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Vera vs. Rigor Case Digest


The Rule mandatorily requires the parties to seasonably file their briefs and failure to do so shall be cause for the dismissal of the action. The pre-trial and its governing rules are not technicalities which the parties may ignore or trifle with.

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Facts: 

Respondent Ernesto Rigor filed with the RTC a complaint for sum of money with damages against petitioner Dr. Emmanuel Vera. During the pre-trial conference, the parties failed to reach an amicable settlement, hence, the trial court terminated the pre-trial and set the case for initial hearing. During the initial hearing, the trial court, upon manifestation of petitioner’s counsel, realized that respondent failed to file a pre-trial brief.

Petitioner filed a motion to dismiss the complaint raising as ground respondent’s failure to file a pre-trial brief. The trial court issued a Resolution granting the motion and dismissing the complaint. Respondent filed a motion for reconsideration but it was denied by the trial court.


Issue:

May a civil case be dismissed for failure of the plaintiff to file a pre-trial brief?


Held:

Yes. Section 6, Rule 18 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, provides that the parties shall file with the court and serve on the adverse party, in such manner as shall ensure their receipt thereof at least three (3) days before the date of the pre-trial, their respective pre-trial briefs. Failure to file the pre-trial brief shall have the same effect as failure to appear at the pre-trial.

Corollarily, Section 5 of the same Rule states that the failure of the plaintiff to appear at the pre-trial shall be cause for dismissal of the action.

Clearly, the above Rule mandatorily requires the parties to seasonably file their briefs and failure to do so shall be cause for the dismissal of the action.

While the trial judge erroneously proceeded with the trial conference, the fact remains that respondent did not file a pre-trial brief. Pursuant to Section 6, Rule 18 quoted above, such failure is a cause for dismissal of the action. We have to emphasize that pre-trial and its governing rules are not technicalities which the parties may ignore or trifle with.

Obviously, since respondent did not file a pre-trial brief, it follows that the trial judge failed to conduct the pre-trial conference in accordance with Rule 18. In fact, he did not issue the required pre-trial order stating the various matters which should have been included therein. Indeed, the trial judge showed his ignorance of the Rules, specifically Rule 18. And by failing to take appropriate steps to enable the parties reach an amicable settlement, the trial judge showed his gross inefficiency. (Vera vs. Rigor, G.R. No. 147377, August 10, 2007)

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