1. ABOITIZ SHIPPING CORPORATION vs. COURT OF APPEALS, LUCILA C. VIANA, SPS. ANTONIO VIANA and GORGONIA VIANA, and PIONEER STEVEDORING CORPORATION (G.R. No. 84458 November 6, 1989)
Anacleto Viana boarded the vessel M/V Antonia, owned by Aboitiz Shipping Corporation, at the port at San Jose, Occidental Mindoro, bound for Manila. After said vessel had landed, the Pioneer Stevedoring Corporation took over the exclusive control of the cargoes loaded on said vessel pursuant to the Memorandum of Agreement between Pioneer and petitioner Aboitiz.
The crane owned by Pioneer was placed alongside the vessel and one (1) hour after the passengers of said vessel had disembarked, it started operation by unloading the cargoes from said vessel. While the crane was being operated, Anacleto Viana who had already disembarked from said vessel obviously remembering that some of his cargoes were still loaded in the vessel, went back to the vessel, and it was while he was pointing to the crew of the said vessel to the place where his cargoes were loaded that the crane hit him, pinning him between the side of the vessel and the crane. He was thereafter brought to the hospital where he later expired three (3) days thereafter.
Private respondents Vianas filed a complaint for damages against petitioner for breach of contract of carriage. Aboitiz denied responsibility contending that at the time of the accident, the vessel was completely under the control of respondent Pioneer Stevedoring Corporation as the exclusive stevedoring contractor of Aboitiz, which handled the unloading of cargoes from the vessel of Aboitiz.
Whether or not Aboitiz is negligent and is thus liable for the death.
x x x [T]he victim Anacleto Viana guilty of contributory negligence, but it was the negligence of Aboitiz in prematurely turning over the vessel to the arrastre operator for the unloading of cargoes which was the direct, immediate and proximate cause of the victim's death.
The rule is that the relation of carrier and passenger continues until the passenger has been landed at the port of destination and has left the vessel owner's dock or premises. 11 Once created, the relationship will not ordinarily terminate until the passenger has, after reaching his destination, safely alighted from the carrier's conveyance or had a reasonable opportunity to leave the carrier's premises. All persons who remain on the premises a reasonable time after leaving the conveyance are to be deemed passengers, and what is a reasonable time or a reasonable delay within this rule is to be determined from all the circumstances, and includes a reasonable time to see after his baggage and prepare for his departure. 12 The carrier-passenger relationship is not terminated merely by the fact that the person transported has been carried to his destination if, for example, such person remains in the carrier's premises to claim his baggage.
It is apparent from the foregoing that what prompted the Court to rule as it did in said case is the fact of the passenger's reasonable presence within the carrier's premises. That reasonableness of time should be made to depend on the attending circumstances of the case, such as the kind of common carrier, the nature of its business, the customs of the place, and so forth, and therefore precludes a consideration of the time element per se without taking into account such other factors. It is thus of no moment whether in the cited case of La Mallorca there was no appreciable interregnum for the passenger therein to leave the carrier's premises whereas in the case at bar, an interval of one (1) hour had elapsed before the victim met the accident. The primary
factor to be considered is the existence of a reasonable cause as will justify the presence of the victim on or near the petitioner's vessel. We believe there exists such a justifiable cause.
It is of common knowledge that, by the very nature of petitioner's business as a shipper, the passengers of vessels are allotted a longer period of time to disembark from the ship than other common carriers such as a passenger bus. With respect to the bulk of cargoes and the number of passengers it can load, such vessels are capable of accommodating a bigger volume of both as compared to the capacity of a regular commuter bus. Consequently, a ship passenger will need at least an hour as is the usual practice, to disembark from the vessel and claim his baggage whereas a bus passenger can easily get off the bus and retrieve his luggage in a very short period of time. Verily, petitioner cannot categorically claim, through the bare expedient of comparing the period of time entailed in getting the passenger's cargoes, that the ruling in La Mallorca is inapplicable to the case at bar. On the contrary, if we are to apply the doctrine enunciated therein to the instant petition, we cannot in reason doubt that the victim Anacleto Viana was still a passenger at the time of the incident. When the accident occurred, the victim was in the act of unloading his cargoes, which he had every right to do, from petitioner's vessel. As earlier stated, a carrier is duty bound not only to bring its passengers safely to their destination but also to afford them a reasonable time to claim their baggage. 2. La Mallorca v. Court of Appeals (17 SCRA 739) Post under case digests, Civil Law at Thursday, February 23, 2012 Posted by Schizophrenic Mind Facts: Plaintiffs husband and wife, together with their minor children, boarded a La Mallorca bus. Upon arrival at their destination, plaintiffs and their children alighted from the bus and the father led them to a shaded spot about 5 meters from the vehicle. The father returned to the bus to get a piece of baggage which was not unloaded. He was followed by her daughter Raquel. While the father was still on the running board awaiting
for the conductor to give his baggage, the bus started to run so that the father had to jump. Raquel, who was near the bus, was run over and killed. Lower court rendered judgment for the plaintiff which was affirmed by CA, holding La Mallorca liable for quasidelict and ordering it to pay P6,000 plus P400. La Mallorco contended that when the child was killed, she was no longer a passenger and therefore the contract of carriage terminated. Issue: Whether or not the contractual obligation between the parties ceases the moment the passenger alighted form the vehicle. Held: On the question whether the liability of the carrier, as to the child who was already led a place 5 meters from the bus under the contract of carrier, still persists, we rule in the affirmative. It is a recognized rules that the relation between carrier and passengers does not cease at the moment the passenger alights from the carrier’s premises, to be determined from the circumstances. In this case, there was no utmost diligence. Firstly, the driver, although stopping the bus, did not put off the engine. Secondly, he started to run the bus even before the bus conductor gave him the signal and while the latter was unloading cargo. Here, the presence of said passenger near the bus was not unreasonable and the duration of responsibility still exists. Averment of quasidelict
is permissible under the Rules of Court, although incompatible with the contract of carriage. The Rules of Court allows the plaintiffs to allege causes of action in the alternative, be they compatible with each other or not (Sec. 2, Rule 1). Even assuming arguendo that the contract of carriage has already terminated, herein petitioner can be held liable for the negligence of its driver pursuant to Art. 2180 of NCC. Decision MODIFIED. Only question raised in the briefs can be passed upon, and as plaintiffs did not appeals the award of P3,000.00 the increase by the CA of the award to P6,000.00 cannot be sustained.
4. CASE DIGEST (Transportation Law): Philippine Charter Insurance Corp. vs. Unknown Owner PHILIPPINE CHARTER INSURANCE CORPORATION vs. UNKNOWN OWNER OF THE VESSEL M/V “NATIONAL HONOR,” NATIONAL SHIPPING CORPORATION OF THE PHILIPPINES and INTERNATIONAL CONTAINER SERVICES, INC. [G.R. No. 161833. July 8, 2005]
FACTS: Petitioner Philippine Charter Insurance Corporation (PCIC) is the insurer of a shipment on board the vessel M/V “National Honor,” represented in the Philippines by its agent, National Shipping Corporation of the Philippines (NSCP).
The M/V “National Honor” arrived at the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT). The International Container Terminal Services, Incorporated
(ICTSI) was furnished with a copy of the crate cargo list and bill of lading, and it knew the contents of the crate. The following day, the vessel started discharging its cargoes using its winch crane. The crane was operated by Olegario Balsa, a winchman from the ICTSI, exclusive arrastre operator of MICT.
Denasto Dauz, Jr., the checker-inspector of the NSCP, along with the crew and the surveyor of the ICTSI, conducted an inspection of the cargo. They inspected the hatches, checked the cargo and found it in apparent good condition. Claudio Cansino, the stevedore of the ICTSI, placed two sling cables on each end of Crate No. 1. No sling cable was fastened on the midportion of the crate. In Dauz’s experience, this was a normal procedure. As the crate was being hoisted from the vessel’s hatch, the mid-portion of the wooden flooring suddenly snapped in the air, about five feet high from the vessel’s twin deck, sending all its contents crashing down hard, resulting in extensive damage to the shipment.
PCIC paid the damage, and as subrogee, filed a case against M/V National Honor, NSCP and ICTSI. Both RTC and CA dismissed the complaint.
ISSUE: Whether or not the presumption of negligence is applicable in the instant case.
HELD: No. We agree with the contention of the petitioner that common carriers, from the nature of their business and for reasons of public policy, are mandated to observe extraordinary diligence in the vigilance over the goods and for the safety of the passengers transported by them, according to all the circumstances of each case. he Court has defined extraordinary diligence in the vigilance over the goods as follows:
The extraordinary diligence in the vigilance over the goods tendered for shipment requires the common carrier to know and to follow the required
precaution for avoiding damage to, or destruction of the goods entrusted to it for sale, carriage and delivery. It requires common carriers to render service with the greatest skill and foresight and “to use all reasonable means to ascertain the nature and characteristic of goods tendered for shipment, and to exercise due care in the handling and stowage, including such methods as their nature requires.”
The common carrier’s duty to observe the requisite diligence in the shipment of goods lasts from the time the articles are surrendered to or unconditionally placed in the possession of, and received by, the carrier for transportation until delivered to, or until the lapse of a reasonable time for their acceptance, by the person entitled to receive them.] >When the goods shipped are either lost or arrive in damaged condition, a presumption arises against the carrier of its failure to observe that diligence, and there need not be an express finding of negligence to hold it liable. To overcome the presumption of negligence in the case of loss, destruction or deterioration of the goods, the common carrier must prove that it exercised extraordinary diligence.
However, under Article 1734 of the New Civil Code, the presumption of negligence does not apply to any of the following causes:
1. Flood, storm, earthquake, lightning or other natural disaster or calamity; 2. Act of the public enemy in war, whether international or civil; 3. Act or omission of the shipper or owner of the goods; 4. The character of the goods or defects in the packing or in the containers; 5. Order or act of competent public authority.
It bears stressing that the enumeration in Article 1734 of the New Civil Code which exempts the common carrier for the loss or damage to the cargo is a closed list. To exculpate itself from liability for the loss/damage to the cargo under any of the causes, the common carrier is burdened to prove any of the aforecited causes claimed by it by a preponderance of evidence. If the carrier succeeds, the burden of evidence is shifted to the shipper to prove that the carrier is negligent.
“Defect” is the want or absence of something necessary for completeness or perfection; a lack or absence of something essential to completeness; a deficiency in something essential to the proper use for the purpose for which a thing is to be used. On the other hand, inferior means of poor quality, mediocre, or second rate. A thing may be of inferior quality but not necessarily defective. In other words, “defectiveness” is not synonymous with “inferiority.”
In the present case, the trial court declared that based on the record, the loss of the shipment was caused by the negligence of the petitioner as the shipper:
The same may be said with respect to defendant ICTSI. The breakage and collapse of Crate No. 1 and the total destruction of its contents were not imputable to any fault or negligence on the part of said defendant in handling the unloading of the cargoes from the carrying vessel, but was due solely to the inherent defect and weakness of the materials used in the fabrication of said crate.
The crate should have three solid and strong wooden batten placed side by side underneath or on the flooring of the crate to support the weight of its contents. x x x
3. G.R. Nos. 66102-04 August 30, 1990
PHILIPPINE RABBIT BUS LINES, INC., petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT AND CASIANO PASCUA, ET AL., respondents.
Santiago & Santiago for petitioner.
Federico R. Vinluan for private respondents.
This is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision of the Intermediate Appellate Court (now Court of Appeals) dated July 29, 1983 in AC-G.R. Nos. CV-65885, CV-65886 and CV-65887 which reversed the decision of the Court of First Instance (now Regional Trial Court) of Pangasinan dated December 27, 1978; and its resolution dated November 28, 1983 denying the motion for reconsideration.
It is an established principle that the factual findings of the Court of Appeals are final and may not be reviewed by this Court on appeal. However, this principle is subject to certain exceptions. One of these is when the findings of the appellate court are contrary to those of the trial court (see Sabinosa v. The Honorable Court of Appeals, et al., G.R. No. L-47981, July 24, 1989) in which case, a re-examination of the facts and evidence may be undertaken. This is Our task now.
The antecedent facts are as follows:
About 11:00 o'clock in the morning on December 24, 1966, Catalina Pascua, Caridad Pascua, Adelaida Estomo, Erlinda Meriales, Mercedes Lorenzo, Alejandro Morales and Zenaida Parejas boarded the jeepney owned by spouses Isidro Mangune and Guillerma Carreon and driven by Tranquilino Manalo at Dau, Mabalacat, Pampanga bound for Carmen, Rosales, Pangasinan to spend Christmas at their respective homes. Although they usually ride in buses, they had to ride in a jeepney that day because the buses were full. Their contract with Manalo was for them to pay P24.00 for the trip. The private respondents' testimonial evidence on this contractual relationship was
not controverted by Mangune, Carreon and Manalo, nor by Filriters Guaranty Assurance Corporation, Inc., the insurer of the jeepney, with contrary evidence. Purportedly riding on the front seat with Manalo was Mercedes Lorenzo. On the left rear passenger seat were Caridad Pascua, Alejandro Morales and Zenaida Parejas. On the right rear passenger seat were Catalina Pascua, Adelaida Estomo, and Erlinda Meriales. After a brief stopover at Moncada, Tarlac for refreshment, the jeepney proceeded towards Carmen, Rosales, Pangasinan.
