A woman believed to be the wife of a senior partner at a prominent New York personal injury law firm has filed a lawsuit against her husband’s former colleague and accused mistress, claiming their alleged affair not only caused her to suffer emotionally, but forced her to spend money on a private investigator, legal counsel, marriage counseling and separate residences during the couple’s brief split.
The plaintiff, identified as MK Doe, sued Vanessa A. Dennis Monday in the Cook County Circuit Court for invasion of privacy, criminal conversation and violating the Illinois Alienation of Affections Act, the latter two of which are similar but separate claims that can brought over extramarital relationships. She is seeking $1 million on each of her suit's three counts.
Although the woman filed her suit with a fictitious name because she says it involves “extremely personal, private and sensitive facts,” a New York Post article published on its website early Sunday appears to have outed her as Marie Napoli, an attorney and the wife of Paul Napoli of Napoli, Bern, Ripka, Shkolnik.
The article first describes a “power struggle” between Napoli and Marc Bern–another senior partner at the New York-based firm that has offices across the nation, including in Chicago and downstate Illinois—and how Bern claims he noticed some irregularities in the firm's operations after Napoli was diagnosed with leukemia.
It then goes into the alleged affair between Napoli and Dennis, who previously worked at Napoli Bern, but now practices at the asbestos firm of Shrader & Associates in Texas.
The New York Post article also details the actions of Napoli’s “scorned wife,” including how she hired a private investigator to spy on her husband and Dennis during an April 2013 business trip to Chicago.
It points to court documents to say Marie Napoli sent harassing emails and texts to Dennis, and when Dennis moved to Texas, she sent her new colleagues and their wives messages “labeling her a ‘sex addict’ and even describing Dennis’ private body piercing,” the same one that is noted in the suit MK Doe filed Monday.
And to add another layer to the soap-opera like plot, the article says Dennis filed a defamation suit in April in New York against the Napolis, Bern and the Napoli Bern firm. It also says she got a series of text messages in January, shortly after her cat, Padme, went missing, including one of which was written from the perspective of her cat that said, “How do u think I got out . . .”
In response to the New York Post article, Paul and Marie Napoli said in a statement that “the Post captured only part of the story and twisted the claims to make tabloid news. Dennis’ complaint is the definition of extortion—used by her in an unsuccessful effort to line her pockets with an exorbitant monetary settlement.”
The Napolis’ statement --which is provided in full below and insinuates there is a power struggle at the firm between Paul Napoli and Bern -- does not mention MK Doe’s lawsuit, but many of the details included in the article match up with ones in the suit, such as Dennis’ body piercing and the date and location of the business trip she allegedly took with the plaintiff’s husband, among others.
The New York Post article says, “Marie Napoli filed her own legal action Friday, claiming Dennis enticed her husband into having sex on the Chicago business trip in violation of the ‘Illinois Alienation of Affections Act.’”
Court records show MK Doe's suit was filed Monday and no other lawsuits have been filed against Dennis recently in the Cook County Circuit Court, which would be the proper venue given the alleged violation of the Illinois Alienation of Affections Act occurred in Chicago.
This law, which appears to only remain on the books in a handful of states today, allows a person to sue the third-party allegedly responsible for taking away the affections of his or her spouse. Criminal conversation is a similar tort, but requires that an act of adultery occurred during the extra-martial relationship.
Another possible indication that MK Doe may be Marie Napoli is that Marie Napoli's maiden name is Kaiser, which could explain the “MK” initials.
Chicago attorney Jeffrey Javors filed the suit on MK Doe’s behalf. When reached by phone Monday and asked whether the New York Post article correctly identified MK Doe, Javors said he could not comment because he had not seen the article.
He did not immediately return a voice message left a few hours later, after The Cook County Record called to verify he had received an email providing him with the link to the New York Post article. Several calls made to the number listed for Dennis’ law firm resulted in busy signals Monday.
