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G.R. No.

119707

November 29, 2001

Second Division
Padillo v. Court of Appeals
Topic: Law of the Case
Ponente: De Leon, Jr.
Nature of the Case: This is a petition for review of the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV
No. 40142 that reversed the decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Civil Case No. 9114.
Facts:
Veronica Padillo, in a petition filed against Averi and Casilang, alleged that she is the owner of the 251
square meter land area located in Quezon Avenue, Lucena City, Quezon Province, which was purchased
from Marina M. de Vera-Quincho and Margarite de Vera, and that Averia and Casilang unlawfully refused
to turn over the property in her favor.
Padilla petitioned for a court order to place her in the possession of the property, and prohibit the
respondents from disturbing the same, and order the respondents Averia and Casilang to pay jointly and
severally to petitioner Padillo: a) P150,000 for the use of her property from January 4, 1982, b) moral and
exemplary charges determined by the Court, and c) attorneys fees of P80,000 plus P600 per appearance
in court.
Casilang denied the material allegations, and claimed that he vacated the property as early as June 1982,
thus the case against him should be dismissed. On the other hand, Averia invoked the decision rendered in
Civil Case No. 1620-G, a suit against Quincho. Prior to the institution of Civil Case No. 9114, 3 actions
were concerned on the property.
a) Civil Case No. 1620-G was a case filed by Averia against Quincho and the Register Deeds of
Lucena City. The RTC ordered Quincho to execute necessary documents over the property. The
decision became final and executory as no appeal was filed.
b) M.C. No. 374-82 was filed by Padillo to compel the Register of Deeds of Lucena City to register
the deed of sale wherein de Vera sold of the property to Padillo. The petition was opposed by
Averia.
c) Civil Case No. 1690-G was filed by Averia against Padillo and her spouse. The case was
dismissed by Branch 61 of RTC of Gumaca, Quezon, for improper venue.
Averia appealed to the Court of Appeals. In the meantime, M.C. No. 374-82 was ruled in favor of
Padillo. RTC ordered for the registration of the deed of sale. Respondent Averia filed a petition to the
Supreme Court (SC) claiming that the trial court has no jurisdiction. The SC declared that the trial court

has a jurisdiction, and set aside the decision of the trial court and ordered a new trial. The trial court
declared Padillo as sole and exclusive owner of the property and ordered the Register of Deeds of Lucena
City to register the deed of sale.
The decision of RTC in M.C. No. 374-82 was appealed to the Court of Appeals (CA), which sustained
the decision of the trial court. Averia appealed to the SC, which was then denied. The CA affirmed the
dismissal of Civil Case No. 1690-G for improper venue, the hearing Civil Case No. 9114 was
resumed, but the resolution of Averias Motion to Dismiss was deferred in view of pendency of M.C.
No. 374-82. The M.C. No. 374-82 was resolved in the decision denying Averias Motion to Dismiss and
Motion to Suspend Further Proceeding in Civil Case No. 9114. Averia assailed his denial of motion to
dismiss in a petition, docketed as CA G.R. SP No. 15356, before the CA, which suspended the
proceedings of Civil Case No. 9114 to await the final termination of M.C. No. 374-82. No appeal was
filed, so the decision of the CA in CA G.R. SP No. 15356 became final. The SC denied the petition to
challenge the CAs affirmance of the decision in M.C. No. 374-82, and rendered the decision in Civil
Case No. 9114 which favored petitioner Padillo.
But, on appeal to the CA, CA-G.R. No. 40142 reversed the trial courts decision on the ground of
res judicata. The petitioner sought for reconsideration but was denied.
Hence this petition.
Issue:
Did the Court of Appeals overlook the significance of the principle of the law of the case?
Held:
Yes. The appellate court apparently overlooked the significance of the principle of law of the case which
is different from the concept of res judicata. In the petition, the law of the case on the matter of the
pendency of M.C. No. 374-82 to bar Civil Case No. 9114 has been settled in CA G.R. SP No. 15356.
When the dismissal of Civil Case No. 9114 on the ground of pendency of M.C. No. 372-83 was raised
before the trial court the trial court chose to defer the resolution. When the issue of pendency was raised
in CA-G.R. SP No. 15356, the Court of Appeals incorrectly ordered the mere suspension of Civil Case
No. 9114 to await the final termination of M.C. No. 374-82, instead of dismissing the case and/or filling
the claim for damages in M.C. No. 374-82.
Law of the case does not have the finality of the doctrine of res judicata, and applies only to one case. It
is defined as the opinion delivered on a former appeal. As a general rule, a decision prior appeal of the
same case is held to be the law of the case whether that question is right or wrong, as long as the facts of
the predicated case continue to be the facts of the case before the court.
Thus, even if erroneous, the ruling of CA in CA-G.R. SP No. 15356 became the law of the case, and
may no longer be disturbed or modified. The CAs decision in CA-G.R. SP No. 15356 on the matter of

the issue of existence of M.C. No. 374-82 as a bar to Civil Case No. 9114 should dictate all further
proceedings.
Thus, the petition is granted, and that the CA judgment in CA-G.R. CV No. 40142, reversing the trial
courts decision, is reversed and set aside. The Court modified the monetary award for the damages
granted by the trial court.