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NLRC

Twelfth Division
GR 101767 May 8, 1992
TERTULIANO ABEJARON vs CA
Puno, J.:
Labor Arbiter has no jurisdiction over a complaint for damages for
malicious prosecution
Facts:
Petitioner Abejaron was employed by Pepsi Cola Bottling Co. as
salesman.
Pepsi suspended him without pay for an alleged unremitted collection.
A complaint for estafa was also filed (Provincial Fiscal) but
subsequently dismissed for lack of evidence.
Abejaron was reinstated but was served a warning on a second charge
that he had incurred questionable route shortages and had refused to
remit daily collections. He was grounded pending investigation.
Another complaint for estafa was filed with the City Fiscal. This time,
the corresponding information was filed with the RTC of GenSan City.
Abejaron was acquitted. Eventually, Abejaron was separated by Pepsi.
Abejaron then sued Pepsi FOR DAMAGES for the malicious filing
of the estafa charge against him with the RTC of GenSan City.
RTC It held Pepsi LIABLE for all the awards prayed for (actual,
compensatory, attys fees and moral damages)

The complaint was filed to recover damages, not on the basis of the
illegal termination, rather, on the alleged malicious prosecution and
its consequences
Damages
The award to Abejaron was modified, ABSOLVING Pepsi from paying
damages. No costs.
SUPREME COURT:
As to issue of Jurisdiction
The Court has carefully examined the allegations in the complaint
and holds that CA did not err in ruling that the case came under the
jurisdiction of the RTC, and not of the Labor Arbiter.
Case in point:
Pepsi vs Gal-ang
As to issue of Damages
Abejaron contends that CA could not rule upon the propriety of the
award of the damages because it had not been assigned as error (Sec
7, Rule 51)
The above provision should not be read in the restrictive manner.
CA is justified in ruling on the award of damages even if the issue was
not assigned as an error. Consideration was necessary to the just and
complete resolution of the case.
Cases in point: Vda. De Javellana vs CA, Baquiran vs CA, Hernandez vs
Andal
The Court agrees that the filing of the charge for estafa by Pepsi was
not made maliciously. Pepsi cannot be faulted for suing on what it
believed to be an actionable wrong; its good faith not having been
successfully assailed. This is a case of DAMNUM ABSQUE INJURIA.
Other matters:

COURT OF APPEALS Pepsi raised for the first time the sole issue of
lack of jurisdiction over the case.
Jurisdiction
Pepsi contention: as the complaint was essentially a monetary claim
arising from an employer-employee relationship, jurisdiction was
vested in the Labor Arbiter.
CA rejected this contention.

1. On the issue of jurisdiction raising it for the first time on appeal


There does not seem to be any reason why Pepsi did not invoke the
issue earlier. It willingly proceeded to trial, saying naught a word
about the issue of jurisdiction.
2. Petitioner contends that as the appeal was based on the sole issue
of jurisdiction, Pepsi sought the wrong remedy in going to the CA. as it
involved a pure question of law, it had no authority to resolve.

SC held that petitioner is now ESTOPPED from raising this objection