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Kniznik v. Quick

OCTOBER 13, 1970.

ALAN KNIZNIK, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

DR. HARRY QUICK, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. ALBERT E. HALLETT, Judge, presiding. Judgment affirmed.

MR. JUSTICE ADESKO DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT. The plaintiff has appealed the trial court's dismissal of his second amended complaint on defendant's motion by order dated June 20, 1969. The plaintiff's original complaint and his first amended complaint had been previously dismissed.

The plaintiff's second amended complaint alleged a cause of action for alienation of affections. The pleading stated that the defendant had alienated the affections of plaintiff's wife by specific acts which served to entice the plaintiff's spouse, with resulting loss of affection and subsequent divorce between plaintiff and his wife; that the defendant engaged in certain unlawful and malicious conduct that occurred on certain dates; that the defendant's actions were the proximate cause of plaintiff's losing his wife's affections; and that the direct and proximate consequence of defendant's actions was that plaintiff suffered actual monetary damages.

Plaintiff claimed the following damages: (1) loss of "the care, aid, assistance, comfort, society and consortium of his former wife," (2) $2,000 for attorney's fees and costs expended by plaintiff for the divorce from his former wife (3) $1,000 for attorney's fees and costs incurred by plaintiff regarding child custody between plaintiff and his former wife, and more than $5,000 for household services to maintain his home (4) that plaintiff became mentally and physically ill requiring a physician's care and medication, said illness directly attributable to the defendant's alienation of his wife's affections resulting in the expenditure of $1,500 (5) that as a further result of defendant's actions, the plaintiff was so ill that he was incapable of attending to his customary business duties and occupation, causing a financial loss of earnings and profits in an unascertainable amount but estimated by plaintiff to be in excess of $10,000.

The defendant moved to dismiss the second amended complaint on the grounds "that it fails to state a cause of action and in particular, that it fails to allege any damages lawfully and properly recoverable in the State of Illinois under the laws applicable to such actions." Both parties filed memoranda of law in support of their respective positions.

The elements for a cause of action in alienation of affections were stated in Farrier v. Farrier, 46 Ill. App.2d 471, 197 N.E.2d 163 (1964), at page 474:

"To sustain a cause of action plaintiff must allege and prove (a) love and affection of the spouse for plaintiff, (b) overt acts, conduct or enticement on the part of the defendant causing these affections to depart and (c) actual damages."

In the instant case, the parties are in dispute as to the damage allegations of the second amended complaint. The litigants have correctly argued that the answer to this appeal must be found in the statutory provisions that have declared this State's public policy regarding actions for alienation of affections. Sections 34 through 37 of chapter 68 of the Ill Rev Stats 1969, contain the following:

"34. Declaration of public policy.] § 1. It is hereby declared, as a matter of legislative determination, that the remedy heretofore provided by law for the enforcement of the action for alienation of affections has been subjected to grave abuses and has been used us an instrument for blackmail by unscrupulous persons for their unjust enrichment, due to the indefiniteness of the damages recoverable in such actions and the consequent fear of persons threatened with such actions that exorbitant damages might be assessed against them. It is also hereby declared that the award of monetary damages in such actions is ineffective as a recompense for genuine mental or emotional distress. Accordingly, it is hereby declared as the public policy of the state that the best interests of the people of the state will be served by limiting the damages recoverable in such actions and by leaving any punishment of wrong-doers guilty of alienation of affections to proceedings under the criminal laws of the state, rather than to the imposition of punitive, exemplary, vindictive, or aggravated damages in actions for alienation of affections. Consequently, in the public interest, the necessity for the enactment of this chapter is hereby declared as a matter of legislative determination.

"35. Actual damages, only, recoverable.] § 2. The damages to be recovered in any action for alienation of affections shall be limited to the actual damages sustained as a result of the injury complained of.

"36. Punitive, exemplary, vindictive or aggravated damages not recoverable.] § 3. No punitive, exemplary, vindictive or aggravated damages shall be allowed in any action for alienation of affections.

"37. Elements not to be considered in determining damages.] § 4. In determining the damages to be allowed in any action for alienation of affections, none of the following elements shall be considered; the wealth or position of defendant or the defendant's prospects of wealth or position; mental anguish suffered by plaintiff; any injury to plaintiff's feelings; shame, humiliation, sorrow or mortification suffered by plaintiff; defamation or injury to the good name or character of plaintiff or his or her spouse resulting from the alienation of affections complained of; or dishonor to plaintiff's family resulting from the alienation of affections."

This legislation was enacted to limit damages recoverable in this type of action. The only damages recoverable are actual damages resulting from the injury and certain elements are specifically excluded from consideration.

Plaintiff argues that the enumerated elements of damages that he allegedly sustained because of defendant's wrongful alienation of his wife's affections are recoverable within the provisions of the statutes set out above. Plaintiff argues these allegations are for "actual damages" for which he is entitled to compensation and that the elements claimed were not specifically excluded by the statutes.

Defendant argues that the second amended complaint "did not contain allegations of fact sufficient to show that the damages complained of resulted from and were proximately caused by the injury alleged." He contends that the complaint contains conclusions of the plaintiff and that no facts are alleged to relate the enumerated damages to the alleged wrongful acts of the defendant. Defendant argues that the public policy declared in sections 34-37 of chapter 68 imposes a rigorous burden of pleading damages in alienation of affection actions. Defendant states that in order to give ...


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