Ultimate facts or evidentiary facts?

The rules on pleading speak of two (2) kinds of facts: the first, the "ultimate facts", and the second, the "evidentiary facts." In Remitere vs. Vda. de Yulo,[1] the term "ultimate facts" was defined and explained as follows:
The term "ultimate facts" as used in Sec. 3, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court, means the essential facts constituting the plaintiffs cause of action. A fact is essential if it cannot be stricken out without leaving the statement of the cause of action insufficient. (Moran, Rules of Court, Vol. 1, 1963 ed., p. 213)
Ultimate facts are important and substantial facts which either directly form the basis of the primary right and duty, or which directly make up the wrongful acts or omissions of the defendant. The term does not refer to the details of probative matter or particulars of evidence by which these material elements are to be established. It refers to principal, determinate, constitutive facts, upon the existence of which, the entire cause of action rests.

On the other hand, the term "evidentiary fact" has been defined in the following tenor:

Those facts which are necessary for determination of the ultimate facts; they are the premises upon which conclusions of ultimate facts are based. Womack v. Industrial Comm., 168 Colo. 364,451 P. 2d 761, 764. Facts which furnish evidence of existence of some other fact.[2]

Where the complaint states ultimate facts that constitute the three (3) essential elements of a cause of action, namely: (1) the legal right of the plaintiff, (2) the correlative obligation of the defendant, and (3) the act or omission of the defendant in violation of said legal right, the complaint states a cause of action, otherwise, the complaint must succumb to a motion to dismiss on that ground of failure to state a cause of action. [3] However, where the allegations of the complaint are vague, indefinite, or in the form of conclusions, the proper recourse would be, not a motion to dismiss, but a motion for a bill of particulars. [4] Thus, Section 1, Rule 12 of the Rules of Court provides:

Before responding to a pleading or, if no responsive pleading is permitted by these rules, within ten (10) days after service of the pleading upon him, a party may move for a more definite statement or for a bill of particulars of any matter which is not averred with sufficient definiteness or particularity to enable him properly to prepare his responsive pleading or to prepare for trial. Such motion shall point out the defects complained of and the details desired.

In this connection, the following allegations have been held as mere conclusions of law, inferences from facts not alleged or opinion of the pleader:
  1. The allegations that defendants appellees were "actuated by ulterior motives, contrary to law and morals, with abuse of their advantageous position as employers, in gross and evident bad faith and without giving plaintiff his due, wilfully, maliciously, unlawfully, and in summary and arbitrary manner", are conclusions of law, inferences from facts not alleged and expressions of opinion unsupported by factual premises;[4]
  2. An allegation of duty in terms unaccompanied by a statement of facts showing the existence of the duty, is a mere conclusion of law, unless there is a relation set forth from which the law raises the duty;[6]
  3. An averment that an act was "unlawful" or "wrongful" is a mere legal conclusion or opinion of the pleader;[7]
  4. The allegation that there was a violation of trust was plainly a conclusion of law, for "a mere allegation that it was the duty of a party to do this or that, or that he was guilty of a breach of duty, is a statement of a conclusion, not of a fact;"[8]
  5. An allegation that a contract is valid or void, is a mere conclusion of law;[9]
  6. The averment in the complaint that "defendant usurped the office of Senator of the Philippines" is a conclusion of law — not a statement of fact — inasmuch as the particular facts on which the alleged usurpation is predicated are not set forth therein;[10] and
  7. The averment that "with intent of circumventing the constitutional prohibition that 'no officer or employee in the civil service shall be removed or suspended except for cause as provided by law', respondents maliciously and illegally for the purpose of political persecution and political vengeance, reverted the fund of the salary item . . . and furthermore eliminated or abolished the said position effective 1 July 1960" is a mere conclusion of law unsupported by factual premises.[11]

[1] G.R. No. L-19751, 28 February 1966, 16 SCRA 251.
[2] Black's Law Dictionary, 5th ed., p. 500.
[3] Mathay, et al. vs. The Consolidated Bank & Trust Co., et al., G.R. No. L-23136, 28 August 1974, 58 SCRA 559.
[4] Abe, et al. vs. Foster Wheeler Corporation and Caltex, 100 Phil. 198, 206.
[5] De Dios vs. Bristol Laboratories (Phils.) Inc., G.R. No. L-25530, January 1974, 55 SCRA 349, 356.
[6] Mathay vs. Consolidated Bank & Trust Co.
[7] Ibid.
[8] Ibid.
[9] Remitere vs. Vda. de Yule.
[10] Rodriguez vs. Tan, 91 Phil. 724.
[11] Llanto vs. Ali Dimaporo, et al., G.R. No. L-21905, 31 March 1966, 16 SCRA 599, 605.

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