Spurned wife awarded $9m after suing husband's lover
Published 24/03/2010 | 05:00
A SPURNED wife has made her husband's mistress pay for ruining their marriage by successfully suing her for $9m (€6.7m).
Cynthia Shackelford used a centuries-old North Carolina law to sue her husband's lover, Anne Lundquist, for "alienation of affection".
A jury ordered Ms Lundquist to pay $5m in compensatory damages and $4m in punitive damages for breaking up the Shackelfords' 33-year marriage.
"My main message is to all those women out there who might have their eyes on some guy that is married to not come between anybody," Ms Shackelford told the ABC 'Good Morning America' breakfast TV programme yesterday.
"As long as a couple are living together as man and wife, same house, same bedroom, same bed: lay off." she said.
"My children are devastated. I'm devastated."
Allan Shackelford (62), a lawyer, met Ms Lundquist while providing legal advice to the North Carolina college where she was a dean.
In her lawsuit, Ms Shackelford (60), who quit her job as a teacher to raise the couple's two children, claimed that Ms Lundquist began "deliberately to seduce" her husband in or around November 2004.
Ms Shackelford hired a private investigator who watched the lovers spending time together at the family home in Greensboro. The Shackelfords separated in 2005 and are seeking a divorce. Ms Shackelford says that her husband was ordered to pay her $5,000 a month in alimony but has yet to do so.
North Carolina is one of only seven states in the US that still has an alienation of affection statute on its books. Lawmakers have refused to repeal it because they do not want to be seen as condoning adultery.
Mr Shackelford says that he and his wife had a troubled marriage before he met Ms Lundquist (49) and had gone through three rounds of failed counselling. "Their marriage did not break up because of Anne Lundquist," he wrote in a post on the 'Greensboro News-Record's' website.
"It ended because of the problems that Allan Shackelford and Cynthia Shackelford created for themselves. But Cynthia Shackelford was never prepared to look in the mirror and take responsibility for her own mistakes.
"I know, because I am Allan Shackelford."
The couple's children, aged 23 and 27, reacted badly to their parents' break-up. Their daughter Amy also went public on the 'News-Record' site, claiming that her father had "emotionally abandoned his entire family for the last five years".
Ms Lundquist said that she would appeal. "I'm so caught off guard by everything," she said. "I don't have a lot of money, so where this $9m comes from is kind of hysterical." (© The Times, London)