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Santos vs. Gabriel G.R. No. L-22996

Santos vs. Gabriel G.R. No. L-22996

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Published by Marianne Andres

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Published by: Marianne Andres on Aug 14, 2012
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12/17/2013

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DR. MELCHOR SANTOS,
plaintiff-appellant, vs.
EMILIANO GABRIEL and BENITOFRANCISCO, JR.,
defendants-appellees
G.R. No. L-22996 May 31, 1972
.
FACTS:
On May 19, 1958, Rodolfo Santos, the son of plaintiff appellant Dr. Melchor Santos,was hit and run over by a passenger truck owned and operated by defendant-appelleeBenito Francisco, Jr., and driven by defendant-appellee Emiliano Gabriel, resulting in theinstantaneous death of Rodolfo. Consequently, a criminal complaint, docketed as CriminalCase No. 7864, was filed in the Court of First Instance of Rizal charging Emiliano Gabrielwith homicide through reckless imprudence. On June 4, 1958, during the pendency of thecriminal case, Melchor Santos filed before the same Court of First Instance of Rizal acombined complaint, docketed as Civil Case No. 5031, against Benito Francisco, Jr. alone, torecover from him damages for the death of his son
. Upon Gabriel’s conviction of the
charges due to his plea of guilty, Melchor then filed an amendment to his complaint with
regards to Gabriel’s conviction. Santos then filed an answer to the amended complaint.
Atthe hearing of Civil Case No. 5031, Melchor asserted that his action was based solely on theprovisions of Article 103 of the Revised Penal Code. The counsel for defendant asked thecourt for time to file a motion to dismiss, and the court granted him leave to do so. In duetime defendant's counsel filed a motion to dismiss the complaint after which the plaintiff filed a motion to admit another amended complaint, which was then attached to the motion.On January 30, 1960, the court
a quo 
issued an order dismissing the complaint in Civil CaseNo. 5031 which was not appealed by Melchor. After more than two years from the saidorder of dismissal, Melchor Santos, through a new counsel, filed a new complaint before theCourt of First Instance of Rizal, docketed as Civil Case No. 7121. This new complaintembodied practically the same allegations as those stated in the second amended complaintin prior Civil Case No. 5031. After which the counsel of defendant then filed a motion todismiss the complaint on the grounds of 
res judicata 
. On October 20, 1962, the same Judgewho dismissed Civil Case No. 5031- issued an order dismissing Civil Case No. 7121. Thepetitioners then filed for reconsideration which the lower court denied. Hence, this appealby the plaintiff from those orders of the lower court.
ISSUE: WON THE ACTION IN CIVIL CASE NO. 7121 IS BARRED BY THE PRIOR JUDGMENT RENDERED IN CIVIL CASE NO. 5031 UNDER THE DOCTRIN OF RESJUDICATA.HELD:
Yes.
The causes of action in the two cases are the same. Civil Case No. 5031, wasexpressly based on the provisions of Article 103 of the Revised Penal Code as per plaintiff'scounsel's expressed manifestation, and not on Article 2180 of the Civil Code, as nowpretended. Since the present case, Civil Case No. 7121, is admittedly based also on Article103 of the Revised Penal Code, the dismissal of the first case on the ground of failure toestablish the employer-employee relationship between defendant Benito Francisco and thedriver Emiliano Gabriel now bars the present case by virtue of 
res judicata 
. Access to thecourts is guaranteed. But there must be a limit thereto. Once a litigant's rights have beenadjudicated in a valid final judgment of a competent court, he should not be granted an

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