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Fiege v. Boehm

    Brief Fact Summary. P sued D for breach of contract and D asserted that because he was not the father of P’s child, his support agreement lacked a valid consideration.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. The forbearance from asserting a good faith legal claim constitutes a valid consideration.

    Facts. Fiege (P) was pregnant.  P claimed that Boehm (D) was the child’s father.  P gave birth to the child and P claims D acknowledged on many occasions that he is the father.  P claims that before the child was born, D promised to pay P’s expenses and make $10/week support payments so long as P would not institute legal proceedings.  D paid P $480 but stopped payments when blood tests revealed that he was not the father.  D prevailed at a subsequent trial on the charges of bastardy by the state.  P then sued to enforce the agreement for support in civil court.  The jury found a verdict in favor of P for $2,415.80, the full amount of her claim.  D appealed.

    Issue. Does the forbearance from asserting a good faith legal claim constitute a valid consideration?

    Held. Yes.  Judgment affirmed
    •    The surrender of, or forbearance to assert an invalid claim by one who did not have a good faith and reasonable belief in its possible validity is not a sufficient consideration to support a contract.
    •    However, forbearance to sue for a lawful claim or demand is a sufficient consideration for a promise if the party forbearing had a good faith intention to prosecute litigation which is not frivolous, vexatious, or unlawful, and which she believed to be well founded.
    •    Here, the court found no proof of fraud or unfairness.  P indicated that she made the charge of bastardy against D in good faith.

    Discussion. Generally, there is a requirement that a claim be asserted in good faith.  Forbearance in asserting a good faith claim constitutes a valid consideration.  Note however, there is no discussion of P’s possible bad faith by nondisclosure.


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