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3.5.

Responsive pleadings
- What is responsive pleading
- Answer – Judicial admissions binding on party

[3.5 01] Santos v Lumbao 519 S 408 (2007) - VIN


Doctrine: J​ udicial admissions binding on party

FACTS:
● Petitioners: legitimate and surviving heirs of the late Rita Santos. The other petitioners are
Esperanza and Largrimas (daughter-in-law of Rita)
● Respondents: Spouses Lumbao are the alleged owners of the lot.
● Ria sold to respondents Sps. Lumbao the property. After acquiring the subject property,
respondents Lumbao took possession and erected a house.
● Sps. Lumbao claimed that petitioners, acting fraudulently, executed a Deed of Extrajudicial
Settlement, adjudicating among themselves and the other heirs which included the subject
property already sold to respondents. Sps. Lumbao filed a Complaint for Reconveyance with
Damages before RTC Pasig.
● Petitioners filed their Answer denying the allegations that the subject property had been sold to
Sps. Lumbao. They likewise denied that the Deed of Extrajudicial Settlement had been
fraudulently executed.
● Respondents Sps. Lumbao, with leave of court, amended their Complaint because they
discovered that petitioners executed a Deed of Real Estate Mortgage.
● Both petitioners Virigilio and Tadeo made an admission that indeed they acted as witnesses in
the execution of the “Bilihan ng Lupa”. However, in order to avoid their obligations, Virgilio, in his
cross-examination, denied having knowledge of the sale transaction and claimed that he could
not remember the same as well as the appearance before the notary public.

ISSUE: ​W/N the admission made in an earlier statement is binding

RULING:​ ​ Yes.
● As a general rule, facts alleged in a party’s pleading are deemed admissions of that party and are
binding upon him, but this is not an absolute and inflexible rule. An answer is a mere statement of
fact which the party filing it expects to prove, but it is not evidence. In spite of the presence of
judicial admissions in a party’s pleading, the trial court is still given leeway to consider other
evidence presented. In this case, petitioners had not adduced any other evidence to override the
admission made in their Answer that Virgilio and Tadeo actually signed. Hence, the general rule
that the admissions made by a party in a pleading are binding and conclusive upon him applies in
this case.
● Furthermore, both “Bilihan ng Lupa” documents were duly notarized. It is well-settled that a
document acknowledged before a notary public is a public document that enjoys the presumption
of regularity. It is a prima facie evidence of the truth of the facts stated therein and a conclusive
presumption of its existence and due execution. To overcome this presumption, there must be an
evidence that is clear and convincing.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant Petition is hereby DENIED. The Decision and Resolution
of the Court of Appeals dated 8 June 2005 and 29 July 2005, respectively, are hereby AFFIRMED. Herein
petitioners are ordered to reconvey to respondents Spouses Lumbao the subject property and to pay the
latter attorney’s fees and litigation expenses. Costs against petitioners.
SO ORDERED.

- Answer – Judicial admissions NOT binding on party

[3.5 02] Gardner v CA 131 S 585 - MICHA


Petitioner:​ RUBY H. GARDNER and FRANK GARDNER, JR.
Respondent:​ COURT OF APPEALS, DEOGRACIAS R. NATIVIDAD and JUANITA A. SANCHEZ
Doctrine:​ As a general rule, facts alleged in a party's pleading are deemed admissions of that party and
binding upon it, but this is not an absolute and inflexible rule.

FACTS:
1. The Petitioners, Spouses Gardners (Americans) entered into an agreement with the spouses
Santos.
2. Their agreement was to subdivide 2 lots. The Gardners executed a deed of absolute sale in favor
of the Santoses.
Ø The transfer was really “in trust.” This was for the protection of the Santoses since the
Gardners obtain money from the respondents from time to time.
1. After the Santoses acquired the title, they transferred it.
Ø Santoses transferred title to the Cuencas then transferred title to the Verroyas.
Ø The Verroyas executed a mortgage over the lot.
Ø The Verroyas then transferred the title to the Natividads.
1. Upon learning of the second transfer (Santoses to Cuencas), the Gardners caused an inscription
of adverse claim on the titles of the Cuencas with the ROD of Laguna.
2. Aggrieved, the Gardners filed an action with the Laguna-CFI to declare the transfers and the
mortgage null, and to seek rescission and damages.
Ø In the answer of the Spouses Santos, they claimed that the sale to them was conditional in
the sense that the properties were to be considered as the investment of the spouses
Gardners in the subdivision venture and that in the event that this did not materialize they
were to reconvey the lots to the GARDNERS upon reimbursement by the latter of all
sums advanced to them; and that the deed of sale was to be registered for the protection
of the SANTOSES considering the moneys that the latter would be advancing.
1. Laguna-CFI: in favor of the Gardners.
2. CA: affirmed Laguna-CFI
3. Natividads filed 2 successive MRs. (second one after the first was denied)
4. CA: reversed previous resolution. Declared sale to Natividads as valid (in favor of Respondents)
Ø In its Resolution reversing the original Decision, respondent Court discredited the
testimony of Ariosto SANTOS for being at variance with the allegations in his Answer.

