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Mendoza v.

Arrieta
G.R. No. L-32599 | 29 June 1979 | Melencio-Herrera, J.
Aggy

Doctrine:
A civil action based on a quasi-delict may proceed independently of a criminal action and regardless of the
result of the latter.

Facts:
Mercedes Benz – Mendoza (petitioner)
Private jeep – Salazar (respondent)
Gravel and sand truck – Timbol (respondent and owner); Montoya (driver)

1. A three-way vehicular accident occurred along Mac-Arthur Highway, Marilao, Bulacan, involving the
Mercedez Benz of Mendoza, the private jeep of Salazar, and the gravel and sand truck owned by
Timbol and driven by Montoya.
2. The truck hit the jeep at the right rear portion causing damage in the amount of P1,604, which thereby
caused said jeep to hit the Mercedez Benz resulting to damages in the amount of P8,890.
3. Two separate information were filed against Salazar and Montoya for Reckless Imprudence Causing
Damage to Property:
a. Salazar sued Montoya
b. Mendoza sued Salazar
4. CFI convicted Montoya, but acquitted Salazar. Mendoza, then, filed a civil action against Salazar and
Timbol (owner of truck) for indemnification for the damages sustained by his car. He sued them both
because he was not sure whether he was entitle to relief against both or only one of them.
5. Motions to dismiss were filed both by Timbol and Salazar. Respondent judge Arrieta granted the
motions and dismissed the complaint. He likewise denied the motion for reconsideration.
6. Argument for motion to dismiss:
a. There was no cause of action for the civil case and such action is barred by prior judgment in
the criminal case
b. The New Rules of Court requires an express reservation to file a civil action independently of
the criminal action

(PLEASE NOTE: MENDOZA SUED SALAZAR ONLY IN THE CRIMINAL CASE SINCE IT WAS
HIS JEEP THAT HIT THE BENZ; AND SALAZAR SUED MONTOYA THE TRUCK DRIVER)

Issue/s:
1. W/N Mendoza can pursue a civil action against Timbol notwithstanding the termination of the criminal
case? – YES.
2. W/N an independent civil action for liability can be filed against Salazar notwithstanding the
termination of the criminal case? – NO.

Holding:
TLDR: Mendoza can sue Timbol because the civil liability in the civil action he filed is from a quasi delict,
not a crime, which makes it different from the criminal case. Also, in the criminal case, Mendoza
was only a complainant against Salazar, la siya pake kay Timbol/Montoya at that time. However,
Mendoza CANNOT sue Salazar because it is clear from the criminal case that he did not have
any liability. He only hit the Benz because the truck hit his jeep first.
1. Yes. Mendoza can sue Timbol for damages. There is no identity of cause of action between the
Criminal Case of Salazar v. Montoya and the Civil Case filed by Mendoza. In the criminal case, the
truck driver was prosecuted for damages done to the jeep and not to Mendoza’s car. The trial court
in the criminal case even pointed out that Mendoza cannot recover damages from Montoya because
he is a complainant only against Salazar.

The civil liability from the criminal case arose from a criminal negligence which is governed by the
RPC. In the civil case, civil liability arose from quasi delict under Article 2180, in relation to Article
2176 (damage done to another, there being fault or negligence and there being no contractual
relations existing between the parties).

Also, there is no need for an express reservation to file a civil action separately because the provision
in the Rule of Court (Section 2, Rule 111) which provided such was inconsistent with the provisions
of the Civil Code (Art. 2176 & Art. 2177).

2. No. Mendoza cannot sue Salazar. It has been made clear by the findings of the trial court in the
criminal case that Salazar cannot be held liable for the damages sustained by the Benz since it was
the truck which caused the jeep to hit the Benz.

Further, Sec. 3(c), Rule 111 of the Rules of Court provides that the termination of a criminal action
may also terminate a civil action if there is a declaration in a final judgment that the fact from which
the civil might arise did not exist. The cause of action against Salazar being an ex-delictu
(consequence from a tort), this provision applies.

Ruling:
1. Order dismissing the civil case against Timbol is SET ASIDE, and respondent judge is ordered to
proceed with the hearing on the merits.
2. Orders dismissing the Complaint in civil case against Salazar are UPHELD.

Relevant Provisions:

CIVIL CODE
Art. 2176. Whoever by act or omission causes damage to another, there being fault or negligence, is obliged
to pay for the damage done. Such fault or negligence, if there is no pre-existing contractual relation between
the parties, is called a quasi-delict and is governed by the provisions of this Chapter. (1902a)

Art. 2177. Responsibility for fault or negligence under the preceding article is entirely separate and distinct
from the civil liability arising from negligence under the Penal Code. But the plaintiff cannot recover
damages twice for the same act or omission of the defendant.

RULES OF COURT
"Section 2. — Independent civil action. — In the cases provided for in Articles 31, 32, 33, 34 and 2177 of
the Civil Code of the Philippines, an independent civil action entirely separate and distinct from the criminal
action, may be brought by the injured party during the pendency of the criminal case, provided the right is
reserved as required in the preceding section. Such civil action shall proceed independently of the criminal
prosecution, and shall require only a preponderance of evidence."

Sec. 3. Other civil actions arising from offenses. — In all cases not included in the preceding section the
following rules shall be observed:
xxx xxx xxx
(c) Extinction of the penal action does not carry with it extinction of the civil, unless the extinction proceeds
from a declaration in a final judgment that the fact from which the civil might arise did not exist. . . ."