Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence


Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence > Year 1976 > June 1976 Decisions > A.C. No. 1085 June 10, 1976 - DALTON WOODROW WORTHINGTON v. FELIPE FERNANDEZ:




PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

SECOND DIVISION

[A.C. No. 1085. June 10, 1976.]

DALTON WOODROW WORTHINGTON, Complainant, v. FELIPE FERNANDEZ, Respondent.

SYNOPSIS


Worthington was the client of Atty. Fernandez in an estafa case involving imported tobacco which was seized by the Bureau of Customs. After the dismissal of the case due to the efforts of Fernandez, Worthington filed a disbarment complaints against the lawyer alleging that they entered into a simulated contract which would assure the latter of a share in the proceeds of the sale of the seized tobacco and that Fernandez committed irregularities in its release and disposition. Fernandez denied the charges, insinuating that Worthington failed to pay him his attorney’s fees, and filed a counterclaim for damages. The case was referred to the Solicitor General but it was never heard due to interminable postponements.

The Supreme Court ordered the dismissal of the complaint as well as the counterclaim inasmuch as the complainant had apparently lost interest in the case and there is no justification for proceedings further against the Respondent.


SYLLABUS


1. ATTORNEYS-AT-LAW; DISBARMENT PROCEEDINGS; DISMISSAL THEREOF DUE TO COMPLAINANTS LOSS OF INTEREST. — Where the complainant in a disbarment proceedings had apparently lost interest in the case and there is no justification for proceeding further against the respondent, the case, including the lawyer’s counterclaim for damages, should be dismissed.

2. ID.; ID.; COUNTERCLAIM FOR DAMAGES. — A lawyer’s counterclaim for damages cannot be ventilated in disbarment proceeding.


R E S O L U T I O N


AQUINO, J.:


Dalton Woodrow Worthington lodged in 1972 a complaint for disbarment charging Atty. Felipe Fernandez with malpractice, fraud and deceit in connection with an estafa case filed in 1968 against Worthington in the office of the City Fiscal of Manila.

The subject matter of the estafa case was the blending tobacco imported by the Eastern Tobacco Trading Corporation (of which Worthington was the president), The tobacco was seized by the Bureau of Customs. The estafa case was dismissed due to the efforts of Fernandez.

Worthington alleged that on December 28, 1968 he and Fernandez entered into a contract whereby it was agreed that Eastern Tobacco Trading Corporation would pay Fernandez as attorney’s fees twenty percent of the proceeds of the sale of the blending tobacco.chanrobles virtual lawlibrary

Worthington averred that the contract was simulated because its real purpose was to secure to himself a share in the proceeds of the sale of the seized tobacco. He denounced certain irregularities committed by Fernandez in connection with the release and disposition of the blending tobacco.

Fernandez denied the charges. He insinuated that it was Worthington who failed to live up to his commitment to pay him his attorney’s fees. He filed a counterclaim for damages in the sum of P300,000.

The case was referred to the Solicitor General for investigation, report and recommendation.

Due to interminable postponements the case was never heard. Thus, at the instance of Worthington, the hearings set for August 15, September 15 and 27 and December 21, 1972 were postponed. The parties agreed to cancel the hearings set for December 4 and 5, 1972 and January 4, February 8 and March 8, 1973. Due to Worthington’s nonappearance, the hearings scheduled on April 13 and 16 and July 19, 1973 were not held.

On May 8, 1973 respondent Fernandez filed in the Office of the Solicitor General a motion to dismiss the case because of Worthington’s failure to prosecute it. The Acting Solicitor General in his report dated April 20, 1976 recommends that the case be dismissed.

Inasmuch as complainant Worthington had apparently lost interest in the case and as there is no justification for proceeding further against the respondent, this case, including the counterclaim, which cannot be ventilated in a disbarment proceeding, is dismissed.

SO ORDERED.

Fernando (Chairman), Barredo, Antonio and Martin, JJ., concur.

Concepcion, Jr., J., is on leave.

Martin, J., was designated to sit in the Second Division.




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