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Zenaida Polanco, Carlos De Jesus, Avelino De

Jesus, Baby De Jesus, and Demetrio Santos v.


Carmen Cruz, represented by atty-in-fact,
Virgilio Cruz
Topic: Setting for Pre-Trial
Fcats:
1. A complaint for damages was filed by
Carmen, through atty-in-fact, Virgilio Cruz
against the Petitioners for destroying her
palay crops
2. The petitioners were the owners of the
agrigultural land she tilled. She was a
lawful tenant and had been in actual
possession
of the land when they
mailiciously filled so with soil and palay
husk (July 1 & 2, 2000)
3. That petitioners be held liable for actual
damages,
moral
damages,
exemplary
damages, litigation expenses and attorneys
fees, and costs of the suit.
4. Petitioners filed Motion to Dismiss (Order
dated Dec. 4, 2000) but were denied by the
trial court. The trial court said that it had
jurisdiction over the case because of the
claim for damages in the Complaint and not
the DARAB. Also, the Complaint was
properly filed bec. Certificate of Non-forum
shopping was signed by Virgilio.

5. Petitioners simultaneously filed an Answer


to
the
Complaint
and
Motion
for
Reconsideration of the Order. This was
denied by the court for lack of merit (Sept.
10, 2001)
6. An Order was issued in Jan. 9, 2002 by the
court
dismissing
the
case
due
to
respondents failure to prosecute.
7. Respondent
filed
a
Motion
for
Reconsideration but was denied. An appeal
was made to CA which rendered the appeal
granted and the case was remanded to RTC
Branch 17 Malolos.
8. CA ruled that the trial court erred in finding
that the parties failed to take the necessary
action regarding the case because the
records show:
a. When the petitioners filed an Answer
to the complaint, respondent filed an
Opposition
to
the
Motion
for
Reconsideration with Manifestation
Re: Answer of Defendants
b. Previous acts of the respondent do
not manifest lack of interest to
prosecute (since filing the Complaint,
she filed an Opposition to the Motion
to Dismiss of petitioners, an Answer
to the counterclaim, and Comment to
the Motion for Reconsideration)

c. She did not ignore the Motion to


Dismiss of the petitioners nor did she
repeatedly fail to appear before the
court
d. No substantial prejudice would be
caused to petitioners and the
strict application of the rule on
dismissal is unjustified; there was
an absence of pattern and scheme
to delay the disposition of the
case on the part of respondent.
(justice
better
served
if
remanded)
e. CA
denied
the
Motion
for
Reconsideration of the Petitioners.
Issue: W/N CAs decision was contrary to law
and prevailing jurisprudence
Petitioners arguments:
1. Respondent failed to comply with the
mandate to promptly move the setting of
the case for pretrial.
2. heavy pressures of work does not justify
the failure to move the setting of the case
for pre-trial
3. Allegations of the Complaint pertain to her
status as a tenant of Elena De Jesus and it

amounts to forum shopping that would


extremely prejudice them
SCs Ruling:
CA correctly noted that they raised
the matter of forum shopping for the
first time only in their Motion for
Reconsideration
(issues
not
previously ventilated cannot be raised
for the first time in appeal much less
when first raised in the motion for
reconsideration of a decision of the
appellate court )
Court does not find that the
Complaint to be constitutive of the
elements
of
forum
shopping.
Respondent merely described herself
as
tenant
of
petitioners
and
mentioned that there was an unlawful
detainer case involving the parcel of
land which is also involved in the
instant civil case for damages.
Although there was an identity of
parties in the instant case for
damages and the unlawful detainer
case, there is no identity of reliefs
prayed for.
Sec. 1 Rule 18, imposes upon the
plaintiff the duty to promptly

move ex parte to have the case set


for pre-trial after the last pleading
has been served and filed. Sec. 3
Rule 17, failure on the part of the
plaintiff to comply with said duty
without any justifiable cause may
result to dismissal of complaint
for failure to prosecute his action
for an unreasonable length of
time or failure to comply with the
rules of procedure.
o There
are
special
and
compelling reasons which
would
make
the
strict
application
of
the
rule
clearly unjustified.
o CA correctly held that the
dismissal of the respondents
complaint
is
too
severe.
Respondent
prosecuted
her
action with utmost diligence
and with reasonable dispatch
since filling the Complaint.
o When the trial court dismissed
her case she immediately filed
Notice of appeal
o She never failed to comply
with the Rules of Court or
any order of the trial court

at any other time. Failing to


file a motion to set the case
for
pre-trial was her first
and only technical lapse
during
the
entire
proceedings.
No
evident
pattern or scheme to delay.
(Court, on several occasions
relaxed the rigid application of
the rules of procedure to fully
ventilate the merits of the case)
A.M. NO. 03-1-09-SC (took effect on
Aug. 16, 2004):
o AIMS: to abbreviate court
proceedings, ensure prompt
disposition
of
cases
and
decongest court dockets.
o Within 5 days from date of
filing of the reply, the
plaintiff must promptly move
exparte the case to be set for
pre-trial conference
o If the plaintiff fails to file
said motion within the given
period, the Branch COC
(clerk of court) shall issue a
notice of pre-trial.
o The COC of RTC Branch 17
of Malolos should issue a

notice of pre-trial to the


parties and set the case for

pre-trial. (Thus, the COC was


directed to issue notice)