Upon reaching barrio Sinayoan, San Manuel, Tarlac, the right rear wheel of the jeepney was detached, so it was running in an unbalanced position. Manalo stepped on the brake, as a result of which, the jeepney which was then running on the eastern lane (its right of way) made a U-turn, invading and eventually stopping on the western lane of the road in such a manner that the jeepney's front faced the south (from where it came) and its rear faced the north (towards where it was going). The jeepney practically occupied and blocked the greater portion of the western lane, which is the right of way of vehicles coming from the north, among which was Bus No. 753 of petitioner Philippine Rabbit Bus Lines, Inc. (Rabbit) driven by Tomas delos Reyes. Almost at the time when the jeepney made a sudden U-turn and encroached on the western lane of the highway as claimed by Rabbit and delos Reyes, or after stopping for a couple of minutes as claimed by Mangune, Carreon and Manalo, the bus bumped from behind the right rear portion of the jeepney. As a result of the collision, three passengers of the jeepney (Catalina Pascua, Erlinda Meriales and Adelaida Estomo) died while the other jeepney passengers sustained physical injuries. What could have been a festive Christmas turned out to be tragic.
The causes of the death of the three jeepney passengers were as follows (p. 101, Record on Appeal):
The deceased Catalina Pascua suffered the following injuries, to wit: fracture of the left parietal and temporal regions of the skull; fracture of the left mandible; fracture of the right humenous; compound fracture of the left radious and ullma middle third and lower third; fracture of the upper third of the right tibia and fillnea; avulsion of the head, left internal; and multiple abrasions. The cause of her death was shock, secondary to fracture and multiple hemorrhage. The fractures were produced as a result of the hitting of the victim by a strong force. The abrasions could be produced when a person falls from a moving vehicles (sic) and rubs parts of her body against a cement
road pavement. . . .
Erlinda Mariles (sic) sustained external lesions such as contusion on the left parietal region of the skull; hematoma on the right upper lid; and abrasions (sic) on the left knee. Her internal lesions were: hematoma on the left thorax; multiple lacerations of the left lower lobe of the lungs; contusions on the left lower lobe of the lungs; and simple fractures of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th ribs, left. The forcible impact of the jeep caused the above injuries which resulted in her death. . . .
The cause of death of Erlinda or Florida Estomo (also called as per autopsy of Dr. Panlasiqui was due to shock due to internal hemorrhage, ruptured spleen and trauma. . . .
Caridad Pascua suffered physical injuries as follows (p. 101, Record on Appeal):
. . . lacerated wound on the forehead and occipital region, hematoma on the forehead, multiple abrasions on the forearm, right upper arm, back and right leg. . . .
The police investigators of Tacpal and policemen of San Manuel, Tarlac, Tarlac, upon arrival at the scene of the mishap, prepared a sketch (common exhibit "K" for private respondents "19" for Rabbit) showing the relative positions of the two vehicles as well as the alleged point of impact (p. 100, Record on Appeal):
. . . The point of collision was a cement pave-portion of the Highway, about six (6) meters wide, with narrow shoulders with grasses beyond which are canals on both sides. The road was straight and points 200 meters north and south of the point of collision are visible and unobstructed. Purportedly, the point of impact or collision (Exh. "K-4", Pascua on the sketch Exh. "K"-Pascua) was on the western lane of the highway about 3 feet (or one yard) from the center line as shown by the bedris (sic), dirt and soil (obviously from the undercarriage of both vehicles) as well as paint, marron (sic) from the Rabbit bus and greenish from the jeepney. The point of impact encircled and marked
with the letter "X" in Exh. "K"-4 Pascua, had a diameter of two meters, the center of which was about two meters from the western edge of cement pavement of the roadway. Pictures taken by witness Bisquera in the course of the investigation showed the relative positions of the point of impact and center line (Exh. "P"-Pascua) the back of the Rabbit bus (Exh. "P"-1-Pascua"), the lifeless body of Catalina Pascua (Exh. "P-2 Pascua"), and the damaged front part of the Rabbit bus (Exh. "P-3 Pascua"). No skid marks of the Rabbit bus was found in the vicinity of the collision, before or after the point of impact. On the other hand, there was a skid mark about 45 meters long purportedly of the jeepney from the eastern shoulder of the road south of, and extending up to the point of impact.
At the time and in the vicinity of the accident, there were no vehicles following the jeepney, neither were there oncoming vehicles except the bus. The weather condition of that day was fair.
After conducting the investigation, the police filed with the Municipal Court of San Manuel, Tarlac, a criminal complaint against the two drivers for Multiple Homicide. At the preliminary investigation, a probable cause was found with respect to the case of Manalo, thus, his case was elevated to the Court of First Instance. However, finding no sufficiency of evidence as regards the case of delos Reyes, the Court dismissed it. Manalo was convicted and sentenced to suffer imprisonment. Not having appealed, he served his sentence.
Complaints for recovery of damages were then filed before the Court of First Instance of Pangasinan. In Civil Case No. 1136, spouses Casiano Pascua and Juana Valdez sued as heirs of Catalina Pascua while Caridad Pascua sued in her behalf. In Civil Case No. 1139, spouses Manuel Millares and Fidencia Arcica sued as heirs of Erlinda Meriales. In Civil Case No. 1140, spouses Mariano Estomo and Dionisia Sarmiento also sued as heirs of Adelaida Estomo.
In all three cases, spouses Mangune and Carreon, Manalo, Rabbit and delos Reyes were all impleaded as defendants. Plaintiffs anchored their suits against spouses Mangune and Carreon and Manalo on their contractual liability. As against Rabbit and delos Reyes, plaintiffs based their suits on their culpability for a quasi-delict. Filriters Guaranty Assurance Corporation, Inc.
was also impleaded as additional defendant in Civil Case No. 1136 only.
For the death of Catalina Pascua, plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 1136 sought to collect the aggregate amount of P70,060.00 in damages, itemized as follows: P500.00 for burial expenses; P12,000.00 for loss of wages for 24 years; P10,000.00 for exemplary damages; P10,000.00 for moral damages; and P3,000.00 for attorney's fees. In the same case, plaintiff Caridad Pascua claimed P550.00 for medical expenses; P240.00 for loss of wages for two months; P2,000.00 for disfigurement of her face; P3,000.00 for physical pain and suffering; P2,500.00 as exemplary damages and P2,000.00 for attorney's fees and expenses of litigation.
In Civil Case No. 1139, plaintiffs demanded P500.00 for burial expenses; P6,000.00 for the death of Erlinda, P63,000.00 for loss of income; P10,000.00 for moral damages and P3,000.00 for attorney's fees or total of P80,000.00.
In Civil Case No. 1140, plaintiffs claimed P500.00 for burial expenses; P6,000.00 for the death of Adelaide, P56,160.00 for loss of her income or earning capacity; P10,000.00 for moral damages; and P3,000.00 for attorney's fees.
Rabbit filed a cross-claim in the amount of P15,000.00 for attorney's fees and expenses of litigation. On the other hand, spouses Mangune and Carreon filed a cross-claim in the amount of P6,168.00 for the repair of the jeepney and P3,000.00 for its non-use during the period of repairs.
On December 27, 1978, the trial court rendered its decision finding Manalo negligent, the dispositive portion of which reads (pp. 113-114, Record on Appeal):
PREMISES CONSIDERED, this Court is of the opinion and so holds:
1) That defendants Isidro Mangune, Guillerma Carreon and Tranquilino Manalo thru their negligence, breached contract of carriage with their
passengers the plaintiffs' and/or their heirs, and this Court renders judgment ordering said defendants, jointly and severally, to pay the plaintiffs —
a) In Civil Case No. 1136, for the death of Catalina Pascua, to pay her heirs the amounts of P12,000.00 for indemnity for loss of her life; P41,760.00 for loss of earnings; P324.40 for actual expenses and P2,000.00 for moral damages;
b) In the same Civil Case No.1136 for the injuries of Caridad Pascua, to pay her the amounts of P240.00 for loss of wages, P328.20 for actual expenses and P500.00 for moral damages;
c) In Civil Case No.1139 for the death of Erlinda Meriales, to pay her heirs (the plaintiffs) the amount of P12,000.00 — for indemnity for loss of her life; P622.00 for actual expenses, P60,480.00 for loss of wages or income and P2,000.00 for moral damages;
d) In Civil Case No. 1140, for the death of Erlinda (also called Florida or Adelaida Estomo), to pay her heirs (the plaintiff the amount of P12,000.00 for indemnity for the loss of her life; P580.00 for actual expenses; P53,160.00 for loss of wages or income and P2,000.00 for moral damages.
2) The defendant Filriters Guaranty Insurance Co., having contracted to ensure and answer for the obligations of defendants Mangune and Carreon for damages due their passengers, this Court renders judgment against the said defendants Filriters Guaranty Insurance Co., jointly and severally with said defendants (Mangune and Carreon) to pay the plaintiffs the amount herein above adjudicated in their favor in Civil Case No. 1136 only. All the amounts awarded said plaintiff, as set forth in paragraph one (1) hereinabove;
3) On the cross claim of Phil. Rabbit Bus Lines, Inc. ordering the defendant, Isidro Mangune, Guillerma Carreon and Tranquilino Manalo, to pay jointly and severally, cross-claimant Phil. Rabbit Bus Lines, Inc., the amounts of P216.27 as actual damages to its Bus No. 753 and P2,173.60 for loss of its earning.
All of the above amount, shall bear legal interest from the filing of the complaints.
Costs are adjudged against defendants Mangune, Carreon and Manalo and Filriters Guaranty.
On appeal, the Intermediate Appellate Court reversed the above-quoted decision by finding delos Reyes negligent, the dispositive portion of which reads (pp. 55-57, Rollo):
WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED, the lower court's decision is hereby REVERSED as to item No. 3 of the decision which reads:
3) On the cross claim of Philippine Rabbit Bus Lines, Inc. ordering the defendants Isidro Mangune, Guillerma Carreon and Tranquilino Manalo, to pay jointly and severally, the amounts of P216.27 as actual damages to its Bus No. 753 and P2,173.60 for loss of its earnings.
and another judgment is hereby rendered in favor of plaintiffs-appellants Casiana Pascua, Juan Valdez and Caridad Pascua, ordering the Philippine Rabbit Bus Lines, Inc. and its driver Tomas delos Reyes to pay the former jointly and severally damages in amounts awarded as follows:
For the death of Catalina Pascua, the parents and/or heirs are awarded
Civil Case No. 1136 —
Indemnity for the loss of life
Loss of Salaries or earning capacity
Actual damages (burial expenses)
For moral damages —
For attorney's fees —
For the physical injuries suffered by Caridad Pascua:
Civil Case No. 1136
Actual damages (hospitalization expenses)
Moral damages (disfigurement of the
face and physical suffering
For the death of Erlinda Arcega Meriales. the parents and/or heirs:
Civil Case No. 1139
Indemnity for loss of life —
Loss of Salary or Earning Capacity
Actual damages (burial expenses)
For the death of Florida Sarmiento Estomo:
Civil Case No. 1140
Indemnity for loss of life —
Loss of Salary or Earning capacity
Actual damages (burial expenses)
With costs against the Philippine Rabbit Bus Lines, Inc.
The motion for reconsideration was denied. Hence, the present petition.
The issue is who is liable for the death and physical injuries suffered by the passengers of the jeepney?
The trial court, in declaring that Manalo was negligent, considered the following (p. 106, Record on Appeal):
(1) That the unrebutted testimony of his passenger plaintiff Caridad Pascua that a long ways (sic) before reaching the point of collision, the Mangune jeepney was "running fast" that his passengers cautioned driver Manalo to slow down but did not heed the warning: that the right rear wheel was detached causing the jeepney to run to the eastern shoulder of the road then back to the concrete pavement; that driver Manalo applied the brakes after which the jeepney made a U-turn (half-turn) in such a manner that it inverted its direction making it face South instead of north; that the jeepney stopped on the western lane of the road on the right of way of the oncoming Phil. Rabbit Bus where it was bumped by the latter;
(2) The likewise unrebutted testimony of Police Investigator Tacpal of the San Manuel (Tarlac) Police who, upon responding to the reported collission, found the real evidence thereat indicate in his sketch (Exh. K, Pascua ), the tracks of the jeepney of defendant Mangune and Carreon running on the Eastern shoulder (outside the concrete paved road) until it returned to the concrete road at a sharp angle, crossing the Eastern lane and the (imaginary) center line and encroaching fully into the western lane where the collision took place as evidenced by the point of impact;
(3) The observation of witness Police Corporal Cacalda also of the San Manuel Police that the path of the jeepney they found on the road and indicated in the sketch (Exh. K-Pascua) was shown by skid marks which he described as "scratches on the road caused by the iron of the jeep, after its wheel was removed;"
(4) His conviction for the crime of Multiple Homicide and Multiple Serious Physical Injuries with Damage to Property thru Reckless Imprudence by the Court of First Instance of Tarlac (Exh. 24-Rabbit) upon the criminal Information by the Provincial Fiscal of Tarlac (Exh. 23-Rabbit), as a result of the collision, and his commitment to prison and service of his sentence (Exh. 25-Rabbit) upon the finality of the decision and his failure to appeal therefrom; and
(5) The application of the doctrine of res-ipsa loquitar (sic) attesting to the circumstance that the collision occured (sic) on the right of way of the Phil. Rabbit Bus.
