A man who sued his marriage counselor for having an affair with his wife faced more than a lost love yesterday. Maryland's second-highest court ruled that he cannot collect damages in the case, either.
The court rejected the man's $3.5 million claim, saying that it was based on such legally outdated concepts as "defilement of the marriage bed" and "alienation of affection."
According to court records, the Baltimore County couple began weekly marriage counseling in the fall of 1983. As he and his wife continued their sessions, the wife began an affair with the counselor. The husband never suspected, although the counselor expressed "special interest" in the case, court records said.
The counselor videotaped the sessions and later admitted that his own marriage was breaking up. Then, in December 1984, he told the husband that he could no longer continue the marriage counseling, court records said.
Early in 1985, after the couple had separated, a friend told the husband about the affair. The wife at first denied it, according to court records. But when her husband found an "affectionate note" written to her by the counselor, she admitted she was having an affair with him that began while the couple was in therapy.
Yesterday's opinion by the Court of Special Appeals said there are circumstances in which a husband can sue the man who runs off with his wife, but the Baltimore County case was not one of them. For example, he might have had a better case if he had sued for malpractice or tried to recover his counseling fees.
Instead he claimed malicious breach of contract, negligence for improper counseling, intentional infliction of emotional distress, interfering with the couple's marriage contract, and loss of consortium -- the loss of "mutual society, affection, and conjugal fellowship."