G.R. No. 177086 : December 5, 2012
ALBERT M. CHING and ROMEO J. BAUTISTA, Petitioners, v. FELIX M. BANTOLO, ANTONIO O. ADRIANO and EULOGIO STA. CRUZ, JR., substituted by his children, represented by RAUL STA. CRUZ, JR., Respondents.
D E C I S I O N
DEL CASTILLO, J.:
"It is essential that for damages to be awarded, a claimant must satisfactorily prove during the trial that they have a factual basis, and that the defendants acts have a casual connection to them."1Ï‚rÎ½ll
This Petition for Review on Certiorari2Ï‚rÎ½ll under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court assails the Decision3Ï‚rÎ½ll dated July 31, 2006 and the Resolution4Ï‚rÎ½ll dated March 12, 2007 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 79886.
Respondents Felix M. Bantolo (Bantolo), Antonio O. Adriano and Eulogio Sta. Cruz,5Ï‚rÎ½ll Jr. are owners of several parcels of land situated in Tagaytay City, to wit:
Felix M. Bantolo - Original Certificates of Title (OCT) Nos. 787,
788, 789 & 799
Antonio O. Adriano - OCT Nos. 793, 805, 806 & 807
Eulogio Sta. Cruz, Jr. - OCT Nos. 790, 791, 800 & 801.6Ï‚rÎ½ll
On April 3, 2000, respondents executed in favor of petitioners Albert Ching (Ching) and Romeo J. Bautista a Special Power of Attorney (SPA)7Ï‚rÎ½ll authorizing petitioners to obtain a loan using respondents properties as collateral. Pertinent portions of the SPA are reproduced below:
1. To borrow money and apply for and secure a loan on their account with any bank or financial institution in such sum or sums which the herein Attorney-in-fact shall [deem] fit and advisable and the maximum extent of which shall be the loanable value of our real properties based on the attached appraisal report of Asian Appraisal Co., Inc. dated March 24, 1995 on the "Fair Market
Value Appraisal" of said realties and/or parcels of land registered in our names respectively in the Registry of Deeds of Tagaytay City and located thereat, to wit:
Registrant 1. OCT NO. OP-790 Eulogio Sta. Cruz, Jr. 2. OCT NO. OP-791 -do- 3. OCT NO. OP-800 -do- 4. OCT NO. OP-801 -do- 5. OCT NO. OP-793 Antonio O. Adriano 6. OCT NO. OP-805 -do- 7. OCT NO. OP-806 -do- 8. OCT NO. OP-807 -do- 9. OCT NO. OP-787 Felix M. Bantolo 10. OCT NO. OP-788 -do- 11. OCT NO. OP-789 -do- 12. OCT NO. OP-799 -do-
the photocopies of which certificates of title are hereto attached and made integral parts hereof, and we hereby authorize and/or vest authority unto the herein attorney-in-fact to deed, convey, and transfer by way of first mortgage all our rights of ownership and interest over the said parcels as technically described in and covered by the aforementioned original certificates of title in favor of any bank or financial institution of their choice, judgment and discretion subject to the usual conditions or such other terms which may be imposed by said bank or financial institutions, in order to secure and ensure the repayment of any loan indebtedness or obligation which our herein attorneys-in-fact may obtain by virtue of this power and authority with the further authority to receive the proceeds of such loan whether in cash, check or other bills of exchange with the corresponding obligation on the part of the attorney-in-fact to account for or render an accounting of the loan proceeds to us or in our favor;
2. To sign, execute, and deliver any deed or deeds of real estate mortgage over the aforestated parcels of land and the certificates of title covering the same in favor of the lending bank or financial institution or to secure any surety agreement, bond or undertaking with any Surety Company who may issue a surety or performance bond to ensure the repayment of any loan taken or obtained by our herein Attorneys-in-fact pursuant to the herein special power of attorney;
3. To do and perform any or all acts which may be necessary to carry out and/or implement the foregoing powers and authority vested by us unto aforenamed attorney-in-fact.
