Too late

Published by rudy Date posted on February 6, 2008

Can an Amended Complaint be admitted after the order dismissing the original complaint has already become final on the ground that no substantial amendments to the original complaint are to be made anyway and the amendment is merely in compliance with the court order to continue plaintiff’s cause of action mainly directed at another party? This is the issue resolved in this case of Nora.

By virtue of a decision rendered by the Labor Arbiter of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) in a complaint filed by the employees union (NAMAWU) against Nora for unfair labor practice, illegal dismissal, underpayment of wages, non-payment of holiday pay and 13th month pay, Nora was ordered to pay P1,669,897. Accordingly the Sheriff levied upon a parcel of land belonging to Nora pursuant to a writ of execution issued on August 31, 1999.

At the execution sale conducted by the sheriff NAMAWU was the highest bidder. Thus on December 6, 1999, NAMAWU acquired title to Nora’s property.

On July 16, 2001 Nora filed a complaint in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) for “Annulment of the Final Deed of Sale, Certificate of Sale, Notice of Levy and Execution and Cancellation of the Certificate of Title” against NAMAWU, the Sheriff and the Register of Deeds.

Upon motion of NAMAWU, the RTC dismissed the complaint on the ground that it has no jurisdiction over the subject matter of the case which was an offshoot of a labor dispute that had already been decided by the NLRC and therefore any decision it may make may render ineffective the decision in the labor case.

Nora’s motion for reconsideration of said order was likewise denied by the RTC. In said order of denial dated June 19, 2002 however, the RTC also ruled that if Nora would continue her cause of action against the Register of Deeds, there is a need to amend her complaint naming NAMAWU as nominal party and the Register of Deeds as indispensable party.

The order dismissing the complaint and denying the motion for its reconsideration were not appealed by Nora anymore so it became final on July 19, 2002.

But on August 28, 2002, Nora filed a Motion to Admit Amended Complaint pursuant to the order of June 19, 2002. She said that no appeal was made on the said order of June 109, 2002 as they opted to file an amended complaint; that no substantial amendments are made to the original complaint but merely compliance to the condition set by the court to continue her cause of action this time with the Register of Deeds as the principal party for the illegal acts it committed in transferring her title to NAMAWU. She explained that the late filing of the Amended complaint was due to the heart attack suffered by her counsel as shown by a medical certificate. The RTC granted her motion and admitted the Amended Complaint in an order dated January 30, 2003. Was the RTC correct?

No. The motion to admit the amended complaint was filed one month after the order of the trial court dismissing Nora’s complaint became final due to the latter’s failure to perfect an appeal. As a rule, the aggrieved party must perfect his/her appeal within the period provided by law. The rule is mandatory in character. A party’s failure to comply with the rule will result in the decision becoming final. And as such, it can no longer be modified or reversed. Thus it is beyond the power or jurisdiction of the court which rendered the decision or order to amend or revoke the same after the lapse of the 15-day period to file an appeal (National Mines and Allied Workers Union vs. Bargas and Mitra, G.R. 157232, December 10, 2007). –Jose C. Sison
Philippine Star

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E-mail at: jcson@pldtdsl.net

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