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May a complaint be amended to cure a failure to state a cause of action?


May a complaint be amended to cure a failure to state a cause of action?

Yes. If the complaint failed to aver the fact that certain conditions precedent were undertaken and complied with, the failure to so allege the same may be corrected by an amendment of the complaint. Section 5 of Rule 10 applies to situations wherein evidence not within the issues raised in the pleadings is presented by the parties during the trial and was not objected to. The provision also covers situations where, to conform to evidence not objected to by the adverse party, the pleadings are sought to be amended on motion of a party. Thus, a complaint which fails to state a cause of action may be cured by evidence presented during the trial.

For example, a complaint filed by a guarantor to collect a sum of money from the debtor fails to state a cause of action if the complaint does not allege that the creditor of the debtor has been paid by the guarantor even if in fact there was payment. However, if during the course of the proceedings, evidence is offered on the fact of payment without objection from the debtor, the defect in the complaint was cured by the evidence. The plaintiff may then move for the amendment of his complaint to conform to the evidence. (Dean Riano)


Where the complaint was filed at a time where no cause of action has yet accrued in favor of the plaintiff, may the complaint be amended to cure the defect?

● No. The reason for this is plain: There is no cause of action to cure where there is none in the first place.

● Amendments of pleadings are allowed under Rule 10 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure in order that the actual merits of a case may be determined in the most expeditious and inexpensive manner without regard to technicalities, and that all other matters included in the case may be determined in a single proceeding, thereby avoiding multiplicity of suits. Section 5 thereof applies to situations wherein evidence not within the issues raised in the pleadings is presented by the parties during the trial, and to conform to such evidence the pleadings are subsequently amended on motion of a party. Thus, a complaint which fails to state a cause of action may be cured by evidence presented during the trial.

However, the curing effect under Section 5 is applicable only if a cause of action in fact exists at the time the complaint is filed, but the complaint is defective for failure to allege the essential facts. For example, if a complaint failed to allege the fulfillment of a condition precedent upon which the cause of action depends, evidence showing that such condition had already been fulfilled when the complaint was filed may be presented during the trial, and the complaint may accordingly be amended thereafter. Thus, in Roces v. Jalandoni, this Court upheld the trial court in taking cognizance of an otherwise defective complaint which was later cured by the testimony of the plaintiff during the trial. In that case, there was in fact a cause of action and the only problem was the insufficiency of the allegations in the complaint. This ruling was reiterated in Pascua v. Court of Appeals.

It thus follows that a complaint whose cause of action has not yet accrued cannot be cured or remedied by an amended or supplemental pleading alleging the existence or accrual of a cause of action while the case is pending. Such an action is prematurely brought and is, therefore, a groundless suit, which should be dismissed by the court upon proper motion seasonably filed by the defendant. The underlying reason for this rule is that a person should not be summoned before the public tribunals to answer for complaints which are immature. (Swagman Hotels and Travels, Inc. vs. CA, G.R. No. 161135. April 8, 2005) 

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