It's not news that some children, especially as they hit their teenage and college years, don't get along with their parents. But even experienced attorneys say it's rare when the disagreements grow to a point where litigation is required. So consider the odd case of Dana Soderberg, who went to court to force her father to live up to a deal to pay her tuition at Southern Connecticut State University. ...
Her parents, Howard and Deborah Soderberg, of Stratford divorced in 2004. Upon splitting, they agreed that Howard, a property developer, would be responsible for the education costs for their three children, Dana, Amanda and Erik.
Dana's experience had evidently taught her that her father had a tendency not to follow through with paying for things. So she persuaded him the following year to enter into a written contract obligating him to pay her college tuition until she was 25, along with other school expenses such as textbooks, and her car insurance.
As part of the agreement, Dana would make an effort to apply for student loans and Howard Soderberg would pay off those loans. Co-signing the agreement was Howard's sister, Patricia.
Howard delivered on his word through March 24, 2007. But when it came time for Dana to begin her senior year at Southern Connecticut, Howard Soderberg refused to pay the bills. And so Dana got a $20,000 loan to pay for her last year of college, with her mother co-signing.
Dana finished up school and then filed a breach of contract lawsuit in New Haven Superior Court against her father for failing to pay for her senior year of college.
The father represented himself in a two-day trial. He argued that Dana breached their agreement by not making reasonable efforts to apply for student loans, by failing to attend classes full time and by not providing him with receipts for tuition and other school-related expenses.