Pulumbarit Sr. vs CA (G.R. NOS. 153745-46, October 14, 2015)

Pulumbarit Sr. vs Court of Appeals
G.R. NOS. 153745-46, October 14, 2015
Facts: Sometime in 1982, San Juan Macias Memorial Park, Inc. (SJMMPI), through its President Lourdes S. Pascual, authorized Atty. Soledad de Jesus to look for a buyer for the San Juan Memorial Park (Memorial Park) for P1,500,000.00. Thereafter, Lourdes Pascual, Leonila F. Acasio, and the other officers of SJMMPI (Pascual et al.) were introduced to Nemencio Pulumbarit (Pulumbarit). The parties eventually came to an agreement, with Pulumbarit issuing eighteen (18) checks in the name of SJMMPI Secretary-Treasurer Leonila Acasio. Pulumbarit and/or his lawyer took charge of reducing the agreement into writing and securing the signatures of all concerned parties. On June 13, 1983, Pascual et al. sent a letter to Pulumbarit requesting for a copy of their written agreement. In another letter of even date, they also asked Pulumbarit to reissue new checks to replace the ones he previously issued. Failing to get a favorable response, Pascual et al. filed a Complaint for Rescission of Contract, Damages and Accounting with Prayer for Preliminary Injunction or Receivership against Pulumbarit. On February 3, 1984, Pulumbarit filed a Motion praying for the dismissal of the Complaint for lack of cause of action, attaching a copy of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA). Pascual et al. amended their Complaint on June 5, 1984. Therein, they alleged that Pulumbarit falsified their agreement, as the MOA provided did not reflect the terms and conditions agreed upon by the parties. They disputed the statement in the MOA that the agreement was a sale of all the paid-up stocks of SJMMPI and not a management agreement with option to buy. Pascual et al. argued that the falsified MOA was a nullity and therefore without force and effect. In a motion filed on July 5, 1984, and pending resolution of Pulumbarit’s Motion to Dismiss, Pascual et al. sought to have Pulumbarit declared in default. The trial court granted this motion and allowed Paseual et al. to present their evidence ex parte. On September 5, 1984, the trial court rendered a default judgment in favor of Paseual et al. This judgment of default was reversed by the CA on January 15, 1989 and the case was remanded to the trial court for reception of Pulumbarit’s evidence. Prior to the reversal of the trial court’s default judgment, however, Pascual et al. applied for the appointment of a receiver to take possession of the Memorial Park and all its records and business transactions during the pendency of the case. This application was denied by the trial court in an Order dated October 10, 1991. Pulumbarit filed a Notice of Appeal dated August 19, 2000. His appeal was docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 69931. Meanwhile, and before the transniittal of the records of Civil Case No. 7250-M to the CA, Pascual et al. filed with the trial court motions praying for (1) the issuance of a writ of injunction against Pulumbarit and (2) the execution of the decision pending appeal. The trial court granted these motions on September 13, 2000 pursuant to Section 4, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court. Pulumbarit’s subsequent motion for reconsideration of this Order (directing discretionary execution) was denied on October 3, 2000.
Issues:  Whether or not Pascual et al.’s filing of an Urgent Motion for Execution Pending Appeal in CA-G.R. CV No. 69931, despite knowledge of the pendency of CA-G.R. SP No. 61873, constituted forum shopping.
Whether or not the filing of the motion for execution pending appeal in CA-G.R. CV No. 69931 rendered CA-G.R. SP No. 61873 moot and academic.
Whether or not the finding of fact in the application for receivership constituted res judicata as to the issue of the true agreement between the parties.
