Friday, December 6, 2013

Techt v. Hughes case brief

Techt v. Hughes case brief summary
128 N.E. 185 (1920)

CASE SYNOPSIS
Defendant daughter of decedent appealed a decision from the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in the First Judicial Department (New York), which affirmed an interlocutory judgment in favor of plaintiff daughter of decedent in plaintiff's action for partition of real property. The appellate court certified the following question: Has plaintiff herein an estate of inheritance in the real property sought to be partitioned in this action?

CASE FACTS
The decedent, a citizen of the United States, died intestate seized in fee simple of real estate. Plaintiff and defendant survived him. Plaintiff was the wife of a citizen of Austria-Hungary. Twenty days before the death of plaintiff's father, war was declared between Austria-Hungary and the United States. Plaintiff brought an action for partition of real property. The trial court entered an interlocutory judgment in favor of plaintiff; the appellate court affirmed.

DISCUSSION

  • On appeal, the issue was whether plaintiff had the capacity to acquire title by descent. 
  • The court affirmed the judgment and answered the certified question in the affirmative. 
  • The court found that plaintiff was an alien; by marrying a foreigner, she took the nationality of her husband. 
  • Plaintiff was therefore without capacity to inherit, unless a statute or treaty removed such disability, because the rule at common law was that aliens might take lands by purchase but not by descent. 
  • The court held that plaintiff had an estate of inheritance pursuant to a treaty between the United States and Austria, which preserved the right of inheritance for citizens of Austria when the land inherited was in the United States.

CONCLUSION
The court affirmed the judgment in favor of plaintiff in her action against defendant for the partition of real property. The court answered the certified question in the affirmative that plaintiff had an estate of inheritance in the real property sought to be partitioned.


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