Friday, October 19, 2007

Dr. Phil brings up some subtle legal problems (alienation of affection laws; more reputation defense)

Today, Friday, Oct. 19, 2007, the Dr. Phil show presented a couple of legal problems that bear watching. The show is called "Suing for Love," is identified as 956 and the link is this.

The first 45 minutes presented a case where a female teacher's ex "boyfriend," after being "dumped," desktop-published and distributed a "The Bonnie Chronicles" filled with various defamatory allegations. She had to undergo a hearing at school to keep her teaching job after the principal received a copy. It is noteworthy that the distribution of this document was by hand, and there was apparently no formal publication as a book (with an ISBN number, etc). Furthermore, apparently there was no online component (blog, social networking profile) that could lead to her being found by search engines.

The last fifteen minutes concerned an "alienation of affection" lawsuit against a women who incorrectly believed that the man she was seeing was separated from his wife and "free". When she found out otherwise, she stopped seeing him. Nevertheless, one day a process server showed up at her door with papers for an alienation of affection complaint, because the man's wife lived in a state that allows such suits, and under "full faith and credit" they can apparently be pursued in other states. Furthermore, she could not have used supposed marital problems of the couple as a defense. Dr. Phil took an audience poll and solicited emails and found that a surprisingly vocal minority of people support pursuing "mistresses" for "breaking up families," although a majority feel that the "fault" is with the marital partner (usually a husband). California does not allow such suits.

Update: Oct. 29, 2007

The NBC Today show at 9 AM today presented another "alienation of affection" situation in a spot called "The Millionaire and the Plumber." Seven states still have these laws. The guests maintained that some cases occur when women, trapped in poverty in poor marriages, are invited to become "mistresses" of wealthier men and then the wives of these men sue.

No comments: