Sweet gets combined divorce, alienation of affection suit

By Amelia Flood | Mar 31, 2010

A rare alienation of affection lawsuit has been combined for hearing purposes and will go to its third judge.

Madison County Associate Judge Dean Sweet will now oversee hearings in the divorce of Hugh and Lesa Ann Brandt as well as Hugh Brandt's civil case against Rusty Churchman, the man he claims stole his wife from him.

Madison County Circuit Judge Ann Callis combined the cases for hearings by an order entered March 26.

The two cases overlap due to Churchman's alleged role in the Brandts' 2009 divorce and the standing of St. Louis attorney David Ferman in both actions.

Lesa Ann Brandt originally filed for divorce in April 2009, seeking to end the couple's 13 year marriage on the grounds of irreconcilable differences.

She moved to voluntarily dismiss the divorce three days after it was filed.

Hugh Brandt then filed for divorce in May 2009.

The divorce judgment was entered shortly after.

Hugh Brandt then filed suit against Churchman later that year. In the suit, Brandt claimed that Churchman's relationship with Lesa Brandt caused the break-up of his marriage.

He is seeking damages of at least $50,000.

The divorce and the civil case became more entangled with the entry of Ferman into the both actions.

Ferman sought and gained pro hac vice standing in the divorce in February of this year. However, during the same month, Callis granted a motion by Hugh Brandt – who represents himself – to have Ferman's pro hac vice standing rescinded and denied. That order was entered Feb. 26, after Madison County Associate Judge Ellar Duff allowed Ferman to act in the divorce.

Richard Bender, who had represented Lesa Brandt in the divorce and Churchman in the civil case, filed to withdraw March 24, leaving Ferman as counsel.

Two days later, Callis vacated her order denying Ferman pro hac vice standing over Hugh Brandt's objections.

She also ordered that the divorce and the civil case be combined for hearing purposes.

Madison County Associate Judge Elizabeth Levy then assigned the case to Sweet.

The civil suit is Madison case number 09-L-1131.

The Brandt divorce is Madison case number 09-D-475.

The initial divorce action filed by Lesa Brandt is Madison case number 09-D-409.

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