DAVID F. COULSON, Appellant,
AARON T. STEINER, Appellee.
from the Superior Court No. 3AN-14-10963 CI of the State of
Alaska, Third Judicial District, Anchorage, Catherine M.
C. Pharr, Law Offices of John C. Pharr, P.C., Anchorage, for
L. Thompson, Law Office of Darryl L. Thompson, P.C.,
Anchorage, for Appellee.
Before: Stowers, Chief Justice, Winfree, Maassen, Bolger, and
Steiner began a romantic relationship with Juanita Omadlao in
May 2013, while Omadlao was still married to David Coulson.
Coulson learned about the affair and filed for divorce. After
the divorce proceedings ended, Coulson sued Steiner, claiming
alienation of affections, fraud and civil conspiracy, and
intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
Specifically, Coulson alleged that Steiner caused
Coulson's divorce and that Steiner then conspired with
Omadlao during the divorce proceedings to extract child
support and spousal support from Coulson.
superior court granted Steiner summary judgment on all three
of Coulson's claims. The court concluded that Alaska does
not recognize a tort for alienation of affections and that
Coulson's remaining claims were derivative of
Coulson's alienation of affections claim and likewise
barred by Alaska law.
agree that Steiner was entitled to summary judgment on the
alienation of affections claim based on our prior case law.
But we also conclude that Steiner was not entitled to summary
judgment on Coulson's other claims because those claims
were based, at least in part, on Steiner's conduct during
the divorce proceedings, not on his role in causing
FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS
and Omadlao married in 2009. In May 2013 Omadlao began a
romantic relationship with Steiner, and in September 2013
Coulson filed for divorce. Omadlao, who was pregnant at the
time, sought interim spousal support from Coulson. In her
filings she represented that Coulson was the father, that she
could not work due to medical conditions associated with her
pregnancy, and that she would be homeless without spousal
gave birth in February 2014. Shortly thereafter the superior
court partially granted Omadlao's support motion,
awarding her $ 1, 000 per month in interim spousal support,
requiring Coulson to pay Omadlao's pregnancy-related
medical expenses, and instructing Coulson to
"investigate" purchasing medical insurance for
Omadlao and the child.
March Steiner and Omadlao received the results of a paternity
test indicating that Steiner was the father of Omadlao's
child. At an April hearing Coulson's attorney requested a
paternity test order, and the judge acknowledged that there
was a "serious question about the paternity of the
child, " but Omadlao did not mention Steiner's test
results. Coulson took a paternity test later that month and
discovered that he was not the father of Omadlao's child.
proceedings between Coulson and Omadlao resulted in a
modification of the interim spousal support order and
eventually a settlement agreement and decree of divorce.
Steiner and Omadlao married in November.
Proceedings In This Case
filed suit against Steiner for damages resulting from
Steiner's role in the divorce and divorce proceedings.
Coulson alleged that Steiner assisted Omadlao in portraying
herself as having limited funds and being on the verge of
homelessness when in fact she was comfortably living in
Steiner's home. He also alleged that Steiner and Omadlao
conspired to conceal the fact that Steiner was the
child's father in order to extract child support, medical
expenses, and interim spousal support from Coulson.
on these facts, Coulson alleged that (1) Steiner committed
the tort of alienation of affections by destroying the
spousal love between Coulson and Omadlao; (2) Steiner
committed fraud and civil conspiracy by "knowingly
accept[ing] the benefits of [Omadlao's] fraudulent
behavior" and by conspiring with Omadlao to defraud
Coulson; and (3) Steiner committed intentional and negligent
infliction of emotional distress by having an affair with
Omadlao and then conspiring with her to extract child and
spousal support from Coulson.
filed an answer denying these allegations. Steiner then moved
for summary judgment, arguing that alienation of affections
is not a cause of action in Alaska and that the other two
claims were ...