The Law School Authority

Fiege(df/ant) v. Boehm (pl/ee) Case Brief

Summary of Fiege(df/ant)  v. Boehm (pl/ee)
App Ct. Maryland 1956


Relevant Facts: Pl alleged that Df and Pl had consensual, premarital sex which resulted in the pl becoming pregnant, and that Df acknowledged responsibility and paternity.  Pl gave birth to a female child and df agreed to pay all her medical, and miscellaneous expenses related to the birth, and to compensate pl for the loss of salary and $10 per week until his daughter reached 21, for child support, in exchange for pl’s abstaining from filing bastardly charges against him.Df denied ever having sex with the Pl.  Df paid $480 and refused to pay the balance of $2,415.80.  Pl instituted bastardly charges against df, whereas blood tests revealed the child was not his.

Legal Issue(s): Whether the contract was unenforceable, based on the pl’s forbearance to prosecute as an invalid claim, and therefore the contract lacked consideration?

Court’s Holding: No, it was enforceable.

Procedure: Trial ct. charged jury that df criminal ct. acquittal was not binding upon them, jury found for the pl, awarding full amount.

Law or Rule(s): The surrender of, or forbearance to assert, a valid claim by a person with an honest and reasonable belief in its possible validity is sufficient consideration for a contract.

Court Rationale: Forbearance to prosecute a claim is insufficient consideration if the claim forborne is so lacking in foundation as to make its assertion incompatible with honesty and a reasonable degree of intelligence.  The promise of a woman who is expecting a illegitimate child that she will not institute bastardly proceedings against a certain man is sufficient consideration for his promise to pay for the child’s support, irregardless of whether the man is the father or the prosecution is successful, if she makes the charge in good faith. There was no proof of fraud or unfairness.  The PL made the charge of bastardly against the df in good faith.

Plaintiff’s Argument: Df agreed to pay in exchange of pl’s promise to forbearance to prosecute.

Defendant’s Argument: Pl’s forbearance was not based on a valid claim and therefore no consideration existed.

TEST – Honest assertion and reasonable belief in validity, with assertion made in good faith.

Putative – supposed, or reputed.

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