Sie sind auf Seite 1von 3

16 Cua v.

Wallem Philippines
GR. No. 171337 (2012)
J. Brion / Tita K

Subject Matter: Rule 16: Motion to Dismiss

Case Summary: Cua filed an action for damages against respondent alleging that the damage and shortage of Brazilian Soyabean
consigned to him was due to respondent’s negligence. Respondent Wallem filed a motion to dismiss on the ground of prescription,
as the action was filed beyond the one-year prescriptiove period provided for in Sec. 3(6) of the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act
(COGSA). Cua opposed the said motion arguing that he received a telex from the insurer of respondent’s shipping vessel, saying that
respondents agreed to extend the filing period for 90 days. The RTC held respondent solidarily liable to Cua. However, the CA
reversed the RTC ruling after finding that there is no basis to conclude that the filing period was extended because a copy of the
telex message was not attached to Cua’s opposition nor presented before the trial.

WON the prescriptive period for filing an action for damages has prescribed, the SC ruled in the negative.

The SC first ruled on the propriety of CA’s consideration of prescription as a ground to dismiss Cua’s action. SC ruled that CA did not
err in considering prescription as a ground for simissal because prescription may be considered by the courts motu proprio if the
facts supporting the ground are apparent from
the pleadings or the evidence on record.

Nonetheless, the SC still ruled that the action has not yet prescribed because, while COGSA prescribes a one year period,
jurisprudence recognizes validity of agreements extending such period. In this case, there was a material averment that an
agreement extending the period for 90 days was made. Such averment was not specifically denied, hence deemed admitted.
Therefore, period has not yet prescribed since the shipment arrived on August 16, 1989 and the damages suit was instituted on
November 12, 1990, which is within the period of 1 year + 90 days (extension).

Doctrine/s:
Prescription may be considered by the courts motu proprio if the facts supporting the ground are apparent from
the pleadings or
the evidence on record.
Action Before SC: “This is a petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court”
Parties:
Petitioner Benjamin Cua (Cua Hian Tek)

Wallem Philippines Shipping (local agent of Advance Shipping), Inc. and


Respondent
Advance Shipping Corporation

Antecedent Facts:
1. Respondent Advance Shipping (foreign corporation), via M/V Argo Trader (owned by Advance), shipped tons of Brazilian
Soyabean from Brazil to Petitioner Cua in the Philippines.
2. Petitioner Cua claimed that there was a damage of 218 tons and a shortage of 50 tons of the Brazilian Soyabean consigned
to him.
RTC (in favor of petitioner Cua)
1. Petitioner Cua filed an action for damages against Wallem (local agent of Advance) and Advance Shipping before the RTC.
He alleged that the loss was due to the respondents’ failure to observe extraordinary diligence in carrying the cargo.
2. Respondent Wallem filed a motion to dismiss (MTD) on the ground of prescription alleging that the damages suit was filed
beyond the one year prescriptive period provided for in Sec. 3(6) of COGSA1. The goods were delivered to Cua on August 16,
1989, but the damages suit was instituted only on November 12, 1990 (more than one year). Since the action was filed
beyond the one year prescriptive period, Respondent Wallem argued that Cua’s action has been barred.
3. Petitioner Cua opposed Respondent Wallem’s MTD, denying the latter’s claim of prescription. Petitioner Cua alleged that
on August 10, 1990, he received a the telex message sent by the vessel’s insurer (UK P&I Club) stating that Advance
Shipping agreed to extend the commencement of suit for 90 days, from August 14, 1990 to November 12, 1990. A copy of
the August 10, 1990 telex was supposedly attached to Cua’s opposition.

