Iredell oral surgeon ordered to pay $2.2 million after adulterous affair
Published 11:14 pm Thursday, June 27, 2019
SALISBURY — A Mooresville police officer says he had a loving marriage until an oral surgeon had an affair with his wife.
This week, jurors in Rowan County Civil Superior Court sided with him and ordered the doctor to pay more than $2.29 million in damages.
Gerald Sprinkle Jr., an officer with the Mooresville Police Department, filed the alienation-of-affection lawsuit in March 2018 that said Dr. Matthew Johnson of Johnson Oral Surgery caused the end of his marriage. According to Sprinkle’s attorney, James Davis, and the lawsuit, Johnson and Jana Sprinkle had been engaged in a sexual relationship since 2014.
The alienation-of-affection claim essentially is that Johnson is responsible for fracturing the marriage.
Jana Sprinkle was a surgical assistant at Johnson’s dental office.
According to the suit, the Sprinkles had been married since January 2010 and have one child together. The suit says the Sprinkles were working to rebuild a “broken marriage.”
Gerald Sprinkle found out about the affair in January 2018 and soon consulted Davis about his options.
Davis said he believes the jurors felt the actions of Johnson and the duration of the affai, were so egregious that they awarded him nearly $3 million.
“My client was thrilled with the jury’s verdict,” Davis said. “The institution of marriage should be protected and honored.”
North Carolina is one of only six or seven states that still have alienation-of-affection laws.
“These protect the institution of marriage and create a respect for relationships,” Davis said.
The two-day trial began Monday. Jana Sprinkle testified.
Davis said it was an emotional trial that included testimony alleging Johnson had an affair not only with Jana Sprinkle but with other women. The lawsuit said Johnson denied that he and Jana Sprinkle had an adulterous sexual affair.
Johnson’s attorney, Mark Childers of Mooresville, withdrew from the case in April 2019.
Johnson, who did not show up in court for the trial, responded to a Post inquiry.
“The relationship between Jana Sprinkle and myself began as a friendship,” Johnson said. “After 18 years of working together, the relationship slowly evolved. This mutual relationship was inappropriate, and bad decisions were made by both parties.”
Davis said this was one of the few cases he’s been involved in that the defendant was not in court.
Jurors decided that Gerald Sprinkle is entitled to $250,000 in damages for alienation of affection; $544,000 in damages for criminal conversation (adultery); $750,000 in punitive damages for alienation of affection; and $750,000 for criminal conversation.
Davis said this is one of the highest amounts awarded in Rowan County in an alienation-of-affection lawsuit.
Davis said the reason for such a large amount is to deter others in similar situations as well as to punish Johnson.