CATERPILLAR, INC., vs. SAMSON G.R. No. 205972, November 9, 2016

Petitioner filed a criminal case against the respondent for unfair competition. Subsequently, petitioner also commenced a civil action against respondent and his business entities, with the IPO as a nominal party. Respondent filed a Motion to Suspend Arraignment in Criminal Cases in the RTC citing that the resolution of the civil case in the IPO will determine the outcome of the instant criminal cases. The RTC suspend the arraignment of the said criminal case which the Petitioner appealed. The Appeal was denied. Hence this case.

Whether the action of the Petitioner can be tried as a separated Civil action and not subject to suspension due to Prejudicial Question.

Yes, the civil case filed by Caterpillar in the RTC in Quezon City, was for unfair competition, damages and cancellation of trademark, while Criminal Cases were the criminal prosecution of Samson for unfair competition. A common element of all such cases for unfair competition – civil and criminal – was fraud. Under Article 33 of the Civil Code, a civil action entirely separate and distinct from the criminal action may be brought by the injured party in cases of fraud, and such civil action shall proceed independently of the criminal prosecution. Secondly, a civil action for damages and cancellation of trademark cannot be considered a prejudicial question by which to suspend the proceedings in the criminal cases for unfair competition. A prejudicial question is that which arises in a civil case the resolution of which is a logical antecedent of the issues to be determined in the criminal case. It must appear not only that the civil case involves facts upon which the criminal action is based, but also that the resolution of the issues raised in the civil action will necessarily be determinative of the criminal case.


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