The respondent court had a contrary opinion. Applying primarily (1) the doctrine of last clear chance, (2) the presumption that drivers who bump the rear of another vehicle guilty and the cause of the accident unless contradicted by other evidence, and (3) the substantial factor test. concluded that delos Reyes was negligent.
The misappreciation of the facts and evidence and the misapplication of the laws by the respondent court warrant a reversal of its questioned decision and resolution.
We reiterate that "[t]he principle about "the last clear" chance, would call for application in a suit between the owners and drivers of the two colliding vehicles. It does not arise where a passenger demands responsibility from the carrier to enforce its contractual obligations. For it would be inequitable to exempt the negligent driver of the jeepney and its owners on the ground that the other driver was likewise guilty of negligence." This was Our ruling in Anuran, et al. v. Buño et al., G.R. Nos. L-21353 and L-21354, May 20, 1966, 17 SCRA 224. 1 Thus, the respondent court erred in applying said doctrine.
On the presumption that drivers who bump the rear of another vehicle guilty and the cause of the accident, unless contradicted by other evidence, the respondent court said (p. 49, Rollo):
. . . the jeepney had already executed a complete turnabout and at the time of impact was already facing the western side of the road. Thus the jeepney assumed a new frontal position vis a vis, the bus, and the bus assumed a new role of defensive driving. The spirit behind the presumption of guilt on one who bumps the rear end of another vehicle is for the driver following a vehicle to be at all times prepared of a pending accident should the driver in front suddenly come to a full stop, or change its course either through change of mind of the front driver, mechanical trouble, or to avoid an accident. The rear vehicle is given the responsibility of avoiding a collision with the front vehicle for it is the rear vehicle who has full control of the situation as it is in
a position to observe the vehicle in front of it.
The above discussion would have been correct were it not for the undisputed fact that the U-turn made by the jeepney was abrupt (Exhibit "K," Pascua). The jeepney, which was then traveling on the eastern shoulder, making a straight, skid mark of approximately 35 meters, crossed the eastern lane at a sharp angle, making a skid mark of approximately 15 meters from the eastern shoulder to the point of impact (Exhibit "K" Pascua). Hence, delos Reyes could not have anticipated the sudden U-turn executed by Manalo. The respondent court did not realize that the presumption was rebutted by this piece of evidence.
With regard to the substantial factor test, it was the opinion of the respondent court that (p. 52, Rollo):
. . . It is the rule under the substantial factor test that if the actor's conduct is a substantial factor in bringing about harm to another, the fact that the actor neither foresaw nor should have foreseen the extent of the harm or the manner in which it occurred does not prevent him from being liable (Restatement, Torts, 2d). Here, We find defendant bus running at a fast speed when the accident occurred and did not even make the slightest effort to avoid the accident, . . . . The bus driver's conduct is thus a substantial factor in bringing about harm to the passengers of the jeepney, not only because he was driving fast and did not even attempt to avoid the mishap but also because it was the bus which was the physical force which brought about the injury and death to the passengers of the jeepney.
The speed of the bus was calculated by respondent court as follows (pp. 5455, Rollo):
According to the record of the case, the bus departed from Laoag, Ilocos Norte, at 4:00 o'clock A.M. and the accident took place at approximately around 12:30 P.M., after travelling roughly for 8 hours and 30 minutes. Deduct from this the actual stopover time of two Hours (computed from the testimony of the driver that he made three 40-minute stop-overs), We will have an actual travelling time of 6 hours and 30 minutes.
Under the circumstances, We calculate that the Laoag-Tarlac route (365 kms.) driving at an average of 56 km. per hour would take 6 hours and 30 minutes. Therefore, the average speed of the bus, give and take 10 minutes, from the point of impact on the highway with excellent visibility factor would be 80 to 90 kms. per hour, as this is the place where buses would make up for lost time in traversing busy city streets.
Still, We are not convinced. It cannot be said that the bus was travelling at a fast speed when the accident occurred because the speed of 80 to 90 kilometers per hour, assuming such calculation to be correct, is yet within the speed limit allowed in highways. We cannot even fault delos Reyes for not having avoided the collision. As aforestated, the jeepney left a skid mark of about 45 meters, measured from the time its right rear wheel was detached up to the point of collision. Delos Reyes must have noticed the perilous condition of the jeepney from the time its right rear wheel was detached or some 90 meters away, considering that the road was straight and points 200 meters north and south of the point of collision, visible and unobstructed. Delos Reyes admitted that he was running more or less 50 kilometers per hour at the time of the accident. Using this speed, delos Reyes covered the distance of 45 meters in 3.24 seconds. If We adopt the speed of 80 kilometers per hour, delos Reyes would have covered that distance in only 2.025 seconds. Verily, he had little time to react to the situation. To require delos Reyes to avoid the collision is to ask too much from him. Aside from the time element involved, there were no options available to him. As the trial court remarked (pp. 107-108, Record on Appeal):
. . . They (plaintiffs) tried to impress this Court that defendant de los Reyes, could have taken either of two options: (1) to swerve to its right (western shoulder) or (2) to swerve to its left (eastern lane), and thus steer clear of the Mangune jeepney. This Court does not so believe, considering the existing exigencies of space and time.
As to the first option, Phil. Rabbit's evidence is convincing and unrebutted that the Western shoulder of the road was narrow and had tall grasses which would indicate that it was not passable. Even plaintiffs own evidence, the pictures (Exhs. P and P-2, Pascua) are mute confirmation of such fact. Indeed, it can be noticed in the picture (Exh. P-2, Pascua) after the Rabbit bus came to a full stop, it was tilted to right front side, its front wheels resting most
probably on a canal on a much lower elevation that of the shoulder or paved road. It too shows that all of the wheels of the Rabbit bus were clear of the roadway except the outer left rear wheel. These observation appearing in said picture (Exh P-2, Pascua) clearly shows coupled with the finding the Rabbit bus came to a full stop only five meters from the point of impact (see sketch, Exh. K-Pascua) clearly show that driver de los Reyes veered his Rabbit bus to the right attempt to avoid hitting the Mangune's jeepney. That it was not successful in fully clearing the Mangune jeepney as its (Rabbit's) left front hit said jeepney (see picture Exh. 10-A-Rabbit) must have been due to limitations of space and time.
Plaintiffs alternatively claim that defendant delos Reyes of the Rabbit bus could also have swerved to its left (eastern lane) to avoid bumping the Mangune jeepney which was then on the western lane. Such a claim is premised on the hypothesis (sic) that the eastern lane was then empty. This claim would appear to be good copy of it were based alone on the sketch made after the collision. Nonetheless, it loses force it one were to consider the time element involved, for moments before that, the Mangune jeepney was crossing that very eastern lane at a sharp angle. Under such a situation then, for driver delos Reyes to swerve to the eastern lane, he would run the greater risk of running smack in the Mangune jeepney either head on or broadside.
After a minute scrutiny of the factual matters and duly proven evidence, We find that the proximate cause of the accident was the negligence of Manalo and spouses Mangune and Carreon. They all failed to exercise the precautions that are needed precisely pro hac vice.
In culpa contractual, the moment a passenger dies or is injured, the carrier is presumed to have been at fault or to have acted negligently, and this disputable presumption may only be overcome by evidence that he had observed extra-ordinary diligence as prescribed in Articles 1733, 1755 and 1756 of the New Civil Code 2 or that the death or injury of the passenger was due to a fortuitous event 3 (Lasam v. Smith, Jr., 45 Phil. 657).
The negligence of Manalo was proven during the trial by the unrebutted testimonies of Caridad Pascua, Police Investigator Tacpal, Police Corporal Cacalda, his (Manalo's) conviction for the crime of Multiple Homicide and
Multiple Serious Injuries with Damage to Property thru Reckless Imprudence, and the application of the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur supra. The negligence of spouses Mangune and Carreon was likewise proven during the trial (p. 110, Record on Appeal):
To escape liability, defendants Mangune and Carreon offered to show thru their witness Natalio Navarro, an alleged mechanic, that he periodically checks and maintains the jeepney of said defendants, the last on Dec. 23, the day before the collision, which included the tightening of the bolts. This notwithstanding the right rear wheel of the vehicle was detached while in transit. As to the cause thereof no evidence was offered. Said defendant did not even attempt to explain, much less establish, it to be one caused by a caso fortuito. . . .
In any event, "[i]n an action for damages against the carrier for his failure to safely carry his passenger to his destination, an accident caused either by defects in the automobile or through the negligence of its driver, is not a caso fortuito which would avoid the carriers liability for damages (Son v. Cebu Autobus Company, 94 Phil. 892 citing Lasam, et al. v. Smith, Jr., 45 Phil. 657; Necesito, etc. v. Paras, et al., 104 Phil. 75).
The trial court was therefore right in finding that Manalo and spouses Mangune and Carreon were negligent. However, its ruling that spouses Mangune and Carreon are jointly and severally liable with Manalo is erroneous The driver cannot be held jointly and severally liable with the carrier in case of breach of the contract of carriage. The rationale behind this is readily discernible. Firstly, the contract of carriage is between the carrier and the passenger, and in the event of contractual liability, the carrier is exclusively responsible therefore to the passenger, even if such breach be due to the negligence of his driver (see Viluan v. The Court of Appeals, et al., G.R. Nos. L-21477-81, April 29, 1966, 16 SCRA 742). In other words, the carrier can neither shift his liability on the contract to his driver nor share it with him, for his driver's negligence is his. 4 Secondly, if We make the driver jointly and severally liable with the carrier, that would make the carrier's liability personal instead of merely vicarious and consequently, entitled to recover only the share which corresponds to the driver, 5 contradictory to the explicit provision of Article 2181 of the New Civil Code. 6
We affirm the amount of damages adjudged by the trial court, except with respect to the indemnity for loss of life. Under Article 1764 in relation to Article 2206 of the New Civil Code, the amount of damages for the death of a passenger is at least three thousand pesos (P3,000.00). The prevailing jurisprudence has increased the amount of P3,000.00 to P30,000.00 (see Heirs of Amparo delos Santos, et al. v. Honorable Court of Appeals, et al., G.R. No. 51165, June 21, 1990 citing De Lima v. Laguna Tayabas Co., G.R. Nos. L35697-99, April 15, 1988, 160 SCRA 70).
ACCORDINGLY, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The decision of the Intermediate Appellate Court dated July 29, 1983 and its resolution dated November 28, 1983 are SET ASIDE. The decision of the Court of First Instance dated December 27, 1978 is REINSTATED MODIFICATION that only Isidro Mangune, Guillerma Carreon and Filriters Guaranty Assurance Corporation, Inc. are liable to the victims or their heirs and that the amount of indemnity for loss of life is increased to thirty thousand pesos (P30,000.00).
Narvasa (Chairman), Cruz, Gancayco and Griño-Aquino JJ., concur. 5.
[G.R. No. L-8937. November 29, 1957.]
OLEGARIO BRITO SY, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. MALATE TAXICAB & GARAGE, INC., Defendant-Appellant; MALATE TAXICAB & GARAGE, INC., third-party plaintiffappellant, v. JESUS DEQUITO Y DUPY, third-party Defendant-Appellee.
Paredes, Gaw & Acevedo for Appellee.
Diaz & Baizas for Appellant.
1. PLEADING AND PRACTICE; PRE-JUDICIAL QUESTION, CONSTRUED; CASE AT BAR. — Pre-judicial is understood in law to be that which precedes the criminal action, or that which requires a decision before final judgment is rendered in the principal action which said question is closely connected. Not all previous questions are pre-judicial, although all pre-judicial questions are necessarily previous. (Berbari v. Concepcion, 40 Phil. 837.) In the present case, the third-party complaint is not a pre-judicial question, as the issue in the main action is not entirely dependent upon those in the third-party complaint; on the contrary, it is the third-party complaint that is dependent upon the main case in the amount of damages which defendant-appellant seeks to be reimbursed in its third-party complaint. Furthermore, the complaint is based on contractual obligation of transportation of passenger which defendant-appellant failed to carry out, and the action is entirely different and independent from that in third-party complaint which is based on alleged tortious act committed by the third-party defendant. The main case, therefore, is entirely severable and may be litigated independently. Moreover, whatever the outcome of the third-party complaint might be would not in any way affect or alter the contractual liability of the appellant to plaintiff. If the collision was due to the negligence of the third-party defendant as alleged, then defendant-appellant may file a separate civil action for damages based on tort ex-delicto or upon quasi-delict, as the case may be.
