Remedial Law

DAVAO LIGHT & POWER CO., INC. v. CA G.R. No. 111685 August 20, 2001 Venue v. Jurisdiction

FACTS:

Petitioner filed a complaint for damages before the RTC of Cebu City against private respondent Francisco Tesorero.

The trial court ruled that as alleged in the complaint and which for purposes of venue is considered, Banilad, Cebu City is the plaintiffs principal place of business.

Private respondent filed a Motion to Dismiss on the ground of improper venue. The motion to dismiss alleged and submitted that the principal office of plaintiff is in Davao City.

The trial court opined that the principal office of plaintiff is in Davao City, which, for purposes of venue, is the residence of plaintiff.

Petitioner’s MR was denied.

Petitioner filed a petition for review on certiorari which was denied due course and dismissed by the CA.

Without filing a motion for reconsideration, petitioner filed the instant petition, assailing the judgment of the CA.

It is private respondents contention that the proper venue is Davao City, and not Cebu City where petitioner filed the civil case for damages. Private respondent argues that petitioner is estopped from claiming that its residence is in Cebu City, in view of contradictory statements made by petitioner prior to the filing of the action for damages.

ISSUE: 

Distinguish venue from jurisdiction.

RULING: 

Venue and jurisdiction are entirely distinct matters. Jurisdiction may not be conferred by consent or waiver upon a court which otherwise would have no jurisdiction over the subject-matter of an action; but the venue of an action as fixed by statute may be changed by the consent of the parties and an objection that the plaintiff brought his suit in the wrong county may be waived by the failure of the defendant to make a timely objection. In either case, the court may render a valid judgment. Rules as to jurisdiction can never be left to the consent or agreement of the parties, whether or not a prohibition exists against their alteration.

As held by this Court in Young Auto Supply Co. v. CA, in the Regional Trial Courts, all personal actions are commenced and tried in the province or city where the defendant or any of the defendants resides or may be found, or where the plaintiff or any of the plaintiffs resides, at the election of the plaintiff.

It cannot be disputed that petitioners principal office is in Cebu City, per its amended articles of incorporation and by-laws.

An action for damages being a personal action, venue is determined pursuant to Rule 4, section 2 of the Rules of Court, to wit:

Venue of personal actions.All other actions may be commenced and tried where the plaintiff or any of the principal plaintiffs resides, or where the defendant or any of the principal defendants resides, or in the case of a non-resident defendant where he may be found, at the election of the plaintiff.

Private respondent is not a party to any of the contracts presented before us. He is a complete stranger to the covenants executed between petitioner and NAPOCOR, despite his protestations that he is privy thereto, on the rather flimsy ground that he is a member of the public for whose benefit the electric generating equipment subject of the contracts were leased or acquired.

We are likewise not persuaded by his argument that the allegation or representation made by petitioner in either the complaints or answers it filed in several civil cases that its residence is in Davao City should estop it from filing the damage suit before the Cebu courts. Besides there is no showing that private respondent is a party in those civil cases or that he relied on such representation by petitioner.

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