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Guard v. Jackson
Washington Supreme Court
940 P.2d 642 (1997)
Toni Rae Guard (plaintiff) and Jeffrey Beeston were the unmarried parents of a young child. Beeston failed to pay any court-ordered child support to Guard, who had custody of their child. The child was hit and killed by a truck driver, John Jackson (defendant). Guard sued Jackson in state court under a Washington statute that allowed mothers of illegitimate children to bring wrongful-death actions. Beeston sought to join the suit as a plaintiff. Guard and Jackson opposed. The statute that authorized mothers to bring suit did not allow fathers to join unless the father had regularly contributed to the child’s support. The trial court found the statute was constitutional and dismissed Beeston from the action because he owed child support to Guard. Subsequently, the court of appeals reversed the judgment, holding that the statute violated the equal-rights amendment to the Washington constitution, which precluded the denial of equal rights based on gender. Guard petitioned the Washington Supreme Court for review, and a review was granted.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Dolliver, J.)
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