DENZIK V. DENZIK
FAMILY LAW: Paternity fraud; Statute of limitations for fraudulent misrepresentation
The questions presented are whether there is sufficient evidence of fraudulent misrepresentation; and whether the statute of limitations bars the claim. Other issues relate to the question of so-called paternity fraud and the matter of whether promises between married partners should be supervised by the court system .
The parties were originally married in 1981 and later divorced in May of 1984; and were remarried in December of 1984 and were divorced in March 1990. During the second marriage, Blazar gave birth to a daughter in June of 1987. The parties lived together as a family until the 1990 divorce . Denzik was ordered to pay weekly child support for the one child . Blazar was awarded custody of the child subject to regular visitation by Denzik. This action arose when Blazar the mom later told Denzik that the child was not his and the product of an extramarital affair while married.
When it was determined that Denzik was not the biological father of the child, he successfully obtained a termination of child support obligations from the circuit court. On December 18, 2000, Denzik filed acivil action in the circuit court seeking damages for the fraudulent misrepresentation of the paternity of the child to him.
Denzik testified that he had suspected that Blazar had been unfaithful to him during the marriage but she had denied such conduct when questioned about it. The jury found Blazar guilty of fraud and awarded Denzik damages in the sum of $54,720.26 . This represented a demand by Denzik for all child support payments made by him for the support of the child for the past five years. The Court of Appeals reversed the jury verdict. This Court granted discretionary review.
The rule requiring pleading of fraud with particularity is to be considered in the light of the entire spirit of modern pleading which lays emphasis on short, concise and direct pleadings. A pleading is sufficient if it identifies the circumstances constituting fraud so that the defendant can prepare an adequate answer from the allegations .
In view of the fact that the fraudulent misrepresentation arose in this case, SC found that it was ongoing to the extent that the conduct of Blazar came within the applicable statute of limitations set out in KRS 413.130(3).
Michael Stevens, ed.