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Marriage Wrecker Loses $1 Million Suit Judge Hopes Woman’s Penalty Will ‘Help Preserve Families’

Thu., Aug. 7, 1997, midnight

An alleged “other woman” was ordered by a jury to pay $1 million in damages for breaking up a marriage.

“We hope this will send a message to the community and help preserve families,” said James Walker, Dorothy Hutelmyer’s lawyer in her alienation-of-affection lawsuit against Margie B. Cox, now Margie Hutelmyer.

A jury in the civil case reached the verdict on Tuesday.

Dorothy Hutelmyer, 40, contended that Margie Cox had an affair with James Hutelmyer, 43, and destroyed the love and affection between the Hutelmyers.

Hutelmyer is president of a maritime insurance company; Margie Cox worked as his secretary.

North Carolina is one of a dozen or so states that allow alienation-ofaffection lawsuits. Such actions date back to the 1700s, when women were considered property, like a man’s horse or his slave.

As of 1994, it was estimated that at least 200 such actions are filed annually in North Carolina by both men and women.

Defense attorney Wayne Abernathy asked a judge to reduce the verdict as excessive.

“I think most lawyers think the law is extremely outdated,” he said.


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