Albenson v. CA

August 29, 2017 | Author: Francis Xavier Sinon | Category: Prosecutor, Damages, Malicious Prosecution, Complaint, Cheque
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Albenson Enterprises Corp., Jesse Yap, and Benjamin Mendiona, v. CA and Eugenio S. Baltao; G.R. No. 88694 January 11, 1993

FACTS: Albenson Enterprises delivered mild steel plates to Guaranteed Industries Inc. A Pacific Banking Corporation Check was paid and drawn against the account of EL Woodworks. The Check was dishonored by reason of “Account Closed.” Albenson, through counsel, traced the origin of the dishonored check from the records of the SEC that the president of Guaranteed, the recipient of the unpaid mild steel plates, was one "Eugenio S. Baltao". Albenson, through counsel, made an extrajudicial demand upon private respondent Eugenio S. Baltao to replace and/or make good the dishonored check. Failing to do so, Albenson filed a complaint against Baltao for violation of BP 22. It appears, however, that private respondent has a namesake, his son Eugenio Baltao III, who manages a business establishment, E.L. Woodworks. No effort from the father Eugenio Baltao to disclose to Albenson of such information. Because of the alleged unjust filing of a criminal case against him for allegedly issuing a check which bounced for a measly amount of P2,575.00, respondent Baltao filed before the RTC of Quezon City a complaint for damages against herein petitioners Albenson Enterprises, Jesse Yap, its owner, and Benjamin Mendiona, its employee. Private respondent, anchored his complaint for Damages on Articles 19, 20, and 21 of the Civil Code. Petitioners Albenson contending that the civil case filed in the lower court was one for malicious prosecution. Citing the case of Madera vs. Lopez (1981), they assert that the absence of malice on their part absolves them from any liability for malicious prosecution. ISSUE: Whether there is indeed cause for the Damages against Albenson Enterprise based on Articles 19, 20, and 21 of the Civil Code. RULING: NO. Certainly, petitioners could not be said to have violated the aforestated principle of abuse of right. What prompted petitioners to file the case for violation of Batas Pambansa Bilang 22 against private respondent was their failure to collect the amount of P2,575.00 due on a bounced check which they honestly believed was issued to them by private respondent. Petitioners had conducted inquiries regarding the origin of the check, and yielded the following results: from the records of the Securities and Exchange Commission, it was discovered that the President of Guaranteed (the recipient of the unpaid mild steel plates), was one "Eugenio S. Baltao"; an inquiry with the Ministry of Trade and Industry revealed that E.L. Woodworks, against whose account the check was drawn, was registered in the name of one "Eugenio Baltao"; verification with the drawee bank, the Pacific Banking Corporation, revealed that the signature appearing on the check belonged to one "Eugenio Baltao". There is however, no hard and fast rule which can be applied to determine whether or not the principle of abuse of rights may be invoked. The question of whether or not the principle of abuse of rights has been violated, resulting in damages under Articles 20 and 21 or other applicable provision of law, depends on the circumstances of each case. (Globe Mackay Cable and Radio Corporation vs. Court of Appeals, 176 SCRA 778 [1989]).

The elements of an abuse of right under Article 19 are the following: (1) There is a legal right or duty; (2) which is exercised in bad faith; (3) for the sole intent of prejudicing or injuring another. Article 20 speaks of the general sanction for all other provisions of law which do not especially provide for their own sanction (Tolentino, supra, p. 71). Thus, anyone who, whether willfully or negligently, in the exercise of his legal right or duty, causes damage to another, shall indemnify his victim for injuries suffered thereby. Article 21 deals with acts contra bonus mores, and has the following elements: 1) There is an act which is legal; 2) but which is contrary to morals, good custom, public order, or public policy; 3) and it is done with intent to injure. Thus, under any of these three (3) provisions of law, an act which causes injury to another may be made the basis for an award of damages. Furthermore, to constitute malicious prosecution, there must be proof that the prosecution was prompted by a sinister design to vex and humiliate a person, and that it was initiated deliberately by the defendant knowing that his charges were false and groundless. Concededly, the mere act of submitting a case to the authorities for prosecution does not make one liable for malicious prosecution. (Manila Gas Corporation vs. Court of Appeals, 100 SCRA 602 [1980]). Still, private respondent argues that liability under Articles 19, 20, and 21 of the Civil Code is so encompassing that it likewise includes liability for damages for malicious prosecution under Article 2219 (8). True, a civil action for damages for malicious prosecution is allowed under the New Civil Code, more specifically Articles 19, 20, 26, 29, 32, 33, 35, and 2219 (8) thereof. In order that such a case can prosper, however, the following three (3) elements must be present, to wit: (1) The fact of the prosecution and the further fact that the defendant was himself the prosecutor, and that the action was finally terminated with an acquittal; (2) That in bringing the action, the prosecutor acted without probable cause; (3) The prosecutor was actuated or impelled by legal malice (Lao vs. Court of Appeals, 199 SCRA 58, [1991]). The presence of probable cause signifies, as a legal consequence, the absence of malice. In the instant case, it is evident that petitioners were not motivated by malicious intent or by sinister design to unduly harass private respondent, but only by a well-founded anxiety to protect their rights when they filed the criminal complaint against private respondent.

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