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Villareal v. Peebles

September 24, 1998


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice McNAMARA delivered the opinion of the court



This action was brought to establish the paternity of and support for plaintiff's minor child. After a bench trial, the court entered an order finding defendant to be the natural father of the minor. The trial court also entered orders of support and withholding. Defendant appeals. We affirm. The relevant facts are as follows.

Plaintiff filed a "Complaint to Determine the Existence of the Father and Child Relationship" on November 29, 1994, naming defendant as the father of her child. In it plaintiff alleged that she and defendant engaged in sexual intercourse in August of 1986, which resulted in the birth of her child, Elamonzo Villareal (Elamonzo) on May 11, 1987.

In accord with the trial court's April 7, 1995, order plaintiff, defendant and Elamonzo underwent blood tests in April 1995. The blood tests, which used four DNA probes, were administered using a restricted fragment length polymorphlisis (RFLP) testing protocol. The test resulted in a combined paternity index (CPI) of 2,582 to 1. A paternity index is a probability number which represents the strength of the prediction that a particular man is actually the father. The paternity test report was issued on May 10, 1995, and defendant received a copy on June 6, 1995. Defendant filed a motion on February 1, 1996, pursuant to section 11(e) of the Illinois Parentage Act of 1984 (the Act)(750 ILCS 45/11(e)(West 1994)), challenging the admission of the blood testing report. The trial court denied the motion, finding defendant's challenge to be untimely. The test report was admitted into evidence.

Plaintiff testified that she met defendant in July 1986. Defendant was driving a maroon Volvo and the parties exchanged phone numbers. She testified that they first engaged in sexual intercourse two weeks later at the home of defendant's sister. Plaintiff further testified that in July, August, and September 1986, she engaged in sexual intercourse with defendant and with no one else. According to plaintiff, defendant admitted paternity to her and offered to pay $250 per month in child support.

Angelique Villareal, plaintiff's sister, testified that she saw the defendant driving a maroon Volvo in 1986. She also testified that defendant had admitted paternity to her.

Laverne Livingston Williams (Livingston), defendant's sister, testified that she owned a brown or beige Volvo in 1986, but that she never allowed her brother to drive it. She further asserted that she had never met plaintiff.

Defendant testified that he met plaintiff on September 19, 1986, as he was walking home from work. On one occasion they went to his sister's house to shoot pool. Defendant testified that he saw plaintiff a total of about five times and that he never engaged in sexual intercourse with her. He further testified that he never drove his sister's car.

Dr. Pravatchai Wang Boonlayangoor (Dr. Boon) testified as defendant's expert. He opined that the DNA-RFLP testing protocol is misleading, although the majority of experts in the field consider it good and acceptable. He asserted that the most reliable test would involve four to six DNA probes in addition to the 20-system classical testing protocol including ABO, serum protein enzymes, and HLA. He further opined that the 500 to 1 presumption found in section 11(f) of the Act (750 ILCS 45/11(f)(West 1994)) was based on classical testing protocol, not RFLP testing protocol. In his view, with the type of testing protocol used in this case, for a CPI to be significant it must be greater than 10,000. Therefore, according to Dr. Boon, the CPI of 2,582 in this case was not significant.

On February 26, 1996, the court made a finding of paternity against the defendant. Defendant filed a timely notice of appeal. On June 2, 1997, defendant filed a notice pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 19 (134 Ill. 2d R. 19) with this court. On July 10, 1997, this court granted the Attorney General's petition to intervene pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 19 (134 Ill. 2d R. 19).

On appeal defendant contends that: (1) section 11(f) of the Act (750 ILCS 45/11 (West 1994)) is unconstitutional; (2) the trial court erred in entering a finding of paternity against the defendant because defendant rebutted the presumption of paternity found in section 11(f) of the Act (750 ILCS 45/11(f) (West 1994)); and (3) the trial court abused its discretion in not ordering plaintiff to produce the examining physician where defendant introduced expert scientific evidence contradicting the significance of the blood test results.

This case involves section 11(f)(4) of the Act (750 ILCS 45/11(f)(4)(West 1994)), which provides: "(4) If the tests show that the alleged father is not excluded and that the combined paternity index is at least 500 to 1, the alleged father is presumed to be the father, and this evidence shall be admitted. This presumption may be rebutted by clear and convincing evidence."

Defendant first contends that this section of the Act is unconstitutional because it declares a CPI of at least 500 to 1 to be "significant" regardless of the laboratory protocol used by the testing ...

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