(HARTFORD, Conn.) — A man who discovered that the daughter he raised was not really his, can sue the biological father for $190,000 — the estimated cost of raising her for 15 years — the Connecticut State Supreme Court has ruled.
Eric Fischer saw the red flags. When his youngest daughter was born, his wife Pamela Tournier’s close friend and business partner Richard Zollino rode home in the limo with the new parents. For the next 15 years, Zollino was omnipresent at the girl’s musical recitals as well as her eighth grade graduation. And his youngest daughter did not look like his other two daughters, including one from a previous marriage.
Fischer decided to confirm what he already suspected. He “surreptitiously obtained” a hair sample from his daughter and sent it to lab with his own DNA sample and in October 2006, he received the results that “excluded the possibility that he was the younger daughter’s father,” according to a court document.
Fischer confronted his wife and they divorced in 2007.
The couple’s separation agreement only listed the couple’s elder daughter as issue of the marriage and Tournier testified that she believed the agreement was fair and that “she believed [Zollino] was the younger daughter’s father and that he had provided the younger daughter with support since and would continue to do so,” according to the court document.
Zollino submitted a DNA sample and it was confirmed that he was the girl’s father.
In 2008, Fischer filed a lawsuit against [Zollino] seeking damages on claims of nondisclosure, misrepresentation and unjust enrichment.
A lower court ruled against Fischer, saying that he “had held himself out to be the younger daughter’s father, that he had caused her to rely on him to meet her financial and emotional needs, and that revealing her true parentage after she had been led to believe for her whole life that [Fisher] was her father, would be detrimental to her emotional well-being.”
Fischer, Zollino and Tournier did not respond to requests for comment. Zollino’s attorney declined to comment and Fischer’s did not respond to a request for comment.
This week, the seven Connecticut Supreme Court justices unanimously overturned the ruling, saying that there was no evidence that Fisher’s lawsuit would be of financial detriment to the younger daughter, a legal technicality that helped overturn the original decision.
The justices ordered the case back to the Middletown Superior Court where it will be assigned a new judge, since the one who ruled originally has since retired.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
David Goldman, CNN
Kareem Khadder, CNN
Matt Egan, CNN
Susanna Capelouto, CNN