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Failure to state COA or Lack of COA

SAN LORENZO VILLAGE ASSOCIATION, INC., petitioner, vs.


COURT OF APPEALS; Hon. Judge ROBERTO C. DIOKNO,
Presiding Judge, RTC, Makati, Branch 62 and ALMEDA
DEVELOPMENT & EQUIPMENT CORPORATION, respondents.
San Lorenzo Village Association, Inc. (SLVAI) and San Lorenzo
Company, Inc. were the respondents in a petition filed before the
lower court by Almeda Development and Equipment Corporation
(ADEC
In AlmedasTCT there were certain limitations annotated which
Almeda claims is an unlawful limitation to the rights of the petitioner
protected by the Constitution and prescribed in Art. 428 of the Civil
Code.
ADEC prayed for the issuance of a temporary restraining order
directing the San Lorenzo Company, Inc. and its agents to cease
and desist from applying such restrictions.SLVAI filed a motion to
dismiss the petition on the grounds of lack of cause of action and
lack of ADECs personality to sue. It alleged that ADEC was not a
registered owner of the parcel of land covered by TCTADEC
opposed the motion to dismiss contending that it had a cause of
action against SLVAI because it is the new) owner of the lot.the lower
court issued an Order denying the motion to dismiss,
SLVAI filed a motion for the reconsideration the lower court issued
the Order denying the motion for reconsideration
SLVAI questioned the lower courts Orders before the Court of
Appeals through a petition for certiorari with prayer for the issuance
of a temporary restraining order.
the Court of Appeals denied the petition for certiorari.

whether or not the petition below alleges a cause of action


against petitioner that the lower court may be deemed to have
correctly denied the motion to dismiss the same petition.
A complaint states a cause of action where it contains the three (3)
essential elements of a cause of action, namely: (1) the legal right of
the plaintiff, (2) the correlative obligation of the defendant, and (3) the
act or omission of the defendant in violation of said legal right. If
these elements are absent, the complaint becomes vulnerable to a
motion to dismiss on the ground of failure to state a cause of
action. If the allegations are vague, indefinite, or in the form of
conclusions, the defendants recourse is not a motion to dismiss but
a bill of particulars.[14]
A motion to dismiss on the ground of failure to state a cause of action
in the complaint hypothetically admits the truth of the facts alleged
therein. However, the hypothetical admission is limited to the
relevant and material facts well pleaded in the complaint and
inferences fairly deductible therefrom. The admission does not
extend to conclusions or interpretations of law; nor does it cover
allegations of fact the falsity of which is subject to judicial notice
However, it should be pointed out at the outset that it is not lack or
absence of cause of action that is a ground for dismissal of the
complaint, but rather, that the complaint states no cause of action.
[17]

This ruling does not apply to the case. The complaint asserts that
plaintiff purchased the property in question from the person holding
title thereto. It then infers that by this mode, it became the
successor-in-interest of the vendor, if not indeed the owner of the
property. Hence, the restrictions in the title should be nullified not
only because it is contrary to law but also because the conditions
under which they were imposed had ceased to exist.

In fact, the averments in the complaint like the title of ADECs vendor,
the execution of the sale by said vendor to ADEC, the latters status
as the vendors successor-in-interest, and the altered physical
environment along Pasay Road, are allegations well within the
hypothetical-admission principle. These averments satisfy the three
(3) elements of a cause of action. In other words, the complaint did
state a cause of action.

found residing and/or tilling the subject properties. GABI alleged


ownership but Dabuco refused to vacate inspite [sic] notice. Sj cj

In view of such, SLVAI cannot successfully invoke the ground that


the complaint fails to state a cause of action in its motion to
dismiss.

Dabuco filed their answer alleging that plaintiff has no personality to


file this case since GABI does not appear to be the buyer of the
properties neither were the properties titled in its name; that the
subject properties are part of the forest reserve which cannot be
privately acquired.

