The North Carolina Court of Appeals sent a pretty clear message last Tuesday to out of state citizens filing claims for alienation of affection in North Carolina courts. The message was don’t file your lawsuit here, even though North Carolina is one of the few states in the country that hasn’t abolished that tort.
The case was Bell v. Mozley. Mr. Bell, a resident of South Carolina, sued Mozley, another South Carolina resident, for alienating the affections of Bell’s wife, and engaging in criminal conversation with her. Mozley conceded having had sex with Mrs. Bell in a number of states, but denied having done so in North Carolina. in fact, there was little evidence of any contact between them in North Carolina.
The trial judge denied the motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, ruling that North Carolina had an "especially great" interest in providing a forum for a cause of action that had been abolished in South Carolina. Judge McCullough, writing for the COA, took a distinctly different view. He said, in reversing the trial judge and ordering dismissal of the case for lack of jurisdiction, that the decision of Bell to sue in North Carolina "smacks of forum-shopping."
i doubt there are many readers of this blog who concentrate their practice in alienation of affection cases So beyond that small group, what’s in this case for the you business litigators? Not much, really. But there’s a good covenant not to compete case coming tomorrow, so stay tuned.