EDGAR JARANTILLA the Petitioner allegedly with his Volkswagen Beetle, side-swiped Private Respondent Jose Kuan Sing. Petitioner was criminal charged for Reckless Imprudence resulting to Serious Physical Injury. During trial, Private Respondent did not reserve the separate prosecution of his civil action and participated in the prosecution of the criminal action. The criminal court eventually dismissed the criminal complaint for failure to prove the guilt of the Petitioner beyond reasonable doubt. Subsequently, Private Respondent filed in the CFI a civil action against the Petitioner to which the latter filed a motion to dismissed. The CFI denied the motion of the Petitioner and suggest bringing the action to the Supreme Court to which the SC denied for lack of Merit. Continuing the prosecution of the civil action, the CFI rendered a decision ordering the Petitioner to pay the Private Respondent for the actual and moral damages, including Attorney’s Fees.
Petitioner appealed to the CA who affirmed the decision with modification on the moral damages. Petitioner filed a motion for Reconsideration, which was subsequently denied by the CA. hence this appeal to the SC.
Whether the failure of the complainant to reserve the prosecution of his civil action and actively participated in the criminal action is barred to subsequently pursue the former action when accused was acquitted in the latter action for failure to prove his guilt beyond reason doubt.
No, the same act or omission (in this case, the negligent sideswiping of private respondent) can create two kinds of liability on the part of the offender, that is, civil liability ex delicto and civil liability ex quasi delicto. Since the same negligence can give rise either to a delict or crime or to a quasi-delict or tort, either of these two types of civil liability may be enforced against the culprit, subject to the caveat under Article 2177 of the Civil Code that the offended party cannot recover damages under both types of liability.
Furthermore, in the present case the civil liability sought to be recovered through the application of Article 29 is no longer that based on or arising from the criminal offense. There is persuasive logic in the view that, under such circumstances, the acquittal of the accused foreclosed the civil liability based on Article 100 of the Revised Penal Code which presupposes the existence of criminal liability or requires a conviction of the offense charged. Divested of its penal element by such acquittal, the causative act or omission becomes in effect a quasi-delict, hence only a civil action based thereon may be instituted or prosecuted thereafter, which action can be proved by mere preponderance of evidence. Complementary to such considerations, Article 29 enunciates the rule, as already stated, that a civil action for damages is not precluded by an acquittal on reasonable doubt for the same criminal act or omission.