Held: No. Strictly speaking, Pascual et al. did not commit forum shopping. Forum shopping exists when the elements of litis pendentia are present, or when a final judgment in one case will amount to res judicata in another. Here, any action by the CA on Pascual et al.’s motion in CA-G.R. CV No. 69931 is provisional in nature, such that it can in no way constitute as res judicata in CA-G.R. SP No. 61873. Moreover, forum shopping requires the identity of parties, rights or causes of action, and reliefs sought in two or more pending cases. Mere, there is no identity of relief and/or cause of action. CAG.R. SP No. 61873 is limited to a determination of whether grave abuse of discretion was committed by the trial court in granting execution pending appeal while Pascual et al.’s motion in CA-G.R. CV No. 69931 involves a determination by the CA whether there are “good reasons” warranting the grant of discretionary execution. 
No. To reiterate, Pascual et al.’s motion in CA-G.R. CV No. 69931 seeks the CA’s approval to execute the trial court’s Decision pending final disposition of Pulumbarit’s appeal. CA-G.R. SP No. 61873, on the other hand, is an action to determine whether grave abuse of discretion was committed by the trial court when it allowed execution pending appeal. The subjects of Pascual et al.’s motion in CA-G.R. CV No. 69931 and Pulumbarit’s petition in CA-G.R. SP No. 61873 concern two different, albeit closely related, issues. Furthermore, any action on a motion for execution pending appeal is only provisional in nature. The grant or denial (as the case may be) of such a motion is always without prejudice to the court’s final disposition of the case and the issues raised therein. In fact, Section 3, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court allows the party against whom the execution of a decision pending appeal is directed to stay the execution by posting a supersedeas bond. Section 5 of the same rule also provides that where the executed judgment is reversed totally or partially, or annulled, on appeal or otherwise, the trial court may, on motion, issue such orders of restitution or reparation of damages as equity and justice may warrant under the circumstances.
For these reasons, the grant by the CA of a motion for execution pending appeal, being provisional in nature, could therefore not have rendered CA-G.R. SP No. 61873 moot and academic. In the same way, if not arguably more so, much less can the mere filing of such a motion warrant the dismissal of CA-G.R. SP No. 61873 on the ground of mootness. Thus, the CA committed a reversible error when it dismissed CA-G.R. SP No. 61873.
Section 2, Rule 30 of the Rules of Court provides, in part, that discretionary execution (or execution pending appeal) may only issue “upon good reasons to be stated in a special order after due hearing.” Good reason must consist of superior or exceptional circumstances of such urgency as to outweigh the injury or damage that the losing party may suffer, should the appealed judgment be reversed later.
No. There is “bar by prior judgment” when, as between the first case where the judgment was rendered and the second case that is sought to be barred, there is identity of parties, subject matter, and causes of action. In this instance, the judgment in the first case constitutes an absolute bar to the second action. 
But where there is identity of parties in the first and second cases, but no identity of causes of action, the first judgment is conclusive only as to those matters actually and directly controverted and determined and not as to matters merely involved therein. This is the concept of res judicata known as “conclusiveness of judgment.” Stated differently, any right, fact, or matter in issue directly adjudicated or necessarily involved in the determination of an action before a competent court in which judgment is rendered on the merits is conclusively settled by the judgment therein and cannot again be litigated between the parties and their privies, whether or not the claim, demand, purpose, or subject matter of the two actions is the same.
The application of the doctrine of res judicata either in the concept of bar by prior judgment or conclusiveness of judgment requires or presupposes the existence of two independent actions.