Hence this petition by Gardner spouses.

ISSUE​: W/N the judicial admissions by the spouses Santos in their answer are binding on them?

HELD​: ​No​.
● The fact, however, that the allegations made by Ariosto SANTOS in his pleadings and in his
declarations in open Court differed will not militate against the findings herein made nor support
the reversal by respondent Court.
● As a general rule, facts alleged in a party's pleading are deemed admissions of that party
and binding upon it, but this is not an absolute and inflexible rule.
o An Answer is a mere statement of fact which the party filing it expects to prove, but it is not
evidence.
o As Ariosto SANTOS himself, in open Court, had repudiated the defenses he had raised in his
Answer and against his own interest, his testimony is deserving of weight and credence.
o Both the Trial Court and the Appellate Court believed in his credibility and we find no reason to
overturn​ their findings thereon.

- When to file?

[3.5 03] San Pedro Cineplex v Heirs of Enano GR 190754 November 17, 2010 - KYLE

DOCTRINE: The rule is that a defendants answer should be admitted where it is filed before a
declaration of default and no prejudice is caused to the plaintiff. Indeed, where the answer is filed
beyond the reglementary period but before the defendant is declared in default and there is no
showing that defendant intends to delay the case, the answer should be admitted

Facts:
● Respondents filed on Aug 17,2006 a complaint for quieting of title with damages against
petitioner before RTC of San Pedro Laguna​.
● October 20,2006: Petitioner filed motion to dismiss as RTC did not validly acquire jurisdiction over
it due to improper summons.
○ There was no observance of the rule that service of summons on a defendant corporation
must be made upon its president, gen manager, corp secretary, treasurer or in house
counsel
○ Respondents: Officer’s return showed that the summons addressed to petitioner was
served and received by Orpiada its manager, thus moved to declare petitioner in default
for failure to file answer within reglementary period
● Sept 10, 2007: Petitioner filed motion to withdraw the motion to dismiss and to admit answer
● On even date the trial court denied the motion to dismiss, and acting on motion of respondents
declared the petitioners in DEFAULT
● CA: Affirmed RTC decision, RTC had jurisdiction over them as summons were served to the
manager, and even if it wasnt they submitted themselves to the jurisdiction of the lower court
when they filed their motion to withdraw
● Filed certiorari with SC but was outright denied
● Here at present is an MR
○ Petitioner: The service of summons upon Orpiada violated the rules and cannot bind it;
the trial court should have been more liberal considering that it took more than 10 months
to resolve petitioners Motion to Dismiss; and on the merits, it would have been able to
establish its ownership of the property subject of the case

ISSUE: W/N petitioners answer should still be admitted despite the lower court’s declaration of default?

HELD: YES, Petitioner correctly points out that the rule is that a defendants answer should be admitted
where it is filed before a declaration of default and no prejudice is caused to the plaintiff. Indeed, where
the answer is filed beyond the reglementary period but before the defendant is declared in default
and there is no showing that defendant intends to delay the case, the answer should be admitted. In the
case at bar, it is inconsequential that the trial court declared petitioner in default on the same day that
petitioner filed its Answer. As reflected above, the trial court slept on petitioners Motion to Dismiss for
almost a year, just as it also slept on respondents Motion to Declare petitioner in Default. It was only
when petitioner filed a Motion to Withdraw Motion to Dismiss and to Admit Answer that it denied the
Motion to Dismiss, and acted on/granted respondents Motion to Declare petitioner in
Default. This is procedurally unsound. The policy of the law is to have every litigants case tried on the
merits as much as possible. Hence, judgments by default are frowned upon. A case is best decided when
all contending parties are able to ventilate their respective claims

- Remedies of party declared in default

[3.5 04] Otero v Tan 678 S 583 - ELLA


Petitioner: ​Roberto Otero
Respondent: ​Roger Tan

Doctrine: A defending party declared in default loses his standing in court and his right to adduce
evidence and to present his defense. He, however, has the right to appeal from the judgment by default
and assail said judgment on the ground, inter alia, that the amount of the judgment is excessive or is
different in kind from that prayed for, or that the plaintiff failed to prove the material allegations of his
complaint, or that the decision is contrary to law.

