Res judicata requires identity of parties as one of the elements of the doctrine. However, absolute identity is not required. Substantial identity of parties is sufficient.

The Supreme Court held in the following case:

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 Marian B. Navarette vs. Manila International Freight Forwarders, Inc./MIFFI Logistics Company, Inc., Mr. Harada, and MBI Millennium Experts, Inc.
G.R. No. 200580, February 11, 2015


Manila International Freight Forwarders, Inc. (MIFFI) and MIFFI Logistics Company, Inc. (MCLI) are corporations engaged in the business of freight and cargo forwarding, hauling, carrying, handling, distributing, loading and unloading of general cargoes and all classes of goods, wares and merchandise.

MIFFI had, during the period material, entered into a contract with MBI Millennium Experts, Inc. (MBI) for the provision of production workers and technical personnel for MIFFI’s projects or temporary needs, including the assignment of employees to temporarily replace those in the Packaging Department who are on maternity leave. To be able to address the immediate concerns of the employees detailed to the aforesaid department, MBI assigned a supervisor/coordinator, Ma. Glynnis Quindo (Quindo), to MIFFI.

On January 15, 2002, MBI hired petitioner Marian Navarette (Navarette) and, on the same day, assigned her as a temporary project employee to MIFFI’s Packaging Department. There, for a fixed period of three (3) months, or until April of 2002, she worked amongst MIFFI’s regular employees who performed the same tasks as hers. She also used MIFFI’s equipment and was supervised by Gidey Fajiculay and Sonny Porto, both employees of MIFFI.

A second contract was later concluded between Navarette and MBI, under which she was to serve as MIFFI’s warehouse staff from April 16, 2002 to October 1, 2002. Another contract effective March 1, 2003 until August 1, 2003 resulted in Navarette being transferred to respondent MLCI – MIFFI’s subsidiary.

On July 29, 2003, Navarette, joined by other employees, filed a complaint for inspection against MIFFI, MLCI, MBI and a certain PAMS with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Regional Arbitration Branch IV. Following an inspection of respondents’ premises on August 5, 2003, certain violations of labor laws were uncovered, including labor-only contracting by MBI. Several hearings were had and eventually, the parties decided to submit an agreement to be signed by all concerned and to be approved by DOLE officials.

Pursuant to said covenant, MBI called a meeting where Navarette and her co-workers were handed and asked to sign a document entitled “Minutes of the Hearing/Agreement, [DOLE], Region IV.” Navarette found the contents of the document to be erroneous since it stated that the parties had already come to an agreement on the issues and conditions when, in fact, no such agreement was made. This angered Navarette, causing her to throw the document and to say, “Hindi ito ang pinag-usapan natin sa DOLE! Niloloko niyo lang kami.” Her actuations, to MBI, constituted serious misconduct, for which a show cause memorandum was issued directing her to explain herself. Dissatisfied with her explanation––that her actuations were so because the Minutes did not reflect the truth––MBI issued another memorandum which Navarette, upon perusal, tore and threw away.

After issuing several memoranda setting conferences on the matter to which Navarette could not attend because of her work schedule, MBI finally terminated Navarette’s employment on October 6, 2003. On October 23, 2003, Navarette filed a complaint for illegal dismissal before the NLRC against MBI, MIFFI and MCLI, docketed as NLRC-NCR Case No. 00-10-11705-03.

LA Ruling:

The Labor Arbiter (Dolores M. Peralta-Beley) dismissed the complaint on the finding that Navarette’s acts complained of constituted serious misconduct, a valid cause for dismissal. Too, MBI, being a legitimate job contractor, is Navarette’s employer, not MIFFI or MCLI.

NLRC Ruling:

On appeal, the NLRC reversed the Decision of the Labor Arbiter and ordered Navarette’s reinstatement with backwages and other benefits. To the commission, MBI is a labor-only contractor, thus making MIFFI and MCLI Navarette’s employer.

Aggrieved, respondents moved for reconsideration, alleging that Navarette is not their employee, MBI being a legitimate job contractor, as held by the NLRC in the related case of Manlangit vs. MIFFI and/or MCLI and MBI. The NLRC, however, in its October 19, 2009 Resolution, found no merit therein and sustained its earlier Decision.

Respondents, thus, sought a review of the NLRC Decision and Resolution before the CA via a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.