In the lawsuit filed Monday against Dennis, MK Doe alleges she married her husband in 1997, had three kids and was in a monogamous relationship at the time of the incident. The Napolis have three children, according to a 2008 article in the St. John’s University alumni magazine that notes the couple had been married 10 years at that time.
MK Doe claims during her husband and Dennis’ business relationship, Dennis “sought to solicit and encourage” him to “engage in a sexual relationship” at a time she knew he was “vulnerable because of a family illness.”
To entice her husband into cheating, the plaintiff claims Dennis touched him inappropriately during business activities, sexualized normal conversations, boasted about her sex life and made unfavorable comments about his wife. Dennis, the suit states, also suggested an April 2013 business trip in Chicago she and the plaintiff’s husband were going on together “would be like a honeymoon.”
Even though MK Doe says Dennis told her husband there were no strings attached to their casual sexual relationship, she asserts Dennis was all along trying to separate them because she was “envious” of the couple’s relationship and of her “upscale life style. She wanted it and him for herself.”
Sensing that Dennis’ pursuit of her husband had succeeded, MK Doe says she hired a private investigator on April 14, 2013 to follow the two on their Chicago business trip. On April 22, MK Doe learned that husband and Dennis had sex after checking into the Four Seasons Hotel.
The plaintiff asserts that after she confronted her husband, he admitted he cheated, apologized, said he didn’t love Dennis, begged for her forgiveness, asked if she would go to therapy to save their marriage and left the business trip early.
The suit notes Dennis was fired, although it does not say when or why, except for noting she was “fired for her actions.”
As a direct result of Dennis’ alleged actions toward the plaintiff’s husband, MK Doe contends she suffered emotional and mental anguish when she was “fighting cancer, which affected her recovery.”
She claims in her suit that Dennis’ alleged actions caused her and her husband to become estranged, leaving her to undergo cancer treatments without his support and forced the couple to maintain separate residences, as well separate living expenses, including cable and cleaning bills.
MK Doe says she also had to pay “large sums of money” to investigate Dennis, go to marriage and family counseling and to hire legal counsel to protect her assets from the possibility of divorce.
Here is the full statement from the Napolis regarding the New York Post article:
Today’s New York Post wrote an article against our family. As usual, the Post captured only part of the story and twisted the claims to make tabloid news. Dennis’ complaint is the definition of extortion—used by her in an unsuccessful effort to line her pockets with an exorbitant monetary settlement.
Last week, Marc Bern appended the complaint to a motion and filed it publicly in an attempt to humiliate our family and expose our personal life and office to ridicule. The complaint was never publicly available and never actually filed by the former associate, only by Marc.
As many of you know, Marc for inexplicable reasons, decided once I got sick to try and take over the law firm I have built over the last 20 years. He quietly waited until I went under the knife for my transplant before firing key employees who worked for me in running the firm. At the same time, he fired my 72 year old father (the biggest earner in the office in personal injury). While in ICU Marie had to leave my side and rush to Court to get the Court to order him to cease.
Despite the fact we were best friends, that I was the best man at his wedding, and identified at the morgue the body of his neglected son who died of heroin, he did not visit me once in the hospital, nor call or even email. All my attempts to connect to date have been met with utter silence. While I always wondered after five wives whether him and I would have any issues I never imagined the lengths of the deception or the lows a single person could go to. I heard a great quote today about friendship: 'everyone wants to ride with you in a limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down'. True friends help in times of adversity and times when you are sick, they don’t abandon you and they certainly don’t choose to hurt you.
While Bern’s litigation tactics are deplorable, this does not change the fact that our family is stronger than ever and the firm continues to operate as usual. While our marriage went through a hard time, like many do, but that is behind us now. My wife has been nothing but loving in my time of need—taking care of me every night and day while I recover from this terrible cancer. I love her deeply.
As always I thank each and every one of you who have given us the support to get through our difficult times.
Paul and Marie"