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Sex, Lies, and Contracts

Now who says contracts have to be boring? I'm really looking forward to tomorrow's discussion of Fiege v. Boehm.

To put the case in a nutshell: Ms. Boehm found herself in a delicate position and, having stepped out with young Mr. Fiege, secured a promise from him to pay for her medical and miscellaneous expenses, loss of salary, and $10 per week until the child was 21, in exchange for her not charging him with bastardy. [1] However, Mr. Fiege then found out that his blood type was O, Ms. Boehm's was B, and the child being a straight-A kiddie... well, you do the math. He stopped paying.

The court's finding (and this is a 1956 case, remember) is interesting for its consequences. Judge Delaplaine finds that, whilst forbearance of making a claim is not sufficient consideration to support a promise if that claim is invalid, it is good consideration so long as at the time her claim was doubtful but of such nature that both sides thought there was a bona fide question between them. End result? She gets her cash.

Which proves that Ms. Boehm was not as clever as clever may be. Let us assume that she'd been taking long auto rides in the country with three separate men during the interval in question. If she made the same deal with each man separately, there'd be a question between each of them: after all, they know no better than she who the father is, and while she is the only one who knows of the existence of all four parties, that's not directly relevant as misrepresentation. (At least, so it seems.) She could have been one well-off single mother.

A more literary, but less scholarly, interpretation of the same concept might be found in a work by the good Mr. Ennis. Those of you who know what I'm talking about here should not click this link. It'll make you cry.

[1] This seems to be a now outdated criminal statute with a number of special considerations, such that agreeing not to charge the man in question was valid consideration for a contract, under normal conditions.


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LOL we talked about the case today in Contracts... general consensus was that Ms. Boehm is a playa. The discussion got very technical as we debated the moment of exact conception, etc. Anyway, Fiege was not as clever as he thought, viz. his panicked plea to his father. Anyway... when it comes to sex, check out Bishop v. Liston and Barton v. Bee Lines. Now, ain't those fun! In particular, look for the place in the statute where it says a man may not have carnal knowledge of any females other than his daughters or sisters. Ya gotta love something like that!!

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