WHEREFORE, the petition should be DISMISSED and the


challenged decision of the Court of Appeals should be AFFIRMED.

the trial court issued a Temporary Restraining Order, but after


hearing, the trial court lifted and dissolved the temporary restraining
order it earlier issued upon failure of the plaintiff to prove its title over
the subject properties. Supreme

DABUCO filed a Motion to Dismiss the complaint on the ground of


lack of cause of action, plaintiff has no personality to sue; and lack of
jurisdiction.
FIDEL DABUCO, et al. vs. COURT OF APPEALS AND GABI
MULTI PURPOSE COOPERATIVE, REPRESENTED BY MARIA
QUISUMBING ALVAREZ AND COL. SOLOMON DALID,
RET., respondents. ALEX
The case in the trial court, was an action for quieting of title, accion
publiciana and damages involving agricultural lands. Dabuco et al.
filed an Urgent Motion, for the issuance of a Restraining Order or
Writ of Preliminary Injunction, wherein they alleged that GABI had
commenced to enter the disputed lands. an Opposition by GABI to
petitioners' Urgent Motion was received by the Court. The Lazarrabal
[sic] family were the registered owners of the subject properties.
On different occasions, the subject properties were sold to Ruben
Baculi, Editha Belocura, and others. GABI Multi-Purpose
Cooperative filed a civil complaint against Dabuco et alwho were

the assailed order dismissing the complaint on the ground that


plaintiff has no real interest in the case, was rendered.Court
Plaintiff filed a motion for reconsideration of the said order, but the
trial court denied the same.
The CA reversed.
Petitioners' Motion for Reconsideration was denied by the appellate
court. They then filed the instant petition praying that the dismissal by
the trial court be affirmed, and the decision by the appellate court
reversing such dismissal be set aside. J lexj
Petitioners assert that there was sufficient reason to dismiss the
action below on the ground that GABI had no cause of action against
petitioners. They also aver in the alternative that the Complaint by

GABI was properly dismissed on the ground that it failed to state a


cause of action.
As a preliminary matter, we wish to stress the distinction between the
two grounds for dismissal of an action: failure to state a cause of
action, on the one hand, and lack of cause of action, on the other
hand. The former refers to the insufficiency of allegation in the
pleading, the latter to the insufficiency of factual basis for the action.
Failure to state a cause may be raised in a Motion to Dismiss under
Rule 16,[6] while lack of cause may be raised any time.[7]Dismissal for
failure to state a cause can be made at the earliest stages of an
action. Dismissal for lack of cause is usually made after questions of
fact have been resolved on the basis of stipulations, admissions or
evidence presented.[8]
We find no merit in petitioners' first contention that dismissal was
proper on the ground of lack of cause of action. It appears that the
trial court dismissed the case on the ground that GABI was not the
owner of the lands or one entitled to the possession, and thus had no
cause of action. In dismissal for lack of cause of action, one or more
elements of his cause of action do not exist in fact.
the trial court's ruling, to the effect that GABI had no title to the lands
and thus had no cause of action, was premature. Indeed hearings
were conducted but the court does not deem such sufficient.
One of the hearing was on the propriety of lifting the restraining
order. At such preliminary hearing, the trial court required GABI to
produce Certificates of Title to the lands in its name. GABI admitted
that it did not have such Certificates, only Deeds of Sale from the
registered owners.
Instead, GABI offered to present evidence to prove its title in the
ordinary course of trial.

another hearing was conducted wherein GABI was again required to


show Certificates of Title to the property in its name. On the basis of
GABI's failure to show such Certificates at this second preliminary
hearing, the trial court concluded that GABI had no title and
thereafter dismissed the case.[13] Such action by the trial court was
premature inasmuch as the issues of fact pertaining to GABI's title
had not yet been adequately ventilated at that preliminary stage. Msesm
Anent petitioners' thesis that dismissal of the complaint by the trial
court was proper for failure to state a cause of action, we, likewise,
find no valid basis to sustain the same.
Dismissal of a Complaint for failure to state a cause of action is
provided for by the Rules of Court.[14]
In dismissal for failure to state a cause, the inquiry is into the
sufficiency, not the veracity, of the material allegations. [15] The test is
whether the material allegations, state ultimate facts which
constitute plaintiff's cause of action, such that plaintiff is entitled to a
favorable judgment as a matter of law.[16] The general rule is that
inquiry is confined to the four corners of the complaint, and no other.
[17]
E-xsm
There are well-recognized exceptions to the rule that the
allegations are hypothetically admitted as true and inquiry is
confined to the face of the complaint. There is no hypothetical
admission of the veracity of allegations if their falsity is subject
to judicial notice,[20] or if such allegations are legally impossible,
or if these refer to facts which are inadmissible in evidence, or if
by the record or document included in the pleading these
allegations appear unfounded.[21] Also, inquiry is not confined to
the complaint if there is evidence which has been presented to
the court by stipulation of the parties,[22] or in the course of
hearings related to the case.[23] Calr-ky

