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Suit Against Michael Jordan for $5 Million to Keep Silent is Dismissed.--

In 1991, Michael Jordan was informed that he had fathered a child with Karla Knafel. Knafel claims that Jordan then agreed to pay his lover $5 million to keep silent, an assertion that Jordan denies.

Many years later Knafel sued on the alleged $5 million promise. Jordan then countersued for extortion. Paternity tests proved that Jordan was not the father of Knafel's child.

In the latest round of the case, Knafel's suit was dismissed. The judge reasoned either that the agreement was tainted by fraud OR that the agreement was unenforceable because of mutiual mnistake.

Here is Forbes on the MJ case:

Judge Stuart E. Palmer ruled in Cook County Circuit Court that any alleged agreement between Jordan and Karla Knafel would be invalid, pointing to definitive tests that showed Jordan is not the child's father.

Palmer writes that "as a result of Knafel's fraudulent misrepresentation to Jordan that he was the child's father or, alternatively, as a result of a mutual mistake of fact, the alleged settlement contract is voidable and ... unenforceable."

Jordan has denied ever agreeing to pay Knafel $5 million.

Jordan's attorney said he considers Friday's ruling a complete victory in the four-year legal fight for the former Chicago Bulls All-Star.

"This is a claim that never should have been made and we are pleased that the court has granted summary judgment in Michael Jordan's favor," Frederick Sperling said.

Jordan sued Knafel in 2002, alleging attempted extortion. In court documents, he contended that Knafel threatened to publicize their affair and had agreed to a $250,000 payment after paternity tests showed the child was not his.

Knafel argued in a counterclaim that she became pregnant in 1991 and thought the baby was Jordan's. When she told him, the lawsuit contended, Jordan agreed to pay her $5 million to keep quiet about the affair.

studying for the bar:
The judge reasoned either that the agreement was tainted by fraud OR that the agreement was unenforceable because of mutiual mnistake."
"When she told him, the lawsuit contended, Jordan agreed to pay her $5 million to keep quiet about the affair."

If that is what was alleged, then the reason for the result is not right. It says either fraud or mutual mistake. But apparently the 5 million was to keep quiet about the affair, which would have included the love-child. Thus, there would have been no mutual mistake at to the affair.
7.22.2006 1:22am
Justin (mail):
I'm not sure the mutual mistake argument is correct. For instance, an agreement to settle a disputed claim in tort is not invalid if it later turns out that there was no tort. This is true even if the defendant thought himself responsible for a tort and the settlement negotiations only considered the value of such tort.
7.22.2006 1:33am
Frank Drackmann (mail):
She needs a "I had sex with Michael Jordan and all I got was this stupid shirt" T shirt made. I've been searching in vain for a pic of Ms. Knafel just to critique MJs taste in women. Turns out she's caucasian and also dated OJ a few years ago. What a nut job.
7.22.2006 10:45am
Steve:
For instance, an agreement to settle a disputed claim in tort is not invalid if it later turns out that there was no tort.

I think the key point is that in a settlement of a disputed claim, both sides know there is a dispute. If the discussion had been along the lines of "this might be your kid, better pay me something" then the deal wouldn't be voidable regardless of how the paternity test comes out. But I sorta doubt that's how it went.
7.22.2006 10:57am
Cornellian (mail):
I think if I were in Michael Jordan's position and unable to keep myself from cheating on my wife, I'd at least get a vasectomy to reduce exposure to this sort of pregnancy extortion attempt. I imagine wealthy celebrities are targets of this sort of thing all the time.
7.22.2006 12:08pm
twwren:
I agree with "fsdafi" except for this comment:

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7.22.2006 12:29pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
The vasectomy would just save you from the paternity suit, and instead you'd get the Kobi Bryant rape charge. It didn't help Bill Clinton either.
7.22.2006 2:44pm
Houston Lawyer:
I still like Boris Becker's "I only had oral sex with her" defense best. Didn't work though.
7.22.2006 8:14pm
Mr. L (mail):
I imagine wealthy celebrities are targets of this sort of thing all the time.

Oh yeah. I remember a bit about one of the more famous rap personalities where he'd leave the door slightly open during a hook-up and told his bodyguards to burst in and forcibly eject the lady friend the instant they heard the word 'no'.

It's not just wealthy celebs, either. Even Z-listers have to go through crap like this, e.g Famous Internet Personality Tucker Max got threatened with a bogus rape charge.
7.23.2006 5:32pm