4. GIVING and GRANTING, as well as ratifying and confirming all acts and things which our said Attorney-in-fact will do and perform or has done and performed in or about the premises which acts and things done or performed or still to be done or performed are, for all legal intents and purpose are our own as if we ourselves were personally present.8Ï‚rÎ½ll
On July 18, 2000, the Philippine Veterans Bank (PVB) approved the loan application of petitioner Ching in the amount of P25 million for a term of five years subject to certain conditions, to wit:
1) Third party mortgages acceptable. Within one (1) year, however, all mortgaged properties should be in the name of American Boulevard or Albert Ching;
2) Submission of new tax declarations free from claimants;
3) Submission of certification/clearance from DENR that said properties are not subject to forest reserve;
4) To require right of way of at least 6 meters wide which can be used as an actual access road.11Ï‚rÎ½ll
Sometime in the first week of August 2000, petitioners learned about the revocation of the SPA.14Ï‚rÎ½ll Consequently, petitioners sent a letter15Ï‚rÎ½ll to respondents demanding that the latter comply with the agreement by annulling the revocation of the SPA.16Ï‚rÎ½ll
On September 8, 2000, petitioners filed before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City a Complaint17Ï‚rÎ½ll for Annulment of Revocation of SPA, Enforcement of SPA and/or interest in the properties covered by said SPA and Damages against respondents. Petitioners later amended18Ï‚rÎ½ll the Complaint, docketed as Q00-41851, to include an alternative prayer to have them declared as the owners of one-half of the properties covered by the SPA.19Ï‚rÎ½ll
Petitioners alleged that the SPA is irrevocable because it is a contract of agency coupled with interest.20Ï‚rÎ½ll According to them, they agreed to defray the costs or expenses involved in processing the loan because respondents promised that they would have an equal share in the proceeds of the loan or the subject properties.21Ï‚rÎ½ll
In their Answer,22Ï‚rÎ½ll respondents contended that petitioners have no cause of action.23Ï‚rÎ½llRespondents alleged that they executed the SPA in favor of petitioners because of their assurance that they would be able to get a loan in the amount of P50 million and that P30 million would be given to respondents within a months time.24Ï‚rÎ½ll When the one-month period expired, respondents complained to petitioner Ching and asked him to advance the amount of P500,000.00.25Ï‚rÎ½ll Petitioner Ching acceded to their request on the condition that they hand over to him the original titles for safekeeping.26Ï‚rÎ½llRespondents, in turn, asked petitioner Ching to give them P1 million in exchange for the titles.27Ï‚rÎ½ll Petitioner Ching agreed and so they gave him the titles.28Ï‚rÎ½ll However, he never gave them the money.29Ï‚rÎ½ll They asked him to return the titles, but he refused.30Ï‚rÎ½ll Later, they were informed that the loan was approved in the amount of P25 million and that their share would be P6 million.31Ï‚rÎ½ll Since it was not the amount agreed upon, respondents revoked the SPA and demanded the return of the titles.32Ï‚rÎ½ll
Ruling of the Regional Trial Court
On December 18, 2002, the RTC rendered a Decision33Ï‚rÎ½ll in favor of petitioners. It upheld the validity of the SPA and declared its revocation illegal and unjust.34Ï‚rÎ½ll But although the SPA was declared valid, the RTC held that it could no longer be enforced because the circumstances present at the time of its execution have changed.35Ï‚rÎ½ll For this reason, the RTC found respondents liable for all the damages caused by the illegal revocation.36Ï‚rÎ½ll The RTC also declared petitioners owners of one-half of the subject properties.37Ï‚rÎ½ll As to the deficiency in the payment of the docket fees, if any, the RTC ruled that it would be considered a lien on the judgment.38Ï‚rÎ½ll Thus:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered declaring the petitioners to be the owners of 50% or one-half, pro-indiviso, of all the parcels of lands covered by OCT Nos. OP-787, OP-788, OP-789, OP-799, OP-793, OP-805, OP-806, OP-807, OP-790, OP-791, OP-800 and OP-801.
Furthermore, [respondents] are ordered to pay petitioners jointly and solidarily the following sums, to wit:
1. As actual damages:
a. The amount covered by the receipts which the petitioners used in procuring the loan after the SPA was executed amounting to P949,960.40; and
b. The amount of P500,000.00 as actual damages for the amount paid out to the [respondents] in exchange for the original certificates of title;
2. As moral damages, the amount of Php500,000.00 in favor of Albert M. Ching;
3. As exemplary damages, the amount of Php100,000.00; and
4. As attorneys fees, the amount of Php100,000.00.
Aggrieved, respondents elevated the case to the CA.