CA Ruling:

Before the CA could dispose of said petition, the Supreme Court, on August 31, 2011, in Manlangit, et al. vs. MIFFI, et al., issued a Resolution where it dismissed the Manlangit petition and upheld the ruling of the CA that MBI’s contract with MIFFI/MCLI, respondents in said case as well as in he case at bar, was one of legitimate job contracting, contrary to the assertions of therein petitioners.

Eventually, the CA, in the present case, ordered the reversal of the NLRC Decision and the reinstatement of the Labor Arbiter’s ruling.


Whether or not there is res judiciata despite the fact that the petitioner in the second case is not a party to the first cas

SC Ruling:

The SC denied the petition.

For res judicata by conclusiveness of judgment to apply, the following elements should be present, viz: (1) the judgment sought to bar the new action must be final; (2) the decision must have been rendered by a court having jurisdiction over the subject matter and the parties; (3) the disposition of the case must be a judgment on the merits; and (4) there must be as between the first and second action, identity of parties, but not identity of causes of action.

When applicable, the doctrine of conclusiveness of judgment has this effect: the prior judgment is conclusive in the second case only as to those matters actually and directly controverted and determined and not as to matters merely involved therein. Stated differently, conclusiveness of judgment finds application when a fact or question has been squarely put in issue, judicially passed upon, and adjudged in a former suit by a court of competent jurisdiction.

As to the first requisite, Manlangit which is being set as a bar to the instant case is a final judgment. With respect to the second requisite, the decision was rendered by the Court of Appeals which was affirmed by this Court, both of which have jurisdiction over the subject matter and the parties. Anent the third requisite, the dispositions were judgments on the merit.

Regarding the fourth requisite, there is identity or similarity of parties but no identity of causes of action. While Navarette is not a party in Manlangit, there is commonality or similarity of parties in the two cases. Navarette and the petitioners in Manlangit are similarly situated, being co-workers performing the same tasks of packaging, barcoding, and sealing, among others. Too, their assignment to herein respondents proceeded from the same job contracting agreement between MBI and respondents. In fact, it was the petitioners in Manlangit who supported herein petitioner, Navarette, their leader, when she filed the complaint for inspection against respondents before the DOLE which, as previously mentioned, yielded a finding that there is a labor-only contracting arrangement between MBI and respondents. It is this complaint for inspection that triggered the chain of events which eventually led to the filing by therein petitioners of a complaint for regularization, later converted into one for illegal dismissal, as well as Navarette’s subsequent filing of her own complaint for illegal dismissal against MBI and herein respondents.

Thus, based on these circumstances, there is commonality or similarity of parties. An absolute identity of parties is not necessary because a shared identity of interest will suffice for res judicata to apply. A mere substantial identity of parties or even community of interests between the parties in the prior and subsequent cases would be sufficient.

With respect to the causes of action, the cause of action in this petition is for illegal dismissal, while in Manlangit, the causes of action are for regularization, illegal deduction, wage distortion and attorney’s fees. Thus, all the requisites of res judicata by conclusiveness of judgment are present. The Court applies Manlangit to the instant petition moored on res judicata by conclusiveness of judgment. To rule otherwise will not enhance and strengthen stability of judicial decisions.

With the finding that MBI is a legitimate labor contractor and is the employer of petitioner Navarette, the Court cannot, however, pass upon the issue of whether MBI is guilty of illegal dismissal. The antecedents show that while the MBI is a party respondent in NLRC-NCR Case No. 00-10-11705-03 together with respondents MIFFI and MLCI, the ruling of Labor Arbiter Peralta-Beley is to dismiss petitioner’s complaint upon a finding of a valid dismissal grounded on serious misconduct.

Petitioner appealed said adverse decision to the NLRC against the MBI and herein respondents in NLRC CA No. 040934-04, and the NLRC found MIFFI and MLCI liable but not MBI. As a consequence, respondents MIFFI and MLCI filed a petition under Rule 65 with the CA in CA-G.R. SP No. 112102. MBI did not join said respondents since it was not adjudged liable by the NLRC. On the other hand, petitioner did not file a petition with the CA questioning the NLRC decision declaring MIFFI and MLCI liable but absolving MBI. Thus, the NLRC decision dated February 27, 2004 excluding MBI from any liability to petitioner became FINAL when petitioner no longer challenged said ruling before the CA.

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