Ubial loses lawsuit against disgruntled DOH exec who questioned her authority in 2008

The Court of Appeals (CA) has affirmed the dismissal of former Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial’s lawsuit against a former regional official who questioned her authority as supervisor in 2008.

In a recent 10-page decision, the CA Special 23rd Division sustained the January 26, 2015 ruling of the Davao City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 15 that threw out Ubial’s complaint for damages against Lydia Depra-Ramos.

The dispute arose from Ubial’s issuance of several memoranda requiring Depra-Ramos, the former director of the Center for Health and Development (CHD) for Cagayan Valley, to explain certain alleged violations or infractions.

At the time, Ubial was still an Assistant Secretary during the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Depra-Ramos questioned Ubial’s authority and filed an administrative case with the Board of Medicine, an administrative and a criminal case with the Ombudsman, and a civil case for damages with the Ballesteros, Cagayan, RTC.

Ubial alleged that Depra-Ramos’s four complaints were baseless, were meant to vex, humiliate and harass her, and were meant to force her to stop investigating the official. Hence, she fought back with a lawsuit of her own.

But, the CA agreed with the RTC’s dismissal of Ubial’s complaint on the ground of litis pendentia.

This was because Ubial’s civil case in Davao City and Depra-Ramos’s civil case in Ballesteros involved the same parties, concerned the same question about Ubial’s authority, and sought the same legal remedies.

“There is no question that the evidence in [Ubial’s case] would be the same evidence to be presented in [Depra-Ramos’s case], as both involve an action for damages anchored on the same set of facts and legal issues,” read the decision penned by Associate Justice Evalyn Arellano-Morales. #

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