Jury awards $500,000 to spurned wife
Posted June 2, 2009 6:21 p.m. EDT
Raeford, N.C. — A Hoke County woman owes her husband's former wife $500,000 after a jury ruled that she broke up a 50-year marriage.
Laura Patterson sued Herlinda Basurto in December 2007, alleging alienation of affection and criminal conversation, a legal term for adultery.
Patterson blamed Basurto, 30, for seducing her husband, Alford Patterson, 69. The couple married in 1957 and divorced last year, and Alford Patterson and Basurto subsequently married.
"The facts of the case were very compelling," said Angela Hatley, the attorney for Laura Patterson. "(Basurto) certainly had motive and intent to destroy this marriage."
The suit states that the Pattersons reared two children and "acquired substantial property and wealth" during their marriage from the mobile home park they owned off U.S. Highway 401 Business in Raeford. It alleges that Basurto met Alford Patterson in 2005 when the Pattersons were selling their business – Basurto's brother bought part of it – and that they had a not-so-secret affair for several months.
Laura Patterson said in the suit that she was so humiliated that she moved out of her Raeford house to a mobile home in Holden Beach that she and her husband own.
A jury deliberated for 30 minutes Friday before ruling in her favor.
"I don’t think that the jury knew what they were doing,” Alford Patterson said. "I mean, think about it. Half a million dollars, and Laura's sitting at the beach now as if she's going to get that, which she won't. I mean, you don't get something that isn't there."
He said the 50 years they spent together was anything but marital bliss.
"(We) had problems from Day 1," he said. “Laura tried to portray this as being the most lovable marriage that ever hit the United States."
Laura Patterson had several affairs of her own through the years, her ex-husband said.
She denied that allegation.
"I waited four years for this day," she said in a telephone interview. "I wanted everyone to know what happened. I've never been with another man in my life except my husband. Everyone who knows me will verify it."
Hatley said she would make every effort to ensure the that settlement is paid.
Basurto said she thinks her husband is worth every penny.
"I love that guy. He's good to me and my family, and I love him," she said.