Rice Law Blog

$9 Million awarded for affair

A jury in Greensboro, N.C. has awarded Cynthia Shackelford $9 million against her husband’s mistress for ruining their marriage. This amount may be the largest jury award in North Carolina for the breakup of a marriage. The jury awarded Cynthia Shackelford money for alienation of affections, criminal conversation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. North Carolina is one of about eight states that allow these heart balm torts.

Cynthia Shackelford, 60-years of age, was married to Allan Shackelford, a Greensboro attorney (now of New York), when she claims he started an affair with 49-year old Anne Lundquist (now of Aurora, NY) before they separated in April 2005. Ms. Shackelford claims her husband, Allan, met Lundquist while providing legal services for Guilford College where Lundquist was the Dean of Campus Life.

The Complaint alleged that Allan Shackelford began an affair with Lundquist before the Shackelfords separated in April 2005. Ms. Shackelford claimed she and her husband were still in love when Lundquist broke up the marriage.

The trial took two-days during which a private investigator detailed times he observed Shackelford spending time with Lundquist. Lundquist did not attend the trial and was not represented by an attorney. According to various websites, she takes exception to the manner in which the trail was scheduled and plans to appeal.

“I really loved him, and I really thought he loved me,” Cynthia Shackelford said. “I had not a clue that Allan would wander. He kept telling me ‘Oh, she’s just a friend. There’s no affair. I love you.'”

Lundquist is now the dean of students at Wells College in central New York. In 2007, she and Allan Shackelford co-authored a book, Effective Crisis Management for Students With and Without Disabilities, through LRP Publications.

Collecting the judgment may be difficult. Often such awards are reduced on appeal. Even Shackelford has acknowledged through her attorney that she may not get the full $9 million. Often, plaintiffs are motivated not by money but by a desire to legally burn the scarlet letter “A” into the chest of the individual they feel is responsible for the loss of the marriage. As such, they feel vindicated even if little money is actually collected.

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