2. COMMON CARRIERS; OBLIGATION TO TRANSPORT PASSENGER SAFELY CARRIER PRESUMED NEGLIGENT WHEN PASSENGER IS INJURED; HOW TO OVERCOME PRESUMPTION. — In an action based on a contract of carriage, the court need not make an express finding of fault or negligence on the part of the carrier in order to hold it responsible to pay the damages sought for by the passenger. By the contract of carriage, the carrier assumes the express obligation to transport the passenger to his destination safely and to observe extraordinary diligence with a due regard for all the circumstances, and any injury that might be suffered by the passenger is right away attributable to the fault or negligence of the carrier (Article 1756, new Civil Code). This is an exception to the general rule that negligence must be proved, and it is therefore incumbent upon the carrier to prove that it has exercised extraordinary diligence as prescribed i Article 1733 and 1755 of the new Civil
Code. In the case at bar, however, the defendant carrier failed to present any evidence at all to overcome and overwhelm the presumption of negligence imposed upon it by law; hence , there was no need for the lower court to make an express finding that the carrier was responsible to the collision, in view of the provision of the aforementioned Article 1756 of the new Civil Code.
On June 26, 1952, at Dewey Boulevard in front of the Selecta Restaurant, Olegario Brito Sy engaged a taxicab bearing plate No. Taxi-1130, owned and operated by the Malate Taxicab and Garage, Inc. and driven by Catalino Ermino, to take him to his place of business at Dencia’s Restaurant on the Escolta where he was the general manager. Upon reaching the Rizal Monument, he told the driver to turn to the right, but the latter did not heed him and instead countered that they better pass along Katigbak Drive. At the intersection of Dewey Boulevard and Katigbak Drive, the taxi collided with an army wagon with plate No. TPI-695 driven by Sgt. Jesus Dequito, as a result of which Olegario Brito Sy was jarred, jammed and jolted. He was taken to the Santa Isabel Hospital suffering from bruises and contusions as well as a fractured right leg. Thereafter he was transferred to the Gonzales Orthopedic Clinic and was accordingly operated on. He spent some P2,266.45 for medical bills and hospitalization.
On September 30, 1952, Sy filed action against the Malate Taxicab & Garage, Inc., based upon a contract of carriage, to recover the sums of P7,200 as actual or compensatory damages, P20,000 as moral damages, P15,000 as nominal and exemplary damages, and P3,000 a attorney’s fees. On October 2, 1952, a copy of the complaint was served on and received by the defendant, but the latter filed its answer only on October 20, 1952, wherein it alleged that the collision subject of the complaint was not due to the
negligence of its driver but to that of Sgt. Jesus Dequito, the driver of the army wagon; and, by way of counterclaim, sought to recover the sum of P1,000 as damages caused by the alleged malicious and frivolous action filed against it.
The record reveals that upon plaintiff’s motion filed on October 23, 1952, the lower court ordered on October 25, 1952 that the answer which was filed by defendant out of time be stricken out, and declared the Malate Taxicab & Garage, Inc. in default. Thereafter, on October 30, 1952, plaintiff presented his evidence, and on November 20, 1952 judgment was rendered awarding plaintiff the sum of P14,000 as actual, compensatory, moral, nominal and exemplary damages including attorney’s fees and costs, with interest at the legal rate from the filing of the action. Defendant then filed a motion on December 17, 1952, for relief from the order of default and for new trial, which was granted. Hence, plaintiff filed his reply to defendant’s answer and counterclaim, and by leave of court, the latter filed on February 24, 1953 a third-party complaint against Sgt. Jesus Dequito alleging that the cause of the collision between the taxicab and the army wagon was the negligence of the army sergeant, and praying that whatever amount the court may assess against it in the action filed by plaintiff, be paid to said third-party plaintiff, plus an additional amount of P1,000 representing attorney’s fees. It appears, however, that the summons and copy of the third-party complaint were never served upon third-party defendant Dequito in view of his continued assignment from place to place in connection with his army duties, and for this reason the main case was set for trial on May 10, 1953, obviously for the sole purpose of disposing of the issue arising from plaintiff’s complaint. On the day of the trial, defendant failed to appear, whereupon plaintiff presented his evidence, and judgment was rendered against the defendant in the total sum of P4,200 representing actual, compensatory and moral damages, as well as attorney’s fees, with interest at the legal rate from the filing of the action, plus costs of suit. Against said judgment defendant appealed to the Court of Appeals and assigned in its brief two errors of the lower court, namely:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"1. The trial court erred in not finding that the third-party complaint involves a prejudicial question, and therefore, the main complaint cannot be decided until the third-party complaint is decided.
2. The trial court erred in not deciding or making an express finding as to whether the defendant-appellant Malate Taxicab & Garage, Inc. was
responsible for the collision, and hence, civilly responsible to the plaintiffappellee."cralaw virtua1aw library
Finding the quoted assignment of errors as involving a purely question of law, the Court of Appeals, by virtue of the provisions of section 17, paragraph 6 of the Judiciary Act of 1948, as amended, certified the case to this Court for adjudication, in its Resolution of February 7, 1955.
We find no merit in the first assignment of error that the third- party complaint is a pre-judicial question. As enunciated by this Court in Berbari v. Concepcion, 40 Phil. 837, "Pre-judicial question is understood in law to be that which precedes the criminal action, or that which requires a decision before final judgment is rendered in the principal action with which said question is closely connected. Not all previous questions are pre-judicial, although all pre-judicial questions are necessarily previous." In the present case, the thirdparty complaint is not a pre-judicial question, as the issue in the main action is not entirely dependent upon those in the third-party complaint; on the contrary, it is the third-party complaint that is dependent upon the main case at least in the amount of damages which defendant-appellant seeks to be reimbursed in its third-party complaint. Furthermore, the complaint is based on a contractual obligation of transportation of passenger which defendantappellant failed to carry out, and the action is entirely different and independent from that in the third-party complaint which is based on alleged tortious act committed by the third-party defendant Sgt. Dequito. The main case, therefore, is entirely severable and may be litigated independently. Moreover, whatever the outcome of the third- party complaint might be would not in any way affect or alter the contractual liability of the appellant to plaintiff. If the collision was due to the negligence of the third-party defendant, as alleged, then defendant-appellant may file a separate civil action for damages based on tort ex-delicto or upon quasi-delict, as the case may be.
Coming to the second assignment of error that the lower court erred in not making an express finding as to whether defendant- appellant was responsible for the collision, we find the same to be unjustified. The pertinent provisions of the new Civil Code under the heading Common Carriers, are the following:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"ART. 1733. Common carriers, from the nature of their business and for reasons of public policy, are bound to observe extraordinary diligence in the vigilance over the goods and for the safety of the passengers transported by them, according to all the circumstances of each case.
Such extraordinary diligence in the vigilance over the goods is further expressed in articles 1734, 1735, and 1745, Nos. 5, 6, and 7, while the extraordinary diligence for the safety of the passengers is further set forth in articles 1755 and 1756.
"ART. 1755. A common carrier is bound to carry the passengers to safety as far as human cars and foresight can provide, using the utmost diligence of very cautious persons, with a due regard for all the circumstances.
"ART. 1756. In case of death of or injuries to passengers, common carriers are presumed to have been at fault or to have acted negligently, unless they prove that they observed extraordinary diligence as prescribed in articles 1733 and 1755." (Italics supplied.)
Evidently, under these provisions of law, the court need not make an express finding of fault or negligence on the part of the defendant-appellant in order to hold it responsible to pay the damages sought for by the plaintiff, for the action initiated therefor is based on a contract of carriage and not on tort. When plaintiff rode on defendant-appellant’s taxicab, the latter assumed the express obligation to transport him to his destination safely, and to observe extraordinary diligence with a due regard for all the circumstances, and any injury that might be suffered by the passenger is right away attributable to the fault or negligence of the carrier (Article 1756, supra). This is an exception to the general rule that negligence must be proved, and it was therefore incumbent upon the carrier to prove that it has exercised extraordinary diligence as prescribed in Articles 1733 and 1755 of the new Civil Code. It is noteworthy, however, that at the hearing in the lower court defendant-appellant failed to appear and has not presented any evidence at all to overcome and overwhelm the presumption of negligence imposed upon it by law; hence, there was no need for the lower court to make an express finding thereon in view of the provisions of the aforequoted Article 1756 of the new Civil Code.
Wherefore, the decision of the lower court is hereby affirmed with cost against the Appellant.
Paras, C.J., Bengzon, Montemayor, Bautista Angelo, Labrador and Concepcion, JJ., concur.
REYES, J. B. L., J., concurring:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
I concur for the additional reason that the concurrent negligence of a third person will not exempt the appellant from responsibility; in other words, if the driver of the taxicab was negligent and thereby caused the collision, the fact that another driver’s negligence also contributed thereto will not exempt the taxicab company. Hence, the negligence of the other driver is not a prejudicial question to the present action. 6. CONRADA VDA. DE ABETO, CARME0000LO ABETO, CECILIA ABETO, CONCEPCION ABETO, MARIA ABETO, ESTELA ABETO, PERLA ABETO, PATRIA ABETO and ALBERTO ABETO, plaintiffs-appellees, vs. PHILIPPINE AIR LINES, INCORPORATED, defendant-appellant.
Quijano, Arroyo & Padilla Law Offices for plaintiffs-appellees.
Siguion Reyna, Montecillo & Ongsiako, Belo and Associates for defendantappellant.
Appeal from the decision of the Court of First Instance of Iloilo finding that defendant-appellant "did not exercise extraordinary diligence or prudence as far as human foresight can provide ... but on the contrary showed negligence and indifference for the safety of the passengers that it was bound to transport, …" and for the death of Judge Quirico Abeto, defendant- appellant was ordered to pay plaintiffs, the heirs of Judge Abeto, the following:
1st — For the death of Judge Quirico Abeto, the amount of P6,000.00;
2nd — For the loss of his earning capacity, for 4.75 (4 ¾) years at the rate of P7,200.00 per annum in the amount of P34,200.00;
3rd — For moral damages in favor of the plaintiffs in the sum of P10,000.00;
4th — For actual damages in the sum of P2,000.00 minus P400.00 received under Voucher Exhibit 'H' the amount of Pl,600.00;
5th — For attorney's fees, the sum of P6,000.00 and/or the total sum of P57,800.00 and; To pay the costs of this proceedings.
Plaintiff's evidence shows that about 5:30 in the afternoon of November 23, 1960, Judge Quirico Abeto, with the necessary tickets, boarded the Philippine Air Lines' PI-C133 plane at the Mandurriao Airport, Iloilo City for Manila. He was listed as the No. 18 passenger in its Load Manifest (Exhibit A). The plane which would then take two hours from Iloilo to Manila did not reach its destination and the next day there was news that the plane was missing. After three weeks, it was ascertained that the plane crashed at Mt. Baco,
Province of Mindoro. All the passengers, including Judge Abeto, must have been killed instantly and their remains were scattered all over the area. Among the articles recovered on the site of the crash was a leather bag with the name "Judge Quirico Abeto. " (Exhibit C.)
Judge Abeto, prior to the plane crash, was a Technical Assistant in the Office of the President receiving an annual compensation of P7,200.00; and before that, has held the various positions in the government, namely: Municipal President of Iloilo; Provincial Fiscal of Antique, Negros Occidental and Cebu; Judge of the Court of First Instance of Manila, and Secretary of Justice. He was in good health before the incident even if he was already 79 years old at that time.
Plaintiff-appellee Conrada Vda. de Abeto was appointed administratrix of the estate of Judge Abeto. The other plaintiffs-appellees are the children of the deceased. When they received the news of the plane crash, Mrs. Abeto was shocked and until it was ascertained that the plane had crashed three weeks after, she could not sleep and eat. She felt sick and was miserable after that. The members of the family also suffered.
Personal belongings which were lost amounted to P300.00. Burial expenses of the late judge was P1,700.00.
When defendant-appellant would not hear demands for settlement of damages, plaintiffs-appellees were compelled to hire counsel for the institution and prosecution of this case.
Defendant-appellant tried to prove that the plane crash at Mt. Baco was beyond the control of the pilot. The plane at the time of the crash was airworthy for the purpose of conveying passengers across the country as shown by the certificate of airworthiness issued by the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA). There was navigational error but no negligence or malfeasance on the part of the pilot. The plane had undergone 1,822 preflight checks, 364 thorough checks, 957 terminating checks and 501 after maintenance checks. These checks were part of the quality control operation of defendant airline Further, deviation from its prescribed route was due to the bad weather conditions between Mt. Baco and Romblon and strong winds
which caused the plane to drift to Mt. Baco. Under the circumstances, appellant argues that the crash was a fortuitous event and, therefore, defendant-appellant cannot be held liable under the provisions of Article 1174 of the New Civil Code. Besides, appellant tried to prove that it had exercised all the cares, skill and diligence required by law on that particular flight in question.
The trial court, finding for the plaintiffs, said:
The Court after a thorough perusal of the evidences, testimonial and documentaries submitted by both parties has come into the conclusion that the evidence introduced by the plaintiffs have established the following significant facts which proved the negligence of the defendant's pilot of the plane on that flight- in question.
1st — That the Pilot of the plane disobeyed instruction given in not following the route of Amber 1 prescribed by the CAA in Violation of Standard Regulation.
