Felicisima De La Cruz vs Judge Edgardo Paras

G.R. No. L-41053 – 69 SCRA 556 – Remedial Law – Civil Procedure – Rule 16; Motion to Dismiss; Grounds – Res Judicata – Interlocutory Order – When is an order appealable

In 1962, Pedro San Miguel filed a partition case against Pablo San Miguel involving a parcel of land (Lot A). The case was dismissed due to non-prosecution. But 11 years later, Pedro filed a second partition case this time involving the same Lot A and another parcel of land (Lot B). Judge Edgardo Paras dismissed the partition case in so far as Lot A is concerned due res judicata but he continued in hearing the issue on Lot B. Lot B was eventually partitioned but the successors-in-interest of Pedro San Miguel, Felicisima De La Cruz et al, appealed the dismissal of the case insofar as Lot A is concerned.

Pablo San Miguel opposed the appeal on the ground that the order to dismiss the said case was merely interlocutory hence it is not appealable.

ISSUE: Whether or not the order dismissing the case on Lot A is merely interlocutory.

HELD: No. The said order is a final and appealable order. The test to determine whether an order or judgment is interlocutory or final is this: “Does it leave something to be done in the trial court with respect to the merits of the case? If it does, it is interlocutory; if it does not, it is final.”

The term “final” judgment or order signifies a judgment or an order which disposes of the cause as to all the parties, reserving no further questions or direction for future determination.

In this case, the fact that the twin case for other lot (Lot B) was still under litigation when the order was issued and the respective claims of the parties thereto yet to be settled by the trial court would not affect the final nature of the subject order, because a decree, is nonetheless final although some independent branch of the case is reserved for future consideration.

Nevertheless, the petition filed by De La Cruz should be dismissed because in the first place, a final order of dismissal cannot be assailed by certiorari (as what she did in this case). There was no grave abuse of discretion or lack thereof on the part of Judge Paras in dismissing the case due to res judicata. The original dismissal was based on merits (due to non litigation by Pedro San Miguel). He cannot again revive the same action by re-filing it 11 years later.

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**Not to be confused with Vicente De La Cruz vs Edgardo Paras.