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Clark v. Jeter

486 U.S. 456 (1988)

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Clark v. Jeter

United States Supreme Court

486 U.S. 456 (1988)

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Facts

Pennsylvania law imposes a six-year statute of limitations upon paternity actions brought on behalf of illegitimate children. Paternity suits brought on behalf of legitimate children are not time-barred. On behalf of her daughter, Tiffany Clark (plaintiff), Cherlyn Clark filed a paternity suit against Gene Jeter (defendant). Tiffany was 10 years old at the time. The trial court dismissed her complaint as barred by the statute of limitations. Before Clark’s appeal was heard, the Pennsylvania legislature passed an 18-year statute of limitations for paternity actions. The new law was enacted in order to preserve benefits for the state under a federal child-support program. Hearing Clark’s appeal, the Superior Court declined to apply the new limitations period retroactively and consequently affirmed the decision of the trial court. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (O’Connor, J.)

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