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Torts and Damages Case Digest: De la Pena v. CA (1994)

G.R. No. L-81827   March 28, 1994
Lessons Applicable: Unfounded Suits (Torts and Damages)
Laws Applicable: 


  • Ciriaco Reducto was occupying a 24-hectare parcel of land in Sulongvale, Sulop, Davao del Norte for which he filed Homestead Application with the Bureau of Lands
  • Potenciano Nazaret also filed the same over the same lot.
  • Ciriaco transferred his possessory rights over 6 lots to Pantaleon de la Peña 
  • Director of Lands directed Potenciano to apply for the portion himself w/in 60 days but he did not 
  • Ciriaco transferred his rights over another 1 1/2-hectare to Michael Doble who sold it to Ricardo Tan 
  • Upon a survey by the Bureau of Lands, it was found that Tan's lot was smaller than what he had bougth while De la Peña's lot was bigger than what he had bought.  Tan built a fence on his reclaimed portion but Dela Peña keeps on destroying it.
  • Ricardo Tan then transferred the lot to Herotido Tan
  • Dela Peña filed a complaint for forcible entry against Ricardo Tan amended to Herotido Tan
  • RTC and MTC: favored Dela Peña
  • Dela Peña instituted action for reconveyance with damages with the RTC
  • RTC: rejected. counterclaim was granted and Dela Peña was ordered to pay P6,000 attorney's fees and expenses of litigation, P15,000 for moral damages and the costs of the proceedings
  • CA: affirmed stating that fraud and misrepresentation was not substantiated
ISSUE: W/N Dela Peña should be liable for moral damages, attorney's fees and cost of proceedings.

HELD: NO. AFFIRMED, with the sole modification that the award for attorney's fees, expenses of litigation, and moral damages is DELETED

  • award for attorney's fees and moral damages  is unfounded in the absence of a deliberate intent to cause prejudice to the other party. The right to litigate is so precious that a Penalty should not be charged on those who may exercise it erroneously