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JARANTILLA v CA (SING)

171 SCRA 429REGALADO; March 21, 1989


NATURE
Appeal on the decision of the Court of Appeals
upholding the decision of the trial court awarding damages
to the private respondent.
FACTS
- Private respondent Jose Kuan Sing was "side-swiped by a
vehicle in the evening of July 7, 1971 in lznart Street, Iloilo
City" The respondent Court of Appeals concurred in the
findings of the court
a quo
that the s a i d v e h i c l e w h i c h fi g u r e d i n t h e m i s h a p , a
Volkswagen (Beetle type) car, was then driven by petitioner
Edgar Jarantilla along said street toward
t h e d i re c t i o n o f t h e p ro v i n c i a l c a p i to l , a n d t h a t private
respondent sustained physical injuries as a consequence -
Petitioner was accordingly charged before the then City Court of
Iloilo for serious physical injuries thru reckless imprudence
in Criminal Case No. 47207thereof.

Pr i v a t e re s p o n d e n t , a s th e c o m p l a i n i n g witness therein,
did not reserve his right to institute a s e p a r a t e c i v i l a c t i o n
and he intervened in the prosecution of said
criminal case through a private prosecutor. Petitioner was
acquitted in said criminal case "on reasonable doubt".- On
October 30, 1974, private respondent fi led a complaint
against the petitioner in the former Court of First Instance of Iloilo,
Branch IV, docketed therein a s C i v i l C a s e N o. 9976,
and which civil actioni n v o l v e d t h e s a m e s u b j e c t m
a t t e r a n d a c t complained of in Criminal Case No. 47027.

I n h i s answer filed therein, the petitioner alleged as special and


affirmative detenses that the private respondent had no cause
of action and, additionally, that the latters cause of action, if
any, is barred by the prior judgment in Criminal Case No.
47207 inasmuch as
w h en s a i d c r i m i n a l c a s e w a s i n s t i tu t e d th e c i v i l liability
was also deemed instituted since therein plaintiff failed to
reserve the civil aspect and actively participated in the criminal
case.- Thereafter, acting on a motion to dismiss of therein
defendant, the trial court issued on April 3, 1975 an order
of denial. Petitioner thereafter fi led in this
Court a petition for Certiorari p ro h i b i t i o n a n d
mandamus, which was docketed as G.R. No. L-40992, assailing
the aforesaid order of the trial court. Said petition was
dismissed for lack of merit in the Courts
resolution of July 23, 1975, and a motion for
reconsideration thereof was denied for the same reason in a
resolution of October 28, 1975.- After trial, the court below
rendered judgment on
May 23, 1977 in favor of the herein private
respondent and ordering herein petitioner to pay damages.
Thus, petitioner appealed said decision to the CA but said
respondent court affirmed in toto the decision of the trial court
with a few changes in the amount of the damages to be paid.

ISSUE
W O N t h e p r i v a t e r e s p o n d e n t , w h o w a s t h e compl
ainant in thecriminal action for physicali n j u r i e s t h r u
r e c k l e s s i m p r u d e n c e a n d w h o participated in the p
ro s e c u t i o n t h e re o f w i th o u t re s e r v i n g t h e c i v i l a c ti o n
a r i s i n g f ro m t h e a c t o r omission complained of, can file a
separate action for civil liability arising from the same act or
omission where the herein petitioner was acquitted in the
criminal action on reasonable doubt and no civil liability was
adjudicated or awarded in the judgment of acquittal

HELD
YES- The action is based on a quasi-delict, the failure of the
respondent to reserve his right to file a separate civil case and his
intervention in the criminal case did not bar him from filing such
separate civil action for damages.

Ratio
The allegations of the complaint fi led by the private
respondent supports and is constitutive of a case for a quasi-
delict committed by the petitioner. The Court has also heretofore
ruled in Elcano vs. Hill that:... a separate civil action lies against
the offender in a criminal act whether or not he is criminally
prosecuted and found guilty or acquitted, provided that the
offended party is not allowed, if he is also actually charged
criminally, to recover damages on
both scores; and would be entitled in such
eventuality only to the bigger award of the two, assuming
the awards made in the two cases vary.
I n o t h e r w o rd s , t h e ex t i n c t i o n o f c i v i l l i a b i l i t y referred
to in Par. (c) of Sec. 3 Rule 111, refers exclusively to civil
liability founded on Article 100o f th e
Re v i s e d Pe n a l C o d e ; w h e re a s th e c i v i l liability for the
same act considered as a quasi-delict only and not as
a crime is not extinguished even by a declaration in the
criminal case that the criminal act charged has not happened or
has not been committed by the accused . . .- The afforested case
of Lontoc vs. MD Transit & TaxiCo., Inc., et al. involved virtually
the same factual situation. The Court, in arriving at the
conclusion hereinbefore quoted, expressly declared that the
failure of the therein plaintiff to reserve his right to
fi l e a s e p a r a t e c i v i l c a s e i s n o t f a t a l ; t h a t h i s
intervention in the criminal case did not bar him from filing a
separate civil action for damages, especially considering that
the accused therein was acquitted because his guilt was not
proved beyond reasonable doubt; that the two cases were
anchored on two different causes of action, the criminal case
being on a violation of Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code
while the subsequent complaint for damages was based on a
quasi-delict; and that in the judgment in the criminal case the
aspect of civil liability was not passed upon and resolved.
Consequently, said civil case may proceed as authorized by
Article 29 of the Civil Code.- Under the present jurisprudential
milieu, where the trial court acquits the accused on reasonable
doubt, it could very well make a pronouncement on the civil
liability of the accused and the complainant could file a petition
for mandamus to compel the trial court to
i n c l u d e s u c h c i v i l l i a b i l i t y i n t h e j u d g m e n t o f acqui
ttal. And that the failure of the court to make any
pronouncement, favorable or unfavorable, as to
the civil liability of the accused amounts to a
reservation of the right to have the civil liability litigated
and determined in a separate action. The
r u l e s n o w h e re p ro v i d e th a t i f t h e court fails to
determine the civil liability it becomes no longer
enforceable.

Dispositive: Decision of CA affirmed, petition denied.