Thursday, March 1, 2012

Husband Hides Vasectomy and Gets Sued by Wife

Is it illegal in Pennsylvania for a man to conceal his vasectomy from his soon-to-be-wife when she is desirous of having children? Apparently so!

Jan Killmeyer Tudor said she married Todd Tudor Dec. 27, 1996, when she was 34 years old.  Before marrying, they allegedly discussed their mutual interest in having children. Jan testified that she believed Todd was able to father children as he had three from a previous marriage.

Throughout the marriage Jan stopped taking birth control, had sexual relations with Todd, but was unable to conceive. She went on to see a fertility specialist, even undergoing an invasive procedure where dye was injected into her fallopian tubes. It was determined that there were no physical reasons to keep Jan from becoming pregnant. Jan also claimed that throughout the marriage, Todd told her he wanted children.  He also expressed this to family and friends. He also reportedly claimed to see fertility specialist.

Jan said she experienced emotional distress each month she did not become pregnant. She claimed she stayed in the marriage in order to have a child even though she and Todd were experiencing marital difficulties. Jan reportedly changed employment to put more effort toward conceiving.

In early 2001, Jan asked Todd whether he had undergone a vasectomy, and he said no. The couple separated in April 2001.  Jan then found out from Todd's ex-wife that he had in fact undergone a vasectomy in 1994.

Jan, as a result of feeling duped, filed a lawsuit against Todd in the Court of Common Pleas of Butler County in 2002. She alleged fraud, claiming that Todd knew she would rely on his misrepresentations and continue her attempts to become pregnant. She claimed her reliance was justifiable. She alleged he willfully and maliciously concealed his vasectomy from her, and his conduct was outrageous. Jan sought damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, mental and emotional distress and punitive damages.

The case proceeded to a jury trial before Judge William Shaffer. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff March 5, 2004, awarding her $185,000 for damages and $120,000 for punitive damages.

Though this case might seem like a stretch it actually fits in perfectly with Pennsylvania's fraud law.  In PA, a person who makes a fraudulent misrepresentation of material fact to another person is responsible for all injuries resulting from that other person's reliance on the misrepresentation.  In the Tudor case it appears that Todd misrepresented himself by telling his prospective wife that he wanted to have kids.  From that representation Jan would have reasonably inferred that Todd was able to have kids.  Plus she had the added proof that Todd had father three other children.  It looks like this prospect of children played a key role in Jan marrying Todd.  So Jan clearly relied on what Todd said and, in turn, underwent a battery of tests to make sure it wasn't she who could not conceive.

The damages in this case is what has me thinking.  There is a percentage of people in society who cannot conceive despite an apparently clean bill of health.  Thus, if Jan was infertile, despite there being no physical issues, would she still have a claim against Todd?  If so, I think the extent of damages would be much less.  I also don't understand how Jan could not have known about the "results" of Todd's visit to the fertility specialist. Though, knowledge of that would have changed little unless Todd would have agreed to mitigate potential damages by having sperm obtained for in vitro fertilization.

It should be noted that Mark Criss handled this case for Jan Tudor and clearly did a great job.  Though no defense attorney was listed in the verdict report so I am wondering if Todd defended pro se.

-- Share this post :
Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on StumbleUpon
Share on Delicious
Share on Reddit
Share on Digg
Share on simpy
Share on Technorati
furl Share on furl
Feeds RSS Subscribe to Feeds RSS

No comments:

Post a Comment