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Court ruling ‘shocks’ Sen. Manglona

SENATOR Paul A. Manglona, who sued his siblings over a property dispute, said he was shocked by the court’s dismissal of his lawsuit.

The lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice — which means it cannot be refiled.

Paul Atalig Manglona

Manglona asked the court to declare him the fee simple owner of a 4,181-square meter property on Capital Hill by virtue of a deed of gift on July 11, 1985.

On Monday, Superior Court pro tempore Judge David A. Wiseman dismissed Manglona’s lawsuit against his siblings Priscilla Manglona Torres, Thomas A. Manglona and the estate of Bernadita A. Manglona, their mother. The judge said the senator’s claims are without merit.

In a 26-page ruling, the judge added that the July 11, 1985 deed of gift is a “forgery,” as the signature is not Bernadita A. Manglona’s.

Finding the deed of gift a forgery, the judge nullified and voided all transactions regarding the Capital Hill land.

In an email to Variety, Senator Manglona said he was very surprised “to find out about the court’s ruling on my quiet title action, nullifying the 1985 deed for the Capitol Hill property.”

He added, “I have a deed to the property that was notarized and relied on to enter into a land transaction with a Japanese investor back in the 1980s. My parents received the entire land transaction proceeds 34 years ago and my siblings knew that.”

In his ruling, Judge Wiseman stated that he was surprised that neither party called the notary public to testify. “Her testimony could have been persuasive and perhaps even decisive for either party,” the judge said.

Equally surprising, he added, was that the plaintiff did not procure an expert, “especially since the defendants were going to attack the 1985 deed as a forgery with an expert. Why the plaintiff did not choose to bring his own expert to counter the defendants’ expert is a mystery.”

According to the senator, “I’m just as surprised as the judge to learn that my siblings did not call the notary public to testify and challenge my notarized deed.”

He added: “My siblings informed me at the last hour that they would have an expert at the trial, and when I asked the court for more time so that I could hire my own expert, it was denied. Had I been given the opportunity to hire my own expert, my expert would have testified that my mother’s signature on the deed of exchange giving her the Capital Hill property was the same as the signature of the deed of gift giving me the Capital Hill property.”

The senator said he may appeal the court’s ruling.

“This case has been ongoing for too long. I really thought it would be resolved by now but it’s far from being over,” he added.

Priscilla M. Torres and Thomas A. Manglona are co-administrators of the estate of their late mother, Bernadita A. Manglona. Charles A. Manglona and Associate Justice John A. Manglona are the senator’s other siblings named in the lawsuit.

The defendants, represented by attorney Samuel Mok, argued that their mother’s signature had been forged.

Judge Wiseman said he found the testimony of the defendants’ handwriting expert, Reed C Hayes, credible regarding the inconsistencies and differences between the signature of the 1985 deed of gift and the exemplars of Bernadita A. Manglona’s signatures.

Hayes concluded that Bernadita A. Manglona did not sign the deed of gift based on his analysis of slants, loops, T-crosses, proportions of letters, line quality, and letter spacing.

Senator Manglona’s witnesses were inconsistent, unwilling to cooperate, and were at times unresponsive, Judge Wiseman said. “They were all interested witnesses who gave conflicting, ambiguous and at times unbelievable testimony,” he added. These witnesses were the senator himself and his brothers Charles A. Manglona and Prudencio A. Manglona Jr.

The judge said Senator Manglona’s testimony regarding his father’s illness and the Nov. 2010 draft deeds raised more questions than gave answers.

“Plaintiff claimed he never saw the draft deeds of gift prepared by his own daughter even though he admitted receiving them as attachments via email and even though he was the one who had assigned her the task of preparing the deeds,” the judge.

In his testimony during the trial, the senator said the primary basis of his claim of ownership, the 1985 deed, was notarized. “He assumed that the signature on the 1985 deed belonged to his mother because it was notarized and not because he recognized her signature,” Judge Wiseman.

He noted that Charles A. Manglona’s testimony about their mother’s signatures was inconsistent and Prudencio A. Manglona Jr.’s testimony was evasive. Both lacked credibility, he said. The two are sons of the senior Manglona couple.

Judge Wiseman said the defendants effectively rebutted the presumption of validity as to the 1985 deed based on the presentation of reliable and un-rebutted expert testimony, and the credible testimony of heirs: John A. Manglona, Vincent A. Manglona, and Priscilla M. Torres.

As to issues of laches, adverse possession, slander and statute of limitations that the senator raised, Judge Wiseman said they do not apply to the case.

Senator Manglona was represented by attorney Mark Scoggins and Rene Holmes.

The bench trial started on Feb. 20-22, 2018 and was continued on Nov. 13, 2018. The court then directed the parties to submit proposed findings of facts and conclusions of law in support of their respective positions.