Durham, NC – A man who sued his ex-wife’s lover for destroying their marriage has been awarded $8.8 million by a judge.
Durham County Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson ordered Francisco Huizar III, of Texas, to pay Keith King more than $2.2 million in compensatory damages, and three times that in punitive damages, the Herald-Sun reported.
King filed a civil complaint in April 2017 that accused Huizar of criminal conversation, alienation of affection, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and assault and battery.
He told the court that Huizar had seduced his wife and ruined his marriage, according to the Herald-Sun.
Danielle King met Huizar in New York in August of 2015. The Kings were in town for a BMX show, and afterward, Keith King went on to Colorado for another event while his wife and daughter stayed behind in New York for a few days.
“When he left, guess who moved right on in,” said Keith King’s attorney, Joanne Foil.
Huizar was working at an insurance company booth at the BMX show when he met Danielle King, according to court records. He testified that he earned about $84,000 a year as a marketing tour manager, the Herald-Sun reported.
Keith King saw strange numbers on his phone bill on Aug. 28, 2015, and called Huizar and told him to leave his wife alone. His attorney said he believed the affair was already over at that point.
Not to be counted out of the relationship, Huizar rented a room less than a mile from the Kings’ home on Aug. 31, 2015. Then he returned again once in September, twice in October, and three times in November, according to testimony at the trial.
Foil pointed out that those dates didn’t reflect the times that Huizar had met up with King’s wife in other places, the Herald-Sun reported.
Phone records showed that Huizar and Danielle King talked on the phone more than 6,187 minutes between mid-August and mid-December of 2015, Foil told the court.
The jilted husband’s case showed that Huizar had systematically undermined the marriage at every turn, and cited numerous examples.
Keith King gave his wife a spa weekend for her birthday in February of 2016, and Huizar was there.
“Guess who the heck tagged along?” Foil asked. “Mr. Huizar.”
“He just conveniently popped up,” the attorney said. “There is no way that this marriage could have humanly been saved with the level of this man’s involvement.”
When the King family went on vacation to the beach in the spring of 2016, Huizar rented a beach house nearby.
Foil told the court that Huizar’s relentless behavior made reconciliation impossible for the King marriage, according to the Herald-Sun.
In April of 2016, Danielle King told friends that she was going to try to make the marriage work. Later on, Keith King found out his wife had rented an apartment with Huizar’s help and had planned to leave her family.
The couple finally did separate in January of 2017 when Danielle King rented an apartment with Huizar and moved in with him unbeknownst to her husband, the Herald-Sun reported.
She told her husband that her parents were helping her with the apartment and did not tell him the Huizar was on the lease, Foil told the court.
On Jan. 20, 2017, she complained to her estranged husband about an electrical breaker problem in her apartment and so Keith King went over to help her sort it out, the Herald-Sun reported.
Foil said Huizar answered the door at the apartment, and that was when Keith King realized his wife had continued the illicit affair for 16 months longer than he’d thought.
Court records said that when Keith King reacted to finding another man in his wife’s apartment, Huizar put him in a choke hold, according to the Herald-Sun.
Cheri Patrick, Huizar’s attorney, told the court that her client had removed Keith King from the apartment to “prevent great bodily harm.”
But Keith King’s attorneys told the court the entire incident was a set up to get video of the husband reacting to finding Huizar in his wife’s apartment.
Keith King’s doctors testified that the incident had given him post-traumatic stress disorder, the Herald-Sun reported.
In another related case, a district court judge ruled that Danielle King had sought a domestic violence protection order against her husband to gain an advantage in a civil suit and to protect her lover from being sued, Foil said.
The district court judge assessed $15,000 in sanctions against Danielle King for a frivolous lawsuit, Foil said.
Huizar’s attorney told the court that Keith King had controlled his wife’s access to money, manipulated her low self-esteem, brought porn into the relationship, looked through her phone every other week, put her to work without pay, and continued to schedule BMX shows after she said it was too much work, according to the Herald-Sun.
Patrick said Keith King tracked his wife’s movements and insisted she keep her hair blonde, and wear bikinis and high heels, the Herald-Sun reported.
When the judge issued his ruling in favor of Keith King, he said it was “a textbook case” of how not to end a marriage in North Carolina or any other state that allowed alienation of affection and criminal conversation lawsuits.
North Carolina is one of only a few states that will allow a cheated-on spouse to sue the paramour for criminal conversation when that person had sex with their spouse before separation. They also permit lawsuits for alienation of affection when “genuine love and affection” was ruined by the paramour, the Herald-Sun reported.
Other lawsuits on the same ground have been awarded as much as a $30 million penalty in one 2011 Wake County case. The Herald-Sun reported that a defendant’s ability to pay is not a factor in compensatory damages, but may be considered by a judge prior to levying punitive damages.