Thursday, March 08, 2012

E.B. Villarosa and Partner Co., Ltd. vs. Benito, [G.R. No. 136426 August 6, 1999]

Facts: Petitioner is a limited partnership with principal office address at Davao City and with branch offices at Parañaque, MM and Lapasan, Cagayan de Oro City. Petitioner and private respondent executed a Deed of Sale with Development Agreement wherein the former agreed to develop certain parcels of land located at Cagayan de Oro belonging to the latter into a housing subdivision for the construction of low cost housing units. They further agreed that in case of litigation regarding any dispute arising therefrom, the venue shall be in the proper courts of Makati. private respondent, as plaintiff, filed a Complaint for Breach of Contract and Damages against petitioner, as defendant, before the RTC Makati for failure of the latter to comply with its contractual obligation in that, other than a few unfinished low cost houses, there were no substantial developments therein. Summons, together with the complaint, were served upon the defendant, through its Branch Manager at the stated address at Cagayan de Oro City but the Sheriff's Return of Service stated that the summons was duly served "upon defendant E.B. Villarosa & Partner Co., Ltd. thru its Branch Manager Engr. at their new office Villa Gonzalo, Nazareth, Cagayan de Oro City, and evidenced by the signature on the face of the original copy of the summons. Defendant prayed for the dismissal of the complaint on the ground of improper service of summons and for lack of jurisdiction over the person of the defendant. It contends that the RTC did not acquire jurisdiction over its person since the summons was improperly served upon its employee in its branch office at Cagayan de Oro City who is not one of those persons named in Section 11, Rule 14 RoC upon whom service of summons may be made. plaintiff filed an Opposition to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss. plaintiff filed a Motion to Declare Defendant in Default. the trial court issued an Order denying defendant's Motion to Dismiss as well as plaintiffs Motion to Declare Defendant in Default. defendant, filed a Motion for Reconsideration alleging that Sec.11, Rule 14 of the new Rules did not liberalize but, on the contrary, restricted the service of summons on persons enumerated therein; and that the new provision is very specific and clear in that the word "manager" was changed to "general manager", "secretary" to "corporate secretary", and excluding therefrom agent and director. Defendant's Motion for Reconsideration was denied, hence this petition.

Issue: Whether or not the trial court acquired jurisdiction over the person of petitioner upon service of summons on its Branch Manager

Held: No. the enumeration of persons to whom summons may be served is "restricted, limited and exclusive" following the rule on statutory construction expressio unios est exclusio alterius and argues that if the Rules of Court Revision Committee intended to liberalize the rule on service of summons, it could have easily done so by clear and concise language. under the new Rules, service of summons upon an agent of the corporation is no longer authorized. The designation of persons or officers who are authorized to accept summons for a domestic corporation or partnership is now limited and more clearly specified in Section 11, Rule 14 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. The rule now states "general manager" instead of only "manager"; "corporate secretary" instead of "secretary"; and "treasurer" instead of "cashier." The phrase "agent, or any of its directors" is conspicuously deleted in the new rule.

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