Pending appeal, a Motion for Intervention with attached Petition-in-Intervention40Ï‚rÎ½ll was filed by First Aikka Development, Inc. and Sadamu Watanabe. They alleged that respondents individually executed Deeds of Irrevocable SPAs authorizing Tagaytay and Taal Management Corporation (TTMC), represented by its Japanese President Wataru Minagawa, to sell, lease, mortgage, or administer the subject properties;41Ï‚rÎ½ll and that by virtue of the said SPAs, they entered into a
Memorandum of Agreement and a Supplement to Memorandum of Agreement with respondents and TTMC, whereby respondents agreed to sell the subject property to them.42Ï‚rÎ½ll Thus, they prayed that the Decision of the RTC be vacated and set aside, and that judgment be rendered in their favor.43Ï‚rÎ½ll
Ruling of the Court of Appeals
On June 15, 2004, the CA issued a Resolution44Ï‚rÎ½ll denying the Motion for Intervention for being filed out of time.
On July 31, 2006, the CA modified the Decision of the RTC. The CA ruled that petitioners are not entitled to one-half of the subject properties because it is contrary to human experience for a person to give one-half of his property to someone he barely knows.45Ï‚rÎ½ll The CA likewise ruled that petitioners are not entitled to reimbursement because they failed to show that the receipts presented in evidence were incurred in relation to the loan application.46Ï‚rÎ½ll As to the award of exemplary damages, the CA deleted the same because respondents did not act in a wanton, fraudulent, reckless, oppressive or malevolent manner.47Ï‚rÎ½ll The decretal portion of the CA Decision reads:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the assailed decision is hereby MODIFIED as follows:
1. The Revocation of the Power of Attorney executed by the respondents is hereby declared null and void. The Special Power of Attorney dated April 3, 2000 is considered valid and subsisting;
2. The amount of P500,000.00 paid by the petitioner Ching to the respondents should be deducted from the amount to be loaned;
3. The expenses incurred and to be incurred in the processing of the loan application must be borne by the petitioners alone;
4. The petitioners are not entitled to the one-half of all the parcerls of land covered by OCT Nos. OP-787, OP-788, OP-789, OP-799, OP-793, OP-805, OP-806, OP-807, OP-790, OP-791, OP-800 and OP-801; and
5. The award of moral damages in the amount of P500,000.00 and attorneys fees in the amount of P100,000.00 are in order. The award of exemplary damages is deleted.
Petitioners moved for reconsideration but the CA denied the same in a Resolution49Ï‚rÎ½ll dated March 12, 2007.
Hence, this petition raising the following issues:
WHETHER X X X THE CA ERRED IN RULING THAT PETITIONERS RECOVERY OF THE ACTUAL DAMAGES IN THE AMOUNT OF PHP500,000.00 BE MADE CONTINGENT UPON THE OBTENTION OF A LOAN THROUGH THE SUBJECT SPECIAL POWER OF ATTORNEY, WHICH THE RESPONDENTS, IN THE FIRST PLACE, REFUSED TO HONOR AND REVOKED IN BAD FAITH AND ILLEGALLY.
WHETHER X X X THE CA ERRED IN RULING THAT THE PETITIONERS ARE NOT ENTITLED TO ONE-HALF OF THE RESPONDENTS PROPERTIES DESPITE THE FINDING OF THE RTC THAT THE CONSIDERATION THEREFOR WAS THAT THE PETITIONERS SHALL PAY FOR THE LOAN TO BE OBTAINED UTILIZING THE RESPONDENTS PROPERTIES AND THE FINDING OF THE RTC THAT PETITIONER CHING, TO HIS GRAVE PREJUDICE, FAILED TO UTILIZE THE PROCEEDS OF THE LOAN FOR THE LATTERS BUSINESS PLAN AS WELL AS TO RECOVER HIS SHARE IN THE EXPENSES, WHICH PETITIONER CHING ADVANCED IN PROCURING THE LOAN.
