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THIRD DIVISION
[ A.C. No. 10571, November 11, 2020 ]
ATTY. VIRGILIO A. SEVANDAL, COMPLAINANT, VS. ATTY. MELITA
B. ADAME, RESPONDENT.
DECISION
DELOS SANTOS, J.:
The Facts
On September 6, 2011, complainant Atty. Virgilio A. Sevandal (Atty. Sevandal) filed
with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD) a
Complaint[1] dated September 5, 2011 for disbarment against respondent Atty. Melita
B. Adame (Atty. Adame) in violation of Rules 8.02,[2] Canon 8 (encroaching upon the
professional employment of another lawyer) and Rule 10.01,[3] Canon 10 (doing any
falsehood) of the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR).
Atty. Sevandal claimed that through a verbal agreement on February 2, 2011, Merlina
Borja-Sevandal (Merlina) engaged his professional services to provide legal advice and
assistance, as well as file court cases when necessary, to Merlina's claims with Fuyoh
Shipping Co. (Fuyoh Shipping), Bandila Maritime Services, Inc. (Bandila Maritime),
Social Security System (SSS), and other offices for whatever benefits she was entitled
to as the surviving spouse of Master Camilo Verano Sevandal (Camilo). Camilo died on
January 27, 2011 and was employed as a Ship Master by Fuyoh Shipping/Bandila
Maritime at the time of his death. The aforementioned verbal agreement was
substantiated by an Affidavit[4] dated December 7, 2011 executed by Josefina Verano
Sevandal, Merlina's first cousin, attesting that she was in the meeting with Atty.
Sevandal and Merlina on February 2, 2011 and witnessed the agreement of the parties
on Atty. Sevandal's 10% contingent fee for handling Merlina's case.
On March 9, 2011, Atty. Sevandal and Merlina executed a Retainer Contract[5] with
respect to the recovery of Merlina's share on the (1) conjugal partnership property,
which she acquired during her marriage, and (2) legitime as heir and surviving spouse
of Camilo. As compensation, Merlina promised to pay: (1) acceptance and success fees
amounting to 10% of the prevailing market value of all real and/or personal property
restored/vested in the possession of the client; (2) appearance fees; (3) hotel, travel
and food expenses; and (4) cash advances of (a) P100,000.00 upon receipt by the
client of the insurance proceeds from the employer/office concerned, and (b)
P150,000.00 upon the filing of the complaint in the proper court. Further, it was
expressly stated in the Retainer Contract that the contract covers the litigation at the
level of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) only and that if there would be any appeal or
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