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DEBORAH ANN ASTEMBORSKI v. ROBERT SUSMARSKI (10/21/83)

decided: October 21, 1983.

DEBORAH ANN ASTEMBORSKI, APPELLEE,
v.
ROBERT SUSMARSKI, APPELLANT



No. 22 W.D. Appeal Docket, 1982, Appeal from the Revised Opinion and Order of April 12, 1982, of the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Action-Law, of Erie County, Pennsylvania No. 87-NS-1981, as further amended by Order of Court of May 13, 1982, for typographical error.

COUNSEL

Ronald J. Susmarski, Jay S. Nedell, Stephanie Domitrovich, Erie, for appellant.

Michael J. Veshecco, Dist. Atty., Timothy J. Lucas, Frank Scutella, Asst. Dist. Attys., for appellee.

Thomas S. Kubinski, Erie, for Erie County.

Daniel L. Haller, Pittsburgh, Veronica Giel Wright, Butler, Richard Urick, Aliquippa, amicus curiae for Carrie Ann Hargis, a minor.

Roberts, C.j., and Nix, Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott, Hutchinson and Zappala, JJ.

Author: Flaherty

[ 502 Pa. Page 411]

OPINION OF THE COURT

Following our decision in Astemborski v. Susmarski, 499 Pa. 99, 451 A.2d 1012 (1982), the appellee therein petitioned the Supreme Court of the United States for a Writ of Certiorari. The Writ was granted, whereupon judgment was vacated and the case remanded for reconsideration in light of that Court's recent decision in Pickett v. Brown, U.S. , 103 S.Ct. 2199, 76 L.Ed.2d 372 (1983). After a thorough review of the Pickett decision, we find that case supportive of our previous holding in this case, and, therefore, reinstate our original order.

Initially, this case came before this Court on appeal from a decision of the Court of Common Pleas of Erie County which held unconstitutional a statute of limitations requiring that actions to establish the paternity of a child born out of wedlock be commenced within six years of the birth of the child.*fn1 We reversed. Astemborski, supra.

[ 502 Pa. Page 412]

The factual background of the case is as follows. On September 9, 1980, Deborah Ann Astemborski, appellee, filed an application for support with the Commonwealth's Department of Public Welfare, and, in so doing, assigned to the Commonwealth all rights concerning support of her child. Accordingly, on December 30, 1980, she appeared at the intake office of the Erie County Domestic Relations Department and filled out a Complaint for Support which was dated and marked filed December 30, 1980. This complaint was taken to the Prothonotary in order to receive a civil number on January 29, 1981, fifteen days after the applicable six year statute of limitations had expired. The trial court held that the governing rule at the time required the complaint to be filed with the Prothonotary, not with the Domestic Relations Department. For this reason, the trial court concluded that the complaint was not timely filed, and the alleged father of appellee's child, appellant Robert Susmarski, moved for dismissal of the complaint. Dismissal was denied, however, as the court declared the statute of limitations invalid.

The primary issue*fn2 in the instant appeal is whether the six year statute of limitations violates equal protection guarantees of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and of Article 1, ยง 26 of the Pennsylvania Constitution. Since support for a child born in wedlock may be sought at any time during its minority, while support for a child born out of wedlock may, due to the statute of limitations ...


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