G.R. No. L-26398. October 25, 1968 (Case Brief / Digest)

### Title:
Elpidio Talastas vs. Clemenco Abella: A Case on Partnership Dissolution, Profit Sharing, and Accounting in the Philippine Supreme Court

### Facts:
The case revolves around Elpidio Talastas (plaintiff-appellee) and Clemenco Abella (defendant-appellant), who allegedly entered into an oral contract of partnership in September 1955 for operating the Sambat Recreation Center (Center) in Samal, Bataan. Talastas contributed one-third (P1,546.54) and Abella two-thirds (P3,093.08) of the partnership capital. It was agreed that profits and losses would be shared proportionally. Abella, as the managing partner, was expected to render a monthly accounting and distribute Talastas’s share of the profits. However, after four months, Abella ceased providing accounts and allocating profits to Talastas. There were also allegations about an unauthorized refreshment operation by Abella and non-distribution of earnings from leased spaces and advances returned by taxi-dancers initially financed by the partnership.

Upon Talastas’s motion, the Court of First Instance of Manila granted a summary judgment ordering Abella to pay Talastas certain sums, render accounting, and pay attorney’s fees plus costs. Abella appealed, raising purely legal questions, prompting the Court of Appeals to certify the case to the Supreme Court.

### Issues:
1. Whether Abella’s answer constituted a general denial, thus admitting material allegations in the complaint.
2. The existence and validity of the alleged oral partnership and Abella’s compliance with its terms.
3. The propriety of the summary judgment and the monetary awards before complete accounting.

### Court’s Decision:
The Supreme Court held:
1. Abella’s answer was effectively a general denial, which admitted the material averments of the complaint due to the lack of specificity in his denials.
2. The affidavits and evidence submitted supported the existence of a partnership and Abella’s failure to account for and distribute the partnership profits as agreed. The Court found no reason to doubt the partnership existence and operations, including the construction contributions, management roles, and profit-sharing disputes outlined by affidavits.
3. The Court affirmed the summary judgment regarding the existence of the partnership, the ordered accounting, and specified sums to be paid by Abella. However, it adjusted the awards for attorney’s fees to be determined post-accounting and clarified the conditions under which the adjudicated sums would be settled.

### Doctrine:
The Court reiterated the doctrine that a general denial, without specifying the facts to support it, amounts to an admission of the complaint’s material allegations. Furthermore, it emphasized the legal principle that summary judgment is appropriate to expedite cases where there is no genuine issue of fact, underscoring the need for a plausible defense or substantive argument against the motion for such judgment.

### Class Notes:
– **General Denial:** A response in a legal pleading that does not specifically address each allegation and, as per the rules of court, results in the admission of said allegations.
– **Summary Judgment:** A judgment entered by a court for one party against another party summarily, without a full trial. It is granted when there is no dispute as to the material facts of the case and one party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
– **Partnership Contributions and Profits:** In a partnership, contributions by the partners and the agreed-upon profit-sharing mechanism are central to the partnership’s operation and must be adhered to unless amended mutually by the partners.
– **Accounting in Partnerships:** Managing partners are tasked with rendering accounts of the partnership’s operations to other partners, failure of which can lead to legal action for accounting and distribution of profits due.

### Historical Background:
This case underscores the complexities of oral partnerships, especially regarding accounting and profit sharing. It demonstrates the Philippine judicial system’s approach to resolving disputes arising from informal business arrangements, highlighting the critical role of evidence and the procedural posture in determining the outcome of partnership disagreements. Through this decision, the Supreme Court reinforced legal principles around partnerships, denials, and summary judgments within the context of Philippine law.


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