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Remedial Law: Agner v. BPI (2013)

Lesson Applicable:  Despite writ of replevin, failed to seize, can ask for fulfillment of the obligation

Laws Applicable: Rule 60
o    February 15, 2001: Sps. Deo Agner and Maricon Agner executed PN without prior notice or demand with Chattel Mortgage in favor of Citimotors, Inc. secured by a 2001 Mitsubishi Adventure Super Sport; and an interest of 6%/month for failure to pay each installment.  Citimotors assigned them to ABN AMRO Savings Bank, Inc. which assigned them to BPI Family Savings Bank
o    October 4, 2002: Due to failure to pay despite demand, BPI filed on an action for Replevin and Damages in RTC of Manila
o    RTC: issued writ of replevin but vehicle was not seized.
o    RTC (trial on merits): ordered Sps. to jointly and severally pay the amount of Php576,664.04 plus interest at the rate of 72%/annum
o    CA: affirmed; MR denied

o    HELD (petition for review on certiorari): denied; affirmed with modification lowering interest to 1%/month
o    The Civil Code in Art. 1169 provides that one incurs in delay or is in default from the time the obligor demands the fulfillment of the obligation from the obligee. However, the law expressly provides that demand is not necessary under certain circumstances, and one of these circumstances is when the parties expressly waive demand. Hence, since the co-signors expressly waived demand in the promissory notes, demand was unnecessary for them to be in default
o    Navarro v. Escobido: prior demand is NOT a condition precedent to an action for a writ of replevin, since there is nothing in Section 2, Rule 60 of the Rules of Court that requires the applicant to make a demand on the possessor of the property before an action for a writ of replevin could be filed.
o    Bank of the Philippine Islands v. Spouses Royeca: x x x The creditor's possession of the evidence of debt is proof that the debt has not been discharged by payment. A promissory note in the hands of the creditor is a proof of indebtedness rather than proof of payment. In an action for replevin by a mortgagee, it is prima facie evidence that the promissory note has not been paid. Likewise, an uncanceled mortgage in the possession of the mortgagee gives rise to the presumption that the mortgage debt is unpaid.
o    Elisco Case: The remedies provided for in Art. 1484 are alternative, not cumulative. The exercise of one bars the exercise of the others.  At the same time, it prayed for the issuance of a writ of replevin or the delivery to it of the motor vehicle
o    Compared with Elisco, the vehicle subject matter of this case was never recovered and delivered to respondent despite the issuance of a writ of replevin. As there was no seizure that transpired, it cannot be said that petitioners were deprived of the use and enjoyment of the mortgaged vehicle or that respondent pursued, commenced or concluded its actual foreclosure. The trial court, therefore, rightfully granted the alternative prayer for sum of money, which is equivalent to the remedy of "exacting fulfillment of the obligation." Certainly, there is no double recovery or unjust enrichment to speak of.

Remedial Law Digest: SMART Communications v. Astrorga (2008)

Lessons Applicable:  replevin outside jurisdiction of LA

Laws Applicable: Rule 60
o    May 8, 1997: Regina M. Astorga (Astorga) was employed by SMART as District Sales Manager of the Corporate Sales Marketing Group/ Fixed Services Division (CSMG/FSD) with P33,650 monthly salary and annual performance incentive (30% of her annual gross salary), group life and hospitalization insurance coverage, and a car plan of P455K.
o    February 1998: SMART launched an organizational realignment to achieve more efficient operations where SNMI was formed to do the sales and marketing work so CSMG/FSD was abolished.  SNMI agreed to absorb the CSMG personnel who would be recommended by SMART which excluded Astorga for being last on the performance evaluation. SMART offered her a supervisory position in the Customer Care Department with lower rank and rate so she refused.  And, she continued going to work.
o    March 3, 1998: SMART issued a memorandum advising Astorga of the termination of her employment on ground of redundancy, effective April 3, 1998.
o    Pending the Labor Case on Illegal dismissal, SMART sent a letter to Astorga demanding that she pay the current market value of the Honda Civic Sedan which was given to her under the company’s car plan program, or to surrender the same to the company for proper disposition which she refused
o    RTC (replevin filed by SMART and MTD by Astorga): favored SMART; The car is registered in the name of SMART. Recovery thereof via replevin suit is allowed by Rule 60 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure within the jurisdiction of RTC; MR denied
o    Pending Astorga’s MTD, LA: illegal dismissal
o    CA (certiorari): reversed the RTC; LA has jurisdiction as it is intertwined with illegal dismissal
o    NLRC: valid dismissal; MR denied
o    CA (certiorari): affimed NLRC. However, found that SMART failed to comply with the mandatory 1-month notice prior to the intended termination and imposed a penalty of 1-month salary for this non-compliance. Set aside NLRC’s order for the return of the vehicle as it is civil in nature within the competence of the regular court to decide

o    HELD (petitions for review): granted; Smart’s replevin granted
o    Replevin is an action whereby the owner or person entitled to repossession of goods or chattels may recover those goods or chattels from one who has wrongfully distrained or taken, or who wrongfully detains such goods or chattels. It is designed to permit one having right to possession to recover property in specie from one who has wrongfully taken or detained the property. The term may refer either to the action itself, for the recovery of personalty, or to the provisional remedy traditionally associated with it, by which possession of the property may be obtained by the plaintiff and retained during the pendency of the action
o    Relationship of DR-CR rather than EE-ER
o    Replevin is a possessory action, the gist of which is the right of possession in the plaintiff. The primary relief sought therein is the return of the property in specie wrongfully detained by another person. It is an ordinary statutory proceeding to adjudicate rights to the title or possession of personal property. The question of whether or not a party has the right of possession over the property involved and if so, whether or not the adverse party has wrongfully taken and detained said property as to require its return to plaintiff, is outside the pale of competence of a labor tribunal and beyond the field of specialization of Labor Arbiters.
o    The labor dispute involved is not intertwined with the issue in the Replevin Case
o     acknowledge the prerogative of the employer to adopt such measures as will promote greater efficiency, reduce overhead costs and enhance prospects of economic gains, albeit always within the framework of existing laws
o    procedural infirmity would not render the termination of Astorga’s employment illegal