MANILA — Television host and actor Willie Revillame’s woes with ABS-CBN Corporation is not yet over as the Court of Appeals (CA) has ordered the revival of the PHP2.2 billion compulsory counterclaims suit the network has filed against the former Wowowee host for reneging on his contract with them in 2010.
In a 23-page decision penned by Associate Justice Zenaida Galapate-Laguilles, the CA’s Special Seventh Division ruled that Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 76 erred in dismissing ABS-CBN’s counter damage suit on the ground of forum shopping.
“The trial court is perfectly aware that in dismissing the counterclaims before it on the basis of forum shopping, it would, in effect, be antecedently resolving the very question raised before the Supreme Court,” the CA explained
“That is, whether our Former First Division correctly declared … that appellant ABS-CBN indeed engaged in forum shopping. Hence, in actually doing so, the trial court rendered moot and moribund exactly what was for the Supreme Court to decide,” it added.
The CA said the trial court erred when it dismissed the ABS-CBN’s coumpulsory counterclaims for the reason of expiration of the agreement.
“The parties certainly stipulated that the agreement would cease to take effect on September 10, 2011. But it is clear that appellant ABS-CBN countersued appellee Revillame for purported violations of the agreement committed during its effectivity,” the CA noted.
“The conclusion of the agreement cannot be interpreted as a bar which would forcelose appellant ABS-CBN from seeking judicial recourse for violations allegedly committed by appellee Revillame during the life of the contract” it added.
ABS-CBN is seeking compulsory counterclaim for liquidated damage of PHP1.7 billion as of November 2010 plus PHP426,917,646 for each week that he continues violating the contract; PHP20 million in moral damages, PHP20 million for exemplary damages, and another PHP20 million in attorney’s fees and litigation expenses.
The appellate court gave weight to the argument of ABS-CBN that the trial court should not have dismissed its compulsory counterclaims on the basis of forum shopping considering that the issue is still being determined by the Supreme Court.
The CA also agreed with the television network that it is not barred from suing a breach of contract just because the agreement have ceased to take effect on Sept. 10, 2011.
In 2010, Revillame filed an PHP11-million damage suit against his old employer, asking the court to make a judicial confirmation of the end of his contract with ABS-CBN.
In response, the network slapped him with compulsory counter-claim for allegedly reneging on his contract set to expire in 2011.