Civil Law

Batangas Laguna Tayabas Bus Company, Inc. vs Court of Appeals

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G.R. Nos. L-33138-39 – 64 SCRA 427 159 Phil. 693 – – Civil Law – Torts and Damages – Civil Liability from Quasi Delicts vs Civil Liability from Crimes

In February 1963, Andres Ilagan was driving a bus owned by Batangas Laguna Tayaban Bus Company, Inc. (BLTB) along Manila South Super Highway. He sped pass a big cargo truck thereby taking the opposite lane and he hit the car driven by a certain Ricardo de los Reyes which resulted in the latter’s death and the latter’s niece’s death and causing serious injuries to the other car passengers. Ilagan was sued for homicide through reckless imprudence and while the case was pending in the Court of Appeals the victims sued Ilagan and BLTB for damages via an independent civil action based on Article 2180. BLTB assailed the suit as it invoked the opinion penned by Justice Capistrano in Corpus vs Paje which states that under Article 33 of the Civil Code it excludes criminal negligence as one of those which an independent civil action can be filed, hence homicide through reckless imprudence or criminal negligence comes under the general rule that the acquittal of the defendant in the criminal action is a bar to his civil liability based upon the same criminal act notwithstanding that the injured party reserved his right to institute a separate civil action; and based on this, BLTB wanted the dismissal of the civil suits pending the criminal suit in the CA.

ISSUE: Whether or not a civil suit can be filed independently of the criminal negligence case pending before the CA.

HELD: Yes. The opinion of Justice Capistrano in Corpus vs Paje is not controlling because it is not doctrinal – this is because the majority of the court did not agree with it. Also, the Corpus case was different because the damages claimed there were based on the same criminal negligence. But in the case at bar, the damages sought to be recovered were based on quasi-delict or Article 2176 and 2180 of the Civil Code which is an independent civil action.

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