Petitioner filed a complaint for sum of money with a prayer for the issuance of a writ of preliminary attachment against the spouses Manuel and Lolita Toledo. Upon the death of Manuel, he was substituted by his children as party-defendants.
During trial, the reception of evidence for herein respondent was cancelled upon agreement of the parties. Counsel for herein respondent was given a period of fifteen days within which to file a demurrer to evidence. However, respondent instead filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, which was denied for having been filed out of time.
Respondent’s motion for reconsideration of the order of denial was likewise denied on the ground that “defendants’ attack on the jurisdiction of this Court is now barred by estoppel by laches” since respondent failed to raise the issue despite several chances to do so.
Aggrieved, respondent filed a petition for certiorari before the CA.
The CA granted the petition, and denied petitioner’s motion for reconsideration.
Whether or not the CA is correct in granting herein respondent’s petition for certiorari upon a finding that the trial court committed grave abuse of discretion in denying respondent’s motion to dismiss the complaint against her.
We find merit in the petition.
The CA erred in granting the writ of certiorari in favor of respondent.
Well settled is the rule that the special civil action for certiorari is not the proper remedy to assail the denial by the trial court of a motion to dismiss.
The order of the trial court denying a motion to dismiss is merely interlocutory, as it neither terminates nor finally disposes of a case and still leaves something to be done by the court before a case is finally decided on the merits. Therefore, “the proper remedy in such a case is to appeal after a decision has been rendered.”
As the Supreme Court held in Indiana Aerospace University v. Comm. on Higher Education:
A writ of certiorari is not intended to correct every controversial interlocutory ruling; it is resorted only to correct a grave abuse of discretion or a whimsical exercise of judgment equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. Its function is limited to keeping an inferior court within its jurisdiction and to relieve persons from arbitrary acts – acts which courts or judges have no power or authority in law to perform. It is not designed to correct erroneous findings and conclusions made by the courts.
Even assuming that certiorari is the proper remedy, the trial court did not commit grave abuse of discretion in denying respondent’s motion to dismiss. It, in fact, acted correctly when it issued the questioned orders as respondent’s motion to dismiss was filed SIX YEARS AND FIVE MONTHS AFTER SHE FILED HER AMENDED ANSWER. This circumstance alone already warranted the outright dismissal of the motion for having been filed in clear contravention of the express mandate of Section 1, Rule 16, of the Revised Rules of Court. Under this provision, a motion to dismiss shall be filed within the time for but before the filing of an answer to the complaint or pleading asserting a claim.