A ruling on the culpability of the offender will have no bearing on said independent civil action based on an entirely different cause of action, i.e., culpa contractual.

The acquittal of Padilla in the criminal case is immaterial to the instant case for breach of contract

This thus now leaves us with the remaining issue raised by G & S, that is, whether the CA gravely erred in not taking note of the fact that Padilla has already been acquitted of the crime of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide, a charge which arose from the same incident subject of this case.

Article 31 of the Civil Code provides, viz:

When the civil action is based on an obligation not arising from the act or omission complained of as a felony, such civil action may proceed independently of the criminal proceedings and regardless of the result of the latter.

Thus, in Cancio, Jr. v. Isip,[39] we declared:

In the instant case, it must be stressed that the action filed by petitioner is an independent civil action, which remains separate and distinct from any criminal prosecution based on the same act.  Not being deemed instituted in the criminal action based on culpa criminal, a ruling on the culpability of the offender will have no bearing on said independent civil action based on an entirely different cause of action, i.e., culpa contractual.” (Emphasis supplied; Citations omitted.)

            In this case, the action filed by the heirs is primarily for the recovery of damages arising from breach of contract of carriage allegedly committed by G & S.  Clearly, it is an independent civil action arising from contract which is separate and distinct from the criminal action for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide filed by the heirs against Padilla by reason of the same incident.  Hence, regardless of Padilla’s acquittal or conviction in said criminal case, same has no bearing in the resolution of the present case.  There was therefore no error on the part of the CA when it resolved this case without regard to the fact that Padilla has already been acquitted by the RTC in the criminal case.  Moreover, while the CA quoted some portions of the MTC Decision in said criminal case, we however find that those quoted portions were only meant to belie G & S’ claim that the proximate cause of the accident was the negligence of the driver of the delivery van which allegedly hit the Avis taxicab.  Even without those quoted portions, the appellate court’s ultimate finding that it was Padilla’s negligence which was the proximate cause of the mishap would still be the same.  This is because the CA has, in fact, already made this declaration in the earlier part of its assailed Decision.  The fact that the MTC Decision from which the subject quoted portions were lifted has already been reversed by the RTC is therefore immaterial.

            In view of the foregoing, we deny G & S’ petition for lack of merit.

 http://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/jurisprudence/2011/march2011/170071.htm

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About Erineus

Born on December 28, 1965, Surallah, South Cotabato, Southern Mindanao, Philippines.
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