CASE 2020-0035: MARTIN N. LIM, JR., VS. MARIA CONCEPCION D. LINDAG (G.R. No. 234405, DECEMBER 9, 2020, PERALTA, C. J.) (SUBJECT/S: ESTAFA THROUGH MISAPPROPRIATION; MORAL DAMAGES; EXEMPLARY DAMAGES; CIVIL LIABILITY IN CASE OF ACQUITTAL) (BRIEF TITLE: LIM VS LINDAG)

DISPOSITIVE:

“WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The May 18, 2017 Decision and the September 6, 2017 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 104923 are hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATIONS. Accordingly, petitioner Martin N. Lim, Jr. is ORDERED to PAY the amount of Pl,300,000.00 as actual damages subject to six percent (6%) per annum interest rate from the date of finality of this decision until fully paid. The award of moral damages, exemplary damages and attorney’s fees are DELETED.

So Ordered.”

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

RESPONDENT BOUGHT CONDO FROM SAN JOSE BUILDERS. PETITIONER WAS SALES AGENT OF SELLER. RESPONDENT ISSUED TWO CROSSED  CHECKS TO PETITIONER. ONE CHECK AS PAYMENT AND ANOTHER FOR EXPENSES TO TRANSFER TITLE. RESPONDENT DISCOVERED PAYMENT CHECK WAS ENCASHED BUT NOT BY SAN JOSE BUILDERS. PETITIONER SAID HE WAS ROBBED AND CHECKS WERE TAKEN FROM HIM. ESTAFA CASES WERE FILED. BUT THESE CASES WERE DISMISSED ON GROUND OF REASONABLE DOUBT. BUT COURT (CA) RULED THAT PETITIONER IS CIVILLY LIABLE FOR VALUE OF CHECKS, MORAL DAMAGES, NOMINAL DAMAGES AND ATTYS FEES. SC AFFIRMED WITH MODIFICATION DELETING MORAL DAMAGES, NOMINAL DAMAGES AND ATTYS FEES.

PETITIONER ARGUES THAT SINCE HE WAS FOUND WITHOUT CRIM LIABILITY HE MUST NOT ALSO BE CIVILLY LIABLE. IS PETITIONER CORRECT?

NO. IN CASE ACQUITTAL IS BASED ON REASONABLE DOUBT, ACCUSED MAY BE HELD CIVILLY LIABLE.

“Petitioner maintains that there is no basis for civil liability because he was found innocent of the crime charged. Such argument must fail. It is entrenched in jurisprudence, that the extinction of penal action does not carry with it the extinction of civil action where (a) the acquittal is based on reasonable doubt as only a preponderance of evidence is required; (b) the court declares that the liability of the accused is only civil; and ( c) the civil liability of the accused does not arise from or is not based upon the crime of which the accused was acquitted.”

IS PETITIONER ENTITLED TO MORAL DAMAGES, EXEMPLARY DAMAGES AND ATTYS FEES?

NO. TO BE ENTITLED TO MORAL DAMAGES THERE MUST BE PLEADING AND PROOF. EXEMPLARY DAMAGES ARE ONLY IN ADDITION TO MORAL DAMAGES WHICH MUST BE PROVEN FIRST.

WHAT ARE THE FOUR ELEMENTS OF ESTAFA THRU MISAPPROPRIATION?

  • that the money, good or other personal property is received by the offender in trust, of on commission, of for administration, or under any other obligation involving the duty to make delivery of, or to return, the same;
  • that there be misappropriation or conversion of such money or property by the offender or denial on his part of such receipt;
  • that such misappropriation or conversion or denial is to the prejudice of another; and
  • that there is demand made by the offended party on the offender.

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