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Visitacion vs. Manit 27 SCRA 523, March 28, 1969 J.

Teehankee Facts: Alfonso Visitacion, plaintiff-appellee, filed a case against defendant Victor Manit to hold him liable subsidiarily as employer for the death of his son, Delano Visitacion, as a result of injuries sustained in vehicular collision involving Manit’s driver, Rudolfo Giron, who was found insolvent after being convicted and sentenced. The case was heard without defendant or his counsel being present which resulted in plaintiff presenting evidence and the case was submitted for decision. The defendant filed a motion for new trial which was granted and the proceeding continued with the defendants presenting their evidence. On October 14, 1958, Atty. Garcia, defendant’s counsel, manifested that Victor Manit had recently died and the plaintiff’s counsel amended the complaint by impleading the widow and heirs of the deceased. On January 27, 1960, Atty. Garcia filed a motion to withdraw as counsel alleging that Manit’s heirs did not hire him to represent them and both counsel and his client failed to appear at the trial the next day. The Court considered them having renounced their right to appear and present evidence to contest plaintiff’s claim and rendered judgment in favor of plaintiff. Atty. Garcia’s motion to withdraw was not passed upon and his subsequent motion for reconsideration was denied. Thus, he filed this present appeal Issue/s: 1. Whether or not the lower court had jurisdiction to continue the case without the defendants brought to it by summons and without informing said defendants that they have become parties to the case? 2. Whether or not the lower court erred in ignoring the motion to withdraw filed by Atty. Garcia? 3. Whether or not the new defendants were not given their day in court? Held: Appealed judgment affirmed w/ double costs to be paid by attorney for defendants. No error was committed because the record shows that Atty. Garcia had acknowledged the receipt of the amended complaint substituting the defendant heirs as counsel for defendants. They were impleaded and submitted to the Court’s jurisdiction through their counsel’s acknowledgment of the amended complaint; the issuance of a summons was unnecessary. The last-hour motion to withdraw filed one day before the hearing came too late and was properly ignored. The motion was not verified and also carried no notice to his client’s on record which was in violation of the Rules of Court (Rule 15, Sec. 4 and Rule 138, Sec. 26, respectively). An attorney who could not get the written consent of his client must make an application to the court, for the relation does not terminate formally until there is a withdrawal of record. The decision rendered by the lower court, upon failure of defendants and counsel to appear, despite notification was in effect a denial of counsel’s application for withdrawal. Atty. Garcia’s failure to appear was unexcusable and he had no right to assume that the Court would grant his application. Counsel had no right to presume that the court would

There was no premature judgment rendered because the record shows that the defendant heirs were shown to be aware of the existence of the case. The circumstances had lead the Court to believe that the last-hour application to withdraw was merely a device to prolong the case and delay execution of judgment. Neither her nor her 3 children of age can claim ignorance of the pendency of the case. Leonarda Manit was called upon as witness during the deceased’s lifetime by Atty. . . Garcia and submitted herself to the jurisdiction of the Court.grant his withdrawal and therefore must still appear on the date of hearing. The attorney’s duty to safeguard the client’s interests commences from his retainer until his defective release from the case or the final disposition of the whole subject matter of the litigation.