Nagtitipid? CA junks Okada petition versus additional court fees in bid to stop disposal of casino properties

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The Court of Appeals (CA) has dismissed the petition of Japanese gaming tycoon Kazuo Okada questioning the imposition of additional court docket fees in order to pursue his complaint against the companies that ousted him.

In a recent 16-page decision, the CA Special 3rd Division sustained the November 21, 2017 order of Parañaque Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 258 Judge Noemi Balitaan.

Balitaan had deemed Okada’s complaint for damages to be a “mixed personal and real action.”

This was because the complaint sought to stop Tiger Resort Asia Limited (TRAL), Tiger Resort Leisure and Entertainment, Inc. (TRLEI), and Eagle II Landholdings, Inc., from disposing of various assets, including the parcels of land where Okada Manila casino resort stands.

Since it was not a purely personal action, Okada was required to submit documents showing the value of the real properties involved, which would be the basis for the assessment of additional filing fees.

Okada argued that the case was a purely personal action for damages because he only sought to preserve his lien, encumberance or interest over the properties due to his longtime lease.

The CA, however, pointed out that Okada’s complaint was premised on the fact that he was the “beneficial owner” of the properties.

Since he wanted to “recover ownership and/or possession of the real properties, or at the very least, to recover his so-called beneficial interests over the same,” the CA said the case was correctly classified as a real action.

The CA said Judge Balitaan was ” merely observing her bounden duties to adhere to the procedures as stated in Rule 141 of the Rules and other issuances made by the Supreme Court, relative to the payment of the correct docket fees.”

Hence, the judge did not commit grave abuse of discretion, according to the decision penned by Associate Justice Rodil Zalameda.

In 2017, Okada was removed from the board of directors of Okada Holdings Limited and TRLEI, and lost control of the Hong Kong-based TRAL. TRLEI, which is owned by TRAL, holds the gaming license for Okada Manila, the Philippines’ largest entertainment resort.

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