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Torts and Damages Case Digest: Quirante v. IAC (1989)

G.R. No. 73886 January 31, 1989

Lessons Applicable: Attorney's Fees (Torts and Damages)
Laws Applicable: 


  • Dr. Indalecio Casasola had a contract with a building contractor named Norman Guerrero  
  • Philippine American General Insurance Co. Inc. (Philamgen) acted as bondsman for Guerrero. In view of Guerrero's failure to perform his part of the contract within the period specified, Dr. Casasola, thru his counsel, Atty. John Quirante, sued both Guerrero and Philamgen 
    • Philamgen filed a cross-claim against Guerrero for indemnification
  • RTC: in favor of Dr. Indalecio Casasola by rescinding the contract ordering Guerrero and Philamgen to pay actual damages of P129,430, moral damages of P50,000exemplary damages of P40,000 and attorney's fees of P30,000 ordering Guerrero alone to pay liquidated damages of P300/day from December 15, 1978 to July 16, 1979 and ordering Philamgen to pay  Dr. Casasola the amount of the surety bond equivalent to P120,000. 
  • Petition to quash the writ of execution and to compel the trial court to give due course to the appeal was dismissed
  • In the mean time, Dr. Casasola died leaving his widow and several children as survivors
  • Quirante filed a motion in the trial court for the confirmation of his attorney's fees
    • According to him, there was an oral agreement between him and the late Dr. Casasola that in case of recovery of the surety bond  - P30K and in case of damages excess of the surety bond, divided equally bet. the heirs, Atty. Quirante and Atty. Cruz.
  • RTC: granted the motion for confirmation
ISSUE: W/N Atty. Quirante can claim attorney's fees

HELD: NO. present recourse is hereby AFFIRMED
  • attorney's fees may be asserted either in:
    • the very action in which the services in question have been rendered -as in this case
      • the Court may pass upon said claim, even if its amount were less than the minimum prescribed by law for the jurisdiction of said court, upon the theory that the right to recover attorney's fees is but an incident of the case in which the services of counsel have been rendered
      • rests on the assumption that the court trying the case is to a certain degree already familiar with the nature and extent of the lawyer's services
      • The rule against multiplicity of suits will in effect be served
    • a separate action
  • 2 Kinds of Attorney's fees
    • 1. item of damages provided for under Article 2208 of the Civil Code wherein the award is made in favor of the litigant, not of his counsel, and the litigant, not his counsel, is the judgment creditor who may enforce the judgment for attorney's fees by execution
    • 2. claims are based on the contract for professional services, with the attorney as the creditors and the clients as the debtors
  • It is further observed that the supposed contract alleged by petitioners as the basis for their fees provides that the recovery of the amounts claimed is subject to certain contingencies
  • We are of the considered view that the orderly administration of justice dictates that such issue be likewise determined by the court a quo inasmuch as it also necessarily involves the same contingencies in determining the propriety and assessing the extent of recovery of attorney's fees by both petitioners herein. The court below will be in a better position, after the entire case shall have been adjudicated
  • We, therefore, take exception to and reject that portion of the decision of the respondent court which holds that the alleged confirmation to attorney's fees should not adversely affect the non-signatories thereto, since it is also premised on the eventual grant of damages to the Casasola family, hence the same objection of prematurity obtains and such a holding may be pre-emptive of factual and evidentiary matters that may be presented for consideration by the trial court.