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[ GR No. 26062, Dec 31, 1926 ]



49 Phil. 849

[ G. R. No. 26062, December 31, 1926 ]




This case calls for the application of article 1894 of the Civil Code to the facts.

The plaintiffs are Jose V. Ramirez and his wife, Eloisa de Marcaida. The defendant is J.  R.  Redfern.  Jose V. Ramirez and J. R. Redfern are brothers-in-law.

The action is brought  by the plaintiffs to recover from the defendant the sums of £600, £185, and P875 for alleged advances to the defendant's wife for her support and maintenance.  The answer  is a general denial.  The judgment of the trial court absolves the defendant from the demands of the plaintiffs, with  costs against  the plaintiffs.

In 1908, J. R. Redfern took his  wife and three minor children to England and left them there.  He returned to the Philippines the following year.   Beginning with 1910 and continuing until 1922, Mr.  Redfern provided his wife with funds for her expenses as follows:  1910 £20  to £30 per month and P1,000  for travelling expenses to the Philippines; 1911 £20  to  £30 per  month;  1912 £20 to £30 per month; 1913 £20 to £30 per month; 1914 £345; 1915 £425;  1916 £590; 1917 £650;  1918 £660; 1919 £560;  1920 £600; 1921 £440; 1922 February  to October,  $8 per month when the  wife returned  to Manila. Mr.  Redfern is now furnishing  his  wife P300  per  month for the support of herself and one child.  The two  grown sons are employed and  are earning their own living.

In 1920, while still in  England, Mrs. Redfern  obtained from her sister, Mrs.  Ramirez, the sum of £600.  Mrs; Redfern later secured an additional £185 from her sister in England.  Mrs. Redfern  did not make use of  this money until  1922.   Eight  hundred seventy-five pesos were advanced by Mr. and Mrs. Ramirez to Mrs.  Redfern after the latter had returned to Manila.

The foregoing skeletonized statement of the case and of the facts is taken principally from the  decision rendered by  Judge  Harvey,  His Honor's findings  are  entirely confirmed by the  record.  There can be no vital difference of opinion as to any essential fact.

The result reached by the trial judge  was this:  "Under the facts and circumstances of this  case, the court is of the opinion that defendant was amply providing for his wife and children in London, and that defendant is not liable to plaintiffs for  the  sums of money here sought to be recovered, which were  delivered to  defendant's wife without his knowledge or consent  and when there was no necessity  therefor."  Said  conclusion is assailed by the plaintiffs as appellants in an argument on four errors.

The case falls squarely within the provisions of the first paragraph of article 1894 of the Civil Code.  This article provides:  "When, without the knowledge of the person who is bound to give  support to a dependent, a  stranger supplies  it,  the latter shall be entitled to  recover  the same from the former, unless it appears that he gave it out of charity, and without the expectation of recovering it."  For one to recover  under the provisions of article 1894 of the Civil Code, it, must  be alleged and proved, first, that support has been furnished a dependent of one  bound to give support but who fails to do so; second, that the support was supplied by a  stranger; and third, that  the support was given without the knowledge of the person charged with the duty.  The negative qualification  is when the  support is given without the expectation of recovering it.

With special reference to the combined facts and law, it may be conceded that Mr. and Mrs. Ramirez did not supply Mrs. Redfern with money out of charity.  The third requisite of the law  is also taken out of consideration since Mr. Redfern is the first to acknowledge that the money was handed to his  wife  by Mr.  and Mrs. Ramirez without his knowledge.  We think, however, that there is a failure of proof as to the first essential, and possibly the second essential, of the law.

The first requisite of the  law has a legal introduction, but ends as a  question of fact.  The husband and wife are mutually bound to support each other.  By support is understood all that  is necessary for food,  shelter,  clothing and medical attendance, according to the social standing of the family.   Parents are also required to bring up and educate their  children. But in this connection, the point of interest is that the wife accepted assistance from another, when it is not  shown that she had ever made any complaint to her husband or any of his agents with  regard to her allowance.  The testimony of the husband is uncontradicted that he had given his English agent instructions to furnish his  wife with any reasonable sum she needed bearing in mind his financial condition, but that she never took advantage of this offer.   Mr. Redfern's  reason  for reducing the allowance,  he  says, was  his  precarious financial situation in 1921 and 1922.  Before one can tender succor to the wife of another with an  expectation of recouping himself for the loan, the  husband should be given an opportunity to render the needful assistance.

With reference also to the first requirement of the law above-mentioned, it is clear  that there is evidence in the record which  corroborates the finding of the  trial judge that the defendant was amply providing for his wife and children in  London.  The only debatable question relates to the year 1922 when the allowance was reduced to £8 a month.  But a  wife's fortunes and a husband's fortunes coincide.  For children of proper  age to  be made  to look after themselves,  is not  always a hardship.  As to the £600 first advanced to Mrs. Redfern, this was not primarily for support because she  retained it for some time before using it.

What has been said makes superfluous a discussion of the novel question of  whether a sister and her husband are "strangers" within the meaning of the law.   (There can be noted and compared  Pelayo vs. Lauron [1909],  12 Phil., 453, and Gorayeb vs. Hashim  [1922], R. G.  No. 19284,[1] not reported.)

We are unable to  say that  reversible error was  committed by the trial judge in rendering judgment in favor of the defendant and against the  plaintiffs.   Accordingly, let  the  judgment appealed from  be affirmed,  with  costs against the  appellants.

Avanceña, C. J., Street, Ostrand, Johns, Romualdez, and Villa-Real,  JJ., concur.

[1] Promulgated October 24, 1922