Tina Marie Hodge v. Chadwick Craig

Tina Marie Hodge v. Chadwick Craig
M2009-00930-SC-R11-CV

This appeal requires the Court to determine whether current Tennessee law permits the
former husband of a child’s mother to pursue a claim against his former spouse for
intentional or negligent misrepresentation regarding the identity of the child’s biological
father. Following the dissolution of their nine-year marriage, the former husband of the
child’s mother discovered that he was not the child’s biological father. He filed suit against
the child’s mother in the Chancery Court for Maury County, alleging that she had
intentionally misled him into believing that he was the child’s biological father. Following
a bench trial, the trial court found that the mother’s former husband had proved that his
former wife had intentionally misrepresented the parentage of the child and awarded him
$134,877.90 in compensatory damages for the child support, medical expenses, and
insurance premiums he had paid following the divorce, emotional distress, and attorney’s
fees. The child’s mother appealed. Even though the Court of Appeals determined that the
evidence supported the trial court’s finding that the child’s mother had intentionally
misrepresented the identity of the child’s biological father, it (1) reversed the damage award
based on the post-divorce payments for child support, medical expenses, and insurance
expenses on the ground that these damages amounted to a prohibited retroactive modification
of a child support order, (2) reversed the damage award for emotional distress, and (3)
reversed the award for attorney’s fees. Hodge v. Craig, No. M2009-00930-COA-R3-CV,
2010 WL 4024990, at *12 (Tenn. Ct. App. Oct. 13, 2010). The former husband filed an
application for permission to appeal arguing that Tennessee should permit recovery in cases
of this sort for intentional or negligent misrepresentation of a child’s paternity. We have
determined that the existing common-law action for intentional misrepresentation
encompasses the claims made in this case by the former husband and that the trial court’s
damage award based on the former husband’s post-divorce payments for child support,
medical expenses, and insurance premiums is not an improper retroactive modification of the
former husband’s child support obligation.

Authoring Judge: 
Justice William C. Koch, Jr.
Originating Judge: 
Chancellor Jim T. Hamilton
Date Filed: 
Monday, October 1, 2012