73 Phil. 607
* Facts: A head-on collision between a taxicab owned by Barredo and a carretela occurred. The carretela was overturned and one of its passengers, a 16-year old boy, the son of Garcia and Almario, died as a result of the injuries which he received. The driver of the taxicab, a employee of Barredo, was prosecuted for the crime and was convicted. When the criminal case was instituted, Garcia and Almario reserved their right to institute a separate civil action for damages. Subsequently, Garcia and Almario instituted a civil action for damages against Barredo, the employer of the taxicab driver.
* Held: “The pivotal question in this case is whether the plaintiffs may bring this separate civil action against Fausto Barredo thus making him primarily and directly responsible under Article 1903 of the Civil Code as an employer of Pedro Fontanilla. The defendant maintains that Fontanillaâ€™s negligence being punishable by the Penal Code, his (defendantâ€™s) liability as an employer is only subsidiary, according to said Penal Code, but Fontanilla has not been sued in a civil action and his property has not been exhausted. To decide the main issue, we must cut thru the tangle that has, in the minds of many, confused and jumbled together delitos and cuasi delitos, or crimes under the Penal Code and fault or negligence under Articles 1902-1910 of the Civil Code. This should be done because justice may be lost in a labyrinth, unless principles and remedies are distinctly envisaged. Fortunately, we are aided in our inquiry by the luminous presentation of this perplexing subject by renowned jurists and we are likewise guided by the decisions of this Court in previous cases as well as by the solemn clarity of the considerations in several sentences of the Supreme Tribunal of Spain.
* “Authorities support the proposition that a quasi-delict or â€˜culpa aquilianaâ€™ is a separate legal institution under the Civil Code, with a substantivity all its own, and individuality that is entirely apart and independent from a delict or crime. Upon this principle, and on the wording and spirit of Article 1903 of the Civil Code, the primary and direct responsibility of employers may be safely anchored.
* x x x x x
* “It will thus be seen that while the terms of Article 1902 of the Civil Code seem to be broad enough to cover the driverâ€™s negligence in the instant case, nevertheless Article 1903 limits cuasi-delitos TO ACTS OR OMISSIONS â€˜NOT PUNISHABLE BY LAW.â€™ But inasmuch as Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code punishes not only reckless but even simple imprudence or negligence, the fault or negligence under Article 1902 of the Civil Code has apparently been crowded out. It is this overlapping that makes the “confusion worse confounded.â€™ However, a closer study shows that such a concurrence of scope in regard to negligent acts does not destroy the distinction between the civil liability arising from a crime and the responsibility for cuasi-delitos or culpa extra-contractual. The same negligent act causing damages may produce civil liability arising from a crime under Article 100 of the Revised Penal Code; or create an action for cuasi-delito or culpa extra-contractual under Articles 1902-1910 of the Civil Code.
* “The individuality of cuasi-delito or culpa extra-contractual looms clear and uamistakable [sic] unmistakable. This legal institution is of ancient lineage, one of its early ancestors being the Lex Aquilia in Roman Law. In fact, in Spanish legal terminology, this responsibility is often referred to as culpa aquiliana. The Partidas also contributed to the genealogy of the present fault or negligence under the Civil Code: x x x .
* “The distinctive nature of cuasi-delitos survives in the Civil Code. According to Article 1089, one of the five sources of obligations is the legal institution of cuasi-delito or culpa extra-contractual: â€˜ los actos . . ....