AMONOY VS SPS. GUTIERREZ

Posted: April 12, 2017 in case digests, civil law, torts
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AMONOY VS SPS. GUTIERREZ
G.R. No. 140420

FACTS

Amonoy was the legal counsel of the Spouses Gutierrez in a settlement of estate proceeding. To secure the payment of attorneys fees, the spouses mortgaged two of their properties. Because of non-payment, Amonoy filed for the foreclosure of the said properties. The heirs of the spouses opposed. The lots were foreclosed where Amonoy was the highest bidder. A deficiency was claimed and to satisfy it another execution sale was conducted, and again the highest bidder was Amonoy. Included in those sold was the lot on which the Gutierrez spouses had their house. The CFI issued a Writ of Possession and on Amonoy’s motion, orders were issued for the demolition of structures in the said lots, including the house.

In a petition for certiorari made by David Fornilda and the heir of Gutierrez spouses, the Supreme Court granted the same and ordered the return of the properties to the petitioners (certiorari).

By the time the SC promulgated the decision, respondents’ house had already been destroyed. Thus, a complaint for damages in connection with the destruction of their house was filed by respondents against petitioner before the RTC.

RTC dismissed respondent’s suit.

On appeal, CA set aside the lower court’s ruling and ordered petitioner to pay actual damages. MR was also denied. Hence, this petition.

ISSUE

Won petitioner Amonoy is liable to pay respondents for damages.

HELD: YES. Well-settled is the maxim that damage resulting from the legitimate exercise of a person’s rights is a loss without injury- damnum absque injuria – for which the law gives no remedy. In other words, one who merely exercises one’s rights does no actionable injury and cannot be held liable for damages.

Petitioner invokes this legal precept in arguing that he is not liable for the demolition of respondents’ house. He maintains that he was merely acting in accordance with the Writ of Demolition ordered by the RTC.

Damnum absque injuria finds no application to this case.

True, petitioner commenced the demolition of respondents’ house on May 30, 1986 under the authority of a Writ of Demolition issued by the RTC. But the records show that a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), enjoining the demolition of respondents’ house, was issued by the Supreme Court on June 2, 1986.

Petitioner, however, did not heed the TRO of this Court. We agree with the CA that he unlawfully pursued the demolition of respondents’ house well until the middle of 1987. This is clear from Respondent Angela Gutierrez’s testimony.

Although the acts of petitioner may have been legally justified at the outsset, their continuation after the issuance of the TRO amounted to an insidious abuse of his right. Indubitably, his actions were tainted with bad faith. Had he not insisted on completing the demolition, respondents would not have suffered the loss that engendered the suit before the RTC. Verily, his acts constituted not only an abuse of a right, but an invalid exercise of a right that had been suspended when he received thae TRO from this Court on June 4, 1986. By then he was no longer entitled to proceed with the demolition.

Clearly then, the demolition of respondents’ house by petitioner, despite his receipt of the TRO, was not only an abuse but also an unlawful exercise of such right. In insisting on his alleged right, he wantonly violated this Court’s Order and wittingly caused the destruction of respondents; house.

Obviously, petitioner cannot invoke damnum absque injuria, a principle premised on the valid exercise of a right.14Anything less or beyond such exercise will not give rise to the legal protection that the principle

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