Civil Law

Philippine National Bank vs Dalmacio Catipon

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G.R. No. L-6662 – 98 Phil 286 – Civil Law – Torts and Damages – Effect of Acquittal on the Civil Liability

Dalmacio Catipon bought onions from J.V. Ramirez and Co., Inc. in 1951. The son of Ramirez told Catipon that the only way he could get the onions is for him to sign a trust receipt from Philippine National Bank (PNB). Catipon at that time had no knowledge or intention to be bound by the trust receipt but he signed it anyway so that he could get the onions he already paid for. Catipon subsequently disposed of the onions by selling them. Ramirez later became insolvent and the trust receipt went unpaid and since it was in Catipon’s name, PNB sued him for estafa for misappropriating the merchandise (onions). The lower court acquitted Catipon because his guilt was not satisfactorily established. Now PNB filed an action for recovery against Catipon. Catipon assailed the civil suit and he argues that PNB did not reserve its right to file a separate civil action.

ISSUE: Whether or not Catipon is still liable regardless of his acquittal in the criminal case.

HELD: Yes. The acquittal was because of the fact that his guilt was not satisfactorily established hence his acquittal was based on reasonable doubt and under the law, such acquittal does not preclude a suit to enforce the civil liability for the same act or omission, under Article 29 of the new Civil Code. This is even if there was no prior reservation by PNB to file a civil suit. Catipon is ordered to pay PNB without prejudice to Catipon’s rights against Ramirez.

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