WHETHER X X X THE CA ERRED IN RULING THAT THE EXPENSES INCURRED AND TO BE INCURRED BY THE PETITIONERS IN APPLYING FOR A LOAN THROUGH THE SPA SHOULD BE BORNE BY THE PETITIONERS DESPITE THE EXISTENCE OF AN AGREEMENT TO THE CONTRARY BETWEEN THE PETITIONERS AND RESPONDENTS, THE EXISTENCE OF WHICH AGREEMENT WAS DULY FOUND BY THE RTC.
WHETHER X X X THE CA ERRED IN RULING THAT RESPONDENTS ARE NOT LIABLE TO PAY EXEMPLARY DAMAGES FOR REVOKING THE SPA IN BAD FAITH ON THE RATIOCINATION THAT THE RESPONDENTS DID NOT ACT IN A WANTON, FRAUDULENT, RECKLESS, OPPRESSIVE OR MALEVOLENT MANNER BECAUSE THE RESPONDENTS WERE PURPORTEDLY UNSATISFIED WITH THE AMOUNT OF THE LOAN APPROVED.50Ï‚rÎ½ll
Petitioners, in essence, seek the reinstatement of the Decision of the RTC.51Ï‚rÎ½ll
They contend that the CAs directive that the actual damages in the amount of P500,000.00 be deducted from the amount to be loaned, is a conditional judgment, and thus, null and void.52Ï‚rÎ½ll In addition, they claim that they are entitled to one-half of the subject properties,53Ï‚rÎ½ll and to reimbursement of all expenses incurred in procuring the loan.54Ï‚rÎ½ll Finally, they impute error on the part of the CA in deleting the award for exemplary damages, contending that the revocation was done by respondents in a malevolent and oppressive manner.55Ï‚rÎ½ll
Respondents, on the other hand, argue that the judgment was not conditional because the CA categorically declared respondents liable to return the amount of P500,000.00 to petitioner Ching.56Ï‚rÎ½ll They insist that they never agreed to give petitioners one-half of their respective properties.57Ï‚rÎ½ll Neither did they agree to reimburse petitioner Ching all the expenses incurred in obtaining the loan.58Ï‚rÎ½ll
Petitioner Ching, in fact, admitted in court that he agreed to shoulder all the expenses.59Ï‚rÎ½ll Also, petitioners are not entitled to exemplary damages because when respondents revoked the SPA, they did not act in a wanton, fraudulent, reckless, oppressive or malevolent manner.60Ï‚rÎ½ll
The petition is partly meritorious.
There is no question that the SPA executed by respondents in favor of petitioners is a contract of agency coupled with interest.61Ï‚rÎ½ll This is because their bilateral contract depends upon the agency.62Ï‚rÎ½ll Hence, it "cannot be revoked at the sole will of the principal."63Ï‚rÎ½ll
The only issue therefore is the extent of the liability of respondents and the damages to be awarded to petitioners.
Petitioner Ching is entitled to actual
damages in the amount of P500,000.00
without any condition.
In exchange for his possession of the titles, petitioner Ching advanced the amount of P500,000.00 to respondents. Considering that the loan application with PVB did not push through, respondents are liable to return the said amount to petitioner Ching.
In ordering the award of P500,000.00, the CA decreed:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
2. The amount of P500,000.00 paid by the petitioner Ching to the respondents should be deducted from the amount to be loaned;64Ï‚rÎ½ll
Obviously, the language employed by the CA made the judgment conditional. The return of the amount of P500,000.00 should not depend on the happening of a future event.65Ï‚rÎ½ll Whether or not a loan is obtained by petitioners, respondents are liable to pay the amount of P500,000.00 as actual damages. Thus, the dispositive portion of the CA Decision should be modified by ordering respondents to pay actual damages in the amount of P500,000.00, without any condition.
Petitioners are not entitled to one-half
of the subject properties.
As to petitioners claim to one-half of the subject properties, we agree with the CA that:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
x x x it is far from human experience that a person will give half of his property to another person whom he barely knows. It is clear from the records of the case that the respondents do not know petitioner Ching. It was petitioner Bautista who introduced him to respondent Bantolo. The respondents agreed to give an SPA to Ching, because they were informed that the latter could help them secure a loan with their pieces of property as collateral. No one in his right mind would definitely agree to give half of his property to another. It is certain that they agreed that they would share in the proceeds of the loan but not in the property. Hence, petitioners are not entitled to one-half of the property.66Ï‚rÎ½ll (Emphasis supplied)
In fact, other than petitioner Chings self-serving testimony,67Ï‚rÎ½ll no evidence was presented to show that respondents agreed to give one-half of the properties to petitioners.
