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Adm. Case No.

2655

July 9, 1987

In re: Complaint against ATTY. PATRICIO A. ASOY, LEONARD W. RICHARDS, complainant,


vs.
ATTY. PATRICIO A. ASOY, respondent.
Facts:
On April 23, 1982, Complainant retained Respondent as counsel in CC No. 0181-P before the Regional Trial Court,
Branch CX, Pasay City, entitled "Spouses Anita M. Richards & Leonard Richards vs. Danilo A. Felindario, et al." It
was a suit for damages allegedly due to faulty workmanship and non-compliance with specifications in the
construction of the RICHARDS house and swimming pool at Johann Menzi St., Phase III, BF Homes, Paranaque,
Metro Manila.
Among the terms and conditions in their contract for legal services were the payment by Complainant to Respondent
of an acceptance fee of Fifteen Thousand Pesos (P15,000.00) payable upon the signing of the agreement, and a fee
of P300.00 for each Court appearance. The acceptance fee was fully paid by Complainant on April 30, 1982, the
initial payment having been made on April 26, 1982.1 On October 21, 1982,2 Complainant and his family left
permanently for Australia after selling their house to a third party.
Civil Case No. 0181-P was dismissed by the Trial Court without prejudice "for lack of interest on the part of plaintiffs
as shown by the absence of their counsel despite due notice.
The case was reinstated after the reconsideration sought by Respondent on July 13, 1983 was granted by the Trial
Court. According to Complainant, reconsideration must have been sought by Respondent only because in
Complainant's letter, dated June 7, 1983, he had already sought the assistance of Major Fred de Vera of the Bureau
of Tourism Services regarding his complaint against Respondent.
The Trial Court again dismissed the case for "lack of interest and/or failure to prosecute," "it appearing that plaintiffs'
counsel was duly notified as indicated by his signature appearing on the record, it appearing further that
notwithstanding said notice, said counsel for the plaintiffs is not in Court today." The Trial Court further observed that
"this is the second time that this case was dismissed for failure of plaintiffs' counsel to appear despite notice."
In his Answer, Respondent states that he was delayed in filing the same as he had to temporarily reside and hold
office at Tubod, Lanao del Norte, by reason of his temporary appointment as Provincial Administrator of Lanao del
Norte effective March 11, 1986; that his inability to prosecute the case was because Complainant left for Australia
without furnishing Respondent his address and that he was unable to shoulder the burden of paving the fees required
for the services of expert witnesses besides the fact that his daughter was stricken with cerebral palsy; that he had no
intention to delay Complainant for money. Respondent then prayed that, pending investigation, his suspension be
lifted and that after due hearing the Complaint be dismissed and Complainant held liable for payment of all damages
suffered by Respondent during the investigation of this case.
In his letter-reply, Complainant stated that he had paid P15,000.00 to Respondent 5 to handle the case for him
conditioned upon Respondent's prosecuting the case to completion, attending all scheduled hearings and keeping
Complainant posted on the progress of the case.
Issue: Whether or not, respondent Atty. Asoy is liable for legal malpractice.
Ruling: Yes, Atty. Asoy is liable for legal malpractice.

The facts, as disclosed, require no further evidentiary hearing, and speak for themselves. Res ipsa loquitur. The
Orders of the 'Trial Court dismissing Civil Case No. 181-P are of record and Respondent's excuse that he can no
longer recall them is feeble.
Respondent's side has been fully heard in the pleadings he has filed before this Court. A trial-type hearing is not de
riqueur. The requirement of due process has been duly satisfied. What due process abhors is absolute lack of
opportunity to be heard.7
Respondent is guilty of grave professional misconduct. He received from Complainant, his client, compensation to
handle his case in the Trial Court, but the same was dismissed for lack of interest and failure to prosecute. He had
abandoned his client in violation of his contract ignoring the most elementary principles of professional ethics. 8That
Respondent had ignored the processes of this Court and it was only after he was suspended from the practice of law
that he surfaced, is highly indicative of his disregard of an attorney's duties to the Court. All the facts and
circumstances taken into consideration, Respondent has proven himself unworthy of the trust reposed in him by law
as an officer of the Court.
Furthermore, since Complainant's rights as Respondent's client have been prejudiced by the latter's failure to take
the steps necessary for the prosecution of the case Complainant may recover as a result of such gross negligence
and grave professional misconduct.
If a judgment is obtained against a party upon a complaint which is radically defective, and he desires to appeal, and
procedures bondsmen, but his attorney neglects to do so until the time for appeal expires, the attorney is guilty of
gross negligence, and is liable for the loss sustained by the client.11
ACCORDINGLY, for malpractice and violation of his oath as a lawyer, 1) respondent Atty. Patricio A. Asoy is hereby
ordered DISBARRED; and 2) he is hereby ordered to reimburse complainant, Leonard W. Richards, in the sum of
P16,300.00 (P15,000.00 + P1,300.00), the only sums substantiated by the evidence on record, 12 within thirty (30)
days from notice hereof.

