Involuntary Parenthood: The ONCA teaches an appellant about the birds and the bees
Justice Paul Rouleau has likely seen it all in his illustrious career—however, his ruling in the matter of PP v DD, 2017 ONCA 180 will surely stand out as memorable.
The two parties before the court were once short-term lovers caught up in the throws of passion. The male, a medical doctor, the female, a worker within the healthcare field, were temporarily joined together by mutual friends. The mutual attraction took over and the rest, as they say, was history.
The pair entered into a casual sexual relationship with PP under the impression that DD was using oral contraceptives during each of their 5 or 6 escapades. Apparently, that information was false and DD became pregnant and gave birth to a healthy baby nine months later. In this case, the court made a confidentiality order to not identify the parties. My guess is that the court was well aware of the future embarrassment the child would be subject to upon finding out about the silly legal wrangling between the parents.
If the story stopped here, then this scenario would leave not much to write about. However, PP’s actions after learning of the pregnancy elevated this story to a whole other level.
It Takes Two to Tango
PP was so enraged by his impending fatherhood that, instead of blaming the situation on his own stupidity, he sought the assistance of the Ontario courts in pursuing a civil claim against DD for fraudulent misrepresentation.
The damages? That PP, due to the actions of DD, was deprived of the benefit of choice with regard to when and with whom he would conceive a child and raise a family. PP had attempted to get rid of his existential crisis by demanding his ex-lover abort the baby. The agreed facts indicate that he expressed his dismay at not wanting to have a child with “some random girl” and that he had been “waiting his whole life” to decide who he wanted to mother his child. Needless to say, DD stood against PP’s goading that she have an abortion.
PP missed the memo on the wise adage that it takes two to tango. It is ironic to think that a physician struggled with this concept. PP attempted to lay the full blame of the new baby at the feet of his bedfellow accomplice, while he was depicted as an innocent victim of his own lust.
To succeed on a civil claim for fraudulent misrepresentation, the appellant must establish the following: (1) the representation was made by the respondent; (2) the respondent knew that the representation was false or was recklessly indifferent to its truth or falsity; (3) the false statement was material and by it the appellant was induced to act; and (4) the appellant suffered damages.
In PP’s statement of claim, he argued that DD falsely represented that she was using birth control. Furthermore, she too had implied that she had no intention to conceive a child with DD. Solely on the basis of PP’s statements and actions, DD made the choice to engage in repeated, unprotected sexual intercourse. On this premise, DD argued that his consent was vitiated and that PP should be held liable.
Not surprisingly, the lower court ruling denied the claim of fraudulent misrepresentation. The court found that the tort could not be made out, primarily because the appellant had not brought forward any recoverable damages. Instead, the court concluded that PP was only suing for fraudulent misrepresentation due to the emotional shock of becoming a parent, when it clearly was not part of his short-term plan.
In his appeal to the Court of Appeal for Ontario (“ONCA”), PP was essentially appealing a procedural decision granting DD’s motion to strike PP’s statement of claim without leave to amend. In the end, DD was awarded costs to the tune of $8,000.
Really, no analysis is needed. The story merely highlights that the ONCA is not only a forum for dissecting important legal questions but can also double as a high school biology class. Unprotected intercourse between a man and a woman can lead to pregnancy. Go figure.
Can anything positive come out of this saga of a man allegedly hoodwinked into becoming a daddy? The answer is yes. Beyond the fact that the baby was born healthy, PP has made it clear that he wants to support and have a relationship with his child. Nevertheless, one might question PP’s sincerity of wanting to support the child given his attempt to sue the child’s mother for nearly 4 million dollars. If he won, he would have basically left his offspring destitute. But I digress…
In the end, let’s all hope that as PP endeavours upon the journey of fatherhood he realizes the importance of one day sitting down with his bundle of joy to have a little chat about the birds and the bees. It’s the least he could do.