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MONSERRATE GARCIA MAYTIN v. VELA. BEATRIZ DE LOS ANGELES

decided: March 21, 1910.

MONSERRATE GARCIA MAYTIN
v.
VELA.

BEATRIZ DE LOS ANGELES, WIDOW OF ALOS
v.
MONSERRATE AND DOMINGA GARCIA MAYTIN



APPEALS FROM THE SUPREME COURT OF PORTO RICO.

Author: Holmes

[ 216 U.S. Page 599]

 MR. JUSTICE HOLMES delivered the opinion of the court.

These are cross-appeals in a proceeding brought by Monserrate and Dominga Garcia, two sisters of Manuel Garcia Maytin, and by another plaintiff now dropped out, to establish their rights in property descended from the said Manuel Garicia. The claim is founded upon Article 811 of the former Civil Code, of which the following is the War Department translation: "The ascendant who inherits property from his descendant, acquired by the latter for a good consideration from another descendant [ascendant] or from a brother or sister, is obliged to reserve the property he may have acquired by force of law in favor of the relatives within the third degree belonging to the line from which such property originated."

The following is the course of the property concerned:

1. Complainants' brother, Manuel Garcia Maytin. Died intestate in 1886, succeeded by

2. His daughter, Mrs. Beatriz Garcia de Ibarra, as sole heir. Died intestate and without descendants 1891, succeeded by

3. Her mother, Mrs. Beatriz Alos, widow of Manuel Garcia Maytin, as sole heir. Died, 1904, leaving a will, devising to

[ 216 U.S. Page 6004]

     . Her mother, Beatriz de los Angeles, and nephews and nieces, who with Vela, the executor of the will, and with purchasers from Mrs. Beatriz Alos, are the defendants.

It will be seen that (3) Mrs. Beatriz Alos was an ascendant who inherited from her descendant (2), Mrs. Beatriz Garcia, property acquired by the latter from the ascendant (1), her father. Therefore the devisees of Mrs. Beatriz Alos would be postponed by the law just quoted in favor of the relatives within the third degree, who are the two sisters bringing this complaint.

The Supreme Court of Porto Rico, in a very lucid and persuasive opinion, established the position of the plaintiffs and answered the objections urged by the defense. It was shown that as Mrs. Beatriz Alos (3) inherited all the property of her daughter (2) as sole heir, notwithstanding the fact that the husband of the latter had the usufruct of one-third for life, the obligation extended to all the property so inherited, being the same property that the daughter had inherited from her father, she not appearing to have had any other estate, with insignificant exceptions. It was shown further that the obligation of Mrs. Beatriz Alos and Mrs. Beatriz de los Angeles was not affected by the failure of the plaintiffs and others to make it appear in the registry that the property was subject to be reserv ed. Mortgage Law, Art. 199. That section was not the source of the plaintiffs' rights, but only a means of securing them against bona fide purchasers. It did not extinguish their rights as against the relatives under Art. 811 of the Civil Code, in case of neglect.Finally, a satisfactory answer was given to the argument that the plaintiffs were barred by prescription, under an order of the military government of Porto Rico, published on April 4, 1899, by which the Civil Code, Art. 1957, was amended so that ownership should prescribe by possession for six years with good faith and a proper title. The daughter died in 1891, and her mother recorde her title in the registry and held from 1891 to her death in 1904. But it was replied that

[ 216 U.S. Page 601]

     in the first place prescription had not been pleaded, and was not open, and, secondly, that Article 1957, and therefore the amendment, referring to prescription to acquire ownership, coexists with Art. 1963, which fixes a term of thirty years for the prescription by which ownership of real property is lost through a failure to bring a real action, and in this case the prescription relied upon (and, we may add, ...


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