MARCOS-ARANETA vs. CA, G.R. No. 154096, August 22, 2008

Facts:

Petitioner instituted an action for reconveyance of stockholding FEMII and UEC. the private respondent in response filed a motion to dismiss which one of the grounds used was venue was improperly laid as the petitioner did not maintain residence in Batac, Ilocos Norte.

The RTC dismissed the complaint of the petitioner on the ground of improper venue, and declares all other issues raised in the motion to dismiss moot and academic.

Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration. Pending resolution of her motion, she filed a motion to Admit Amended Complaint, attaching therewith a copy of the amended complaint which includes, other new plaintiff who are resident of Batac, Ilocos Norte.

The Motion for Reconsideration of Petitioner was denied, however, the court admitted the Amendment of the complaint, and ordered the respondent to submit their Answer. Respondent moved to dismiss the amended complaint, but was denied by the RTC. Respondent submitted an answer to the amended complaint to evade default but went to CA to question the acceptance of the Amended Complaint.

CA issued a TRO enjoining the RTC from conducting further proceedings on the subject civil cases.

Petitoner filed a Motion for Reconsideration, but was denied the the CA, hence this case.

 

Issue:

whether the CA erred in ruling that the amended complaints in the lower court should be dismissed because, at the time it was filed, there was no more original complaint to amend;

Held:

Yes, the CA failed to take stock of their motion for reconsideration of the said dismissal order. We agree with petitioners and turn to the governing Sec. 2 of Rule 10 of the Rules of Court which provides:

SEC. 2. Amendments as a matter of right. — A party may amend his pleading once as a matter of right at any time before a responsive pleading is served or in the case of a reply, at any time within ten (10) days after it is served.

As the aforequoted provision makes it abundantly clear that the plaintiff may amend his complaint once as a matter of right, i.e., without leave of court, before any responsive pleading is filed or served. Responsive pleadings are those which seek affirmative relief and/or set up defenses, like an answer. A motion to dismiss is not a responsive pleading for purposes of Sec. 2 of Rule 10. Assayed against the foregoing perspective, the RTC did not err in admitting petitioners’ amended complaint, Respondent not having yet answered the original complaints when the amended complaint was filed. At that precise moment, Irene, by force of said Sec. 2 of Rule 10, had, as a matter of right, the option of amending her underlying reconveyance complaints. As aptly observed by the RTC, Irene’s motion to admit amended complaint was not even necessary. The Court notes though that the RTC has not offered an explanation why it saw fit to grant the motion to admit in the first place.

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