B-165077, SEPT. 6, 1968

B-165077: Sep 6, 1968

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THE CLAIM WAS DISALLOWED BECAUSE UNDER THE ALABAMA LAW A CHILD BORN OUT OF WEDLOCK CANNOT INHERIT FROM HIS FATHER UNLESS HE IS SUBSEQUENTLY LEGITIMIZED IN THE MANNER PROVIDED IN SUCH LAW. THAT YOU DO NOT CONSIDER THAT THE PRESENT LIMITATION ON THE RIGHT OF INHERITANCE WILL REMAIN "GOOD LAW" IN ALABAMA. WE HAVE EXAMINED THE CASE OF LEVY V LOUISIANA HOLDING THAT THE USE OF THE WORD "CHILD" IN THE WRONGFUL DEATH STATUTE OF LOUISIANA INCLUDED AN ILLEGITIMATE CHILD AS WELL AS A LEGITIMATE CHILD. OUR OFFICE IS REQUIRED TO FOLLOW THE PLAIN WORDING OF THE STATUTORY LAW OF THE STATE OF ALABAMA. WHICH HEREBY IS SUSTAINED.

B-165077, SEPT. 6, 1968

TO ROBERT B. STEWART:

WE REFER TO YOUR LETTER OF AUGUST 5, 1968, REQUESTING REVIEW OF THE SETTLEMENT OF OUR OFFICE DATED APRIL 29, 1968, DISALLOWING THE CLAIM OF ETHERLINE MATSEY AS MOTHER OF DARIUS MATSEY FOR UNPAID COMPENSATION DUE MOSE ZEIGLER, JR., DECEASED FORMER EMPLOYEE OF THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION HOSPITAL, MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA, ON THE DATE OF HIS DEATH.

THE CLAIM WAS DISALLOWED BECAUSE UNDER THE ALABAMA LAW A CHILD BORN OUT OF WEDLOCK CANNOT INHERIT FROM HIS FATHER UNLESS HE IS SUBSEQUENTLY LEGITIMIZED IN THE MANNER PROVIDED IN SUCH LAW. SEE ALABAMA CODE (TITLE 16, SECTION 7, AND TITLE 27, SECTIONS 10 AND 11).

YOU POINT OUT IN YOUR LETTER OF AUGUST 5 THAT OUR SETTLEMENT CORRECTLY STATES THE LAW OF ALABAMA REGARDING RIGHTS OF AN ILLEGIMATE CHILD WITH RESPECT TO HIS FATHER'S PROPERTY. HOWEVER, YOU SAY IN VIEW OF THE RECENT CASE OF LEVY V LOUISIANA, 20 L.ED.2D 436, DECIDED MAY 20, 1968, THAT YOU DO NOT CONSIDER THAT THE PRESENT LIMITATION ON THE RIGHT OF INHERITANCE WILL REMAIN "GOOD LAW" IN ALABAMA.

WE HAVE EXAMINED THE CASE OF LEVY V LOUISIANA HOLDING THAT THE USE OF THE WORD "CHILD" IN THE WRONGFUL DEATH STATUTE OF LOUISIANA INCLUDED AN ILLEGITIMATE CHILD AS WELL AS A LEGITIMATE CHILD. THAT DECISION, HOWEVER, DID NOT DECIDE THE QUESTION WHETHER AN ILLEGITIMATE CHILD HAS A RIGHT TO INHERIT FROM HIS FATHER IRRESPECTIVE OF A STATE LAW LIMITING THE RIGHT TO INHERIT FROM A FATHER TO LEGITIMATE CHILDREN. WHILE THE RATIONALE IN THAT DECISION SUBSEQUENTLY MAY BE EXTENDED TO THE QUESTION OF INHERITANCE RIGHTS EITHER BY THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES OR BY A COURT OF THE STATE OF ALABAMA IN A SUBSEQUENT CONSTRUCTION OF THE LAW OF THAT STATE, UNTIL SUCH TIME AS THE SPECIFIC MATTER INVOLVED HAS BEEN AUTHORITATIVELY DECIDED IN AN APPROPRIATE LEGAL PROCEEDING, OUR OFFICE IS REQUIRED TO FOLLOW THE PLAIN WORDING OF THE STATUTORY LAW OF THE STATE OF ALABAMA.

ACCORDINGLY, WE FIND NO BASIS FOR MODIFYING THE CONCLUSION STATED IN OUR SETTLEMENT OF APRIL 29, 1968, WHICH HEREBY IS SUSTAINED.