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G.R. No. 152526 – 444 SCRA 250 – Civil Law – Law on Sales – Perfected Contract of Sale; Meeting of Minds
Remedial Law – Civil Procedure – Material Allegations in the Complaint -Real Action vs Personal Action
Juan Jose Jordana wrote a letter to Madeliene Bunye offering that he will buy her land located in Ayala Alabang for Php12.3M. Jordana stated that he will pay Php500k as downpayment within five days after Jordana receives a letter-acceptance from Bunye. Bunye wrote a letter-reply to Jordana telling him that she agrees to the proposal.
Jordana thereafter tried to pay the downpayment but Bunye refused to receive the same on the ground that she wants to increase the purchase price to Php16M.
Later, Bunye negotiated the sale of the same property to Ramon Jimenez, Jr. Thereafter, Jordana sued Bunye for specific performance to compel her to honor their agreement. Meanwhile, Bunye and Jimenez executed a Deed of Sale. The title of the property was then transferred in the name of Jimenez. Jimenez then mortgaged the property to Urban Bank.
When Jordana found out about the deed of sale between Bunye and Jimenez, he filed an amended complaint to implead Jimenez. When Jordana found out about the mortgage Jimenez executed, he also impleaded Urban Bank.
Jimenez and Urban Bank filed their respective motions to dismiss. The Regional Trial Court granted their motions on the ground that Jordana has no cause of action against them. Jordana has no cause of action against them because his case was a specific performance case against Bunye which is an action in personam and not a real action; that whatever contractual breach Bunye committed, Jimenez and Urban Bank are not privy thereto hence, they cannot be impleaded. The Court of Appeals reversed the ruling of the trial court.
ISSUE: Whether or not Jordana has causes of action against Jimenez and Urban Bank?
HELD: Yes. Oft-repeated is the doctrine that the cause of action in a civil case is determined by the allegations of the complaint, never by those of the defendant’s answer. However, ambiguities and lapses in the language of these allegations may be understood or clarified through a recourse to the annexes of the complaint, related pleadings or other submissions of the plaintiff. In this case, the allegations in Jordana’s complaint sufficiently established an action for recovery of possession which is a real action. So even if his complaint is captioned as one for specific performance, what is controlling is the allegations which is for recovery of possession.
What Jordana instituted against Jimenez et al was a real action for the recovery of property. It has been held that where a party makes a claim contrary to ownership, and the relief prayed for cannot be granted without the court deciding on who has a better right to the property, the suit is a real action.
Jordana’s claim over the property is anchored on the fact that what transpired between him and Bunye was a contract of sale. The elements of a valid contract of sale under Article 1458 of the Civil Code are the following: (1) the parties’ consent or meeting of minds, (2) a determinate subject matter, and (3) a price certain in money or its equivalent. Being consensual, a contract of sale is perfected upon the meeting of the minds of the buyer and the seller as to the object of the sale and the cause or consideration. From that moment on, the parties may reciprocally demand performance; that is, the vendee may compel the transfer of the ownership of the object of the sale, and the vendor may require the vendee to pay the price of the thing sold. Here, the contract of sale between Jordana and Bunye was perfected upon knowledge by Jordana of Bunye’s acceptance of his offer to buy.