Sunday, March 18, 2012

Ouano Arrastre Service, Inc. vs Aleonar (October 10, 1991)

Facts: Petitioer’s counsel was and is the firm of Ledesma, Saludo and Associates (and not any particular member or associate of that firm) which firm happens to have a main office in Makati and a branck office in Cebu City. The Court notes that both the main and branch offices operate under one and the same name, Saludo, Ledesma and Associates.

On 12 January 1990, after trial which Atty. Manalo handled for OASI, the trial court rendered a decision holding Mercantile and petitioner OASI jointly and severally liable for the cost of replacement of the damaged equipment plus damages, totalling P435,000.00. Only Mercantile appealed from the decision.

On 19 June 1990, IPI filed a motion for execution of the decision against petitioner OASI which public respondent judge granted on 25 June 1990.On 26 June 1990 petitioner's counsel, through Atty. Catipay of the Cebu Branch of the LSA, filed a notice of appeal claiming that the decision was "mistakenly sent" by the trial court to the law firm's Head Office in Makati.

On 27 June 1990, petitioner, through the same counsel, filed a motion for reconsideration of the order granting the writ of execution alleging that the failure seasonably to file an appeal was due to excusable neglect and slight "oversight" claiming that there was miscommunication between LSA-Cebu and LSA main office as to who would file the notice of appeal;

Court of Appeals dismissed petitioner's appeal upon the grounds that there had been a valid service of the decision and that the decision had become final and executory as to petitioner OASI

Issue: Whether or not there was valid service of the decision of the trial court upon petitioner's counsel

Held: Affirmative. Having represented itself to the public as comprising a single firm, LSA should not be allowed at this point to pretend that its main office and branch office in effect constitute separate law firms with separate and distinct personalities. There was no justification for Atty. Catipay of LSA-Cebu to refuse the service, especially if, as petitioner now alleges, the notice should have been sent to LSA-Cebu on the theory that Atty. Catipay was the lead counsel. It is not denied that Atty. Manalo, a partner in LSA based in its Makati main office, received a copyof the decision. Such a receipt binds the LSA Law partnership.











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