Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Wallis v. Smith case brief

Wallis v. Smith case brief summary
22 P.3d 682 (2001)

In an action for fraud, breach of contract, conversion, and prima facie tort, appellant father challenged the order of the District Court of Bernalillo County (New Mexico) dismissing the case with prejudice. The father also appealed the court's imposition of sanctions for improper use of subpoena authority.

The father and appellee mother were partners in a consensual sexual relationship. Allegedly, the mother misrepresented that she was practicing birth control when she was not, and the father unknowingly fathered her child. The father's complaint was limited to compensatory damages for the "economic injury" of supporting a normal, healthy child.

  • The appellate court held that the father's complaint was properly dismissed for failure to state a claim because: 
  • (1) the public policy of child support prevailed; and 
  • (2) the father's attempt to apply traditional contract and tort principles to his contraceptive agreement was unconvincing and, in the end, futile. 
  • The court acknowledged that the rules of civil procedure were not expressly clear whether a party could pursue discovery of material that was subject to an ongoing discovery dispute that was not resolved by the parties or decided by the court, so the court concluded that it was unfair to uphold the sanction awarded.

The court affirmed the dismissal order, and reversed the imposition of sanctions.

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