Sotto vs Palicte ( G.R. No. 159691 June 13, 2013)

Heirs of Marcelo Sotto vs Palicte
G.R. No. 159691 June 13, 2013

Facts: Filemon had four children, namely: Marcelo Sotto (Marcelo), Pascuala SottoPahang (Pascuala), Miguel Barcelona (Miguel), and Matilde. Marcelo was the administrator of the Estate of Sotto. Marcelo and Miguel were the predecessorsin-interest of petitioners. In June 1967, Pilar Teves (Pilar) and other heirs of Carmen Rallos (Carmen), the deceased wife of Filemon, filed in the Court of First Instance (CFI) of Cebu City a complaint against the Estate of Sotto (Civil Case No. R-10027) seeking to recover certain properties that Filemon had inherited from Carmen, and damages. The CFI rendered judgment awarding to Pilar and other heirs of Carmen damages of P233,963.65, among other reliefs. To satisfy the monetary part of the judgment, levy on execution was effected against six parcels of land and two residential houses belonging to the Estate of Sotto. The levied assets were sold at a public auction. Later on, Matilde redeemed four of the parcels of land in her own name (i.e., Lots No. 1049, No. 1051, No. 1052 and No. 2179-C), while her sister Pascuala redeemed one of the two houses because her family was residing there. On July 9, 1980, the Deputy Provincial Sheriff of Cebu executed a deed of redemption in favor of Matilde, which the Clerk of Court approved. On July 24, 1980, Matilde filed in Civil Case No. R-10027 a motion to transfer to her name the title to the four properties. However, the CFI denied her motion, and instead declared the deed of redemption issued in her favor null and void, holding that Matilde, although declared in Special Proceedings No. 2706-R as one of the heirs of Filemon, did not qualify as a successor-in-interest with the right to redeem the four properties. Matilde directly appealed the adverse ruling to the Court via petition for review, and on September 21, 1987, the Court, reversing the CFI’s ruling, granted Matilde’s petition for review but allowed her co-heirs the opportunity to join Matilde as co-redemptioners for a period of six months before the probate court (i.e., RTC of Cebu City, Branch 16) would grant her motion to transfer the title to her name. In November 1998, the heirs of Miguel filed a motion for reconsideration in Civil Case No. R-10027 of the RTC of Cebu City, Branch 16, praying that the order issued on October 5, 1989 be set aside, and that they be included as Matilde’s co-redemptioners. After the RTC denied the motion for reconsideration for its lack of merit on April 25, 2000, they assailed the denial by petition for certiorari and prohibition (C.A.-G.R. SP No. 60225). The CA dismissed the petition for certiorari and prohibition on January 10, 2002. Thereafter, they elevated the matter to the Court via petition for certiorari (G.R. No. 154585), which the Court dismissed on September 23, 2002 for being filed out of time and for lack of merit. On September 10, 1999, the heirs of Marcelo, specifically: Lolibeth Sotto Noble, Danilo C. Sotto, Cristina C. Sotto, Emmanuel C. Sotto, Filemon C. Sotto, and Marcela C. Sotto; and the heirs of Miguel, namely: Alberto, Arturo and Salvacion, all surnamed Barcelona (herein petitioners), instituted the present action for partition against Matilde in the RTC of Cebu City, Branch 20 (Civil Case No. CEB24293).2 Alleging in their complaint that despite the redemption of the four properties having been made in the sole name of Matilde, the four properties still rightfully belonged to the Estate of Sotto for having furnished the funds used to redeem the properties, they prayed that the RTC declare the four properties as the assets of the Estate of Sotto, and that the RTC direct their partition among the heirs of Filemon.

Issue: Whether or not res judicata is applicable in the case at bar.

Held: Yes. All these judgments and order upholding Matilde’s exclusive ownership of the subject properties became final and executory except the action for partition which is still pending in this Court. The judgments were on the merits and rendered by courts having jurisdiction over the subject matter and the parties. There is substantial identity of parties considering that the present case and the previous cases involve the heirs of Filemon.

There is identity of parties not only when the parties in the case are the same, but also between those in privity with them, such as between their successors-in-interest. Absolute identity of parties is not required, and where a shared identity of interest is shown by the identity of relief sought by one person in a prior case and the second person in a subsequent case, such was deemed sufficient. There is identity of causes of action since the issues raised in all the cases essentially involve the claim of ownership over the subject properties. Even if the forms or natures of the actions are different, there is still identity of causes of action when the same facts or evidence support and establish the causes of action in the case at bar and in the previous cases.

Res judicata exists when as between the action sought to be dismissed and the other action these elements are present, namely; (1) the former judgment must be final; (2) the former judgment must have been rendered by a court having jurisdiction of the subject matter and the parties; (3) the former judgment must be a judgment on the merits; and (4) there must be between the first and subsequent actions (i) identity of parties or at least such as representing the same interest in both actions; (ii) identity of subject matter, or of the rights asserted and relief prayed for, the relief being founded on the same facts; and, (iii) identity of causes of action in both actions such that any judgment that may be rendered in the other action will, regardless of which party is successful, amount to res judicata in the action under consideration.

The first three elements were present. The decision of the Court in G.R. No. 55076 (the first case), the decision of the Court in G.R. No. 131722 (the second case), the order dated October 5, 1989 of the RTC in Civil Case No. R-10027 as upheld by the Court in G.R. No. 154585 (the third case), and the decision in G.R. No. 158642 (the fourth case) – all of which dealt with Matilde’s right to the four properties – had upheld Matilde’s right to the four properties and had all become final. Such rulings were rendered in the exercise of the respective courts’ jurisdiction over the subject matter, and were adjudications on the merits of the cases.