CA: Dagupan RTC abused its discretion

By January 9, 2022Top Stories

THE Court of Appeals has nullified two resolutions issued by Branch 41 of the Regional Trial Court in Dagupan City presided by Judge  Emma Torio that denied the plea of the petitioner for the dismissal of a civil case filed against her after she bought a property on the ground of res judicata, and consequently dismissed the said case.

A 10-page decision promulgated by the 9th Division of the CA way back on October 28 last year, a copy of which was obtained only recently, granted the petition filed by Maria Carretero-Albano against the respondents Torio and Marilou Jimenez Cuison.

The CA defines res judicata in its ruling as “a matter adjudged; a thing judicially acted upon or decided; a thing, or matter settled by judgment” is a ground to dismiss an action or appropriately, to bar a subsequent action. . . .”

Albano contended that the judgment and the pleadings in her earlier Civil Case No. 206-0379-D filed before RTC Branch 42 could not be raised again  in Civil Case No 2017-0131-D filed sometime in 2017 before RTC Branch 41 against her by Cuison.

A perusal of the case showed that on December 6, 2006, petitioner Albano, then plaintiff, filed a complaint for specific performance and damages against William Cuison, husband of respondent Marilou Jimenez-Cuison, and LBC Bank before RTC Branch 42 in Dagupan.

The subject of the complaint was a Memorandum of Agreement executed by William committing to execute a deed of sale over a parcel of land in favor of Albano upon the latter’s partial payment of P 1,049,366 and settlement of a loan and mortgage with the LBC.

In his answer with compulsory counterclaim, Wiiliam argued that the MOA was unenforceable due to the absence of the consent of his wife, Marilou.  Since William’s answer failed to specifically deny the veracity and due execution of the MOA, Albano filed a Motion for Judgment, which was granted in an Order dated October 31,2008.

In filing Civil Case No 2017-0131 D 11 years later for the Annulment of Memorandum of Agreement, Reconveyance and Damages before Judge’s Torio’s sala, Marilou Cuison asserted that sans her consent, the MOA is void as to her and the portion corresponding to her conjugal share of the land sold to Albano.

In response, Albano raised the affirmative defense of res judicata and estoppel, arguing that the Marilou’s husband, William, already raised the same argument in an earlier case.

Subsequently, RTC ruled in its resolution dated April 10, 2018 that the elements of res judicata is not wanting and “cannot foreclose petitioner’s bid to nullify the MOA”.

Then, Albano sought relief from the CA, imputing grave abuse of discretion, error on the court a quo for denying her pleadings for the immediate dismissal of Civil Case No. 2017-0131 D on the ground of res judicata.

The CA believed that the persistence of the RTC to try the case despite the glaring presence of res judicata by conclusiveness of judgment “amounts to grave abuse of discretion”.

The CA held the view that RTC’s tack goes against the well-ensconced rule that litigation “must come to an end and terminate sometime and somewhere” and nullify RTC’s resolutions of April 10, 2018 and March 18, 2019. (Leonardo Micua)

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