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G.R. No. 175507. October 8, 2014.

RAMON CHING and PO WING PROPERTIES, INC.,


petitioners, vs. JOSEPH CHENG, JAIME CHENG,
MERCEDES IGNE** and LUCINA SANTOS, respondents.

RULE 15-19 > Dismissal of Actions

DOCTRINE: "two-dismissal rule" is applicable only when it is the petitioner WHO CAUSED first
and second dismissal of the case.

FACTS: Antonio Ching, though unmarried was alleged to have children by two women, Lucina
Santos (common law wife) and Maria Igne (housemaid). Antonio and Lucina had a son named
Ramon Ching, while Maria and Antonio had two children named Joseph and Jaime, both
surnamed "Cheng".

After Antonio died, Ramon Ching convinced Maria Igne, together with her children, to sign an
agreement wherein they will no longer pursue their claim in the estate of Antonio in exchange of
a considerable sum of money.

However, after investigation, it was found that Ramon was the primary suspect for Antonio’s.
Accordingly, Joseph and Jaime, together with their mother Maria Igne, filed a complaint for
annulment of agreement, waiver, extrajudicial settlement of est. and the certificates issued by
virtue of such agreement against Ramon Cheng. (First case). A motion to dismiss for lack of
jurisdiction was filed by defendant and was granted by RTC.

Thereafter, Cheng and Lucina (mother of Ramon) filed the same complaint but later MOVED for
its dismissal and prayed that it be without PREJUDICE. The same was granted.

To the grant of the dismissal, as moved by the petitioner, the defendant prayed for
reconsideration. The defendant argued that the dismissal should be made WITH prejudice
under the "two-dismissal rule"

RTC Ruling: The trial court denied the motion for reconsideration and the motion to dismiss,
holding that the dismissal of the second case was without prejudice and, hence, would not bar
the filing of the third case

CA Ruling: On appeal to CA, the Court of Appeals rendered the decision in the first certiorari
case dismissing the petition. The appellate court ruled that Ramon Ching's reliance on the "two-
dismissal rule" was misplaced since the rule involves two motions for dismissals filed by the
plaintiff only. In this case, it was found that the dismissal of the first case was upon the motion of
the defendants, while the dismissal of the second case was at the instance of the plaintiffs.

ISSUE: WON the "two-dismissal rule" is applicable in this case.

HELD: NO! As a general rule, dismissals under sec1 rule 17 are without prejudice except when
it is the second time that the plaintiff CAUSED its dismissal.
Accordingly, for a dismissal to operate as an adjudication upon the merits (i.e prejudice to
refiling), the ff. must be present: 1. There was a previous case dismissed by a competent court;
2. Both cases were basef on or include the same claim; 3. Both notices for dismissal were filed
by plaintiff; 4. When the motion to dismiss filed by plaintiff was consented to by defendant on the
ground that the latter paid and satisfied all the claims of the former. The purpose of the "two
dismissal rule" is to avoid vexatious litigation.

In this case, the trial court dismissed the first case by granting the motion to dismiss filed by the
defendants.

Thus, when respondents filed the second case, they were merely refiling the same claim that
had been previously dismissed on the basis of lack of jurisdiction. When they moved to dismiss
the second case, the motion to dismiss can be considered as the first dismissal at the plaintiff’s
instance.