SC Upholds CA Dismissal of Petition on Ground of Litis Pendentia

April 15, 2019

“[P]ursuant to the policy of judicial stability, a division of the appellate court should not interfere with the decision of the other divisions of the court, otherwise confusion will ensue and may seriously hinder the administration of justice.”

Thus  stressed the Supreme Court as it denied for lack of merit the appeal filed by Goodland Company, Inc. (Goodland) assailing the dismissal of its petition forcertiorari (CA-GR SP No. No. 119327)  by the Court of Appeals (CA) against the October 4, 2010 and January 24, 2011 Orders of the Mandaluyong City Regional Trial Court (Branch 21). The October 4, 2010 Order, among others, ordered the discharge of Goodgold Realty and Development Corporation (Goodgold)’s property covered by TCT No. 43838  and directed reinstatement of  the attachment of Goodland’s property covered by TCT No. S-97436 (451440), while the January 24, 2011 Order denied Goodland’s motion for reconsideration. Both Goodland and Goodgold had been named as debtor corporations in the Complaint for Sum of Money with Application for Preliminary Attachment filed by Banco De Oro Unibank, Inc. (BDO)

BDO also elevated the October 4, 2010 RTC Order to the CA via petition for certiorari, docketed as CA-GR SP No. 119327. In the said case, the CA on June 6, 2011, among others, ruled that the only property of Goodland that can be included in the writ is the property covered by TCT No. 218470 subject of the dacion en pago in favor of BDO but only to the extent of P69,821,702.77.  Entry of judgment was eventually issued on July 30, 2013.

In a 13-page decision penned by Justice Mariano C. del Castillo, the Court’s First Division held that the CA correctly dismissed Goodland’s petition for certiorari on the ground of litis pendentia with CA-GR SP No. 119327, noting that “[a]s aptly found by the CA, the parties and issues raised in the said case were identical.” The Court found both petitions for certiorari raised as an issue the sufficiency or insufficiency of the attached properties. “The resolution of the said issue in one case (CA-G.R. SP No. 117223) prevented the CA in CA G.R. SP No. 119327 from resolving the same issue,” the High Court said.

The Court also held that failure to consolidate a case with a related case does not necessarily result in the dismissal of the case, unless there is litis pententia or res judicata. Consolidation is “a procedural device granted to the court as an aid in deciding how cases in its docket are to be tried so that the business of the court may be dispatched expeditiously and with economy while providing justice to the parties.”

“Thus, it is incumbent upon the parties to be on the lookout and to immediately inform the courts of cases pending with other courts, and if needed, to move for the consolidation of related cases in order to avoid the dismissal of a case of the grounds of litis pendentia and/or res judicata, or the issuance of conflicting decisions,” the Court explained.

          In 1999, Goodland Company, Inc. (Goodland), et al. secured loans and credit facilities from Equitable PCI Bank, Inc. (EPCI). When they failed to pay the monthly interest on the loan obligation, they offered to pay their loan through a dacion en pago. In 2004, EPCI wrote letter agreement confirming that the property in Makati City registered under Goodgold’s name be applied as full payment of the loan obligation of the debtor corporations at a dacion price of P245 million. But despite of execution of theDacion En Pago, EPCI was not able to cause the transfer of the title under its name due to the alleged fraudulent refusal of respondent Goodgold to turn over the transfer documents.

In 2007, EPCI merged with Banco De Oro Universal Bank to form Banco De Oro Unibank, Inc. (BDO)

In 2009, BDO filed before RTC of Mandaluyong City, Branch 213, as Complaint for Sum of Money with Application for Preliminary Attachment.

(G.R. No. 208543, Goodland Company, Inc. v. Banco de Oro-Unibank, Inc., February 11, 2019)