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G.R. No. L-48006
July 8, 1942


There was a head-on collision between a taxi of the Malate Taxicab driven by Pedro Fontanilla
and a carretela guided by Pedro Dimapalis on the road between Malabon and Navotas, Province
of Rizal. The carretela was overturned, and one of its passengers, Faustino Garcia, died as a
result of the injuries which he received. A criminal action was filed against Fontanilla who was
convicted. When the criminal case was instituted, Garcia and Almario reserved their right to
institute a separate civil action for damages. The respondents filed an action for damages against
Fausto Barredo as the sole proprietor of the Malate Taxicab and employer of Pedro Fontanilla. It
is undisputed that Fontanilla's negligence was the cause of the mishap, as he was driving on the
wrong side of the road, and at high speed.


May the respondents bring aseparate civil action against Fausto Barredo, thus making him
primarily and directly, responsible under article 1903 of the Civil Code as an employer of Pedro



The defendant maintains that Fontanilla’s negligence being punishable by the Penal Code,
his (defendant’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.

A quasi-delict or "culpa aquiliana " is a separate legal institution under the Civil Code with a
substantivity all its own, and individuality that is entirely apart and independent from delict or
crime. Upon this principle and on the wording and spirit article 1903 of the Civil Code, the
primary and direct responsibility of employers may be safely anchored.

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.

It should be said that the primary and direct responsibility of employers and their presumed
negligence are principles calculated to protect society. Workmen and employees should be
carefully chosen and supervised in order to avoid injury to the public. It is the masters or
employers who principally reap the profits resulting from the services of these servants and
employees. It is but right that they should guarantee the latter's careful conduct for the personnel
and patrimonial safety of others. Many jurists also base this primary responsibility of the
employer on the principle of representation of the principal by the agent.