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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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DR. MELCHOR SANTOS, plaintiff-appellant, vs. EMILIANO GABRIEL and BENITO FRANCISCO, 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-appellee Benito Francisco, Jr., and driven by defendant-appellee Emiliano Gabriel, resulting in the instantaneous death of Rodolfo. Consequently, a criminal complaint, docketed as Criminal Case No. 7864, was filed in the Court of First Instance of Rizal charging Emiliano Gabriel with homicide through reckless imprudence. On June 4, 1958, during the pendency of the criminal case, Melchor Santos filed before the same Court of First Instance of Rizal a combined complaint, docketed as Civil Case No. 5031, against Benito Francisco, Jr. alone, to recover 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. At the hearing of Civil Case No. 5031, Melchor asserted that his action was based solely on the provisions of Article 103 of the Revised Penal Code. The counsel for defendant asked the court for time to file a motion to dismiss, and the court granted him leave to do so. In due time 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 Case No. 5031 which was not appealed by Melchor. After more than two years from the said order of dismissal, Melchor Santos, through a new counsel, filed a new complaint before the Court of First Instance of Rizal, docketed as Civil Case No. 7121. This new complaint embodied practically the same allegations as those stated in the second amended complaint in prior Civil Case No. 5031. After which the counsel of defendant then filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on the grounds of res judicata. On October 20, 1962, the same Judge who dismissed Civil Case No. 5031- issued an order dismissing Civil Case No. 7121. The petitioners then filed for reconsideration which the lower court denied. Hence, this appeal by 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 RES JUDICATA. HELD: Yes. The causes of action in the two cases are the same. Civil Case No. 5031, was
expressly based on the provisions of Article 103 of the Revised Penal Code as per plaintiff's counsel's expressed manifestation, and not on Article 2180 of the Civil Code, as now pretended. Since the present case, Civil Case No. 7121, is admittedly based also on Article 103 of the Revised Penal Code, the dismissal of the first case on the ground of failure to establish the employer-employee relationship between defendant Benito Francisco and the driver Emiliano Gabriel now bars the present case by virtue of res judicata. Access to the courts is guaranteed. But there must be a limit thereto. Once a litigant's rights have been adjudicated in a valid final judgment of a competent court, he should not be granted an

unbridled license to come back for another try. The prevailing party should not be harassed. For, if endless litigations were to be encouraged, then unscrupulous litigants will multiply in number to the detriment of the administration of justice.

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