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B.R. Sebastian Enterprises, Inc. vs C.A. [G.R. No. L-41862. February 7, 1992]

16 Oct

Ponente: DAVIDE, JR., J.

FACTS:

[P]etitioner, thru its then counsel of record, Baizas, Alberto and Associates, received notice to file Appellant’s Brief within 45 days from receipt thereof. Counsel for petitioner failed to file the Brief thus respondent Court issued a Resolution requiring said counsel to show cause why the appeal should not be dismissed for failure to file the Appellant’s Brief within the reglementary period. As the latter failed to comply with the above Resolution, respondent Court issued another Resolution this time dismissing petitioner’s appeal.

[P]etitioner, this time thru the BAIZAS LAW OFFICE, filed a motion for reconsideration of the resolution dismissing its appeal alleging that as a result of the death of Atty. Crispin Baizas, senior partner in the law firm of BAIZAS, ALBERTO & ASSOCIATES, the affairs of the said firm are still being settled between Atty. Jose Baizas (son of Crispin Baizas) and Atty. Ruby Alberto, the latter having established her own law office; furthermore, Atty. Rodolfo Espiritu, the lawyer who handled this case in the trial court and who is believed to have also attended to the preparation of the Appellant’s Brief but failed to submit it through oversight and inadvertence, had also left the firm.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the death of a partner extinguish the lawyer-client relationship with the law firm.

HELD:

NO. Petition was dismissed.

RATIO:

Petitioner’s counsel was the law firm of BAIZAS, ALBERTO & ASSOCIATES and not merely Atty. Crispin Baizas. Hence, the death of the latter did not extinguish the lawyer-client relationship between said firm and petitioner. With Baizas’ death, the responsibility of Atty. Alberto and his Associates to the petitioner as counsel remained until withdrawal by the former of their appearance in the manner provided by the Rules of Court. This is so because it was the law firm which handled the case for petitioner before both the trial and appellate courts. That Atty. Espiritu, an associate who was designated to handle the case, later left the office after the death of Atty. Baizas is of no moment since others in the firm could have replaced him. Upon receipt of the notice to file Brief, the law firm should have re-assigned the case to another associate or, it could have withdrawn as counsel in the manner provided by the Rules of Court so that the petitioner could contract the services of a new lawyer.

Moreover, petitioner itself was guilty of negligence when it failed to make inquiries from counsel regarding its case. As pointed out by respondents, the president of petitioner corporation claims to be the intimate friend of Atty. Crispin Baizas; hence, the death of the latter must have been known to the former. This fact should have made petitioner more vigilant with respect to the case at bar. Petitioner failed to act with prudence and diligence, thus, its plea that they were not accorded the right to procedural due process cannot elicit either approval or sympathy.

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2012 in Case Digests, Legal Ethics

 

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