Sunday, March 04, 2012

Elcano vs. Hill

Facts: Reginald Hill was prosecuted criminally for killing Agapito Elcano. At the time of the occurrence, Reginald Hill is still a minor and is already legally married. Reginald is still living and gets subsistence with his father, Marvin Hill. Reginald was acquitted on the ground that his acts were not criminal because of “lack of intent to kill, coupled with mistakes. 

(1) Whether or not the present civil action for damages is already barred by the acquittal of Reginald. 

(2) Whether or not Atty. Marvin Hill has a vicarious liability being the father of a minor child who committed a delict. 

Held: No. The acquittal of Reginald Hill in the criminal case has not extinguished his liability for quasi-delicts, hence the acquittal is not a bar to the instant action against him. To find the accused guilty in a criminal case, proof beyond reasonable doubt is required unlike in civil cases, preponderance of evidence is sufficient. The concept of culpa acquiliana includes acts which are criminal in character or in violation of the penal law, whether voluntary or negligent. Also, Art 2177 CC provides that “Responsibility for fault or negligence is separate and distinct from the civil liability arising from negligence under the Penal Code. However, plaintiff cannot recover damages twice for the same act or omission. 

While it is true that parental authority is terminated upon emancipation of the child (ART 327CC), and under Art 397, emancipation takes place by marriage of the minor, such emancipation is not absolute and full. Reginald although married, was living with his father and still dependent from the latter. ART 2180 applies to Atty. Marvin Hill notwithstanding the emancipation by marriage of Reginald.

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