Second — The defendant failed to perform the pre-flight test on plane PIC133 before the same took off from Mandurriao Airport to Manila in order to find out a possible defect of the plane.
Third — When the defendant allowed during the flight in question, student Officer Rodriguez on training as proved when his body was found on the plane's cockpit with its microphone hanging still on his left leg.
Fourth — When the Pilot during the flight in question failed or did not report his position over or abeam Romblon which is a compulsory reporting point.
These facts as established by the evidence of the plaintiff lead to the inevitable conclusion that the defendant did not exercise extraordinary diligence or prudence as far as human foresight can provide imposed upon by the Law, but on the contrary showed negligence and indifference for the
safety of the passengers that it was bound to transport. By the very evidence of the defendant, as shown by the deposition of one Jose Abanilla, dated December 13, 1963, Section Chief of the Actuarial Department of the Insular Life Insurance Company regarding life expectancy through American experience, the late Judge Abeto at the age of 79 would still live or have a life expectancy of 4.75 years.
Appealing to this Court, defendant claimed that the trial court erred:
... in finding, contrary to the evidence, that the appellant was negligent;
... in not finding that the appellant, in the conduct and operation of PI-C133, exercised its statutory obligation over the passengers of PI C133 of extraordinary diligence as far as human care and foresight can provide, using the utmost diligence of a very cautious person with due regard for all the circumstances and in not finding that the crash of PI-C133 was caused by fortuitous events;
... in awarding damages to the appellees; and
... in not finding that appellant acted in good faith and exerted efforts to minimize damages.
The issue before Us in this appeal is whether or not the defendant is liable for violation of its contract of carriage.
The provisions of the Civil Code on this question of liability are clear and explicit. Article 1733 binds common carriers, "from the nature of their business and by reasons of public policy, ... to observe extraordinary diligence in the vigilance ... for the safety of the passengers transported by them according to all the circumstances of each case." Article 1755 establishes the standard of care required of a common carrier, which is, "to carry the passengers safely as far as human care and foresight can provide, using the utmost diligence of very cautious persons, with due regard for all the circumstances." Article 1756 fixes the burden of proof by providing that "in case of death of or injuries to passengers, common carriers are presumed to have been at fault or to have acted negligently, unless they prove that they observed extra-ordinary diligence as prescribed in Articles 1733 and 1755." Lastly, Article 1757 states that "the responsibility of a common carrier for the safety of passengers ... cannot be dispensed with or lessened by stipulation, by the posting of notices, by statements on tickets, or otherwise."
The prescribed airway of plane PI-C133 that afternoon of November 23, 1960, with Capt. de Mesa, as the pilot, was Iloilo-Romblon-Manila, denominated as airway "Amber l," and the prescribed elevation of the flight was 6,000 ft. The fact is, the plane did not take the designated route because it was some 30 miles to the west when it crashed at Mt. Baco. According to defendant's witness, Ramon A. Pedroza, Administrative Assistant of the Philippine Air Lines, Inc., this tragic crash would have not happened had the pilot continued on the route indicated. Hereunder is Mr. Pedroza's testimony on this point:
Q Had the pilot continued on the route indicated, Amber A-1 there would have been no crash, obviously?
A Yes, Your Honor
(To the witness)
Q Because Mt. Baco is 30 miles from Amber I?
A Yes,sir.(TSN,p.75,Oct.22,1963 hearing)
And, Assistant Director Cesar Mijares of the Civil Aeronautics Administration testified that the pilot of said plane was "off course."
Q But the fact is that you found him out, that he was off course?
A Yes, sir.
Q And off course, you mean that he did not follow the route prescribed for him?
A Yes, sir.
Q And the route for him to follow was Amber A-l?
A Yes, sir.
Q And the route for Iloilo direct to Manila, is passing Romblon to Manila?
A Yes, passing Romblon to Manila.
Q And you found that he was not at all following the route to Romblon to
A Yes, sir.
Q You know Mr. Witness that a disregard or, violation, or disregard of instruction is punishable by law?
A Yes,sir. (TSN,pp.247-248,Dec. 20, 1963)
It is clear that the pilot did not follow the designated route for his flight between Romblon and Manila. The weather was clear and he was supposed to cross airway "Amber I" over Romblon; instead, he made a straight flight to Manila in violation of air traffic rules.
At any rate, in the absence of a satisfactory explanation by appellant as to how the accident occurred, the presumption is, it is at fault.
In an action based on a contract of carriage, the court need not make an express finding of fault or negligence on the part of the carrier in order to hold it responsible to pay the damages sought for by the passenger. By the contract of carriage, the carrier assumes the express obligation to transport the passenger to his destination safely and to observe extraordinary diligence with a due regard for all the circumstances, and any injury that might be suffered by the passenger is right away attributable to the fault or negligence of the carrier (Art. 1756, New Civil Code). This is an exception to the general rule that negligence must be proved. (Batangas Transportation Company vs. Caguimbal, 22 SCRA 171.)
The total of the different items which the lower court adjudged herein appellant to pay the plaintiffs is P57,800.00. The judgment of the court a quo is modified in the sense that the defendant is hereby ordered to pay the said
amount to the plaintiffs, with legal interest thereon from the finality of this judgment. With costs against defendant-appellant. 7. PHILIPPINE AIRLINES vs. NLRC et al JULY 11, 2010 ~ VBDIAZ PHILIPPINE AIRLINES vs. NLRC et al
G.R. No. 132805
Feb. 2, 1999
FACTS: Private respondent Dr. Fabros was employed as flight surgeon at petitioner company. He was assigned at the PAL Medical Clinic and was on duty from 4:00 in the afternoon until 12:00 midnight.
On Feb.17, 1994, at around 7:00 in the evening, Dr. FAbros left the clinic to have his dinner at his residence, which was abou t5-minute drive away. A few minutes later, the clinic received an emergency call from the PAL Cargo Services. One of its employeeshad suffered a heart attack. The nurse on duty, Mr. Eusebio, called private respondent at home to inform him of the emergency. The patient arrived at the clinic at 7:50 in the evening and Mr. Eusebio immediately rushed him to the hospital. When Dr. Fabros reached the clinic at around 7:51 in the evening, Mr. Eusebio had already left with the patient to the hospital. The patient died the following day.
Upon learning about the incident, PAL Medical Director ordered the Chief Flight Surgeon to conduct an investigation. In his explanation, Dr. Fabros asserted that he was entitled to a thirty-minute meal break; that he immediately left his residence upon being informed by Mr. Eusebio about the emergency and he arrived at the clinic a few minutes later; that Mr. Eusebio panicked and brought the patient to the hospital without waiting for him.
Finding private respondent’s explanation unacceptable, the management charged private respondent with abandonment of post while on duty. He denied that he abandoned his post on February 17, 1994. He said that he only left the clinic to have his dinner at home. In fact, he returned to the clinic at 7:51 in the evening upon being informed of the emergency.
After evaluating the charge as well as the answer of private respondent, he was given a suspension for three months effective December 16, 1994.
Private respondent filed a complaint for illegal suspension against petitioner.
On July 16, 1996, the Labor Arbiter rendered a decision declaring the suspension of private respondent illegal. It also ordered petitioner to pay private respondent the amount equivalent to all the benefits he should have received during his period of suspension plus P500,000.00 moral damages.
Petitioner appealed to the NLRC.
The NLRC, however, dismissed the appeal after finding that the decision of the Labor Arbiter is supported by the facts on record and the law on the matter. The NLRC likewise denied petitioner’s motion for reconsideration.
Hence, this petition.
WON the nullifying of the 3-month suspension by the NLRC erroneous.
WON the awarding of moral damages is proper.
HELD: The petition is PARTIALLY GRANTED. The portion of the assailed decision awarding moral damages to private respondent is DELETED. All other aspects of the decision are AFFIRMED
1. The legality of private respondent’s suspension: Dr. Fabros left the clinic that night only to have his dinner at his house, which was only a few minutes’ drive away from the clinic. His whereabouts were known to the nurse on duty so that he could be easily reached in case of emergency. Upon being informed of Mr. Acosta’s condition, private respondent immediately left his home and returned to the clinic. These facts belie petitioner’s claim of abandonment. Petitioner argues that being a full-time employee, private respondent is obliged to stay in the company premises for not less than eight (8) hours. Hence, he may not leave the company premises during such time, even to take his meals. We are not impressed. Art. 83 and 85 of the Labor Code read: Art. 83. Normal hours of work. — The normal hours of work of any employee shall not exceed eight (8) hours a day. Health personnel in cities and municipalities with a population of at least one million (1,000,000) or in hospitals and clinics with a bed capacity of at least one hundred (100) shall hold regular office hours for eight (8) hours a day, for five (5) days a week, exclusive of time for meals, except where the exigencies of the service require that such personnel work for six (6) days or forty-eight (48) hours, in which case they shall be entitled to an additional compensation of at least thirty per cent (30%) of their regular wage for work on the sixth day. For purposes of this Article, “health personnel” shall include: resident physicians, nurses, nutritionists, dieticians, pharmacists, social workers, laboratory technicians, paramedical technicians, psychologists, midwives, attendants and all other hospital or clinic personnel. (emphasis supplied) Art. 85. Meal periods. — Subject to such regulations as the Secretary of Labor may prescribe, it shall be the duty of every employer to give his employees not less than sixty (60) minutes time-off for their regular meals. Sec. 7, Rule I, Book III of the Omnibus Rules Implementing the Labor Code further states: Sec. 7. Meal and Rest Periods. — Every employer shall give his employees, regardless of sex, not less than one (1) hour time-off for regular meals, except in the following cases when a meal period of not less than twenty (20) minutes may be given by the employer provided that such shorter meal period is credited as compensable hours worked of the employee; (a) Where the work is non-manual work in nature or does not involve strenuous physical exertion; (b) Where the establishment regularly operates not less than sixteen hours a day; (c) In cases of actual or impending emergencies or there is urgent work to be performed on machineries, equipment or installations to avoid serious loss which the employer would otherwise suffer; and (d) Where
the work is necessary to prevent serious loss of perishable goods. Rest periods or coffee breaks running from five (5) to twenty (20) minutes shall be considered as compensable working time. Thus, the eight-hour work period does not include the meal break. Nowhere in the law may it be inferred that employees must take their meals within the company premises. Employees are not prohibited from going out of the premises as long as they return to their posts on time. Private respondent’s act, therefore, of going home to take his dinner does not constitute abandonment. 2. The award of moral damages: Not every employee who is illegally dismissed or suspended is entitled to damages. As a rule, moral damages are recoverable only where the dismissal or suspension of the employee was attended by bad faith or fraud, or constituted an act oppressive to labor, or was done in a manner contrary to morals, good customs or public policy In the case at bar, there is no showing that the management of petitioner company was moved by some evil motive in suspending private respondent. It suspended private respondent on an honest, albeit erroneous, belief that private respondent’s act of leaving the company premises to take his meal at home constituted abandonment of post which warrants the penalty of suspension. Under the circumstances, we hold that private respondent is not entitled to moral damages. 8. 9. Title: G.R. No. L-22272 Maranan v. Perez Case
Facts of the Case: The carrier was charged for damages due to the case where his former employee executed homicide.
According the Civil code of the Philippines, made a point that the common carrier is "liable for the damages done by his employees to their passengers" by the wording of Art. 1759 which states that:
"Common carriers are liable for the death or of injuries to passengers through negligence or willful acts of the former's employers, although
such employees may have acted beyond the scope of their authority or in violation of the Common carriers."
Antonia Maranan, the mother of the victim filed an action in the court of First Instance of Batangas to recover damages from Perez who is the carrier and Valenzuela, who is the suspect found guilty of homicide for the death of Rogelio Corachea, her son. In defense of Perez claimed that deceased was killed in self-defense because he was the first who assaulted the driver. In addition to that, the defendant claimed that the death was caso foruito which means Perez, the carrier is not liable for the damages done. In the end, the lower court adjudged the defendant carrier liable pursuant to Article 1759 of the Civil Code
Whether the carrier did not partake on the crime scene, is responsible for the protection of the passengers? Whether the carrier is not involve in that event, is responsible for the action of his employees? Whether it is not the fault of the carrier committing the crime, is liable due to the fact that he hired the employee who failed transporting the passenger to safety? Whether it's the employee's fault, the carrier will bear the risk of wrongful acts or negligence of the carrier's employees against passengers?
The court's decision is yes, the carrier is liable for the damages due to Art. 1759 of the Civil Code proves his guilt.
The three very least reasons to which the remaining issues are also 'yesy', explained in Texas Midland R.R. v. Monroe, 110 Tex. 97, 216 S.W. 388, 389390, and Haver v. Central Railroad Co., 43 LRA 84, 85: (1) the special undertaking of the carrier requires that it furnish its passenger that full measure of protection afforded by the exercise of the high degree of care prescribed by the law, inter alia from violence and insults at the hands of strangers and other passengers, but above all, from the acts of the carrier's own servants charged with the passenger's safety; (2) said liability of the carrier for the servant's violation of duty to passengers, is the result of the formers confiding in the servant's hands the performance of his contract to safely transport the passenger, delegating therewith the duty of protecting the passenger with the utmost care prescribed by law; and (3) as between the carrier and the passenger, the former must bear the risk of wrongful acts or negligence of the carrier's employees against passengers, since it, and not the passengers, has power t o select and remove them 10. G.R. No. L-28014-15
May 29, 1970
SPOUSES MARCELO LANDINGIN and RACQUEL BOCASAS, plaintiffs-appellees, vs. PANGASINAN TRANSPORTATION CO. and MARCELO OLIGAN, defendantsappellants.
