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Bautista vs. Maya-Maya Cottages Case Digest


Plaintiff may file an amended complaint even after the original complaint was ordered dismissed, provided that the order of dismissal is not yet final.

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Facts:

Plaintiff Maya-Maya Cottages, Inc. (MMCI) filed with the RTC of Nasugbu, Batangas a complaint for cancellation of the Spouses Rafael and Ligaya Bautista’s title and damages, with application for a preliminary injunction.

Defendant spouses filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on the ground that it does not state a cause of action. They averred that MMCI is a private corporation, hence, disqualified under the Constitution from acquiring public alienable lands except by lease.

The trial granted the motion to dismiss.

MMCI filed a motion for reconsideration with motion for leave to file an amended complaint for quieting of title. 

Spouses Bautista filed their opposition, contending that the amended complaint does not also state a cause of action and if admitted, MMCI’s theory of the case is substantially modified.

The trial court reversed its Order and denied the Motion to Dismiss. The CA affirmed the lower court's Order. Hence this appeal.


Issue:

Whether or not the Court of Appeals erred in holding that the trial court did not commit grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in admitting respondent’s amended complaint.


Held:
         
No. Section 2, Rule 10 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, provides:

“SEC. 2. Amendments as a matter of right. – A party may amend his pleading once as a matter of right at any time before a responsive pleading is served or, in the case of a reply, at any time within ten (10) days after it is served.”      
         
The above provision clearly shows that before the filing of any responsive pleading, a party has the absolute right to amend his pleading, regardless of whether a new cause of action or change in theory is introduced. It is settled that a motion to dismiss is not the responsive pleading contemplated by the Rule.  Records show that petitioners had not yet filed a responsive pleading to the original complaint in Civil Case No. 371. What they filed was a motion to dismiss. It follows that respondent, as a plaintiff, may file an amended complaint even after the original complaint was ordered dismissed, provided that the order of dismissal is not yet final, as in this case.

Verily, the Court of Appeals correctly held that in issuing the assailed Order admitting the amended complaint, the trial court did not gravely abuse its discretion. Hence, neither certiorari nor prohibition would lie. (Rafael Bautista vs. Maya-Maya Cottages, Inc., G.R. No. 148361,  November 29, 2005)

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