THE Court of Appeals (CA) has overturned a lower court’s decision on a prominent Cebu lawyer’s expulsion from an exclusive club.
In a 14-page ruling dated Dec. 4, 2009, CA’s 18th division said lawyer Edgar Gica has no right to protest the expulsion and that Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Cebu City, “gravely abused its discretion” when Judge Ramon Daomilas Jr. ordered Gica reinstated to the club on Dec. 21, 2008.
“The expulsion of private respondent as member of petitioner club was done with due process and was based on a valid ground pursuant to the provisions of its amended by-laws,” the CA ruling, signed by associate justices Samuel Gaerlan, Franchito Diamante and Edgardo delos Santos, read.
Gica sued Casino Español in 2008 and brought to court four resolutions intending to expel him. The resolutions were signed by Roberto Aboitiz, Jose Sala, Jose Enrico Gandiongco, Sabino Dapat, Jaime Jose Escaño, Manuel Pages Jr., and Gabriel Leyson and dated July 30, 2004, Aug. 27, 2004, Jan. 28, 2005 and May 23, 2005.
Cited as grounds were his alleged failure in “living up to the standards of decency and courtesy by using improper or indecent language against any member or visitor” and for supposedly “provoking trouble or scandal inside the hall by uttering offensive expression against the club, the members, the Board of Directors, the constituted authorities or against the country, religion, race and political affiliation of any member.”
But, in a 90-page injunction suit, Gica said the resolutions were “illegal, malicious, made in bad faith and with grave abuse of discretion.”
He said he was expelled because he questioned the manner the club’s Board carried out the construction of its club house in Ranudo St. He said the project cost the organization P300 million.
Instead of answering, he said, the club’s board issued a resolution against him.
Judge Daomilas issued a restraining order in favor of Gica and, while hearing evidence on whether make the injunction permanent or not, had the club reinstate Gica for the time being.
“As a member, defendant is entitled to the privileges which he has paid for in terms of being a proprietary member of the club and until such time that there is a pronouncement by the court on the legality or illegality of the act of the club in expelling him,” Daomilas said.
No legal right
But the CA, in its ruling, said Gica had no clear legal right to question the expulsion in court because he was expelled in accordance with the provisions and procedure embodied in the organization’s own rules. Moreover, it added, he filed his case six months after the expulsion.
“If private respondent wants to be readmitted as a member, as he is qualified being a proprietary share holder, he can do so but he has to undergo the required evaluation process as provided for in the amended by-laws of petitioner club,” the ruling read. (KNR)