Caso pacheco v national western life

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PACHECO v. NATIONAL WESTERN LIFE INS. CO. 640 F.Supp. 900 (1986)
Antonio PACHECO, Jr., Plaintiff, v. NATIONAL WESTERN LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.

Civ. No. 83-2435 (PG). United States District Court, D. Puerto Rico. July 18, 1986.
Rina Biaggi, Federico Lora López, Hato Rey, P.R., for plaintiff. José E. González Borgos, San Juan,P.R., for defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER
PÉREZ-GIMÉNEZ, Chief Judge. This is an action brought under Law 75 of June 24, 1968, the Puerto Rico Dealer's Act (the Act), 10 L.P.R.A. § 278 et seq.1 Jurisdiction is present under the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Plaintiff, Antonio Pacheco, Jr., worked as general agent for defendant,2 National Western Life Insurance Company (National Western). Healleges that defendant, without just cause and in violation of the Puerto Rico Dealer's Act (the Act), terminated the existing contractual relationship, causing damages alleged to exceed $500,000.00. The Act, which is inspired by a strong public policy, provides a remedy for dealers and distributors whose contracts are terminated by principals without just cause. Present before us is a motion todismiss filed by National Western on the grounds that the present action is time barred. In essence, defendant maintains that the action has not been brought within three years of the termination of the dealer's contact,3 as required by the statute. The Act provides in pertinent part:
Every action arising from this chapter shall prescribe in three years reckoning from the date of the definitetermination of the dealer's contract, or of the performing of the detrimental acts, as the case may be. 10 L.P.R.A. § 278d.

There is no dispute that the contractual relationships between the parties terminated on November 20, 1979.4 Therefore, the three-year term which the statute grants must be computed as of November 20, 1979. Movant prays for dismissal alleging
[ 640 F.Supp. 902 ]

that theaction has not been brought within the required period and argues that the prescribed term of three years has not been tolled under the provisions of the Commerce Code.5 The Commerce Code provides in relation to the interruption of prescription as follows:

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Prescription shall beinterrupted by suit or any judicial proceeding brought against the debtor, by the acknowledgment of the obligations, or by the renewal of the instrument on which the right of the creditor is based. Prescription shall be considered uninterrupted by a judicial proceeding if the plaintiff should withdraw it, or the case should go by default or the complaint be dismissed. The period of prescription shallbegin to be counted again, in case of the acknowledgment of the obligations, from the day this is done, in case of their renewal, from the date of the new instrument, and if the period for meeting the obligation should have been extended, from the date this extension expires.

On the other hand, plaintiff contends that the action is not time barred. Plaintiff argues that the three-year periodcomprised in 10 L.P.R.A. § 278d has been tolled by extrajudicial means and maintains that the tolling provisions of the Civil Code on prescription are applicable instead of those of the Commerce Code6 as defendant alleges. The provisions of the Civil Code on interruption of prescription are comprised in Article 1873. It reads as follows:
Prescription of actions is interrupted by their institutionbefore the courts, by extrajudicial claim of the creditor, and by any act of acknowledgment of the debt by the debtor. 31 L.P.R.A. § 5303.

We must first address the threshold issue of which disposition on prescription applies to actions brought under Law 75. The Act is silent as to which tolling provision applies. There is also a dearth of authority on the matter.7 We know of no reported...
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