mobile store where he worked, near where Barrino lives.

Subpoenas of Greensboro and Charlotte hotels appear to show that Mrs. Cook and her attorney have a pretty firm idea of when Mr. Cook and Barrino might have played the Rolling Stones tune “Let’s Spend the Night Together.”

Not that a lot of discovery will be needed to confirm that something may have been going on between Barrino and Mr. Cook. According to Celebrifi.com, Barrino had Cook’s name tattooed on her chest almost a year ago. Photos of the pair together have been splashed on tabloid sites across the world for months.

That would seem to be enough evidence to support a cause of action for alienation of affection. Barrino may have the dough to pay up after a successful claim, and outraged N.C. juries have been known to make hefty awards in heart-balm cases. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned – and hell hath no fury like an N.C. hart-balm jury.

ABC news reported Aug. 12 that Barrino confirmed an 11-month relationship with Mr. Cook. Wallace was mum about the case, but Barrino’s attorney, Gena G. Morris of Horack Talley, told TMZ that “Mrs. Cook gratuitously included claims about Fantasia to sensationalize that litigation and to insure that her tale would be picked up by tabloids,” according to ABC.

One-time prosecutor Nancy Grace spent over 30 minutes covering the Barrino affair on her nightly show on CNN Headline News, running shots of Barrino and Mr. Cook in an infinite loop as she and a cast of talking heads sliced and diced the facts and law.

As the case shakes out, Mecklenburg County’s semi-new courthouse will be on display, as will as its court system, its lawyers, litigants and district court Judge Paige B. McThenia, who has been assigned to preside over the case.

Least of all N.C.’s laws – namely the heart-balm cause of action (ABC called it a “home-wrecker” lawsuit) – will be laid out, panned, debated, vilified and justified.

It will be interesting to see how lawyers, the legal profession and N.C. law are portrayed.

– By Paul Tharp, Staff Writer

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