FACTS:
● July 28, 2005​: Tan filed a complaint for collection of sum of money and damages before the
MTCC against Otero. He alleged that, on several occasions, Otero purchased on credit petroleum
products from his Petron outlet. And despite several verbal demands, Otero failed to settle his
obligation.
● Otero failed to file his answer with the MTCC despite receipt of the summons and a copy of the
complaint served through his wife.
● Nov 18, 2005​: Tan filed a motion to declare Otero in default for his failure to file his answer.
Otero opposed Tan’s motion. He claimed that he did not receive a copy of the summons and
Tan’s complaint.
● Hearing was set on Jan 25, 2006, but was later reset to Mar 8, 2006.
● Otero manifested that he only received the notice on Jan 23, 2006.
● The hearing was further reset to Apr 26, 2006.
● Otero failed to appear at the hearing and the MTCC issued an order declaring him in default.
● May 9, 2006​: A copy of the order was sent to Otero.
● Tan was allowed to present his evidence ex parte.
● MTCC​: directed Otero to pay his outstanding obligation; opined that Otero’s failure to file an
answer despite notice is a tacit admission of Tan’s claim.
● Otero appealed on the ground that the disposition is factually baseless, and of denial of due
process.
● RTC​: affirmed MTCC decision. Otero was given his day in Court contrary to his claim. His wife,
received a copy of the summons together with a copy of the Complaint. He was furnished with a
copy of the ​Motion to Declare Defendant in Default​. Instead of filing his answer or any pleading to
set aside the Order of default, he filed his ​Comment to the Motion to Declare Defendant in Default
of which plaintiff filed his ​Rejoinder to Defendant’s Comment​.
○ The case was set for hearing on Jan 23, 2006, but defendant through counsel sent a
telegram that he only received the notice on the day of the hearing thereby he was
unable to appear due to his previous scheduled hearings. Still, for reasons only known to
him, defendant failed to lift the Order of Default.
○ The hearing on Jan 23, 2006 was reset on Mar 8, 2006 and again reset on Apr 26, 2006
by agreement of counsels. It is not therefore correct when defendant said that he was
deprived of due process.
● CA​: petition denied. Any defense which Otero may have against Tan’s claim is already deemed
waived due to Otero’s failure to file his answer When the defendant is declared in default, the
court shall proceed to render judgment granting the claimant such relief as his pleading may
warrant. Otero is employing dilatory moves to defer the payment of his obligation which he never
denied

ISSUE: ​Whether or not Otero, having been declared in default by the MTCC, is already barred from
raising the failure of Tan to authenticate the statements of account

HELD: NO.
● A defendant who fails to file an answer may, upon motion, be declared by the court in default.
Loss of standing in court, the forfeiture of one’s right as a party litigant, contestant or legal
adversary, is the consequence of an order of default. A party in default loses his right to present
his defense, control the proceedings, and examine or cross-examine witnesses. He has no right
to expect that his pleadings would be acted upon by the court nor may be object to or refute
evidence or motions filed against him.
● Nonetheless, the fact that a defendant has lost his standing in court for having been declared in
default does not mean that he is left sans any recourse whatsoever. In Lina v. CA, et al., ​the
Court enumerated the remedies available to party who has been declared in default, to wit:
a) The defendant in default may, at any time after discovery thereof and before judgment,
file a motion, under oath, to set aside the order of default on the ground that his failure to
answer was due to fraud, accident, mistake or excusable neglect, and that he has
meritorious defenses; (Sec 3, Rule 18)
b) If the judgment has already been rendered when the defendant discovered the default,
but before the same has become final and executory, he may file a motion for new trial
under Section 1(a) of Rule 37;
c) If the defendant discovered the default after the judgment has become final and
executory, he may file a petition for relief under Section 2 of Rule 38; and
d) He may also appeal from the judgment rendered against him as contrary to the
evidence or to the law, even if no petition to set aside the order of default has been
presented by him. (Sec. 2, Rule 41)
● A defending party declared in default retains the right to appeal from the judgment by default.
However, the grounds that may be raised in such an appeal are restricted to any of the following:
1. the failure of the plaintiff to prove the material allegations of the complaint;
2. the decision is contrary to law; and
3. the amount of judgment is excessive or different in kind from that prayed for.
● A defendant who has been declared in default is precluded from raising any other ground in his
appeal from the judgment by default since, otherwise, he would then be allowed to adduce
evidence in his defense, which right he had lost after he was declared in default.
● Here, Otero filed an appeal from the judgment by default asserting that Tan failed to prove the
material allegations of his complaint.

