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G.R. No. L-48006 – 73 Phil. 607 – Civil Law – Torts and Damages – Civil Liability from Quasi Delicts vs Civil Liability from Crimes
At about 1:30am on May 3, 1936, Pedro Fontanilla’s taxi collided with a kalesa thereby killing the 16 year old Faustino Garcia. Faustino’s parents (Severino Garcia and Timotea Almario) filed a criminal suit against Fontanilla and reserved their right to file a separate civil suit. Fontanilla was eventually convicted. After the criminal suit, Garcia and Almario filed a civil suit against Fausto Barredo – the owner of the taxi (employer of Fontanilla). The suit was based on Article 1903 of the civil code (negligence of employers in the selection of their employees). Barredo assailed the suit arguing that his liability is only subsidiary and that the separate civil suit should have been filed against Fontanilla primarily and not him.
ISSUE: Whether or not Barredo is only subsidiarily liable.
HELD: No. He is primarily liable under Article 1903 which is a separate civil action against negligent employers. Garcia is well within his rights in suing Barredo. He reserved his right to file a separate civil action and this is more expeditious because by the time of the SC judgment Fontanilla is already serving his sentence and has no property. It was also proven that Barredo is negligent in hiring his employees because it was shown that Fontanilla had had multiple traffic infractions already before he hired him – something he failed to overcome during hearing. Had Garcia not reserved his right to file a separate civil action, Barredo would have only been subsidiarily liable. Further, Barredo is not being sued for damages arising from a criminal act (his driver’s negligence) but rather for his own negligence in selecting his employee (Article 1903).