Bozman v. Bozman
376 Md. 461, 830 A.2d 450 (2003)

  • After 32 years of marriage, William filed for divorce from his wife Nancy, alleging adultery. The divorce was not amicable.
  • Nancy filed multiple criminal complaints against William claiming that he was stalking and harassing her.
    • William was arrested several times, although all the charges against him were ultimately dismissed.
  • William filed a tort action against Nancy, claiming malicious prosecution.
    • William argued that Nancy fabricated the claims in retaliation for his initiation of the divorce.
  • Nancy made a motion to dismiss the tort claim. She argued that the common-law doctrine of interspousal tort immunity meant that William could not sue her.
  • The Court granted Nancy’s motion to dismiss. William appealed.
    • William argued that under Lusby v. Lusby (390 A.2d 77 (1978)), interspousal immunity was not a defense where conduct constituting the tort was ‘outrageous.’
  • The Intermediate Appellate Court affirmed. William appealed.
    • The Appellate Court agreed that Lusby was controlling, but felt that Nancy’s conduct fell short of being ‘outrageous.’
  • The Maryland Supreme Court reversed and rejected the motion to dismiss.
    • The Maryland Supreme Court decided to throw out the entire concept of interspousal immunity.
      • The Court noted that the common-law concept dated back to when husband and wife were considered one person under the law, and you can’t sue yourself.
      • In addition, it can disrupt the family unit. The courts are traditionally loathe to do things that disrupt families.
      • In addition, allowing one spouse to sue another spouse (and then collect from that spouse’s insurance policy), encourages fraud.
    • The Court found that the idea was antiquated and had no rational underpinnings in modern tort law. In addition, the Court noted that many other jurisdictions had already moved away from the doctrine.