Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Unhappy Valentines

(Pun definitely intended.)

A Mississippi court awarded a man $754,500 in damages against his wife's lover for "stolen affections" and loss of consortium (i.e. his wife's sexual "services").

The ex-lover apparently attempted to challenge the constitutionality of the law, on the ground that it is based on the "medieval" notion that a woman is the property of her husband, but the law was upheld.


Update (2008/01/09):

For those who are not familiar with the term, consortium was one of the three heads under which a plaintiff could claim moral damages. (These categories of moral injury have lost their importance in Québec civil law.)

The others heads were solatium (i.e. grief) and servitium (i.e. the loss of the domestic services of the plaintiff's wife).

It is unclear whether women could claim damages for loss of consortium. In my humble opinion, it would have been unlikely, as married women, lacking legal capacity, could not sue on their own, and had to do so via their husband.

This reminds me of a Canadian civil liability case from the 50's. The plaintiff was a husband who was suing a hairdresser on his own behalf and on behalf of his wife. His wife had her scalp badly burnt by hair dye products, and had become bald as a result. The husband claimed damages on account of a loss of solatium, because his wife was so disfigured that he could not go out with her in public anymore, and for loss of consortium, because she had become so ugly that he couldn't bring himself to have intercourse with her...

*sigh* How tactful...

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