Petitioners are not entitled to
reimbursement of all the expenses
incurred in obtaining a loan.
Petitioner Ching testified in court that he agreed to shoulder all the expenses, to wit:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Mr. Witness, during your testimony in the last hearing, you said that respondent Bantolo approached you and proposed a business transaction with you, basically using a property, parcels of land, as collateral for a bank loan, which you are supposed to take care of. Now, you also testified in the last hearing that you will personally take care of the loan application, and in fact, this loan application was approved by Philippine Veterans Bank. Now, by way of recapitulation, Mr. Witness, can you please tell us who will shoulder the expenses that will be incurred in the processing of this loan application?
A - I will shoulder everything.
Q - But you have an agreement with respondent Bantolo, and pursuant to this agreement, Mr. Witness, once the application for loan was approved, what will happen?
A - According to him, we will share 50-50 in the amount that we will pay and I have the option to choose between the money, if the same is small or to take the 50% of the property.
Q - That sharing agreement, Mr. Witness, is premised on the condition that the loan application will be approved. What happens, now, Mr. witness, if the loan is not approved by the bank? What happens specifically to the expenses that you have incurred in the processing of the loan application?
Objection, your Honor. That question was already asked. In fact, the witness started on a general term, without any condition, that he will shoulder all the expenses. He did not qualify whether the loan will be approved or not. It has been answered already.
We are at the stage of direct examination. In the interest of truth, you answer.
A - I asked them about that but they told me that they dont have money to pay me, so I shouldered all the expenses. I took the risk of shouldering all the expenses.
You said you took the risk. Will you be more specific what do you mean by this risk that you took, as far as the expenses are concerned?
A - What I mean, sir, is that I will not be able to recover all my expenses if the loan is not granted by the Philippine Veterans Bank.68Ï‚rÎ½ll (Emphasis supplied)
For this reason, we find that petitioners are not entitled to the reimbursement of the expenses they have incurred in applying for the loan.
Besides, petitioners failed to show that the receipts submitted as evidence were incurred in relation to the loan application.69Ï‚rÎ½ll As aptly pointed out by the CA, majority of the receipts were incurred abroad and in connection with petitioner Chings business dealings.70Ï‚rÎ½ll
Petitioners are not entitled to exemplary
Neither are petitioners entitled to exemplary damages.
Article 222971Ï‚rÎ½ll of the Civil Code provides that exemplary damages may be imposed "by way of example or correction for the public good, in addition to the moral, temperate, liquidated or compensatory damages." They are, however, not recoverable as a matter of right.72Ï‚rÎ½ll They are awarded only if the guilty party acted in a wanton, fraudulent, reckless, oppressive or malevolent manner.73Ï‚rÎ½ll
In this case, we agree with the CA that although the revocation was done in bad faith, respondents did not act in a wanton, fraudulent, reckless, oppressive or malevolent manner. They revoked the SPA because they were not satisfied with the amount of the loan approved. Thus, petitioners are not entitled to exemplary damages.Ï‚Î·Î±Î¿blÎµÎ½Î¹rÏ…Î±llÎ±Ï‰lÎ¹brÎ±r
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby partially GRANTED. The assailed Decision dated July 31, 2006 and the Resolution dated March 12, 2007 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 79886 are hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION that respondents are ordered to pay petitioner Ching actual damages in the amount P500,000.00.Ï‚rÎ±lÎ±Ï‰lÎ¹brÎ±r
* Per Special Order No. 1384 dated December 4, 2012.
1Ï‚rÎ½ll Coastal Pacific Trading, Inc. v. Southern Rolling Mills. Co., Inc., 529 Phil. 10, 40 (2006), citing Air Trance v. Court of Appeals, 253 Phil. 395, 402 (1989).
2Ï‚rÎ½ll Rollo, pp. 25-87 with Annexes "A" to "F" inclusive.
3Ï‚rÎ½ll Id. at 48-58; penned by Associate Justice Eliezer R. De Los Santos and concurred in by Associate Justices Fernanda Lampas Peralta and Myra Dimaranan Vidal.