SPOUSES PEDRO GARCIA and EUFRACIA LANDINGIN, plaintiffs-appellees, vs. PANGASINAN TRANSPORTATION CO. and MARCELO OLIGAN, defendantsappellants.
Gabriel A. Zabala for plaintiffs-appellees.
Vicente M. Erfe Law Office for defendants-appellants.
Direct appeal on a question of law from the portion of the judgment of the Court of First Instance of Manila ordering the defendants Pangasinan Transportation Co. (PANTRANCO) and Marcelo Oligan to pay the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. D-1468 (L-28014) the sum of P6,500.00, and the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 1470 (L28015) the sum of P3,500.00.
The complaints in said Civil Cases Nos. D-1468 and D-1470 were filed by the spouses Marcelo Landingin and Racquel Bocasas, and the spouses Pedro Garcia and Eufracia Landingin, respectively, for damages allegedly suffered by them in connection with the death of their respective daughter, Leonila Landingin and Estrella Garcia, due to the alleged negligence of the defendants and/or breach of contract of carriage. In their complaints, plaintiffs averred, among others, that in the morning of April 20, 1963, their above-mentioned daughters were among the passengers in the bus driven by defendant Marcelo Oligan and owned and operated by defendant PANTRANCO on an excursion trip from Dagupan City to Baguio City and back, that the bus was open on one side and enclosed on the other, in gross violation of the rules of the Public Service Commission; that defendant PANTRANCO acted with negligence, fraud and bad faith in pretending to have previously secured a special permit for the trip when in truth it had not done so; that upon reaching an uphill point at Camp 8, Kennon Road, Baguio City, on the onward trip, defendant driver, through utter lack of foresight, experience and driving knowledge, caused the bus to stall and stop for a few moments; that through the said defendant's fault and mishandling, the motor ceased to function, causing the bus to slide back unchecked; that when the said defendant suddenly swerved and steered the bus toward the mountainside, Leonila and Estrella, together with several other passengers, were thrown out of the bus through its open side unto the road, suffering serious injuries as a result of which Leonila and Estrella died at the hospital and the same day; and that in connection with the incident, defendant driver had been charged with and convicted of multiple homicide and multiple slight physical injuries on account of the death of Leonila and Estrella and of the injuries suffered by four others, although it may be said, by way of parenthesis, that this case is now pending appeal in a higher court. The plaintiffs prayed for awards of moral, actual and exemplary damages in the total sum of P40,000.00 in Civil Case No. D-1468, and in the total sum of P25,000.00 in Civil Case No. D-1470
as well as attorney's fees in the amounts of P5,000.00 and P4,000.00, respectively.
Defendants filed a joint answer to each of the two complaints alleging, among others, that at the time of the accident, defendant driver was driving the bus at, the slow speed of about 10 kilometers per hour; that while the said defendant was steering his bus toward the mountainside after hearing a sound coming from under the rear end of the bus, Leonila and Estrella recklessly, and in disobedience to his shouted warnings and advice, jumped out of the bus causing their heads to hit the road or pavement; that the bus was then being driven with extraordinary care, prudence and diligence; that defendant PANTRANCO observed the care and diligence of a good father of a family to prevent the accident as well as in the selection and supervision of its employees, particularly of defendant driver; and that the decision convicting the said defendant was not yet final, the same having been appealed to the Court of Appeals where it was still pending.
By agreement of the parties, the two cases were tried jointly. On October 17, 1966, the court a quo rendered its decision therein in which it made the following findings; that upon reaching the fatal spot at Camp 8, a sudden snapping or breaking of metal below the floor of the bus was heard, and the bus abruptly stopped, rolling back a few moments later; that as a result, some of the passengers jumped out of the bus, while others stepped down; that defendant driver maneuvered the bus safely to and against the side of the mountain where its rear end was made to rest, ensuring the safety of the many passengers still inside the bus; that while defendant driver as steering the bus towards the mountainside, he advised the passengers not to jump, but to remain seated; that Leonila and Estrella were not thrown out of the bus, but that they panicked and jumped out; that the malfunctioning of the motor resulted from the breakage of the cross-joint; that there was no negligence on the part of either of the defendants; that only the day before, the said cross-joint was duly inspected and found to be in order; and that defendant PANTRANCO had exercised the requisite care in the selection and supervision of its employees, including the defendant driver. The court concluded that "the accident was caused by a fortuitous event or an act of God brought about by some extra-ordinary circumstances independent of the will of the Pantranco or its employees."
One would wonder why in the face of such factual findings and conclusion of the trial court, the defendants, instead of the plaintiffs, should come to this
Court on appeal. The answer lies in the dispositive portion of the decision, to wit:
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING CONSIDERATIONS, the Court hereby renders judgment: (a) Absolving the defendants from any liability on account of negligence on their part and therefore dismissing the complaints in these two cases; (b) However, as stated above, the Court hereby orders the defendant Pantranco to pay to the plaintiffs spouses Marcelo Tandingin and Racquel Bocasas in Civil Case No. D-1468 the amount of P6,500.00; and the amount of P3,500.00 to the spouses Pedro Garcia and Eufracia Landingin in Civil Case No. D-1470, not in payment of liability because of any negligence on the part of the defendants but as an expression of sympathy and goodwill. (Emphasis supplied.)
As to what impelled the court below to include item (b) in the dispositive portion of its decision, can be gathered from the penultimate paragraph of the decision, which reads:
However, there is evidence to the effect that an offer of P8,500.00 in the instant cases without any admission of fault or negligence had been made by the defendant Pantranco and that actually in Civil Case No. D-1469 for the death of Pacita Descalso, the other deceased passenger of the bus in question, the heirs of the decease received P3,000.00 in addition to hospital and medical bills and the coffin of the deceased for the dismissal of the said case without Pantranco accepting liability. There was as a matter of fact during the pre-trial of these two cases a continuing offer of settlement on the part of the defendant Pantranco without accepting any liability for such damages, and the Court understood that the Pantranco would be willing still to pay said amounts even if these cases were to be tried on the merits. It is well-known that the defendant Pantranco is zealous in the preservation of its public relations. In the spirit therefore of the offer of the defendant Pantranco aforesaid, to assuage the feelings of the herein plaintiffs an award of P6,500.00 for the spouses Marcelo Landingin and Racquel Bocasas in Civil Case No. D-1468 whose daughter Leonila was, when she died, a third-year Commerce student at the Far Eastern University, and P3,500.00 for the spouses Pedro Garcia and Eufracia Landingin in Civil Case No. D-1470 whose daughter Estrella was in the fourth year High at the Dagupan Colleges when she died, is hereby made in their favor. This award is in addition to what Pantranco might have spent to help the parents of both deceased after the accident.
Defendants-appellants complain that having found them to be absolutely free from fault or negligence, and having in fact dismissed the complaints against them, the court should not have ordered them to assume any pecuniary liability. There would be merit in his argument but for the fact that defendantappellant PANTRANCO was guilty of breach of contract of carriage. It will be noted that in each of the two complaints it is averred that two buses including the one in which the two deceased girls were riding, were hired to transport the excursionist passengers from Dagupan City to Baguio City, and return, and that the said two passengers did not reach destination safely.
As a common carrier, defendant-appellant PANTRANCO was duty bound to carry its passengers "safely as far as human care and foresight can provide, using the utmost diligence of very cautious persons, with a due regard for all the circumstances." (Article 1755, Civil Code.) Did defendant-appellant PANTRANCO measure up to the degree of care and foresight required it under the circumstances? We think not. The court below found that the cross-joint of the bus in which the deceased were riding broke, which caused the malfunctioning of the motor, which in turn resulted in panic among some of the passengers. This is a finding of fact which this Court may not disturb. We are of the opinion, however, that the lower court's conclusion drawn from that fact, i.e., that "the accident was caused by a fortuitous event or an act of God brought about by some extraordinary circumstances independent of the will of the Pantranco or its employees," is in large measure conjectural and speculative, and was arrived at without due regard to all the circumstances, as required by Article 1755. In Lasam vs. Smith (45 Phil. 660), this Court held that an accident caused by defects in the automobile is not a caso fortuito. The rationale of the carrier's liability is the fact that "the passenger has neither the choice nor control over the carrier in the selection and use of the equipment and appliances in use by the carrier." (Necesito, et al. vs. Paras, et al., 104 Phil. 75.)
When a passenger dies or is injured, the presumption is that the common carrier is at fault or that it acted negligently (Article 1756). This presumption is only rebutted by proof on the carrier's part that it observed the "extraordinary diligence" required in Article 1733 and the "utmost diligence of very cautious persons" required in Article 1755 (Article 1756). In the instant case it appears that the court below considered the presumption rebutted on the strength of defendants-appellants' evidence that only the day before the incident, the crossjoint in question was duly inspected and found to be in
order. It does not appear, however, that the carrier gave due regard for all the circumstances in connection with the said inspection. The bus in which the deceased were riding was heavily laden with passengers, and it would be traversing mountainous, circuitous and ascending roads. Thus the entire bus, including its mechanical parts, would naturally be taxed more heavily than it would be under ordinary circumstances. The mere fact that the bus was inspected only recently and found to be in order would not exempt the carrier from liability unless it is shown that the particular circumstances under which the bus would travel were also considered.
In the premises, it was error for the trial court to dismiss the complaints. The awards made by the court should be considered in the concept of damages for breach of contracts of carriage.
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING CONSIDERATIONS, the judgment appealed from is modified as indicated above, and defendant-appellant PANTRANCO is ordered to pay to plaintiffs-appellees the amounts stated in the judgment appealed from, as damages for breach of contracts, with interest thereon at the legal rate from the date of the filing of the complaints. Costs against defendant-appellant PANTRANCO. 11. PHILIPPINE RABBIT BUS LINES, INC. and FELIX PANGALANGAN, plaintiffsappellants, vs. PHIL-AMERICAN FORWARDERS, INC., ARCHIMEDES J. BALINGIT and FERNANDO PINEDA, defendants-appellees.
Angel A. Sison for plaintiffs-appellants.
Fidel Zosimo U. Canilao for defendants-appellees.
Philippine Rabbit Bus Lines, Inc. and Felix Pangalangan appealed on pure questions of law from the order of the Court of First Instance of Tarlac, dismissing their complaint against Archimedes J. Balingit.
The dismissal was based on the ground that Balingit as the manager of PhilAmerican Forwarders, Inc., which together with Fernando Pineda and Balingit, was sued for damages in an action based on quasi-delict or culpa aquiliana, is not the manager of an establishment contemplated in article 2180 of the Civil Code (Civil Case No. 3865).
In the complaint for damages filed by the bus company and Pangalangan against Phil-American Forwarders, Inc., Balingit and Pineda, it was alleged that on November 24, 1962, Pineda drove recklessly a freight truck, owned by Phil-American Forwarders, Inc., along the national highway at Sto. Tomas, Pampanga. The truck bumped the bus driven by Pangalangan, which was owned by Philippine Rabbit Bus Lines, Inc. As a result of the bumping, Pangalangan suffered injuries and the bus was damaged and could not be used for seventy-nine days, thus depriving the company of earnings amounting to P8,665.51. Balingit was the manager of Phil-American Forwarders, Inc.
Among the defenses interposed by the defendants in their answer was that Balingit was not Pineda's employer.
Balingit moved that the complaint against him be dismissed on the ground that the bus company and the bus driver had no cause of action against him. As already stated, the lower court dismissed the action as to Balingit. The bus company and its driver appealed.
The Civil Code provides:têñ.£îhqwâ£
Whoever by act or omission causes damage to another, there
being fault or negligence, is obliged to pay for the damage done. Such fault or negligence, if there is no pre-existing contractual relation between the parties, is called a quasi-delict and is governed by the provisions of this Chapter.
ART. 2180. The obligation imposed by article 2176 is demandable not only for one's own acts or omissions, but also for those of persons for whom one is responsible.
The owners and managers of an establishment or enterprise are likewise responsible for damages caused by their employees in the service of the branches in which the latter are employed or on the occasion of their functions.
Employers shall be liable for the damages caused by their employees and household helpers acting within the scope of their assigned tasks, even though the former are not engaged in any business or industry.
The responsibility treated of in this article shall cease when the persons herein mentioned prove that they observed all the diligence of a good father of a family to prevent damage. (1903a)
The novel and unprecedented legal issue in this appeal is whether the terms "employers" and "owners and managers of an establishment or enterprise" (dueños o directores de un establicimiento o empresa) used in article 2180 of the Civil Code, formerly article 1903 of the old Code, embrace the manager of a corporation owning a truck, the reckless operation of which allegedly resulted in the vehicular accident from which the damage arose.
