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SALTZMAN v. SALTZMAN

December 1, 1960

Rose SALTZMAN
v.
Michael SALTZMAN



The opinion of the court was delivered by: WOOD

1. Plaintiff is a resident of New York City, New York, and the defendant is a resident of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The action is based on contract and the amount in controversy is in excess of the jurisdictional requirement. Therefore, the Court has jurisdiction over the subject matter and the parties.

2. The following facts relevant to the subject matter of this suit were agreed to by stipulation of counsel:

 (a) One child, David Saltzman, was born on November 28, 1918, and another child, Carl Saltzman, was born on August 26, 1920.

 (b) A judgment of divorce in favor of the defendant and against the plaintiff was entered in New York City on June 14, 1929, and became final on December 17, 1929.

 (c) Under the terms of the decree of divorce the defendant was entitled to receive the custody of David Saltzman and Carl Saltzman.

 3. The plaintiff and the defendant were married in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on August 5, 1917. Sometime thereafter (although it is not clear exactly when) plaintiff and defendant separated. In 1926, the defendant moved from Philadelphia to New York. At some time thereabouts plaintiff also moved to New York and lived there with her mother and father and with her two sons.

 4. After a final decree of divorce, the plaintiff retained custody of the two children and supported them until their adulthood.

 5. Although plaintiff attempted to prove it, the Court does not find as a fact that defendant expressly or impliedly agreed to reimburse the plaintiff for the maintenance of the children either shortly after the divorce or in 1952 or at any other time.

 6. From the testimony in this case the Court concludes as a fact that the plaintiff-mother voluntarily assumed expense incident to the maintenance of the children during their minority or until they were self-sustaining.

 7. The factual relationship of parent and child, however, did exist between defendant and his children and no release or interruption, factual or legal, has been interposed to disrupt that relationship.

 Discussion and Conclusions of Law

 The Court here is faced with a most difficult decision and one which must be made in the light of the law as we find it -- which in many respects is not consistent with the law advocated by counsel on either side. This case was tried generally on the theory of an express or implied contract. Yet, as will be hereinafter shown, the liabilities involved rest on a quasi-contractual basis and on the relationship between the plaintiff and the defendant. In short, as indicated from our findings of fact, the testimony of the plaintiff did not prove a contract either express or implied. Nevertheless, the plaintiff does have a cause of action based upon the theory that the defendant-father is responsible for the maintenance and support of his children during their minority as a matter of law.

 Since the events giving rise to this suit occurred in the State of New York, we conclude that the law of New York governs the substantive issues. However, under both the law of New York and the law of Pennsylvania a mother may recover from the father of her children any moneys which she spent out of her personal estate for the support of their children during their minority. Adler v. Adler, 1952, 171 Pa.Super. 508, 90 A.2d 389; Gessler v. Gessler, 1956, 181 Pa.Super. 357, 124 A.2d 502; De Brauwere v. De Brauwere, Court of Appeals of New York, 1911, 203 N.Y. 460, 96 N.E. 722, 38 L.R.A., N.S., 508; Laumeier v. Laumeier, Court of Appeals of N.Y., 1924, 237 N.Y. 357, 143 N.E. 219, 32 A.L.R. 654; and Haimes v. Schonwit, Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department, 1945, 268 App.Div. 652, 52 N.Y.S.2d 272. As a Federal Court sitting in the State of Pennsylvania, we must look to the Pennsylvania conflicts of law rule to determine what law applies with regard to the statute of limitations. The defendant contends that the conflicts of law rule of Pennsylvania requires us to look to the statute of limitations of Pennsylvania in order to determine whether this foreign cause of action is barred by the lapse of some thirty years. We agree. *fn1" The Pennsylvania statute of limitations (12 Purdon's Stat. § 31) reads inter alia as follows:

 '* * * All actions of debt grounded upon any lending, or contract without specialty, * * * shall be commenced and sued within * * * six years ...


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