FULL TEXT
Adm. Case No. 2655

July 9, 1987

In re: Complaint against ATTY. PATRICIO A. ASOY, LEONARD W. RICHARDS, complainant,


vs.
ATTY. PATRICIO A. ASOY, respondent.
RESOLUTION
PER CURIAM:
In a Complaint formalized by the Bar Confident on April 29, 1986, pursuant to the Resolution of this Court, dated
February 10, 1986, Respondent Atty. Patricio A. Asoy as retained counsel of Complainant, Leonard W. Richards, an
Australian, was charged with Malpractice for non-attendance at Court hearings, negligence and lack of zeal in
prosecuting a civil case for damages, resulting in its dismissal for lack of interest and/or failure to prosecute.

Prior to the aforesaid formal Complaint, Leonard W. Richards had filed a letter-complaint on June 29, 1984 with the
Chief Legal Officer, Tourist Division, Department of Tourism followed up with another letter dated July 13, 1984 to the
Chief Justice denouncing Respondent's actuations.
Required to comment in a Resolution, dated August 8, 1984, Respondent failed to do so despite service of the
Resolution together with a copy of the letter-complaint. The Court (First Division) required Respondent to show cause
why he should not be disciplinary dealt with or held in contempt for such failure, but all efforts to serve copy of the
show-cause Resolution on Respondent at his six (6) available addresses as well as through the national and the
Tacloban Chapters of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines proved futile. Since, unquestionably, respondent had gone
into hiding and was evading service of pleadings/orders/processes of this Court, we suspended him from the practice
of law in a Resolution dated November 11, 1985. Copies of the Resolution were circularized to all Courts nationwide
with the directive that should Respondent appear before any lower Court, the latter shall serve upon him a copy of the
show-cause Resolution and require him to appear within five (5) days thereafter before the Deputy Clerk of Court and
Bar Confidant.
Flushed out, on December 2, 1985, Respondent filed a Manifestation/Motion for Reconsideration "submitting himself
voluntarily to the jurisdiction of the Court," denying any violation of his oath as an attorney, which would warrant his
suspension, and praying that in the interest of due process and on broader grounds of substantial justice, the order of
suspension be lifted and that he be excused from appearing before the Bar Confidant by reason of distance and
financial constraints. Respondent gave his address as "Room 302 Abalos Bldg., Aguinaldo St., Iligan City."
In a resolution dated February 10, 1986, the Court denied the lifting of the order of suspension but excused
Respondent from appearing before the Deputy Clerk of Court and Bar Confidant. In the same Resolution, and as
stated initially, the Bar Confidant was directed to formulate the administrative complaint and respondent to answer the
same within five (5) days from receipt of notice.
The background facts disclose that on April 23, 1982, Complainant retained Respondent as counsel in CC No. 0181P before the Regional Trial Court, Branch CX, Pasay City, entitled "Spouses Anita M. Richards & Leonard Richards
vs. Danilo A. Felindario, et al." It was a suit for damages allegedly due to faulty workmanship and non-compliance
with specifications in the construction of the RICHARDS house and swimming pool at Johann Menzi St., Phase III,
BF Homes, Paranaque, Metro Manila.
Among the terms and conditions in their contract for legal services were the payment by Complainant to Respondent
of an acceptance fee of Fifteen Thousand Pesos (P15,000.00) payable upon the signing of the agreement, and a fee
of P300.00 for each Court appearance. The acceptance fee was fully paid by Complainant on April 30, 1982, the
initial payment having been made on April 26, 1982.1 On October 21, 1982,2 Complainant and his family left
permanently for Australia after selling their house to a third party.
On June 20, 1983, Civil Case No. 0181-P was dismissed by the Trial Court without prejudice "for lack of interest on
the part of plaintiffs as shown by the absence of their counsel despite due notice."3
On August 15, 1983, the case was reinstated after the reconsideration sought by Respondent on July 13, 1983 was
granted by the Trial Court. According to Complainant, reconsideration must have been sought by Respondent only
because in Complainant's letter, dated June 7, 1983, he had already sought the assistance of Major Fred de Vera of
the Bureau of Tourism Services regarding his complaint against Respondent.
1avvphi1

In an Order dated October 20, 1983, the Trial Court again dismissed the case for "lack of interest and/or failure to
prosecute," "it appearing that plaintiffs' counsel was duly notified as indicated by his signature appearing on the
record, it appearing further that notwithstanding said notice, said counsel for the plaintiffs is not in Court today." The
Trial Court further observed that "this is the second time that this case was dismissed for failure of plaintiffs' counsel
to appear despite notice."4