We are of the opinion that those terms do not include the manager of a corporation. It may be gathered from the context of article 2180 that the term "manager" ("director" in the Spanish version) is used in the sense of "employer".
Hence, under the allegations of the complaint, no tortious or quasi-delictual liability can be fastened on Balingit as manager of Phil-American Forwarders, Inc., in connection with the vehicular accident already mentioned because he himself may be regarded as an employee or dependiente of his employer, Phil-American Forwarders, Inc.
Thus, it was held "que es dependiente, a los efectos de la responsabilidad subsidiaria establecida en el num 3.0 del (art.) 1903, el director de un periodico explotado por una sociedad, porque cualquiera que sea su jerarquia y aunque Ileve la direccion de determinadas convicciones politicas no por eso deja de estar subordinado a la superior autoridad de la Empresa" (Decision of Spanish Supreme Court dated December 6, 1912 cited in 12 Manresa, Codigo Civil Español 5th Ed. 662; 1913 Enciclopedia Juridica Española 992).
The bus company and its driver, in their appellants' brief, injected a new factual issue which was not alleged in their complaint. They argue that PhilAmerican Forwarders, Inc. is merely a business conduit of Balingit because out of its capital stock with a par value of P41,200, Balingit and his wife had subscribed P40,000 and they paid P10,000 on their subscription, while the other incorporators, namely, Rodolfo Limjuco, Ponciano Caparas and Rafael Suntay paid P250.25 and P25, respectively.
That argument implies that the veil of corporate fiction should be pierced and that Phil-American Forwarders, Inc. and Balingit and his wife should be treated as one and the same civil personality.
We cannot countenance that argument in this appeal. It was not raised in the lower court. The case has to be decided on the basis of the pleadings filed in the trial court where it was assumed that Phil-American Forwarders, Inc. has a personality separate and distinct from that of the Balingit spouses.
The legal issue, which the plaintiffs-appellants can ventilate in this appeal, is one which was raised in the lower court and which is within the issues framed by the parties (Sec. 18, Rule 46, Rules of Court).
When a party deliberately adopts a certain theory and the case is decided upon that theory in the court below, he will not be permitted to change his theory on appeal because, to permit him to do so, could be unfair to the adverse party (2 Moran's Comments on the Rules of Court, 1970 Ed. p. 505).
WHEREFORE, the lower court's order of dismissal is affirmed. Costs against the plaintiffs-appellants.
SO ORDERED. 12. [G.R. No. 111127. July 26, 1996]
MR. & MRS. ENGRACIO FABRE, JR.* and PORFIRIO CABIL, petitioners, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, THE WORD FOR THE WORLD CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, INC., AMYLINE ANTONIO, JOHN RICHARDS, GONZALO GONZALES, VICENTE V. QUE, JR., ICLI CORDOVA, ARLENE GOJOCCO, ALBERTO ROXAS CORDERO, RICHARD BAUTISTA, JOCELYN GARCIA, YOLANDA CORDOVA, NOEL ROQUE, EDWARD TAN, ERNESTO NARCISO, ENRIQUETA LOCSIN, FRANCIS NORMAN O. LOPEZ, JULIUS CAESAR GARCIA, ROSARIO MA. V. ORTIZ, MARIETTA C. CLAVO, ELVIE SENIEL, ROSARIO MARA-MARA, TERESITA REGALA, MELINDA TORRES, MARELLA MIJARES, JOSEFA CABATINGAN, MARA NADOC, DIANE MAYO, TESS PLATA, MAYETTE JOCSON, ARLENE Y. MORTIZ, LIZA MAYO, CARLOS RANARIO, ROSAMARIA T. RADOC and BERNADETTE FERRER, respondents. DECISION MENDOZA, J.:
This is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-GR No. 28245, dated September 30, 1992, which affirmed with modification the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Makati, Branch 58, ordering petitioners jointly and severally to pay damages to private
respondent Amyline Antonio, and its resolution which denied petitioners motion for reconsideration for lack of merit.
Petitioners Engracio Fabre, Jr. and his wife were owners of a 1982 model Mazda minibus. They used the bus principally in connection with a bus service for school children which they operated in Manila. The couple had a driver, Porfirio J. Cabil, whom they hired in 1981, after trying him out for two weeks. His job was to take school children to and from the St. Scholasticas College in Malate, Manila.
On November 2, 1984 private respondent Word for the World Christian Fellowship Inc. (WWCF) arranged with petitioners for the transportation of 33 members of its Young Adults Ministry from Manila to La Union and back in consideration of which private respondent paid petitioners the amount of P3,000.00.
The group was scheduled to leave on November 2, 1984, at 5:00 oclock in the afternoon. However, as several members of the party were late, the bus did not leave the Tropical Hut at the corner of Ortigas Avenue and EDSA until 8:00 oclock in the evening. Petitioner Porfirio Cabil drove the minibus.
The usual route to Caba, La Union was through Carmen, Pangasinan. However, the bridge at Carmen was under repair, so that petitioner Cabil, who was unfamiliar with the area (it being his first trip to La Union), was forced to take a detour through the town of Ba-ay in Lingayen, Pangasinan. At 11:30 that night, petitioner Cabil came upon a sharp curve on the highway, running on a south to east direction, which he described as siete. The road was slippery because it was raining, causing the bus, which was running at the speed of 50 kilometers per hour, to skid to the left road shoulder. The bus hit the left traffic steel brace and sign along the road and rammed the fence of one Jesus Escano, then turned over and landed on its left side, coming to a full stop only after a series of impacts. The bus came to rest off the road. A coconut tree which it had hit fell on it and smashed its front portion.
Several passengers were injured. Private respondent Amyline Antonio was thrown on the floor of the bus and pinned down by a wooden seat which came off after being unscrewed. It took three persons to safely remove her
from this position. She was in great pain and could not move.
The driver, petitioner Cabil, claimed he did not see the curve until it was too late. He said he was not familiar with the area and he could not have seen the curve despite the care he took in driving the bus, because it was dark and there was no sign on the road. He said that he saw the curve when he was already within 15 to 30 meters of it. He allegedly slowed down to 30 kilometers per hour, but it was too late.
The Lingayen police investigated the incident the next day, November 3, 1984. On the basis of their finding they filed a criminal complaint against the driver, Porfirio Cabil. The case was later filed with the Lingayen Regional Trial Court. Petitioners Fabre paid Jesus Escano P1,500.00 for the damage to the latters fence. On the basis of Escanos affidavit of desistance the case against petitioners Fabre was dismissed.
Amyline Antonio, who was seriously injured, brought this case in the RTC of Makati, Metro Manila. As a result of the accident, she is now suffering from paraplegia and is permanently paralyzed from the waist down. During the trial she described the operations she underwent and adduced evidence regarding the cost of her treatment and therapy. Immediately after the accident, she was taken to the Nazareth Hospital in Ba-ay, Lingayen. As this hospital was not adequately equipped, she was transferred to the Sto. Nio Hospital, also in the town of Ba-ay, where she was given sedatives. An x-ray was taken and the damage to her spine was determined to be too severe to be treated there. She was therefore brought to Manila, first to the Philippine General Hospital and later to the Makati Medical Center where she underwent an operation to correct the dislocation of her spine.
In its decision dated April 17, 1989, the trial court found that:
No convincing evidence was shown that the minibus was properly checked for travel to a long distance trip and that the driver was properly screened and tested before being admitted for employment. Indeed, all the evidence presented have shown the negligent act of the defendants which ultimately resulted to the accident subject of this case.
Accordingly, it gave judgment for private respondents holding:
Considering that plaintiffs Word for the World Christian Fellowship, Inc. and Ms. Amyline Antonio were the only ones who adduced evidence in support of their claim for damages, the Court is therefore not in a position to award damages to the other plaintiffs.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court hereby renders judgment against defendants Mr. & Mrs. Engracio Fabre, Jr. and Porfirio Cabil y Jamil pursuant to articles 2176 and 2180 of the Civil Code of the Philippines and said defendants are ordered to pay jointly and severally to the plaintiffs the following amount:
1) P93,657.11 as compensatory and actual damages;
2) P500,000.00 as the reasonable amount of loss of earning capacity of plaintiff Amyline Antonio;
3) P20,000.00 as moral damages;
4) P20,000.00 as exemplary damages; and
5) 25% of the recoverable amount as attorneys fees;
6) Costs of suit.
The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the trial court with respect to Amyline Antonio but dismissed it with respect to the other plaintiffs on the ground that they failed to prove their respective claims. The Court of Appeals modified the award of damages as follows:
1) P93,657.11 as actual damages;
2) P600,000.00 as compensatory damages;
3) P50,000.00 as moral damages;
4) P20,000.00 as exemplary damages;
5) P10,000.00 as attorneys fees; and
6) Costs of suit.
The Court of Appeals sustained the trial courts finding that petitioner Cabil failed to exercise due care and precaution in the operation of his vehicle considering the time and the place of the accident. The Court of Appeals held that the Fabres were themselves presumptively negligent. Hence, this petition. Petitioners raise the following issues:
I. WHETHER OR NOT PETITIONERS WERE NEGLIGENT.
II. WHETHER OR NOT PETITIONERS WERE LIABLE FOR THE INJURIES SUFFERED BY PRIVATE RESPONDENTS.
III. WHETHER OR NOT DAMAGES CAN BE AWARDED AND IN THE POSITIVE, UP TO WHAT EXTENT.
Petitioners challenge the propriety of the award of compensatory damages in the amount of P600,000.00. It is insisted that, on the assumption that petitioners are liable, an award of P600,000.00 is unconscionable and highly speculative. Amyline Antonio testified that she was a casual employee of a company called Suaco, earning P1,650.00 a month, and a dealer of Avon products, earning an average of P1,000.00 monthly. Petitioners contend that as casual employees do not have security of tenure, the award of P600,000.00, considering Amyline Antonios earnings, is without factual basis as there is no assurance that she would be regularly earning these amounts.
With the exception of the award of damages, the petition is devoid of merit.
First, it is unnecessary for our purpose to determine whether to decide this case on the theory that petitioners are liable for breach of contract of carriage or culpa contractual or on the theory of quasi delict or culpa aquiliana as both the Regional Trial Court and the Court of Appeals held, for although the relation of passenger and carrier is contractual both in origin and nature, nevertheless the act that breaks the contract may be also a tort.  In either case, the question is whether the bus driver, petitioner Porfirio Cabil, was negligent.
The finding that Cabil drove his bus negligently, while his employer, the Fabres, who owned the bus, failed to exercise the diligence of a good father of the family in the selection and supervision of their employee is fully supported by the evidence on record. These factual findings of the two courts we regard as final and conclusive, supported as they are by the evidence. Indeed, it was admitted by Cabil that on the night in question, it was raining, and, as a consequence, the road was slippery, and it was dark. He averred these facts to justify his failure to see that there lay a sharp curve ahead. However, it is undisputed that Cabil drove his bus at the speed of 50 kilometers per hour and only slowed down when he noticed the curve some 15 to 30 meters ahead. By then it was too late for him to avoid falling off the road. Given the conditions of the road and considering that the trip was Cabils first one outside of Manila, Cabil should have driven his vehicle at a moderate speed. There is testimony that the vehicles passing on that portion of the road should only be running 20 kilometers per hour, so that at 50 kilometers per hour, Cabil was running at a very high speed.
Considering the foregoing the fact that it was raining and the road was slippery, that it was dark, that he drove his bus at 50 kilometers an hour when even on a good day the normal speed was only 20 kilometers an hour, and that he was unfamiliar with the terrain, Cabil was grossly negligent and should be held liable for the injuries suffered by private respondent Amyline Antonio.
Pursuant to Arts. 2176 and 2180 of the Civil Code his negligence gave rise to the presumption that his employers, the Fabres, were themselves negligent in the selection and supervision of their employee.
Due diligence in selection of employees is not satisfied by finding that the applicant possessed a professional drivers license. The employer should also examine the applicant for his qualifications, experience and record of service.  Due diligence in supervision, on the other hand, requires the formulation of rules and regulations for the guidance of employees and the issuance of proper instructions as well as actual implementation and monitoring of consistent compliance with the rules.
In the case at bar, the Fabres, in allowing Cabil to drive the bus to La Union, apparently did not consider the fact that Cabil had been driving for school children only, from their homes to the St. Scholasticas College in Metro Manila. They had hired him only after a two-week apprenticeship. They had tested him for certain matters, such as whether he could remember the names of the children he would be taking to school, which were irrelevant to his qualification to drive on a long distance travel, especially considering that the trip to La Union was his first. The existence of hiring procedures and supervisory policies cannot be casually invoked to overturn the presumption of negligence on the part of an employer.
Petitioners argue that they are not liable because (1) an earlier departure (made impossible by the congregations delayed meeting) could have averted the mishap and (2) under the contract, the WWCF was directly responsible for the conduct of the trip. Neither of these contentions hold water. The hour of departure had not been fixed. Even if it had been, the delay did not bear directly on the cause of the accident. With respect to the second contention, it was held in an early case that:
[A] person who hires a public automobile and gives the driver directions as to the place to which he wishes to be conveyed, but exercises no other control over the conduct of the driver, is not responsible for acts of negligence of the latter or prevented from recovering for injuries suffered from a collision between the automobile and a train, caused by the negligence either of the locomotive engineer or the automobile driver.
