Barbara J. Katzenberg, Attorney at Law

Child support lawsuit against actor to proceed despite his death

Massachusetts readers may be interested in a lawsuit that was filed by former actress Melinda Naud against the late M*A*S*H actor Wayne Rogers in another state. The lawsuit, alleging failure to pay child support, was filed in Aug. 2013 and is reported to proceed against the actor's estate despite his recent death. According to court documents Naud and Rogers had a relationship from 1978 through 1985, during which time Naud became pregnant and gave birth to their son. Rogers married another woman in 1988 and apparently never revealed the existence of his son to his wife.

The plaintiff says that Rogers agreed to support the child, but an agreement was not signed until 1993. According to the agreement, Rogers accepted the terms to make an immediate payment of $75,000 and continuing support payments that would include education through college and graduate school; he also agreed to take out a life insurance policy of $1 million. The agreement also stated that the actor would go for a paternity test within 30 days of a demand by Naud's attorneys, and if he failed to take the test, he would be considered the boy's father. 

Naud remarried, but upon the death of her husband, she asked for additional support that was refused. Rogers allegedly agreed to pay the eight years of unpaid support and to set up a trust for $1 million in the boy's name. He also promised to provide a home for his son in the event of his own death. The child developed endocarditis in 2007, and after one single call to ask about his son's welfare in 2008, Rogers allegedly terminated all communication. Although the son graduated college in 2012, his father allegedly never paid his education fees, nor did he provide the $1 million life insurance as agreed.

Naud brought the lawsuit on behalf of her and her son, and she is alleging false promise, breach of contract and concealment because she claims that Rogers understated his annual income at the time when the child support agreement was signed. A deposition by Rogers that was scheduled for two days prior to his death never took place. How this legal battle will play out is unknown, but Massachusetts parents in similar circumstances of failed child support payments may want to take legal action without delay.

Source: dailynews.com, "Paternity suit against actor Wayne Rogers to continue despite his death", Jordan Strauss, Jan. 2, 2016

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