In his Answer, Respondent states that he was delayed in filing the same as he had to temporarily reside and hold
office at Tubod, Lanao del Norte, by reason of his temporary appointment as Provincial Administrator of Lanao del
Norte effective March 11, 1986; that his inability to prosecute the case was because Complainant left for Australia
without furnishing Respondent his address and that he was unable to shoulder the burden of paving the fees required
for the services of expert witnesses besides the fact that his daughter was stricken with cerebral palsy; that he had no
intention to delay Complainant for money, that the Administrative Complaint does not comply with the requirements of
Section 1, Rule 139 of the Rules of Court; and that he was deprived of due process of law inasmuch as Section 30,
Rule 138 of the Rules of Court requires that an attorney be heard before he is removed or suspended. Respondent
then prayed that, pending investigation, his suspension be lifted and that after due hearing the Complaint be
dismissed and Complainant held liable for payment of all damages suffered by Respondent during the investigation of
this case.
In his letter-reply, dated February 13, 1987, addressed to the First Division Clerk of Court, Complainant stated that he
had paid P15,000.00 to Respondent5 to handle the case for him conditioned upon Respondent's prosecuting the case
to completion, attending all scheduled hearings and keeping Complainant posted on the progress of the case; that at
the time he engaged Respondent's services, the latter was the Manager of Personnel and Legal Affairs of Asia
International Builders Corporation in Makati, which had connections with an Australian counterpart in Melbourne; that
he had paid Civil Engineer Mendoza P5,000.00 for the inspection of the house and that the latter was to be the only
expert witness so that Respondent's excuse that he (Respondent) had no funds with which to pay for expert
witnesses is "entirely untrue"; that he paid an additional P1,300.00 to Respondent for other expenses like filing fee
and other miscellaneous items6 and that his total expenses relevant to the case aggregate P34,300.00; that he had
informed Respondent of his address in Australia in letters dated November 26, 1982. February 1, 1983 and June 5,
1983; that Respondent has the financial means to reimburse Complainant considering his present and former
position; and that he is prepared to withdraw his complaint if reimbursed by Respondent in the amount of P34,300.00.
The facts, as disclosed, require no further evidentiary hearing, and speak for themselves. Res ipsa loquitur. The
Orders of the 'Trial Court dismissing Civil Case No. 181-P are of record and Respondent's excuse that he can no
longer recall them is feeble. Respondent's side has been fully heard in the pleadings he has filed before this Court. A
trial-type hearing is not de riqueur. The requirement of due process has been duly satisfied. What due process
abhors is absolute lack of opportunity to be heard.7
Contrary to Respondent's claim, the lack of verification in the Complaint formulated by the Bar Confident, as required
by Sec. 1, Rule 139 of the Rules of Court, is not a fatal defect since the original letter-complaint, which was forwarded
to this Court by the Chief Legal Officer, Ministry of Tourism, had been sworn and subscribed to by Complainant before
the Bar Confidant.
Respondent is guilty of grave professional misconduct. He received from Complainant, his client, compensation to
handle his case in the Trial Court, but the same was dismissed for lack of interest and failure to prosecute. He had
abandoned his client in violation of his contract ignoring the most elementary principles of professional ethics. 8That
Respondent had ignored the processes of this Court and it was only after he was suspended from the practice of law
that he surfaced, is highly indicative of his disregard of an attorney's duties to the Court. All the facts and
circumstances taken into consideration, Respondent has proven himself unworthy of the trust reposed in him by law
as an officer of the Court.
Consistent with the policy to maintain the high traditions and standards of the legal profession, insure the
observance of legal ethics, protect the interests of clients and help keep their faith in attorney's-at-law, the
Supreme Court is constrained to disbar a member of the bar who violates his lawyer's oath for failure to
properly attend to a client's case not only once, but on two occasions, with results highly prejudicial to the
interest of the latter.9
Furthermore, since Complainant's rights as Respondent's client have been prejudiced by the latter's failure to take
the steps necessary for the prosecution of the case Complainant may recover as a result of such gross negligence
and grave professional misconduct.10

If a judgment is obtained against a party upon a complaint which is radically defective, and he desires to
appeal, and procedures bondsmen, but his attorney neglects to do so until the time for appeal expires, the
attorney is guilty of gross negligence, and is liable for the loss sustained by the client.11
ACCORDINGLY, for malpractice and violation of his oath as a lawyer, 1) respondent Atty. Patricio A. Asoy is hereby
ordered DISBARRED; and 2) he is hereby ordered to reimburse complainant, Leonard W. Richards, in the sum of
P16,300.00 (P15,000.00 + P1,300.00), the only sums substantiated by the evidence on record, 12 within thirty (30)
days from notice hereof.
Copies of this Resolution shall be circulated to all Courts of the country and spread on the personal record of
respondent Atty. Patricio A. Asoy.
Copy of this Resolution shall likewise be furnished Complainant Leonard W. Richards, via airmail, at his address of
record, 4/169 Avoca Street, Randwick NSW 2031, Australia, with copy furnished the Department of Foreign Affairs for
onward transmittal to the Philippine Consulate General, Sydney, Australia.
SO ORDERED.
Teehankee, C.J., Yap, Fernan, Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Gutierrez, Jr., Cruz, Paras, Feliciano, Gancayco, Padilla,
Bidin, Sarmiento and Cortes, JJ., concur.