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ROBERTO OTERO vs. ROGER TAN G.R. No. 200134. August 15, 2012 (Digest)


G.R. No. 200134. August 15, 2012REYES, J.:Rule 9 Effect of Failure to Plead 


A Complaint for collection of sum of money and damages was filed by Tan MTCC against Otero.
Despite receipt of the summons and a copy of the said complaint served through his wife Grace, Otero failed to file his answer with the MTCC.
Tan filed a motion with the MTCC to declare Otero in default for his failure to file his answer. Otero opposed Tan’s motion, claiming that he did not receive a copy of the summons and a copy of Tan’s complaint.
MTCC rendered a Decision directing Otero to pay Tan his outstanding
RTC rendered a Judgment affirming the MTCC Decision
CA rendered the assailed Decision which denied the petition for review filed by Otero.


Whether or not the CA erred in rendering decision against the petitioner because he failed to filed his answer (pleading) making him thereby default and losses his standing.


The effect of a defendant’s failure to file an answer within the time allowed therefor is primarily governed by Section 3, Rule 9 of the Rules of Court, viz:
Sec. 3. Default; declaration of. – If the defending party fails to answer within the time allowed therefor, the court shall, upon motion of the claiming party with notice to the defending party, and proof of such failure, declare the defending party in default. Thereupon, the court shall proceed to render judgment granting the claimant such relief as his pleading may warrant, unless the court in its discretion requires the claimant to submit evidence. Such reception of evidence may be delegated to the clerk of court. x x x (Emphasis ours)
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.

A defendant who was declared in
default may nevertheless appeal
from the judgment by default,
albeit on limited grounds.

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., this 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) (Emphasis ours)
Indeed, 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: first, the failure of the plaintiff to prove the material allegations of the complaint; second, the decision is contrary to law; and third, the amount of judgment is excessive or different in kind from that prayed for. In these cases, the appellate tribunal should only consider the pieces of evidence that were presented by the plaintiff during the ex parte presentation of his evidence.

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