G.R. No. L-9531. May 14, 1958 (Case Brief / Digest)

### Title:
Warner Barnes & Co., Ltd. vs Guillermo C. Reyes, et al.: A Case on the Sufficiency of Denials in Pleadings for Mortgage Foreclosure

### Facts:
The case begins with Warner Barnes & Co., Ltd. (plaintiff-appellee) filing an action on August 20, 1954, against Guillermo C. Reyes and others (defendants-appellants) for the foreclosure of a mortgage. The deed of mortgage in question was attached to the complaint as Annex “A.” The defendants, after being granted an extension, answered on September 30, 1954, admitting only the first paragraph of the complaint and claiming lack of knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief regarding the rest of the material averments. They also reserved the right to present a more detailed answer with special defenses and counterclaims but failed to do so.

The plaintiff moved for judgment on the pleadings on November 15, 1954, arguing that the defendants’ answer did not present a triable issue. The lower court agreed, granting the motion on December 28, 1954, and rendering a judgment in favor of the plaintiff on the following day. The court held that the defendants’ form of denial was a general denial, thus entitling the plaintiff to a judgment on the pleadings.

### Issues:
1. Does an allegation of a lack of knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief about the material averments of a complaint constitute a mere general denial that warrants judgment on the pleadings?
2. Is such a denial sufficient to tender an issue that is triable?

### Court’s Decision:
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the lower court. It clarified that while the Rules of Court permit a defendant to deny material averments of the complaint by claiming a lack of knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief, this form of denial must be made in sincerity and good faith. It should not be used to confuse the opposing party as to what allegations are truly being contested nor to delay the proceedings. The Court observed that since a copy of the deed of mortgage was attached to the complaint, the defendants could have easily verified its authenticity and specifics, thereby rendering their unexplained denial ineffective and insincere. The appellants’ failure to file an amended answer with any defenses or claims further suggested a lack of any substantive defense and a potential intent to delay the proceedings.

### Doctrine:
The Supreme Court reiterates that denials of knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief must be employed with sincerity and in good faith. An unexplained denial related to matters within the control or readily accessible to the pleader is evasive and insufficient to constitute an effective denial. This doctrine emphasizes the importance of honest and forthright pleadings in litigation processes.

### Class Notes:
– A denial based on a lack of knowledge or information must be sincere and in good faith, not used as a tactic for delay or confusion.
– Matters that are easily verifiable or within the pleader’s knowledge must be specifically admitted or denied; a general denial of such matters could be deemed insincere.
– The Rules of Court allow for different types of denials, but each comes with the responsibility of accuracy and truthfulness to prevent manipulation of the judicial process.

### Historical Background:
This case highlights the procedural dynamics of pleadings within the Philippine judicial system, particularly in foreclosure actions and the responsibilities of parties in ensuring the integrity and efficiency of legal proceedings. It also emphasizes the judiciary’s intolerance for abuse of procedural tactics that undermine the essence of fair trial and due process.


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