1Carriage of Goods by Sea Act (COGSA Sec. 3(6) provides that “the carrier and the ship shall be discharged from all liability in respect
of loss or damage unless suit is brought within one year after delivery of the goods.”
4. Respondent Wallem filed an omnibus motion, withdrawing its MTD. It made an express reservation, however, that it was
not waiving “the defense of prescription and will allege as one of its defenses, such defense of prescription and/or laches in
its Answer should this be required by the circumstances.”
5. RTC ordered respondents jointly and severally liable to pay as damages to Petitioner Cua.
CA (in favor of respondents)
1. Respondents filed an appeal with the CA, insisting that Petitioner Cua’s claim has been barred by prescription and/or
laches.
2. CA set aside RTC decision and dismissed Petitioner Cua’s complaint. The CA found that the August 10, 1990 telex message,
extending the period to file an action, was neither attached to Cua’s opposition to Wallem’s motion to dismiss, nor
presented during trial, hence, there was no basis for the RTC to conclude that the prescriptive period was extended by
the parties’ agreement.
3. Petitioner Cua’s MR was denied.
Issues:
1. WON CA erred err in considering prescription as a ground to dismiss Cua’s action. (NO)
2. WON Petitioner Cua’s claim for payment of damages against the respondents has prescribed. (NO)
Arguments:
Petitioner Cua Respondent Wallem and Advance Shipping
Cua contends that: The respondents deny that an admission was made with respect
 Respondents admitted the extension of the period to to the existence of the August 10, 1990 telex message. The telex
file a complaint for damage, and could no longer assert message was never attached to Cua’s opposition to Wallem’s
the contrary, unless they sufficiently show that it was MTD, hence, there was no need for the respondents to deny its
made through palpable mistake or that no admission existence.
was made.
 Wallem’s sole ground of prescription in the MTD was They contend that Wallem’s withdrawal of its MTD does NOT
refuted by referring to the August 10, 1990 telex amount to an admission of the existence of the telex message,
message extending the prescriptive period. nor does it amount to a waiver of the defense for prescription.
 Wallem’s withdrew of its MTD can be considered an
admission by Wallem of the existence of the August 10,
1990 telex message.
 Wallem’s withdrawal of its MTD dispensed with the
need for him to present as evidence the telex message.

Ratio:

NO – CA did not err in considering prescription as a ground to dismiss Cua’s action.


 Prescription of an action is one of the grounds on which a motion to dismiss a complaint may be based, under Sec. 1, Rule
16 (par. f), which the defendant may either raise in a motion to dismiss or plead them as an affirmative defense in his
answer.
 Failure to raise or plead the grounds for MTD generally amounts to a waiver, except if the ground pertains to (1) lack of
jurisdiction over the subject matter, (2) litis pendentia, (3) res judicata, or (4) prescription.
 If the facts supporting any of these four listed grounds are apparent from the pleadings or the evidence on record, the
courts may consider these grounds motu proprio and accordingly dismiss the complaint.
o Thus, CA did NOT err in considering prescription as a ground to dismiss Cua’s action despite Wallem’s supposed
waiver of the defense.
o The Court, therefore, need not resolve the question of whether Wallem actually waived the defense of
prescription; an inquiry into this question is useless, as courts are empowered to dismiss actions on the basis of
prescription even if it is not raised by the defendant so long as the facts supporting this ground are evident from
the records.

NO - Petitioner Cua’s claim for payment of damages against the respondents did not prescribe because the material averment
that the an agreement extended the period for filing was not specifically denied.

 Under Sec. 3(6) of the COGSA, the carrier is discharged from liability for loss or damage to the cargo “unless the suit is
brought within one year after delivery of the goods or the date when the goods should have been delivered.”
 Jurisprudence, however, recognized the validity of an agreement between the carrier and the shipper/consignee extending
the one-year period to file a claim.
o
The vessel MV Argo Trader arrived in Manila on July 8, 1989; Cua’s complaint for damages was filed before the RTC
of Manila on November 12, 1990.
o Although the complaint was clearly filed beyond the one-year period, Cua additionally alleged in his complaint that
“the defendants agreed to extend the time for filing of the action up to November 12, 1990.” This allegation of
an agreement extending the period to file an action in Cua’s complaint is a material averment 2 that which must be
specifically denied by the respondents; otherwise, the allegation is deemed admitted.
o Nonetheless, respondents failed to specifically deny Cua’s allegation of an agreement extending the period to
file an action to November 12, 1990.
o Wallem’s motion to dismiss simply referred to the fact that Cua’s complaint was filed more than one year from the
arrival of the vessel, but it did not contain a denial of the extension.
o This presumed admission is further bolstered by the express admission made by the respondents themselves in
their Memorandum.
Dispositive: Wherefore, the decision dated May 16, 2005 and the resolution dated January 31, 2006 of the Court of Appeals in CA-
G.R. CV No. 53538 are SET ASIDE. The decision dated December 28, 1995 of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 31, in Civil
Case No. 90-55098 is REINSTATED. Costs against the respondents.

2 under Section 11, Rule 8 of the Rules of Court,