Is a wife who hires someone to murder her husband liable in tort for the injuries he sustains in the murder attempt? The Virginia Supreme Court faced just this question in 1980 in Counts v. Counts. In light of the partial abrogation of the doctrine of interspousal immunity by the Virginia Supreme Court during the 1970's in wrongful death actions and inactions for damages in motor vehicle accident cases, a well reasoned prediction would have anticipated a further erosion of the doctrine. In Counts, however, the court disallowed the interspousal suit for an intentional tort, signaling that it had no intention of making further judicial exceptions to the doctrine of interspousal immunity. The General Assembly then took the initiative and in its 1981 session completed the partial abrogation begun by the courts by abolishing the defense of interspousal immunity. With this action the legislature brought Virginia into line with the growing trend toward abrogation. This article traces the doctrine of interspousal immunity from its origins in English common law, through its partial abrogation by the Virginia court which ended with Counts, to its abolition as a defense by the Virginia General Assembly in 1981.
The Legislative Abrogation of Interspousal Immunity in Virginia,
U. Rich. L. Rev.
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