U.S. Supreme Court
Van Syckel v. Arsuaga, 231 U.S. 601 (1914)
Van Syckel v. Arsuaga
Argued November 13, 1913
Decided January 5, 1914
231 U.S. 601
Where appellant, with ground, challenges the adequacy of the findings of the court below to sustain the legal conclusions based on them, it is the duty of this Court to consider and decide that question.
Under the local law of Porto Rico, if there is intrinsic ambiguity in a written instrument, the right obtains to dispel such ambiguity by extraneous proof showing the circumstances under which the instrument was executed.
In this case, there was such ambiguity in the contract involved as justified proof beyond the terms of the instrument to clear up the situation, and findings of the trial court based upon such proof are not void because of want of power to consider it.
The mere fact that parties seek in a lawful mode to protect legal rights by keeping alive an instrument under which possession to the property could be maintained in case of adverse decision in suits under another instrument does not indicate fraud in the transaction.
On the record in this case, held that a partner who had kept alive a lease on property which his firm had acquired from him through another source of title so as to protect the interest of the firm against attacks from outside parties could not subsequently recover the property under the lease to the detriment of the other partners.
There is evident lack of merit in the contention of a partner to recover property which he sold to the partnership and was paid for, without returning the price.
The facts, which involve the validity of a judgment liquidating and distributing the assets of a copartnership in Porto Rico, are stated in the opinion.