A Durham County judge awarded the owner of a BMX bike stunt show company more than $8.8 million from the man he said seduced his wife and ruined his marriage.
Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson awarded Keith King more than $2.2 million in compensatory damages and three times that in punitive damages from Francisco Huizar III of San Antonio, Texas.
Huizar’s attorney said they will appeal.
In the civil complaint filed in April 2017, King accused Huizar of criminal conversation, alienation of affection, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress and assault and battery.
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North Carolina is one of a handful of states that let jilted spouses sue people for criminal conversation when the person has sex with a married person before separation, and for alienation of affection when “genuine love and affection” has been destroyed by the person.
Some lawsuits have yielded significant damages, including a $30 million penalty in a 2011 Wake County case. Ability to pay is not a factor in compensatory damages, but a judge may consider it when levying punitive damage.
Keith and Danielle King married on April 3, 2010, in Durham, and they now have a 5-year-old daughter, according to court documents and testimony.
BMX and stunt shows
Keith King became interested in bike stunts when he received an Evel Knievel bike for Christmas in 1976. He later founded BMX Stunt Shows.
“Once what was only a dream became a reality as Keith made his mark as a professional flatlander, competing in both the 1997 and 1998 X Games,” the company’s website states. “What sets Keith and the King BMX Stunt Shows apart from other stunt shows is that to this day he still rides competitively in his own shows, as well as being an outspoken advocate for the sport.”
The website states the shows feature some of the top ramp riders in BMX, along with flatland riders, inline skaters and skateboarders.
However, King’s attorney, Joanne Foil, said the affair and an assault by Huizar cost BMX Stunt Shows revenue and an employee — Danielle King worked for the company — and required her client to spend more money on household help, child care, and counseling.
Huizar’s attorney, Cheri Patrick, said Huizar was not responsible for a marriage that was damaged before her client met Danielle King.
Keith King, who is 15 years older than his wife, controlled her access to money, manipulated her low self-esteem, brought porn into the relationship, looked through her phone every other week, put her to work without pay, and continued to schedule shows after she said it was too much work and she needed help with her daughter, Patrick said. He tracked her movements and insisted she keep her hair blond, and wear bikinis and high heels, Patrick said.
“This marriage needed one more blow before it was over,” Patrick said.
In testimony, Danielle King said she pursued Huizar and that the marriage had been unhappy from the first year.
Patrick also questioned expense estimates provided by Keith King’s experts and financial statements showing his company’s revenue dropping from nearly $400,000 in 2015 to about $125,000 in 2017.
How they met
In August 2015, Danielle King met Huizar during a BMX show in New York where he was working at an insurance company booth, according to testimony. He makes about $84,000 a year as a marketing tour manager, according to testimony.
Keith King had gone to New York with his wife and daughter, but he left to go to another show in Colorado.
“When he left, guess who moved right on in,” Foil said.
On August 28, 2015, Keith King saw phone calls to a strange number on his phone bill and called Huizar and asked him to leave his wife alone. He thought the affair was over at that point, Foil said.
But on August 31, 2015, Huizar rented a room less than a mile from the Kings’ home. He returned once in September, twice in October and three times in November, testimony indicated.
“And that doesn’t count the times where he met her elsewhere,” Foil said.
From mid-August 2015 to Dec. 10, 2015, Huizar and Danielle King spoke on the phone more than 6,187 minutes, Foil said.
In February 2016, Keith King gave his wife a spa weekend at the beach for her birthday after she asked for a peaceful weekend. She posted on Facebook praising her husband for the gift.
“Guess who the heck tagged along?” Foil said. “Mr. Huizar.”
“He just conveniently popped up,” Foil said. “There is no way that this marriage could have humanly been saved with the level of this man’s involvement.”
In another meeting, the King family was on a beach vacation around spring 2016 when Huizar rented a place nearby, according to testimony.
People have affairs and sometimes recover, but not with Huizar’s “relentless behavior,” Foil said.
In April 2016, Danielle King sought to rent her own apartment with Huizar’s help, but ended up not moving there and going back to her husband, telling friends she was going to try to make the marriage work, according to testimony. Keith King didn’t find out about the apartment rental until much later, his attorney said.
Huizar stood back when Danielle King said she wanted to try to save her marriage at least twice, but then she would reach back out and Huizar would eventually give in, Patrick said.
The couple did end up separating in January 2017, Foil said. Danielle King testified that they separated in August 2016 and court documents support that, Patrick said.
With Huizar’s help, Danielle King rented an apartment in January 2017, and Huizar was on the lease.
Danielle King told her husband that her parents had helped with the apartment, Foil said.
Danielle King didn’t tell her husband her apartment number, but did share the name of the complex and the building number, Foil said.
When Danielle King told her husband that she was having a breaker issue at the apartment on Jan. 20, 2017, he went to her apartment, knocked on the door, and Huizar answered, Foil said.
At that point Keith King realized that his wife had continued to have an affair over the past 16 months, his attorney said. Patrick said he knew of the affair months before.
Foil claimed King and Huizar were setting Keith King up, waiting to record the scene with their cellphones to support domestic violence allegations. When Keith King reacted to finding Huizar there, Huizar put him in a choke hold, court documents indicate.
In court documents, Huizar’s attorney contends that Keith King showed up uninvited, refused to leave “and loomed over Danielle King, causing her to cower in fear.”
Huizar removed him from the apartment to “prevent great bodily harm,” to Danielle King, court documents state.
The experience led to Keith King developing post-traumatic stress disorder, Foil said, pointing to previous testimony of one of Keith King’s doctors.
A district court judge found in another case that Danielle King had sought a domestic violence protection order to gain an advantage in a civil suit and to protect her lover from being sued, assessing $15,000 in sanctions for a frivolous lawsuit, Foil said.
After Keith King filed the April 2017 lawsuit, his legal team tried to serve Huizar more than 10 times in Texas and North Carolina and ran notices in newspapers in Raleigh and Texas, along with sending dozens of letters.
The clerk of Superior Court entered an entry of default on Jan. 3, 2018, meaning that since Huizar didn’t respond that the court was ruling in the plaintiff’s favor and the only thing to determine was the damages. Hudson upheld the clerk’s ruling in a Jan. 28 order.
Testimony started in the case in June, but was delayed over time due to court schedules, and resumed on Monday.
When Hudson issued his ruling, he said it was “a textbook case” of how not to end a marriage in North Carolina and the handful of other states that allow alienation of affection and criminal conversation lawsuits.