Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Surgeon Must Pay [Pounds Sterling]664,000 for His Fling with Mrs Jones

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Surgeon Must Pay [Pounds Sterling]664,000 for His Fling with Mrs Jones

Article excerpt

Byline: STANDARD FOREIGN NEWS DESK

AN American surgeon is counting the cost of an affair with another man's wife after he was ordered by a court to pay $950,000 ([pound]664,000) damages to her husband for seducing her.

The case against Todd Swanson was brought under a seldom-used "alienation of affection" law still in existence in South Dakota and eight other American states.

Based on the premise that a wife belongs to her husband and anyone who seduces her should be liable for damages, it has its roots in common law.

Richard Jones, of Sioux Falls, sued Dr Swanson in the US federal court for alienating the affections of his wife, Donna. The jury deliberated for three and a half hours before awarding Mr Jones $950,000.

Nurse Mrs Jones had been an old flame of the surgeon before she married her husband - but the lovers rekindled their relationship after a chance meeting in a hospital.

All three involved refused to discuss the case, but Russ Janklow, Dr Swanson's lawyer, said his client might appeal, adding: "He's very disappointed and shocked by the amount of the verdict."

Mr Jones's lawyer Robert Christenson said: "We're very gratified that justice was done and very happy with the work the jury did."

He acknowledged the sexist overtones of the law, saying: "Women shouldn't be treated like property."

But he justified bringing the case using a legal opinion by former South Dakota Supreme Court chief justice Francis Dunn, who wrote: "I feel certain a case will arise in the future where some party has so flagrantly broken up a stable marriage we would rue the day that an alienation suit was not available to the injured party."

Dr Swanson, an orthopaedic surgeon in Las Vegas, first met Donna in 1977 and they dated for more than a year, but in 1979, she met her future husband, whom she married in 1981. …

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