4Ï‚rÎ½ll Id. at 60; penned by Associate Justice Fernanda Lampas Peralta and concurred in by Associate Justices Noel G. Tijam and Myra Dimaranan-Vidal.
5Ï‚rÎ½ll Substituted by his heirs (Id. at unnumbered page).
6Ï‚rÎ½ll Id. at 48-49.
7Ï‚rÎ½ll Records, pp. 7-8.
9Ï‚rÎ½ll Id. at 28.
10Ï‚rÎ½ll Rollo, p. 49
12Ï‚rÎ½ll Records, p. 328.
13Ï‚rÎ½ll Rollo, p. 50.
14Ï‚rÎ½ll Records, p. 18.
15Ï‚rÎ½ll Id. at 324.
16Ï‚rÎ½ll Rollo, p. 50.
17Ï‚rÎ½ll Records, pp. 1-6.
18Ï‚rÎ½ll Id. at 16-21.
19Ï‚rÎ½ll Id. at 19.
20Ï‚rÎ½ll Id. at 17.
22Ï‚rÎ½ll Id. at 44-50.
23Ï‚rÎ½ll Id. at 45.
24Ï‚rÎ½ll Id. at 46.
30Ï‚rÎ½ll Id. at 47.
33Ï‚rÎ½ll Rollo, pp. 68-87; penned by Judge Normandie B. Pizarro.
34Ï‚rÎ½ll Id. at 79.
35Ï‚rÎ½ll Id. at 82.
36Ï‚rÎ½ll Id. at 79.
37Ï‚rÎ½ll Id. at 82.
38Ï‚rÎ½ll Id. at 86.
39Ï‚rÎ½ll Id. at 86-87. Emphasis in the original.
40Ï‚rÎ½ll CA rollo, 10-35.
41Ï‚rÎ½ll Id. at 19-20.
42Ï‚rÎ½ll Id. at 22-24.
43Ï‚rÎ½ll Id. at 30-31.
44Ï‚rÎ½ll Id. at 184-185; penned by Associate Justice Mario L. Guari III and concurred in by Associate Justices Rodrigo V. Cosico and Santiago Javier Ranada.
45Ï‚rÎ½ll Rollo, p. 54.
46Ï‚rÎ½ll Id. at 54-55.
47Ï‚rÎ½ll Id. at 56.
48Ï‚rÎ½ll Id. at 57-58.
49Ï‚rÎ½ll Id. at 60.
50Ï‚rÎ½ll Id. at 134-135.
51Ï‚rÎ½ll Id. at 144.
52Ï‚rÎ½ll Id. at 136-138.
53Ï‚rÎ½ll Id. at 138- 141.
54Ï‚rÎ½ll Id. at 141-142.
55Ï‚rÎ½ll Id. at 143-144.
56Ï‚rÎ½ll Id. at 159-162.
57Ï‚rÎ½ll Id. at 162-166.
58Ï‚rÎ½ll Id. at 166-172.
59Ï‚rÎ½ll Id. at 166-168.
60Ï‚rÎ½ll Id. at 172-177.
61Ï‚rÎ½ll Id. at 53-54.
62Ï‚rÎ½ll Republic of the Philippines v. Judge Evangelista, 504 Phil. 115, 121 (2005).
64Ï‚rÎ½ll Rollo, p. 57.
65Ï‚rÎ½ll Pascua v. Heirs of Segundo Simeon, 244 Phil. 1, 6 (1988).
66Ï‚rÎ½ll Rollo, p. 54.
67Ï‚rÎ½ll TSN, June 20, 2001, Direct Examination of petitioner Ching, pp. 5-6.
68Ï‚rÎ½ll Id. at 5-7.
69Ï‚rÎ½ll Rollo, p. 55.
71Ï‚rÎ½ll Exemplary or corrective damages are imposed, by way of example or correction for the public good, in addition to the moral, temperate, liquidated or compensatory damages.
72Ï‚rÎ½ll CIVIL CODE, Art. 2233 provides:
Exemplary damages cannot be recovered as a matter of right; the court will decide whether or not they should be adjudicated.
73Ï‚rÎ½ll CIVIL CODE, Art. 2232 provides:
In contracts and quasi-contracts, the court may award exemplary damages if the defendant acted in a wanton, fraudulent, reckless, oppressive, or malevolent manner.