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Torts and Damages Case Digest: Pedro Elcano, et al., v. Reginal Hill et al. (1977)

G.R. No. L-24803 May 26, 1977
Laws Applicable: ART. 2177,Article 397,article 1093,Article 2180 of the Civil Code
Lessons Applicable: Quasi-delict (Tort and Damages)

  • Reginald Hill, a minor, married but living with his father, Atty. Marvin Hill with whom he was living and getting subsistence killed Agapito Elcano
  • CFI Civil Case: dismissed on the ground that he was acquitted on the ground that his act was not criminal, because of "lack of intent to kill, coupled with mistake
  • Spouses Elcano appealed
  1. W/N the civil action should be barred by the acquittal of criminal action - NO
  2. W/N the Civil Code can be applied to Atty. Marvin Hill even though Reginald is already married -YES
HELD: order appealed from is reversed

1. NO.
  • separate individuality of a cuasi-delito or culpa aquiliana, under the Civil Code has been fully and clearly recognized, even with regard to a negligent act for which the wrongdoer could have been prosecuted and convicted in a criminal case and for which, after such a conviction, he could have been sued for this civil liability arising from his crime.
  • If we were to hold that articles 1902 to 1910 of the Civil Code refer only to fault or negligence not punished by law, accordingly to the literal import of article 1093 of the Civil Code, the legal institution of culpa aquiliana would have very little scope and application in actual life
  • to find the accused guilty in a criminal case, proof of guilt beyond reasonable doubt is required, while in a civil case, preponderance of evidence is sufficient to make the defendant pay in damages. . Otherwise. there would be many instances of unvindicated civil wrongs. "Ubi jus Idemnified remedium." 
  • ART. 2177. Responsibility for fault or negligence under the preceding article is entirely separate and distinct from the civil liability arising from negligence under the Penal Code. But the plaintiff cannot recover damages twice for the same act or omission of the defendant.
  • in reiteration of Garcia, that culpa aquiliana includes voluntary and negligent acts which may be punishable by law
  • It results, therefore, that the acquittal of Reginal Hill in the criminal case has not extinguished his liability for quasi-delict, hence that acquittal is not a bar to the instant action against him.
2. YES
  • While it is true that parental authority is terminated upon emancipation of the child (Article 327, Civil Code), and under Article 397, emancipation takes place "by the marriage of the minor (child)", it is, however, also clear that pursuant to Article 399, emancipation by marriage of the minor is not really full or absolute. Thus "(E)mancipation by marriage or by voluntary concession shall terminate parental authority over the child's person. It shall enable the minor to administer his property as though he were of age, but he cannot borrow money or alienate or encumber real property without the consent of his father or mother, or guardian. He can sue and be sued in court only with the assistance of his father, mother or guardian."

  • Article 2180, "(T)he obligation imposed by article 2176 is demandable not only for one's own acts or omissions, but also for those of persons for whom one is responsible
  • the marriage of a minor child does not relieve the parents of the duty to see to it that the child, while still a minor, does not give answerable for the borrowings of money and alienation or encumbering of real property which cannot be done by their minor married child without their consent
  • Reginald is now of age, as a matter of equity, the liability of Atty. Hill has become milling, subsidiary to that of his son.