THIRD THELMA B. SIAN REPRESENTED BY ROMUALDO A. SIAN, PETITIONER, VS. SPOUSES CAESAR A. SOMOSO AND ANITA B. SOMOSO, THE FORMER BEING SUBSTITUTED BY HIS SURVIVING SON, ANTHONY VOLTAIRE B. SOMOSO, MACARIO M. DE GUZMAN, JR., IN HIS CAPACITY AS SHERIFF III OF THE REGIONAL COURT OF PANABO, DAVAO, BRANCH 4, RESPONDENTS. G.R. No. 201812, January 22, 2020
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When the CA held that petitioner's complaint was frivolous, it was in effect granting the award of moral damage.s on the basis of Article 2219(8) of the Civil Code on malicious prosecution. Traditionally, the term malicious prosecution has been associated with unfounded criminal actions. Jurisprudence has also recognized malicious prosecution to include baseless civil suits intended to vex and humiliate the defendant despite the absence of a cause of action or probable cause. (Villanueva-Ong v. Enrile, G.R. No. 212904, November 22, 2017, 846 SCRA 376, 387-386). However, it should be stressed that the filing of an unfounded suit is not a ground for the grant of moral damages. Otherwise, moral damages must every time be awarded in favor of the prevailing defendant against an unsuccessful plaintiff. The law never intended to impose a penalty on the right to litigate so that the filing of an unfounded suit does not automatically entitle the defendant to moral damages. (Delos Santos v. Papa, 605 Phil. 460, 471 )
Besides, as the Court explained above, there was no showing that petitioner flied the case in bad faith or that the action was vexatious and baseless. Accordingly, since respondents are not entitled to moral damages, neither can they be awarded with exemplary damages, so with attorney's fees and the cost of litigation.
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