Civil Law

Eusebio Mendoza vs La Mallorca Bus Company

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G.R. No. L-26407 – 82 SCRA 245 – Civil Law –┬áTorts and Damages – Distinction of Liability of Employers Under Article 2180 and Their Liability Under the Revised Penal Code – Independent Civil Action

In April 1950, the freight truck owned by Eusebio Mendoza was bumped by a bus owned by La Mallorca Bus Company. Mendoza sued the bus driver for damage to property thru reckless imprudence. Mendoza reserved his right to file a separate civil action. The bus driver was subsequently convicted of the crime charged. Mendoza then filed a civil case based on Article 2180 against LMBC as the employer of the bus driver. However, the civil case was dismissed by reason of prescription as the case was filed 6 years after the collision.

Mendoza then filed a new suit against LMBC this time under Article 103 of the Revised Penal Code. LMBC argued that the dismissal of the civil case is a bar for filing another case under Article 103 of the RPC by reason of res judicata. The lower court as well as the Court of Appeals agreed with LMBC.

ISSUE: Whether or not the dismissal of the civil case based on Article 2180 of the Civil Code is a bar for filing another action based on Article 103 of the Revised Penal Code.

HELD: No. Civil action based on Article 2180 of the Civil Code and the civil action based on Article 103 of the RPC are two independent and separate actions based on distinct causes of actions therefore res judicata can not lie. Article 2180 of the Civil Code makes an employer primarily and directly liable for reason of his own negligence, either in the selection or supervision of his driver. Article 103 of the RPC makes an employer subsidiarily liable for damages caused by his negligent employee who is convicted from a previous criminal suit. In other words, Article 2180 of the CC is predicated upon the employer’s own negligence while Article 103 of the RPC is predicated upon the a crime committed by an employee of the employer.

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