Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Bailey v. Faulkner case brief

Bailey v. Faulkner case brief
940 So. 2d 247 (Ala. 2006)

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SYNOPSIS: Plaintiff sued defendant, a former pastor, alleging that the pastor negligently and wantonly engaged in an affair with plaintiff's ex-wife in the course of performing the pastor's official duties. A jury in the Montgomery Circuit Court (Alabama) entered a judgment in favor of plaintiff. The pastor appealed the judgment.

-The pastor and plaintiff's ex-wife engaged in an affair while plaintiff and his ex-wife were undergoing marriage counseling with the pastor.
-Plaintiff claimed that he refused a lucrative job in another county based on the pastor's advise that the move would be harmful to the marriage.
-The pastor resigned his position when the affair became public.
-The claims sounded in negligence and wantonness.
-On appeal, the pastor argued that the claims were barred by Ala. Code § 6-5-331 (1975).
-That statute abolished amatory or "heart balm" torts.
-Plaintiff admitted that his damages arose from the divorce, and claimed that he suffered mental anguish based on the pastor's conduct during the counseling sessions, in which the pastor manipulated plaintiff's emotions using secret information given to the pastor by the wife during their affair.

Based on these facts, the appellate court found that plaintiff's claims were based on the pastor's intentional conduct, not negligence.

Thus, the claims stated by these allegations were amatory torts, and were barred by Ala. Code § 6-5-331 (1975).

-Since the abolition in Alabama of the heart-balm torts, Alabama courts have refused to recognize any claim for damages against a third party, no matter how denominated, that is based on allegations of interference with the marriage relationship.
-One cannot sue to recover for injuries arising from an interference with the marriage by simply casting the defendant's conduct as a breach of contract, or negligence, or some other intentional tort. It is that kind of sham that the case law prevents.

OUTCOME: The judgment was reversed and remanded for the entry of a judgment in favor of the pastor.

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