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Mangelen vs. Court of Appeals Case Digest


There is a difference between a judgment against a defendant based on evidence presented ex-parte pursuant to a default order and one based on evidence presented ex-parte and against a defendant who had filed an answer but who failed to appear at the hearing. In the former, section 5 of Rule 18 provides that the judgment against the defendant should not exceed the amount or to be different in kind from that prayed for. In the latter, however, the award may exceed the amount or be different in kind from the prayed for. 


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Facts: 

Mangelen filed a case for breach of contract against Habaluyas Enterprises, Inc. and Pedro Habaluyas. The Defendants were declared in default for their failure to file an answer within the reglementary period. The trial court rendered a Decision in favor of plaintiff awarding him exemplary damages which was not included in his prayer.


Issue: 

Was the award of exemplary damages proper?


Held: 

No. Section 5, Rule 18 of the Rules of Court provides that judgment entered against a party in default shall not exceed the amount or be different in kind from that prayed for. Consequently, an award of exemplary damages should not have been made since it was not even prayed for. Besides, the complaint is for beach of contract. Exemplary damages may only be awarded therein if private respondents acted in a wanton, fraudulent, reckless, oppressive or malevolent manner. There is no finding whatsoever on the matter.

There is a difference between a judgment against a defendant based on evidence presented ex-parte pursuant to a default order and one based on evidence presented ex-parte and against a defendant who had filed an answer but who failed to appear at the hearing. In the former, section 5 of Rule 18 provides that the judgment against the defendant should not exceed the amount or to be different in kind from that prayed for. In the latter, however, the award may exceed the amount or be different in kind from the prayed for. (Mangelen vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 88954, October 29, 1992)

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