Civil Law

Dominador Dizon vs Lourdes Suntay

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G.R. No. L-30817 – 47 SCRA 161 – Civil Law – Law on Property – Article 559 – Right to Recover Personal Property – Unlawful Deprivation of Personal Property

Lourdes Suntay was the owner of a 3 carat diamond ring valued at P5.5k (in 1962). In June 1962, Suntay entered into an agency to sell with Clarita Sison. Unknown to Suntay, Sison pawned the ring to Dominador Dizon who owns a pawnshop. Time passed, and Sison failed to sell the ring nor was she able to return the ring to Suntay. Suntay later discovered that the ring was actually pawned. She demanded Dizon to return the ring. Dizon refused. Suntay filed for a replevin suit which she won. Dizon appealed and he lost. He claims that estoppel should be used against Suntay as she left the ring under the custody of Sison who then pawned it to her.

ISSUE: Whether or not Suntay can still claim the ring.

HELD: Yes. Suntay can under Article 559 of the Civil Code which provides:

The possession of movable property acquired in good faith is equivalent to a title. Nevertheless, one who has lost any movable or has been unlawfully deprived thereof may recover it from the person in possession of the same. If the possessor of a movable lost of which the owner has been unlawfully deprived, has acquired it in good faith at a public sale, the owner cannot obtain its return without reimbursing the price paid therefor.

Dizon must bear the burden due to his misplaced confidence. Suntay’s right over the ring is superior to that of Dizon.

Estoppel may not be used against Suntay. She is the rightful owner merely exercising her right to recover. Neither the promptings of equity nor the mandates of moral right and natural justice come to Dizon’s rescue. He is engaged in a business where presumably ordinary prudence would manifest itself to ascertain whether or not an individual who is offering jewelry by way of a pledge is entitled to do so. If no such care be taken, perhaps because of the difficulty of resisting opportunity for profit, he should be the last to complain if thereafter the right of the true owner of such jewelry should be recognized.

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