Woman Says Levi Strauss Heir Tricked Her
LOS ANGELES (CN) - An heir to the Levi Strauss fortune promised a woman $300,000 to abort their child to keep him out of the news, but he didn't pay her Dime One, she claims in court.
Christina A. Helm sued Daniel S. Haas in Superior Court.
"This is the story of a man, who, by chance, was born into a wealthy and powerful family," the complaint states. "The family maintained control over the man by having control over his finances. Due to the family's wealth, the man never had to work. Throughout time, the man became complacent and never stood up to the family. The man's complacency did not change when his lover became pregnant out of wedlock. When the family demanded that he 'fix' the problem, he did. Even if 'fixing' the problem meant lying to his friend, lover and the mother of his unborn child."
Helms claims that Haas offered her the $300,000 the day after she served him with a paternity action.
The complaint states: "One day after being served with lawsuit papers in a pending litigation to establish paternity, on September 6,2012, defendant Haas and Does made the following representation to plaintiff: Haas and Does promised that if plaintiff underwent a procedure to terminate her pregnancy during the period September 7, 2012, to September 14, 2012, and confirmed that the procedure was undertaken and than plaintiff was no longer pregnant, Haas would pay plaintiff the sum of $300,000 within 24 hours following confirmation that the procedure occurred within the required time and that plaintiff was no longer pregnant. Haas and Does further promised that Haas would play plaintiff's attorneys' fees in the amount of $7,500 for their work relative to the petition to establish parental relationship.
"The representations made by Haas and Does as set forth above were in fact false. The true facts were that Haas and Does never had any present intent to honor their promises. The true facts were that Haas and Does never had a present intent to pay plaintiff $300,000 or $7,500 to plaintiff's attorneys. Haas' and Does' true and only motivation was to ensure that plaintiff was no longer pregnant at all costs."
Helms says she had been romantically involved with Haas for about 13 months when they discovered she was pregnant, on June 8, 2012.
"At the time of conception, plaintiff was forty-five (45) years old," the complaint states. "Once plaintiff and Haas realized that plaintiff was pregnant, and Haas understood and appreciated the significance of plaintiff being pregnant (much explaining to the family, marriage, end of extended ski-trips of Lake Tahoe, end of extended surfing trips to South America, jeopardizing his family's stature in the community, public relations fallout, become a father and finally having to grow up), Haas suggested that plaintiff take the 'morning after pill.' Plaintiff did not elect immediately to terminate the pregnancy because she wanted time to consider her options. What was weighing heavy on plaintiff's mind was that this could be the last time that she could ever conceive. Being pregnant and single at plaintiff's age were all major factors which required plaintiff's deep thought and reflection." (Parentheses in complaint.)
Helms claims that Haas' family pressured him to demand the abortion because he is an heir to the Levi Strauss fortune and was raised to believe that upholding the family's public image was "of paramount importance."
"Based upon the Haas family stature, and Haas' desire not to offend, distance or otherwise disenfranchise himself from his family (and monthly income stream), Haas was under ever increasing pressure to take affirmative action to end the relationship with plaintiff and end her pregnancy," the complaint states. "Haas' efforts culminated in a desperate symbolic threat. On August 17, 2012, he physically and deliberately palmed the bare stomach of plaintiff and 'asked' that she receive an abortion the very next day. Plaintiff knew then and there that Haas' transformation was complete - he no longer loved plaintiff, he no longer had any desire to see plaintiff, and he had no desire to be a father or provide any emotional or financial support to plaintiff once the child was born." (Parentheses in complaint.)
The complaint continues: "When plaintiff did not agree to abort the child, direct communication between plaintiff and Haas ended, as Haas instructed plaintiff to speak to the Haas family attorney.
"While plaintiff was pregnant, Haas was fully cognizant of the publicity nightmare that would result if the press ever learned that he had fathered a child out of wedlock. Haas further understood that the public relations nightmare would have had an impact on Haas and the Haas family whether it was his child or not; just the mere fact alone that a woman that Haas had been intimate with was pregnant was scandalous in and of itself. Haas feared that TMZ or some other celebrity or similar gossip news organization would seize on the opportunity created by the scandal. Haas had every incentive to end the relationship as quietly as he could as the public exposure was far too much for Haas to bear.
"Haas' personal predicament pushed him to the point where he would: (1) do and say anything to end his relationship with plaintiff; (2) cause plaintiff's pregnancy to be terminated; and (3) silence the whole affair from the public."
Helms claims that Haas was so desperate that he asked for a paternity test, but withdrew that request after his attorneys told him that hushing up the scandal was more important than proving he was the father, which would not matter if the press found out about the affair.
"Haas and Does bullied plaintiff and used verbal and mental intimidation to have plaintiff agree to terminate her pregnancy," the complaint states. "Haas and Does threatened that if plaintiff did not terminate her pregnancy, that Haas, the Haas family, and Does would fight plaintiff in an 'endless custody battle.' Haas and Does made it clear that Haas and Does would spend whatever amount of money it took to make plaintiff regret that she ever filed a paternity action in the first place. Haas and Does went so far as to say that they would 'dislike' plaintiff's child because the child symbolically meant the end of freedom as a bachelor for Haas."
Helms claims she took Haas at his word and had the abortion on Sept. 7. It was successful, she says, and she sent all the required paperwork to Haas to prove she was no longer pregnant.
She says she would never have gone through with the abortion had she known Haas was lying.
"Plaintiff's reliance on Haas' and Does' representations was justified because plaintiff did not, nor did she ever expect, that another human being would stoop so low and blatantly lie like Haas and Does did. Plaintiff did not expect that defendants had a secret intent or common plan and scheme to defraud her," the complaint states.
Helms seeks medical expenses, compensatory damages of $307,500 plus punitive damages for fraud, breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
She is represented by Anthony Liberatore.