SC affirms dismissal of P77-M suit against SM Prime

Posted at 04/23/2013 4:37 PM

MANILA -- The Supreme Court has affirmed the ruling of a Pasig City trial court dismissing a P76.84-million collection suit filed by the Film Development Council of the Philippines against SM Prime Holdings Inc.

The case stems from the council's attempts to collect the said amusement tax rewards from SM Prime Holdings, owner of cinema houses in SM Cebu, due to producers of 89 films graded "A" and "B" shown at SM cinemas from Sept. 11, 2003 to Nov. 4, 2008.

In its ruling penned by Associate Justice Martin Villarama, Jr., the high court held that petitioner's plea is junked, and affirmed the Pasig City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 166's ruling dismissing the same.

The high court said the pendency of a civil suit before a Cebu City trial court involving the same issue warrants the dismissal of the case before the Pasig RTC.

"Petitioner's insistence that the Pasig City RTC proceed with trial notwithstanding the pendency of Civil Case No. CEB-35529 before the Cebu City RTC is thus untenable," the decision read.

"To allow the parties to litigate the same issues upon the same evidence and defenses will only defeat the public reasons behind litis pendencia (a pending suit), which, like the rule on forum shopping, aims to prevent the unnecessary burdening of our courts and undue taxing of the manpower and financial resources of the judiciary; to avoid the situation where co-equal courts issue conflicting decisions over the same cause; and to preclude one party from harassing the other party through the filing of an unnecessary or vexatious suit."