Alma Jose vs Javellana GR. No. 158239, January 25, 2012

Facts:

Margarita Marquez Alma Jose (Margarita) sold for consideration of ₱160,000.00 to respondent by deed of conditional sale two parcels of land. They agreed that Javellana would pay ₱80,000.00 upon the execution of the deed and the balance of ₱80,000.00 upon the registration of the parcels of land under the Torrens System (the registration being undertaken by Margarita within a reasonable period of time); After Margarita died the vendor’s undertaking fell on the shoulders of Priscilla, being Margarita’s sole surviving heir. However, Priscilla did not comply with the undertaking to cause the registration of the properties under the Torrens System, and, instead, began to improve the properties by dumping filling materials therein with the intention of converting the parcels of land into a residential or industrial subdivision. Faced with Priscilla’s refusal to comply, Javellana commenced an action for specific performance, injunction, and damages against her in the RTC.

Priscilla filed a motion to dismiss, stating that the complaint was already barred by prescription; and that the complaint did not state a cause of action.

The RTC initially denied Priscilla’s motion to dismiss. However, upon her motion for reconsideration, the RTC reversed itself and granted the motion to dismiss.

Javellana moved for reconsideration which the RTC denied the motion for reconsideration for lack of any reason to disturb the order. Accordingly, Javellana filed a notice of appeal and the records were elevated to the Court of Appeals (CA).

The CA promulgated its decision in reversing and setting aside the dismissal of Civil Case  and remanding the records to the RTC “for further proceedings in accordance with law.” CA explained that the complaint sufficiently stated a cause of action; The CA denied the motion for reconsideration, stating that it decided to give due course to the appeal even if filed out of time because Javellana had no intention to delay the proceedings, as in fact he did not even seek an extension of time to file his appellant’s brief; that current jurisprudence afforded litigants the amplest opportunity to present their cases free from the constraints of technicalities, such that even if an appeal was filed out of time, the appellate court was given the discretion to nonetheless allow the appeal for justifiable reasons.

Issue:

Whether the Denial of the motion for reconsideration of the order of dismissal was a final order and appealable?

Held:

Yes, The distinction between a final order and an interlocutory order is well known. The first disposes of the subject matter in its entirety or terminates a particular proceeding or action, leaving nothing more to be done except to enforce by execution what the court has determined, but the latter does not completely dispose of the case but leaves something else to be decided upon. An interlocutory order deals with preliminary matters and the trial on the merits is yet to be held and the judgment rendered. The test to ascertain whether or not an order or a judgment is interlocutory or final is: does the order or judgment leave something to be done in the trial court with respect to the merits of the case? If it does, the order or judgment is interlocutory; otherwise, it is final. A final order is appealable, to accord with the final judgment rule enunciated in Section 1, Rule 41 of the Rules of Court to the effect that “appeal may be taken from a judgment or final order that completely disposes of the case, or of a particular matter therein when declared by these Rules to be appealable;” but the remedy from an interlocutory one is not an appeal but a special civil action for certiorari.

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