N.C. Court of Appeals hears arguments by two Wake Forest alumni on alienation of affection law

On Tuesday, Veronica Filipowski, the ex-wife of former Winston-Salem Dash team co-owner Andrew “Flip” Filipowski, sat in a room full of Wake Forest law students and listened to arguments in a case about the collapse of her marriage.

She had sued Melissa Oliver for damages in Forsyth County Superior Court under the state’s alienation of affection law, alleging that Oliver’s affair with her husband ruined their marriage. Oliver has challenged the law’s constitutionality, and the N.C. Court of Appeals was at Wake Forest on Tuesday to hear oral arguments in the case. The court will likely issue a decision in the next three months.

Filipowski let her attorneys do most of the talking Tuesday, declining to comment. Oliver and Andrew Filipowski did not attend the hearing.

In court papers, Oliver has argued that the law violates a fundamental right to privacy and free speech, but Lorin Lapidus (’04), one of Veronica Filipowski’s attorneys, said that right doesn’t extend to adultery.

Adultery causes injury to a specific person and abuses the institution of marriage, he said. The government has an interest in protecting marriage and can fashion laws that regulate the private sexual behavior of people who interfere with a marriage.

“These torts (or laws) provide a redress to injury,” he said.

John Vermitsky (’06), the attorney for Oliver, cited an historic U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2003 that struck down Texas’ ban on private consensual sex between adults of the same sex. He said the alienation of affection law violates the fundamental right to privacy laid out in that ruling.

Lapidus disagreed, saying that the ruling didn’t prohibit government from regulating private sexual activity in certain circumstances.

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