Petitioners invoke these exceptions to justify the dismissal by the


RTC. They particularly rely on the ruling of this Court in Tan vs.
Director of Forestry. Tan is not applicable in this case. Unlike
in Tan where the parties were given ample opportunity in the
preliminary hearing to present evidence on their contentions, GABI
did not have sufficient chance to prove its allegation of ownership.
Thus, the conclusion that GABI's allegation of ownership is false and
that its complaint stated no cause of action, appears to be without
basis. Me-sm
In sum, as appears from the available records, the Court of Appeals
was correct in ruling that the dismissal by the trial court of GABI's
complaint was incorrect.

MELISSA DOMONDON, ALMIRA BASALO, and CLEO


VILLAREIZ, complainants, vs. JUDGE PERCIVAL MANDAP
LOPEZ, respondent.

Students of the AMA Computer College and members of the editorial


board of the school publication called Dataline published a spoof
edition of the Dataline, which they called Amable Tonite. the student
Disciplinary Tribunal of the college recommended the expulsion of
complainants from the school.[1]
complainants and other members of the Dataline editorial board filed
a complaint for damages with prayer for the issuance of a writ of
preliminary mandatory injunction against AMA Computer College and
Herrera, Dean of Student Affairs in the Regional Trial Court.
Complainants alleged that they had been expelled in a despotic and

oppressive manner in violation of their constitutional rights to due


process and to free speech as well as the provisions of the Campus
Journalism Act of 1991. AMA Computer College and Herrera filed an
Opposition, contending that the articles in the spoof edition were
slanderous and derogatory; that R.A. No. 7079 itself enjoins student
publications to observe the pertinent laws and school policies in the
selection of articles for publication; that complainants had been given
the opportunity to controvert the charges; and that complainants
were guilty of using indecent language, committing vulgar and
obscene acts, libel, and unauthorized disbursement
of Dataline funds.[3]
on the basis of the pleadings, respondent judge dismissed the case
itself after finding that the expulsion of the complainants from the
school was for cause and was effected only after an investigation
during which they were duly heard.
Complainants then sought the disqualification of respondent judge.
Respondent judge denied complainants motion for reconsideration
and motion to inhibit him for lack of merit.Complainants charge
respondent judge with gross ignorance of the law in dismissing
their case considering that: (a) no answer or motion to dismiss had
been filed by the defendant school; (b) the pleadings and evidence,
if any, on record referred only to the issuance of a temporary
preliminary mandatory injunction and none of the defendants
pleadings which averred additional factual matters was verified; and
(c) they were not given an opportunity to present their evidence. [10]
respondent judge alleges that his dismissal of the case on the
merits was justified on the ground that the defendants
rejoinder contained a prayer for the same. He contends that this
was tantamount to a motion to dismiss filed on the ground of
lack of cause of action on the part of the complainants. [11]

The Office of the Court Administrator (OCA), to which this case was
referred, found respondent judge guilty of undue delay and gross
ignorance of the law in his We find the recommendation, to be on the
main well taken.
Second. It is undisputed that no trial was ever conducted before
issuing his resolution, dismissing the complaint for lack of merit.
Respondent judge, however, justifies his action on the ground that
the defendants rejoinder sought the dismissal of the case for lack of
merit and the same was in the nature of a motion to dismiss the
case for lack of cause of action.
To be sure, the defendants did not file a motion to dismiss. What
they filed was an Opposition,, in which they raised factual matters
and affirmative defenses to answer the allegations in the complaint
against them and prayed for the denial of the writ prayed for. The fact
that the defendants filed a responsive pleading seeking affirmative
relief and setting up defenses[18] negates the intent on their part to file
a motion to dismiss.
It is apparent that respondent judge failed to distinguish between a
motion to dismiss for failure of the complaint to state a cause of
action and a motion to dismiss based on lack of cause of action. The
first is governed by Rule 16, 1(g), while the second by Rule 33 of
the 1997 Revised Rules of Civil Procedure.[19] The distinction
between these two has been explained thus:
. . . The first [situation where the complaint does not allege a
sufficient cause of action] is raised in a motion to dismiss under
Rule 16 before a responsive pleading is filed and can be
determined only from the allegations in the initiatory pleading
and not from evidentiary or other matters aliunde. The second
[situation where the evidence does not sustain the cause of action
alleged] is raised in a demurrer to evidence under Rule 33 after
the plaintiff has rested his case and can be resolved only on the

