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G.R. No. L-33171 May 31, 1979

Petitioner filed a complaint in the City Court for recovery of damages on account of a
vehicular accident involving his car and a jeepney driven by respondent Romeo Hilot and
operated by respondents ValerianaPepito and Carlos Pepito. Subsequently, a criminal case was
filed against the driver. At the pre-trial of the civil case counsel for the respondents moved for
the suspension of the civil action pending determination of the criminal case invoking Section
3(b), Rule 111 of the Rules of Court. The City Court granted the motion and ordered the
suspension of the civil case. Petitioner elevated the matter on certiorari to the Court of First
Instance, alleging that the City Judge acted with grave abuse of discretion in suspending the civil
action for being contrary to law and jurisprudence. The Court of First Instance dismissed the
petition; hence, this petition to review on certiorari.

Whether or not there can be an independent civil action for damages to property during
the pendency of the criminal action.
The Supreme Court held that an action for damages based on Articles 2176 and 2180 of
the New Civil Code is quasi-delictual in character which can be prosecuted independently of the
criminal action.Where the plaintiff made essential averments in the complaint that it was the
driver's fault or negligence in the operation of the jeepneywhich caused the collision between
his automobile and said jeepney; that plaintiff sustained damages because of the collision; that
a direct causal connection exists between the damage he suffered and the fault or negligence
of the defendant-driver and where the defendant-operator in their answer, contended, among
others, that they observed due diligence in the selection and supervision of their employees,
defense peculiar to actions based on quasi-delict , such action is principally predicated on
Articles 32176 and 2180 of the New Civil Code which is quasi-delictual in nature and character.
Liability being predicated on quasi-delict , the civil case may proceed as a separate and
independent court action as specifically provided for in Article 2177. Section 3 (b), Rule 111 of
the Rules of Court refers to "other civil actions arising from cases not included in Section 2 of
the same rule" in which, "once the criminal action has been commenced, no civil action arising
from the same offense can be prosecuted and the same shall be suspended in whatever stage
it may be found, until final judgment in the criminal proceeding has been rendered". The civil
action referred to in Section 2(a) and 3(b), Rule 11 of the Rules of Courtwhich should be
suspended after the criminal action has been instituted is that arising from the criminal offense
and not the civil action based on quasi delict.
The concept of quasi-delict enunciated in Article 2176 of the New Civil Code is so broad
that it includes not only injuries to persons but also damage to property. It makes no distinction
between "damage to persons" on the one hand and "damage to property" on the other. The
word "damage" is used in two concepts: the "harm" done and "reparation" for the harm done.
And with respect to "harm" it is plain that it includes both injuries to person and property since
"harm" is not limited to personal but also to property injuries. An example of quasi-delict in the
law itself which includes damage to property in Article 2191(2) of the Civil Code which holds
proprietors responsible for damages caused by excessive smoke which may be harmful "to
person or property". Respondent Judge gravely abused his discretion in upholding the decision
of the city court suspending the civil action based on quasi-delict until after the criminal action
is finally terminated.