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Fiege v. Boehm

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    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.

    Points of Law - Legal Principles in this Case for Law Students.

    To support a compromise it is sufficient that the parties entering into it thought, at the time, there was a bona fide question between them, though it may eventually turn out there was in fact no such question.

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    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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