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Alienation of affection cases can pay off big

By Shavonne Potts
spotts@salisburypost.com
SALISBURY — Alienation of affection cases can sometimes result in hefty awards for the scorned, while others resolve themselves via mediation.
Here are a few cases from Rowan and beyond:
• The preacher’s wife
In 2006, Salisbury attorney James Davis filed an alienation of affection/criminal conversation lawsuit on behalf of Julie Buchanan, who accused Jennifer Gobble of stealing her husband, Michael.
The Buchanans had been married for more than 16 years and had two children. In the fall of 2004, they joined a church where Jennifer Gobble was the pastor’s wife.
The case was referred to mediation and, while awaiting further court proceedings, Gobble became pregnant with Michael Buchanan’s baby. (They later married.)
In August 2007, a jury awarded Julie Buchanan $305,000 — $50,000 for criminal conversation, $75,000 for alienation of affection and $180,000 for punitive damages.
Gobble, who filed for bankruptcy, appealed.
Her ex-husband, Sam Gobble, said in court documents she had received a sizable inheritance from a deceased uncle. She had two annuities with a one-time value of $700,000, one with a payout of $3,500 per month.
Gobble said she had no money and her new husband was in transition from one job to a new one.
Gobble’s appeal was dismissed, and in January 2009 she paid her judgment in full.
• A judge and a clerk
In December 2010, an alienation of affection and criminal conversation suit was filed against Rowan District Court Judge Kevin Eddinger.
Ronnie Isenhour, accused the judge of having an affair with his wife, court clerk Robin Isenhour, actively pursuing and seducing her. Eddinger said the relationship was consensual.
Kevin Eddinger referred comments to his attorney, William Diehl of Charlotte, who did not respond to calls from the Post.
The case was settled for an undisclosed amount following an October mediation conference. The parties dismissed with prejudice any and all claims and counterclaims in this case.
In March, Liana Eddinger filed a countersuit against Robin Isenhour, accusing the clerk of pursuing the judge, motivated by monetary gain.
The case went to mediation and, in November, both women gave notices of voluntary dismissals with prejudice of their claim and counterclaim.
The Post’s calls to Robin Isenhour’s attorney, J. Merritt White, were not returned as of press time. Neither Robin Isenhour nor Ronnie Isenhour responded to calls from the Post.
• $9 million reasons
Cynthia Shackleford of Raleigh was awarded $9 million when she sued her husband’s mistress for breaking up her 33-year marriage.
Allan Shackleford, a lawyer, said in news reports the marriage did not fall apart because of Anne Lundquist, the woman with whom he was accused of having an affair. The two are said to have met while Allan Shackleford was providing legal advice to the college where Lundquist was a dean.
Cynthia Shackleford said the alleged affair took place in 2004. A private investigator confirmed her suspicions. She filed the lawsuit in 2007.
A jury awarded her $5 million in compensatory damages and $4 million in punitive damages.
Lundquist has said she plans to appeal the decision.
• Best friend, mistress
A Johnston County district attorney filed a lawsuit in June against a longtime friend and neighbor who was alleged to have had an affair with her husband of 15 years.
Prosecutor Susan Doyle filed a criminal conversation suit against Christi Stem, an attorney specializing in family law, alleging that her husband, Michael Doyle, engaged in a sexual relationship with Stem.
Four months later in October, Susan Doyle agreed to dismiss the lawsuit and the parties reached an out-of-court settlement.
Stem acted as a mediator when the couple went to Stem with marriage problems, the lawsuit said.
Stem was also the godmother of the couple’s children.
The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
Contact Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.

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