basis of the evidence he has presented in support of his claim. The


first does not concern itself with the truth and falsity of the
allegations while the second arises precisely because the judge
has determined the truth and falsity of the allegations and has
found the evidence wanting.[20]
As the rejoinder filed by the defendants was not based on the failure
of the complaint to state a cause of action but on factual and legal
matters allegedly excusing them from liability, the same could not be
considered a motion to dismiss under Rule 16, 1(g).
Respondent judge could not dismiss the case for lack of cause since
there were issues of facts which had to be resolved. He can only do
so only after a trial on the merits. respondent judge simply accepted
as facts the affirmative defenses raised by the defendants, without
evidence as to their truthfulness or veracity, the allegations in the
opposition filed by the defendants remained mere allegations and did
not rise to the dignity of proof.[24] There is thus no factual support for
respondent judges resolution. Indeed, all that was submitted to
respondent judge for resolution was merely the issue of whether or
not to grant a preliminary mandatory injunction to compel the
defendant school to allow complainants to enroll for the school year
1997-1998.
Only ignorance of basic procedure can account for the bizarre
proceedings before respondent judge. SO ORDERED.

Alternative COA
VICENTE CALALAS, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, ELIZA
JUJEURCHE SUNGA and FRANCISCO SALVA,respondents.

private respondent Sunga, then a freshman at Siliman University,


took a passenger jeepney owned and operated by Calalas. As the
jeepney was filled to capacity, Sunga was given by the conductor an
"extension seat," a wooden stool at the back of the door at the rear
end of the vehicle. Sclaw
Later, the jeepney stopped to let a passenger off. As she was seated
at the rear of the vehicle, Sunga gave way to the outgoing
passenger. Just as she was doing so, an Isuzu truck bumped the
jeepney. As a result, Sunga was injured. Her attending physician, at
the hospital certified she would remain on a cast for a period of three
months and would have to ambulate in crutches during said period.
Sunga filed a complaint for damages against Calalas, alleging
violation of the contract of carriage by the former in failing to exercise
the diligence required of him as a common carrier. Calalas, on the
other hand, filed a third-party complaint against Francisco Salva, the
owner of the Isuzu truck. Korte
The lower court rendered judgment against Salva as third-party
defendant and absolved Calalas of liability, holding that it was the
driver of the Isuzu truck who was responsible for the accident. Taking
cognizance of another case(Civil Case No. 3490) filed by Calalas
finding the driver and owner of the truck jointly liable to Calalas.
On appeal to the Court of Appeals, the ruling of the lower court was
reversed on the ground that Sungas cause of action was based on a
contract of carriage, not quasi-delict, and that the common carrier
failed to exercise the diligence required under the Civil Code. The
appellate court dismissed the third-party complaint against Salva and
adjudged Calalas liable for damages to Sunga.
Hence, this petition. Petitioner contends that the negligence of the
driver was the proximate cause of the accident negates his liability
and that to rule otherwise would be to make the common carrier an

