Christina Stueve Hodges Aug. 21, 2013, 10:54am

A woman accused of obtaining child support payments from a man who says he is not the child’s father has asked St. Clair County Circuit Judge Robert LeChien to dismiss the man’s claim against her.

Lekardo Pitts sued Edwardstine Reese July 10 in St. Clair County Circuit Court, claiming he spent thousands of dollars on child support payments over the years only to discover he was not the child's biological parent.

In his complaint, Pitts claims Reese led him and the court to believe that he fathered her child. In turn, Pitts contends in his complaint that he was ordered to pay thousands of dollars in child support and other benefits toward the child.

On behalf of Reese, New Athens attorney Carla J. Ehlers filed a motion to dismiss Pitts' suit on Aug. 13.

Reese claims that on July 8, 2004, Pitts received notice of a child support hearing from the Department of Human Services that gave him the opportunity to contest paternity at the department’s expense. Reese contends he failed to do so.

The allegation in the Pitts' complaint attacks the determination of paternity made by the Illinois Department of Public Aid, which relied on a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity he signed.

State law provides that any final administrative decision by the Department of Public Aid shall be reviewed only under and in accordance with the Administrative Law Review.

“Prior to seeking relief in this action, Plaintiff must challenge paternity. The doctrine of res judicata operates to bar an action when a prior action disposed of the same issues with the same parties,” Reese asserts in her motion to dismiss.

According to Pitts’ lawsuit, he believed he was the father and waived his right to undergo basic DNA testing or blood testing to confirm the validity of Reese’s claim.

Recently, the suit states, Reese became interested in securing paternity tests, so her new husband could adopt her child. Pitts contends the tests revealed he is not the child’s father.

In his complaint, Pitts seeks damages of more than $30,000 and punitive damages of more than $100,000, plus attorney’s fees and costs.

Belleville attorney Eric M. Rhein represents Pitts.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 13-L-355.

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