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A North Carolina husband sued the man he said was having an affair with his wife — and won a $750,000 judgment.
Robert Kevin Howard said the tryst between his wife and her lover began in December 2016, according to a lawsuit. Howard said he and his wife wed in June 2005 and were "happily married to each other" prior to the affair, the document states.
After learning of the rendezvous, Howard confronted his wife about it and she admitted to cheating. She then asked him for a divorce, according to court documents.
Howard told NBC affiliate WITN in Washington that he was crushed over the affair.
"It was like a punch in the gut because I thought I had this trust for 12 years," he told the outlet, adding that his marriage was sacred to him and splitting from his wife was unbearable. The couple finalized their divorce in September 2018, according to the lawsuit.
Howard told WITN that he knew with his wife's lover and believes the man's actions were intentional. So, under North Carolina's Alienation of Affection tort, he filed a lawsuit against the man.
Under state law, the tort allows a spouse to sue the person who interferes with their marriage and causes the plaintiff "loss of affection from the other spouse," according to attorney Cynthia Mills' website. Mills represented Howard in the case.
"He came to my house and ate dinner with us. We shared stories, we talked about personal lives," Howard told the outlet.
According to the lawsuit, Howard said he believes the man's actions "alienated and destroyed" his marriage and the man either knew or should have known that what he was doing would cause "harm and damage."
In August, a judge ruled in Howard's favor and awarded him a $750,000 judgment.
In 2010, Mills won another Alienation of Affection case and helped her client get a $5.9 million judgment, the second-highest amount awarded at that time in North Carolina. While most lawsuits are filed against lovers, spouses can sue relatives and in-laws "if their conduct maliciously interfered with the marriage," her website states.
Mills told NBC News that North Carolina takes the sanctity of marriage seriously, and the tort protects that. She said her client filing the lawsuit was not a matter of money, but of principle and to make a statement about the sacredness of marriage.
Howard told WITN that he is in therapy following his divorce. "I have scars and I still have a lot of healing to do," he said.
Howard's ex-wife and the man he sued did not return requests for comment.