insurer of the safety of its passengers. He contends that the bumping


of the jeepney by the truck owned by Salva was a caso fortuito.
The petition has no merit.
The argument that Sunga is bound by the ruling in Civil Case No.
3490 ignores the fact that she was never a party to that case and,
therefore, the principle of res judicata does not apply. Missdaa
Nor are the issues in Civil Case No. 3490 and in the present case
the same. The issue in Civil Case No. 3490 was whether Salva
and his driver Verena were liable for quasi-delict for the damage
caused to petitioners jeepney. On the other hand, the issue in
this case is whether petitioner is liable on his contract of
carriage. The first, quasi-delict, also known as culpa
aquiliana or culpa extra contractual, has as its source the negligence
of the tortfeasor. The second, breach of contract or culpa contractual,
is premised upon the negligence in the performance of a contractual
obligation.
Consequently, in quasi-delict, the negligence or fault should be
clearly established because it is the basis of the action, whereas in
breach of contract, the action can be prosecuted merely by proving
the existence of the contract and the fact that the obligor, in this case
the common carrier, failed to transport his passenger safely to his
destination. common carriers under Art. 1756 of the Civil Code are
presumed to have been at fault or to have acted negligently unless
they prove that they observed extraordinary diligence.lxmis
There is, thus, no basis for the contention that the ruling in Civil Case
No. 3490, should be binding on Sunga. It is immaterial that the
proximate cause of the collision was the negligence of the truck
driver. The doctrine of proximate cause is applicable only in actions
for quasi-delict, not in actions involving breach of contract.

The petition is devoid of merit. Sections 7 and 8 of Rule 8 of the


Rules of Court provide as follows:

Actionable Document
IMPERIAL TEXTILE MILLS, INC., petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and THE INTERNATIONAL CORPORATE
BANK, INC., respondents.
This case involves the application of Sections 7 and 8 of Rule 8 of
the Rules of Court when the action or defense is based on a written
document.
In an action for the collection of a sum of money that was filed by the
private respondent against petitioner in the Regional Trial Court, it
was alleged, that Imperial Textile Mills executed in favor of, and
delivered to the bank a Promissory Note, which was attached,
whereby defendant obligated itself to pay the bank the sum of Twelve
Million Pesos (P12,000,000.00).
Imperial denied liability and alleged that one Julio Tan had no
authority to negotiate and obtain a loan on its behalf. For this reason,
in due course, a decision was rendered by the trial court in favor of
the plaintiff International Corporate Bank, Inc. and against the
defendant Imperial Textile Mills,
Petitioner brought an appeal to the Court of Appeals. the Court of
Appeals affirmed the judgment appealed from. 4
A motion for reconsideration of said decision was likewise denied by
the appellate court.
Hence, this petition.

Sec. 7. Action or defense based on document.


Whenever an action or defense is based upon a
written instrument or document, the substance of
such instrument or document shall be set forth in
the pleading, and the original or a copy thereof
shall be attached to the pleading as an exhibit,
which shall be deemed to be a part of the pleading,
or said copy may with like effect be set forth in the
pleading.
Sec. 8. How to contest genuineness of such
documents. When an action or defense is
founded upon a written instrument, copied in or
attached to the corresponding pleading as provided
in the preceding section, the genuineness and due
execution of the instrument shall be deemed
admitted unless the adverse party, under oath,
specifically denies them, and sets forth what he
claims to be the facts; but this provision does not
apply when the adverse party does not appear to be
a party to the instrument or when compliance with an
order for an inspection of the original instrument is
refused.
In an action based on a written instrument attached to the complaint,
if the defendant fails to specifically deny under oath the genuineness
and due execution of the instrument, the same is deemed admitted. 5
Section 7, Rule 8 of the Rules of Court is explicit in that there are two
ways of pleading an actionable document, namely:

(a) by alleging the substance of such written


instrument in the pleading and attaching a copy
thereof to the pleading; and
(b) by copying the instrument in the pleading.
The complaint in the present case complied with the first situation
under paragraph (a). The complaint alleged the substance of the
promissory note subject of the litigation and a copy of the promissory
note was attached.
There is no question likewise that the petitioner failed to specifically
deny under oath the genuineness and due execution of the
promissory note subject of the complaint. By its omission, petitioner
clearly admitted the genuineness and due execution of the document
and that the party whose signature appears thereon had indeed

signed the same and that he has the authority to sign the same. The
petitioner is a party to the instrument represented by Julio Tan so that
it may not now deny the authority of Julio Tan to so represent it. 7 The
due execution and genuineness of the document have thereby been
conclusively established.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED