An interesting case from Ontario is back in the news again as the Ontario Court of Appeal made its ruling, upholding the decision made by the lower court. This case has been found interesting by many as it involves a male doctor who went to court to sue a woman who he had sexual relations with and resulted in a pregnancy. While the prospect of fatherhood is understandably daunting to many, this male doctor brought things to a new level, suing the woman for emotional harm, fraudulent misrepresentation and resulting damages. Four million dollars worth of fraud and deceit, to be exact…
What made this ‘baby daddy’ want to sue? The woman in this case had lied about taking birth control prior to engaging in the sexual activity with the male doctor that resulted in her pregnancy. The male doctor was thus not only surprised by the baby news, but felt he had been deceived and deprived of ‘the benefit of choosing when and with whom he would assume the responsibility of fatherhood’. It was his position that he had consented to sexual relations with the woman on the understanding that she was using effective contraception and since this was misrepresented (expressly or implied), his consent was negated as it was obtained by deceit and dishonesty by the woman.
The trial judge from the lower court in this case found that while the deception from the woman did undermine the consent the male doctor had provided to the sexual activity, ultimately the male doctor’s main issue for which he was suing was not the sexual activity, it was the unplanned pregnancy. Furthermore, the male doctor claimed he provided his consent based on the woman taking birth control, but as birth control is not 100% guaranteed effective, the male doctor was still taking a risk.
The male doctor was unhappy enough with the Ontario court’s decision in this matter to appeal it to the higher courts. But the Ontario Court of Appeal confirmed that not upholding the decision made by the lower court would run contrary to the spirit, purpose and policy of family law to ensure no-fault responsibility and equal obligations are met when it comes to children. The male doctor was also unsuccessful on his appeal argument that the child would harm him financially and that he should have been able to argue same at the lower court. The Court found that the damages the male doctor claimed were related to a disruption to his ‘lifestyle’ and possible effect to his career and future earnings. But this was not a claim against a third party for these damages, but against the other parent with whom he ultimately shared equally a legal and moral responsibility of maintaining a child.
Interestingly enough, the motion judge made a confidentiality order on his own motion, ordering the parties not be identified by name and sealing the court file.