G.R. No. 186322. July 08, 2015 (Case Brief / Digest)

### Title:
**Eulogio vs. Bell – Exemption of Family Home from Execution**

### Facts:
1. **Initial Dispute (1995)**
– The Bell siblings (Paterno William Bell, Jr., Florence Felicia Victoria Bell, Paterno Ferdinand Bell III, and Paterno Benerano IV) filed a complaint at the RTC Batangas City, Branch 84.
– They sought the annulment of a contract of sale executed by their parents, Spouses Paterno C. Bell and Rogelia Calingasan Bell, over a 329-square-meter residential house and lot, and the cancellation of the title obtained by Enrico S. Eulogio and Natividad Eulogio.

2. **RTC Decision (15 July 1998)**
– The sale was declared an equitable mortgage, nullifying the Deed of Sale.
– Spouses Bell were declared liable for P1 million plus 12% interest to the Eulogios.
– TCT No. T-131472 in the Eulogio’s name was ordered canceled and reconstituted as “family home” in favor of the Bell children.

3. **CA and Supreme Court**
– Both parties appealed, but RTC’s decision was affirmed by the CA.
– Supreme Court dismissed Spouses Bell’s petition questioning their monetary liability.

4. **Writ of Execution (9 June 2004)**
– RTC issued a writ leading to a levy on the Bell’s family home, lifting it on grounds that it was a family home and thus exempt.
– Petitioners sought reconsideration, arguing that market value exceeded P300,000, thus falling under exceptions in Article 160 of the Family Code.
– RTC set hearings to determine value and appointed appraisers, respondents filed for certiorari, and CA eventually enjoined the execution sale.

### Issues:
1. **Forum Shopping**
– Whether petitioners were guilty of forum shopping in their attempt to enforce the RTC’s monetary decision.

2. **Res Judicata**
– If the hearing to determine the family home’s value for purposes of execution was barred by res judicata due to prior final judgment declaring it a family home.

3. **Execution of Family Home**
– Whether respondents’ family home could be sold on execution under Article 160 of the Family Code.

### Court’s Decision:

**1. Forum Shopping:**
– **Not Guilty**: The Court ruled that petitioners were not guilty of forum-shopping. Execution of a decision is part of the original proceedings’ continuation and does not constitute filing multiple suits for the same cause.

**2. Res Judicata:**
– **Applicable**: The Court found that the trial court’s findings on the family home status and its exemption due to value limits were final, thus, re-litigating the home’s value in execution proceedings was barred by res judicata.
– **Same Cause of Action**: The cause of action in main and execution proceedings were identical, and the same evidence would sustain both actions.

**3. Execution of Family Home:**
– **Exemption Applied**: Court affirmed that while the family home is generally exempt, exceptions under Articles 155 and 160 of the Family Code could apply if the home exceeded the statutory value limit at the time of its constitution or through voluntary improvements.
– **No Proof of Over-valuation**: The Court ruled there was no substantial proof that respondents’ family home exceeded the statutory limit of P300,000 at its constitution, nor due to voluntary improvements. Hence, the RTC’s execution order was a grave abuse of discretion.

### Doctrine:
– **Exemption of Family Home**: Family homes are generally exempt from execution under Article 153 of the Family Code, barring specific exceptions.
– **Finality and Res Judicata**: Final judgments on the status and value of the family home cannot be re-litigated under the principle of res judicata.
– **Article 160 Interpretation**: Market value for execution purposes relates to constitution time value, not current market value, to determine exceptions.

### Class Notes:
– **Family Code Article 153**: Exemption of family home from execution.
– **Family Code Article 155 and 160**: Specific exceptions to exemption.
– **Res Judicata**: Precluding re-litigation of settled issues – “bar by prior judgment” and “conclusiveness of judgment”.

#### Relevant Statutes:
– **Family Code, Article 153**: “The family home…is exempt from execution, forced sale, or attachment…”.
– **Family Code, Article 155 and 160**: Limits and conditions under which exemptions can be breached.

### Historical Background:
– **Constitutional Aim**: The family home exemption aligns with the Constitution’s intent to protect family residences from displacement and ensure stability.

The comprehensive treatment of equitable mortgages, exemption from execution, and finality in family home issues provided a significant precedent for ensuring family home protection within Philippine contractual and civil law.


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