Respondent filed a criminal action against petitioners for Reckless Imprudence Resulting to Damage to Property. While the criminal case is pending, the Petitioners filed with the MCTC a civil case for Quasi-delict. Respondent filed a motion to dismiss the said civil action against him on the ground of forum-shopping considering the pendency of the criminal case. The MCTC granted the motion. Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration which was denied by the MCTC. They appeal to the RTC, with was also denied. Hence this case.
whether an accused in a pending criminal case for reckless imprudence can validly file, simultaneously and independently, a separate civil action for quasi-delict against the private complainant in the criminal case.
Yes, Under Section 1 of the present Rule 111, the independent civil action in Articles 32, 33, 34 and 2176 of the Civil Code is not deemed instituted with the criminal action but may be filed separately by the offended party even without reservation. The commencement of the criminal action does not suspend the prosecution of the independent civil action under these articles of the Civil Code. The suspension in Section 2 of the present Rule 111 refers only to the civil action arising from the crime, if such civil action is reserved or filed before the commencement of the criminal action.
Thus, the offended party can file two separate suits for the same act or omission. The first a criminal case where the civil action to recover civil liability ex-delicto is deemed instituted, and the other a civil case for quasi-delict – without violating the rule on non-forum shopping. The two cases can proceed simultaneously and independently of each other. The commencement or prosecution of the criminal action will not suspend the civil action for quasi-delict. The only limitation is that the offended party cannot recover damages twice for the same act or omission of the defendant. In most cases, the offended party will have no reason to file a second civil action since he cannot recover damages twice for the same act or omission of the accused. In some instances, the accused may be insolvent, necessitating the filing of another case against his employer or guardians.