SD Supreme Court reinstates spouse-stealing suit against Pennington County attorneyPIERRE (AP) — The South Dakota Supreme Court on Thursday reinstated a lawsuit filed by a man who alleges a county prosecutor stole the affections of his wife.
By: CHET BROKAW, The Associated Press
PIERRE (AP) — The South Dakota Supreme Court on Thursday reinstated a lawsuit filed by a man who alleges a county prosecutor stole the affections of his wife.
A trial judge had thrown out the lawsuit filed by Douglas Rumpca of Rapid City, ruling there was no affection left in his marriage with Kellie Rumpca when she became involved with Pennington County State's Attorney Glenn Brenner.
However, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that there is conflicting evidence on whether Kellie Rumpca still had affection for her husband when her relationship with Brenner began. The high court sent the case back to circuit court for a trial.
"These disagreements must be resolved by a jury," Justice John K. Konenkamp wrote for the court.
South Dakota is one of only seven states that still allow so-called alienation of affection lawsuits that permit people to seek financial damages from those they allege have seduced and stolen their spouses. The other states are Hawaii, Illinois, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina and Utah, according to state lawmakers who have tried unsuccessfully in recent years to repeal the law allowing such lawsuits.
Brenner's attorney, Michael M. Hickey of Rapid City, said he is comfortable evidence at a trial will support Kellie Rumpca's assertions.
"I wish we didn't have to put everybody through a trial, but I guess we're prepared to go forward. We're confident at the end of the say the jury will agree with Kellie," Hickey said. Brenner and Kellie Rumpca are now married, Hickey said.
A lawyer representing Douglas Rumpca did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.
Court documents indicate Brenner and Kellie Rumpca met in 2002, when they had daughters attending the same pre-school. Kellie Rumpca testified in a deposition that she stopped loving her former husband long before she began a relationship with Brenner in 2009, the year she filed for divorce.
However, Douglas Rumpca testified the marriage was good until Brenner interfered. The Supreme Court noted Kellie Rumpca gave her husband an anniversary card in 2000 saying she loved him and was blessed to have him for a husband. A therapist also testified Kellie Rumpca said in 2008 she still loved her husband.
"Indeed, there were ample circumstantial facts to contradict Kellie," the Supreme Court said.
The case has been handled at the trial court level by retired Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert A. Miller because the circuit judges in the area removed themselves because of their professional dealings with Brenner in his job as state's attorney.