WHEREFORE​, in consideration of the foregoing disquisitions, the petition is ​DENIED​. The Decision
dated April 29, 2011 rendered by the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 02244 is ​AFFIRMED​.

3.6. Filing and service of pleadings and judicial papers


- Service on counsel is mandatory unless otherwise ordered by court
- Improper service is ineffectual and does not bind party

[3.6] Cabili v Badelles, 6 S 190 - KIM


FACTS:
● In the 1959 elections, Badelles and Cabili were rival candidates for the office of city mayor of
Iligan
● Cabili was proclaimed elected and assumed office succeeding Badelles
● Badelles filed before CFI of Lanao del Norte Election Case No. 288, for quo warranto, questioning
Cabili’s right to hold the office of City Mayor of Iligan City on the ground that he was not a resident
of the City for at least one year prior to his election.
● The senior counsel was Attorney Jose L. Africa of the law office, who in the initial hearing,
explained that he is the one in charge of the case, and, therefore, requested that all pleadings,
notices, orders and other papers be served at his office at 480 Padre Faura st., Manila.
● In order to avoid any confusion in the service of pleadings and orders, he made of record that
only service at the given address will be considered as service on Badelles and counsel.
● RTC entered judgment dismissing the petition. Copy of the decision was sent by registered air
mail on December 24, 1959 to the law firm of Atty. Africa and the same was received at their
Manila office on January 4, 1960.
● It appears however that on December 28, 1959, Badelles requested the judge for a copy of the
decision.
● Badelles was given a copy but refused to sign a receipt therefor.
● The judge ordered his court interpreter to record the fact of said delivery of a copy to Badelles.
● The judge also telegraphed the law office of Atty. Africa in Manila on December 28, 1959 that a
copy of the decision was sent to them on December 24, 1959 and that Badelles personally was
furnished a copy also on that same day. The telegram was received by Atty. Africa on December
29, 1959.
● Upon receipt of the decision on January 4, 1960, the Africa Law Office, counsel for Badelles, sent
a notice of appeal by registered mail on the same date.
● On January 5, 1960, Badelles filed his own notice of appeal together with a corresponding cash
appeal bond of 60 pesos
● Counsel for Cabili objected to the appeal on the ground that it was filed beyond the period
therefor.
● The court dismissed the appeals filed by Badelles and his counsel on the ground that the same
were filed beyond the five-day statutory period for appeal, as provided in Section 178 of the
Revised Election Code, and on the further ground that the sixty pesos appeal bond was
insufficient.
● A motion for reconsideration filed by counsel for Badelles was denied for lack of merit, so
Badelles filed the petition for certiorari and mandamus in the Court of Appeals, docketed as CA-
G.R. No. 27428-R, to annul and set aside the two orders aforesaid and to give due course to the
appeal. The petition was granted by the Court of Appeals on September 30, 1960.
● CA: ​The receipt by Badelles of a copy of the decision which was given to the party himself, who
in his curiosity desired to be informed in advance of the decision of his case, should not be
considered as service under the rules​.
● Neither could the telegram received by the attorneys for Badelles be considered as a
service of the decision because the contents of the latter were not contained in the
telegram.
● Participation of Badelles in the course of the trial and in the proceedings was in his
capacity as a party litigant and not as a lawyer. Accordingly, it held that the five-day
period within which to appeal was to begin when copy of the decision was received by
the attorneys for Badelles on January 4, 1960, and not from December 28, 1959

ISSUE: ​WON Badelles can also be considered as having the authority, in his capacity as the aggrieved
party, to receive a copy of the decision?

HELD: YES.
● It is to be noted that while the Rules of Court are not applicable in election cases, in general, they
are of a suppletory character whenever practicable and convenient. As there is no provision in the
Election Law about the manner in which the parties should be notified of the proceedings or
pleadings or decisions in election cases, the Rules of Court should be followed in such matters.
● In accordance with the provisions of Rule 27, Section 2, service of decisions should be made to
the lawyers on record and not to parties. In a long line of decisions, We have held that when a
party appears by an attorney who makes of record his appearance, service of pleadings is
required to be made upon said attorney and not upon the party; that a notice given to the client
and not to his attorney is not a notice in law; that service upon a party who has an attorney of
record is not a compliance with Rule 27, Sec. 2, which makes service upon counsel mandatory;
and that personal information by a party of the rendition of a decision does not satisfy the right of
counsel to receive a copy of the decision rendered.