Law School Case Brief
Wallis v. Smith - 2001-NMCA-017, 130 N.M. 214, 22 P.3d 682
A motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under N.M. R. Civ. P. Dist. Ct. 1-012(B)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of the complaint, not the facts that support it. Under Rule 1-012(B)(6), dismissal is proper when the law does not support the claim under any set of facts subject to proof. An appellate court reviews rulings on such motions de novo, accepting all well-pleaded factual allegations as true and resolving all doubts in favor of the sufficiency of the complaint.
Peter Wallis and Kellie Rae Smith were partners in a consensual sexual relationship. Allegedly, Smith misrepresented that she was practicing birth control when she was not, and Wallis unknowingly fathered her child. Wallis sued Smith for money damages, asserting four causes of action--fraud, breach of contract, conversion, and prima facie tort. The district court dismissed the actions for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Wallis thereafter appealed the dismissal, as well as a court order imposing a $ 1,000 sanction for improper use of subpoena authority.
Did the district court correctly dismiss Wallis' actions based on the ground of failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted?
The appellate court held that Wallis' complaint was properly dismissed for failure to state a claim because the public policy of child support prevailed. Furthermore, the Court held that the father's attempt to apply traditional contract and tort principles to his contraceptive agreement was unconvincing and, in the end, futile. The Court acknowledged that the rules of civil procedure were not expressly clear whether a party could pursue discovery of material that was subject to an ongoing discovery dispute that was not resolved by the parties or decided by the court, so the Court concluded that it was unfair to uphold the sanction award.
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