Monday, December 21, 2009

DASTARDLY DADS FROM THE ARCHIVES (Warwick, Rhode Island - 1994)

Check this dad out. JAMES E. BRINDAMOUR abandoned his wife and daughter sometime in the early 1980s, and soon racked up thousands of dollars in unpaid child support. But when their daughter dies at age 15 in 1994, Daddy Dearest shows up to claim half her estate, which is basically the insurance payout from the auto accident that killed her. Note that MOM was the one who initiated the lawsuit, too. Also note that Dad has a history of domestic violence, sexual abuse, and alcoholism. So I suppose we can't be surprised that he's a money-grubbing @$$hole too.

Father Returns To Claim Estate Of Child He Left
Published: January 17, 1994

WARWICK, R.I., Jan. 16— A 38-year-old man who left his wife and daughter more than a decade ago and owes tens of thousands of dollars in child support is asking a court for half the estate of his daughter, who died last summer at the age of 15.

The father, James E. Brindamour, is seeking half of the $350,000 an insurance company paid after his daughter, Colleen, was killed when a pickup in which she was a passenger skidded off a road and crashed into a tree.

The money came from a settlement in a lawsuit brought by Mr. Brindamour's estranged wife, Rose Brindamour, against the driver of the truck and its owner.

'It's Immoral'

But Mrs. Brindamour, a nurse's aide, says her husband does not deserve to share in the settlement. "I don't want him to have a dime of her money," she said in an interview today at her home here. "He's trying to get half and then use part of the proceeds to pay me off. It's immoral."

Mrs. Brindamour says her husband owes her $69,000 in child support payments. Mr. Brindamour's lawyer calculates that his client owes $15,000 to $20,000.

On Friday, about 20 of Colleen's high school classmates picketed the Kent County Courthouse as lawyers for the Brindamours met with Judge Francis Darigan of Superior Court, who set a hearing for Jan. 28.

Under Rhode Island law, if a child's death results from a wrongful action, the parents can file claims based on the extent to which the child's death affects them. Under that standard, Mrs. Brindamour said, her absent husband is not entitled to any money.

But Mr. Bridamour says that despite his lack of contact with his daughter and his admitted failure to pay child support, as her biological father he is entitled to half her estate.

"I wanted to see my daughter over the years, but Rose prevented me from doing so," Mr. Brindamour, a machine-tool operator, said, an assertion Mrs. Brindamour denied.

Howard I. Lipsey, a Rhode Island judge who is chairman of the Family Court Committee of the Family Law Section of the American Bar Association, said Mr. Brindamour "has a prima facie right to get the money," but that Mrs. Brindamour is raising new legal questions. He added that whatever the outcome of the case, Mr. Brindamour would be required to pay all the child support he owed.

The battle over the estate began a month after Colleen's death, when Mrs. Brindamour sued the driver of the pickup and his mother, who owned the truck.

A few weeks later, on the advice of her lawyer, she filed for divorce. She had not filed for divorce earlier, she said, because "I just forgot about it" and there was not enough money to hire a lawyer.

Since shortly after her husband left her, Mrs. Brindamour has lived with a man named Gary Gallagher. Colleen's friends said she had referred to Mr. Gallagher as "my father."

Several months before Colleen's death, a judge told Mr. Brindamour he would be put in prison if he did not pay $8,000 of what he owed. Mr. Brindamour, who was unemployed at the time, fled the state. In late November, he returned to Rhode Island, surrendered and spent a week in jail. He was released after paying $1,000 to his wife.

Since Dec. 20, Mr. Brindamour has been paying the $75-a-week support he was ordered to begin paying in 1983.

'He's Not a Monster'

Mr. Brindamour's lawyer, Dennis Baluch, said his client had a history of alcohol problems, but added, "He's not a monster by any stretch of the imagination."

He said his client asserted that until three years ago he had paid his child support in cash and that he owed no more than $20,000.

Mrs. Brindamour said she had received about $650 in 10 years.

According to court records, Colleen was 4 when her parents married, and the marriage lasted only about eight months. In July 1983, Mrs. Brindamour was granted a restraining order against her husband, who she said had kicked her and threatened to kill her.

In 1989, Mr. Brindamour pleaded no contest to sexually molesting an 11-year-old relative in Rhode Island and was given an eight-year suspended sentence.

Mrs. Brindamour said she planned to use the settlement to finish nursing school and have an operation to reverse the tubal ligation she had undergone a few months before her daughter's death.

"I would like to try to have a baby and try to start over," she said. She said she also wanted to use $8,000 to buy a stone marker for Colleen's grave, which is now marked by a wooden cross.


Dad eventually gave up the fight. Thank goodness. Hat tip to Randi for finding this.