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LABOR LAW

Bebiano M. Baez v. Valdevilla and Oro Marketing Inc.


GR 128024, May 9, 2000

FACTS:
Petitioner was the sales operation manager of private respondent's Iligan City branch. In 1993, Oro
Marketing indefinitely suspended Baez. The latter then filed a complaint for illegal dismissal with the
NLRC in Iligan City. LA ruled in favor of petitioner and ordered payment of separation pay I lieu of
reinstatement, backwages and attorney's fees. Appeal with NLRC was dismissed for being filed out of
time. On petition for certiorari with this court, the same was dismissed on technical grounds, in fact, even
if the procedural requirements were met, it would still be dismissed for failure to show grave abuse of
discretion on the part of the NLRC.

On 11/13/1995 Oro Marketing filed a complaint for damages with RTC of Misamis Oriental. Baez filed a
motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction of RTC of Misamis Oriental. The same was dismissed. Motion for
reconsideration was also dismissed.

ISSUE:

Is Oro Marketing's claim for damages due to lost profits cognizable by the regular courts?

RULING:

No, private respondents claim against petitioner for actual damages arose from a prior employer-
employee relationship. In the first place, private respondent would not have taken issue with petitioner's
"doing business of his own" had the latter not been concurrently its employee. Thus, the damages alleged
in the complaint below are: first, those amounting to lost profits and earnings due to petitioner's
abandonment or neglect of his duties as sales manager, having been otherwise preoccupied by his
unauthorized installment sale scheme; and second, those equivalent to the value of private respondent's
property and supplies which petitioner used in conducting his "business."

Second, to allow respondent court to proceed with the instant action for damages would be to open new
the factual issue of whether petitioner's installment scheme resulted in business losses and the
dissipation of private respondent's property. The issue has already been raised and ruled upon in the
illegal dismissal case. LA ruled in fact that no business losses be attributed to petitioner since the latter's
installment plan resulted in increased sales of respondent's Iligan Branch to the extent petitioner was
awarded the 1989 Filed Sales Achievement Award in recognition of his exceptional sales performance.

Respondent court's contention that because the resolution of the issues presented by the complaint does
not entail application of the LC or other labor laws, the dispute is intrinsically civil. Art. 217 (a) of LC as
amended clearly bestows upon the LA original and exclusive jurisdiction over claims for damages arising
from employer-employee relations - in other words, the LA has jurisdiction to award not only reliefs
provided by labor laws, but also damages governed by NCC.

Private respondents remedy is not the filing of this separate action for damages, but in properly perfecting
an appeal from the LA's decision. Having lost the right to appeal on grounds of untimeliness, the decision
of the labor case stands as a final judgment on the merits and the instant action for damages cannot take
the place of such lost appeal.

PETITION DENIED. Complaint filed with RTC dismissed.