As already stated, this case actually involves a contract of carriage. Petitioners, the Fabres, did not have to be engaged in the business of public transportation for the provisions of the Civil Code on common carriers to apply to them. As this Court has held:
Art. 1732. Common carriers are persons, corporations, firms or associations engaged in the business of carrying or transporting passengers or goods or both, by land, water, or air for compensation, offering their services to the public.
The above article makes no distinction between one whose principal business activity is the carrying of persons or goods or both, and one who does such carrying only as an ancillary activity (in local idiom, as a sideline). Article 1732 also carefully avoids making any distinction between a person or enterprise offering transportation service on a regular or scheduled basis and one offering such service on an occasional, episodic or unscheduled basis. Neither does Article 1732 distinguish between a carrier offering its services to the general public, i.e., the general community or population, and one who offers services or solicits business only from a narrow segment of the general population. We think that Article 1732 deliberately refrained from making such distinctions.
As common carriers, the Fabres were bound to exercise extraordinary diligence for the safe transportation of the passengers to their destination. This duty of care is not excused by proof that they exercised the diligence of a good father of the family in the selection and supervision of their employee. As Art. 1759 of the Code provides:
Common carriers are liable for the death of or injuries to passengers through the negligence or wilful acts of the formers employees, although such employees may have acted beyond the scope of their authority or in violation of the orders of the common carriers.
This liability of the common carriers does not cease upon proof that they exercised all the diligence of a good father of a family in the selection and supervision of their employees.
The same circumstances detailed above, supporting the finding of the trial court and of the appellate court that petitioners are liable under Arts. 2176 and 2180 for quasi delict, fully justify finding them guilty of breach of contract of carriage under Arts. 1733, 1755 and 1759 of the Civil Code.
Secondly, we sustain the award of damages in favor of Amyline Antonio. However, we think the Court of Appeals erred in increasing the amount of compensatory damages because private respondents did not question this award as inadequate. To the contrary, the award of P500,000.00 for compensatory damages which the Regional Trial Court made is reasonable considering the contingent nature of her income as a casual employee of a company and as distributor of beauty products and the fact that the possibility that she might be able to work again has not been foreclosed. In fact she testified that one of her previous employers had expressed willingness to employ her again.
With respect to the other awards, while the decisions of the trial court and the Court of Appeals do not sufficiently indicate the factual and legal basis for them, we find that they are nevertheless supported by evidence in the records of this case. Viewed as an action for quasi delict, this case falls squarely within the purview of Art. 2219(2) providing for the payment of moral damages in cases of quasi delict. On the theory that petitioners are liable for breach of contract of carriage, the award of moral damages is authorized by Art. 1764, in relation to Art. 2220, since Cabils gross negligence amounted to bad faith. Amyline Antonios testimony, as well as the testimonies of her father and co-passengers, fully establish the physical suffering and mental anguish she endured as a result of the injuries caused by petitioners negligence.
The award of exemplary damages and attorneys fees was also properly made. However, for the same reason that it was error for the appellate court to increase the award of compensatory damages, we hold that it was also error for it to increase the award of moral damages and reduce the award of attorneys fees, inasmuch as private respondents, in whose favor the awards were made, have not appealed.
As above stated, the decision of the Court of Appeals can be sustained either on the theory of quasi delict or on that of breach of contract. The question is whether, as the two courts below held, petitioners, who are the owners and driver of the bus, may be made to respond jointly and severally to private respondent. We hold that they may be. In Dangwa Trans. Co. Inc. v. Court of Appeals, on facts similar to those in this case, this Court held the bus company and the driver jointly and severally liable for damages for injuries suffered by a passenger. Again, in Bachelor Express, Inc. v. Court of Appeals a driver found negligent in failing to stop the bus in order to let off passengers when a fellow passenger ran amuck, as a result of which the passengers jumped out of the speeding bus and suffered injuries, was held also jointly and severally liable with the bus company to the injured passengers.
The same rule of liability was applied in situations where the negligence of the driver of the bus on which plaintiff was riding concurred with the negligence of a third party who was the driver of another vehicle, thus causing an accident. In Anuran v. Buo, Batangas Laguna Tayabas Bus Co. v. Intermediate Appellate Court, and Metro Manila Transit Corporation v. Court of Appeals, the bus company, its driver, the operator of the other vehicle and the driver of the vehicle were jointly and severally held liable to the injured passenger or the latters heirs. The basis of this allocation of liability was explained in Viluan v. Court of Appeals, thus:
Nor should it make any difference that the liability of petitioner [bus owner] springs from contract while that of respondents [owner and driver of other vehicle] arises from quasi-delict. As early as 1913, we already ruled in Gutierrez vs. Gutierrez, 56 Phil. 177, that in case of injury to a passenger due to the negligence of the driver of the bus on which he was riding and of the driver of another vehicle, the drivers as well as the owners of the two vehicles are jointly and severally liable for damages. Some members of the Court, though, are of the view that under the circumstances they are liable on quasi-delict.
It is true that in Philippine Rabbit Bus Lines, Inc. v. Court of Appeals this Court exonerated the jeepney driver from liability to the injured passengers and their families while holding the owners of the jeepney jointly and severally liable, but that is because that case was expressly tried and decided exclusively on the theory of culpa contractual. As this Court there explained:
The trial court was therefore right in finding that Manalo [the driver] and spouses Mangune and Carreon [the jeepney owners] were negligent. However, its ruling that spouses Mangune and Carreon are jointly and severally liable with Manalo is erroneous. The driver cannot be held jointly and severally liable with the carrier in case of breach of the contract of carriage. The rationale behind this is readily discernible. Firstly, the contract of carriage is between the carrier and the passenger, and in the event of contractual liability, the carrier is exclusively responsible therefore to the passenger, even if such breach be due to the negligence of his driver (see Viluan v. The Court of Appeals, et al., G.R. Nos. L-21477-81, April 29, 1966, 16 SCRA 742) . . .
As in the case of BLTB, private respondents in this case and her co-plaintiffs did not stake out their claim against the carrier and the driver exclusively on one theory, much less on that of breach of contract alone. After all, it was permitted for them to allege alternative causes of action and join as many parties as may be liable on such causes of action so long as private respondent and her co-plaintiffs do not recover twice for the same injury. What is clear from the cases is the intent of the plaintiff there to recover from both the carrier and the driver, thus justifying the holding that the carrier and the driver were jointly and severally liable because their separate and distinct acts concurred to produce the same injury.
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION as to the award of damages. Petitioners are ORDERED to PAY jointly and severally the private respondent Amyline Antonio the following amounts:
1) P93,657.11 as actual damages;
2) P500,000.00 as the reasonable amount of loss of earning capacity of plaintiff Amyline Antonio;
3) P20,000.00 as moral damages;
4) P20,000.00 as exemplary damages;
5) 25% of the recoverable amount as attorneys fees; and
6) costs of suit.
Regalado, (Chairman), Romero, Puno, and Torres, Jr., JJ., concur. 13. [G.R. No. 93291. March 29, 1999]
SULPICIO LINES, INC. and CRESENCIO G. CASTANEDA, petitioners, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and AQUARIUS FISHING CO., INC., respondents. D E C I S I ON PURISIMA, J.:
At bar is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court seeking the reversal of the Decision, dated November 29, 1989, of the Court of Appeals in CA GR No. 15081, and the Resolution, dated April 24, 1990, denying petitioners Motion for Reconsideration.
The facts that matter are as follows:
The case stemmed from a complaint for damages of Aquarius Fishing Co., Inc. against Sulpicio Lines, Inc. and Cresencio G. Castaneda, docketed as Civil Case No. 14510 before Branch 44 of Regional Trial Court in Bacolod City. In due time, said defendants submitted their Answer with counterclaim.
On May 31, 1986, the trial court came out with its Decision in favor of plaintiff Aquarius Fishing Co., Inc. ratiocinating and disposing thus:
The question to be determined is whether the collision between M/V Don Sulpicio and F/B Aquarius 'G' was due to the negligence of the defendants or of the plaintiff. It is admitted in the evidence that at a distance of about 4 miles M/V Don Sulpicio has sighted 2 fishing boats, namely: F/B Aquarius 'C' and F/B Aquarius G although defendants maintained it was F/B Aquarius 'B'. From the evidence it appears that the 2 fishing boats had a speed of about 7.5 to 8 knots per hour while M/V Don Sulpicio was running about 15.5 knots per hour. It would appear that the speed of M/V Don Sulpicio was more than twice as fast as the speed of the two fishing boats. The weather at that time the accident happened was clear and visibility was good. In other words, from the distance of about four miles at sea, the men of Don Sulpicio could clearly see the 2 fishing boats which were ahead about 4 miles and likewise, the men of the 2 fishing boats could clearly see M/V Don Sulpicio following. The plaintiff claims that they continued on their speed in their course and while maintaining their speed they were rammed by M/V Don Sulpicio.
Defendants claim that plaintiff was negligent and that the collision was due to the negligence of the men manning F/B Aquarius 'B' and submit that considering that F/B Aquarius 'B' had no lookout and that the fishing boat was ahead, F/B Aquarius 'B' should have given way to M/V Don Sulpicio who was following in order to avoid collision. And considering that F/B Aquarius 'B' was at fault, it should suffer its own damage.
xxx xxx xxx
It appears in the theory of defendants that simply because a vessel had no
lookout and that the vessel was ahead, if it is rammed by another vessel that is following, the fault would be on the vessel that is ahead because the vessel that is ahead should always give way to the vessel that is following.
xxx xxx xxx
From this argument, it would appear that whether actual negligence was committed by the vessel ahead or not, but as long as the vessel had no lookout and has not given way to the vessel following, the vessel following, if it ram the vessel ahead, has no fault.
It should be noted that F/B Aquarius G is a fishing vessel with a speed of only 7.5 or 8 knots per hour and according to the master of the vessel, they are not required by law to have a lookout because the vessel is small. M/V Don Sulpicio is a passenger boat with a speed of about 15.5 knots an hour and being a passenger boat, it is bigger boat and a faster boat. It is incumbent upon its master to see to it that the direction to which they are proceeding is clear. Having seen for the first time the 2 vessels, F/B Aquarius C and F/B Aquarius G about 4 miles ahead and that they were almost parallel to each other or in the same line with each other, as M/V Don Sulpicio was following, M/V Don Sulpicio should have used sufficient diligence to avoid collision. It appears from the evidence that during the incident, the weather was clear and visibility was very good. The M/V Don Sulpicio had a clear opportunity to avoid collision, but it failed to do so. M/V Don Sulpicio believed, that considering that it was a following vessel, it can just go thru and proceed irrespective of danger. The Court believes that the evidence is abundant to show negligence on the part of the master of the defendants and as such, defendants should be held responsible for all the damages suffered by F/B Aquarius G.
Defendants claim that the vessel involved was F/B Aquarius B. However, the evidence show that the fishing vessel that sunk was F/B Aquarius G and not F/B Aquarius B. And as shown by the evidence, the total loss of F/B Aquarius G together with its articles and provisions was P564,448.80.
WHEREFORE, the Court finds the complaint duly supported by evidence and judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the plaintiff and against the
defendants, who are hereby ordered to pay, jointly and severally, the plaintiff the sum of P564,448.80 for the actual loss of F/B Aquarius G including its articles and provisions; the sum of P10,000.00 per month from the date of the accident representing deprivation of the use and services of F/B Aquarius G and another sum of P10,000.00 for actual expenses and costs of litigation, another sum of P10,000.00 by way of exemplary damages, another sum equivalent to 15% of the total claim of plaintiff as attorneys fees plus P300.00 per court appearance, and to pay legal rate of interest of all the amounts so adjudged from November 18, 1978 until the entire amount is fully paid, and to pay the costs. Counterclaim is dismissed.
The defendants appealed to the Court of Appeals, assigning seven (7) errors which the appellate court summed up and treated as two pivotal issues, to wit:
1. THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN DISREGARDING THE REGULATION FOR PREVENTING COLLISION AT SEA, MORE POPULARLY KNOWN AS THE RULE OF THE ROAD IN DETERMINING WHICH OF THE TWO VESSELS WAS NEGLIGENT AND LIABLE, CONSIDERING THAT M/V DON SULPICIO COMPLIED WITH THEIR PROVISIONS, WHILE F/B AQUARIUS G DID NOT; AND
2. THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN AWARDING DAMAGES, ATTORNEYS FEES, ACTUAL EXPENSES AND COSTS OF LITIGATION, LEGAL RATE OF INTEREST OF ALL THE AWARDS FROM NOVEMBER 18, 1978 UNTIL ALL THE AMOUNTS ARE FULLY PAID.
On November 29, 1989, the Court of Appeals affirmed the Decision of the trial court of origin. The Motion for Reconsideration interposed on December 23, 1989 by appellants met the same fate. It was denied on April 24, 1990.
Undaunted, petitioners found their way to this Court via the present Petition for Review on Certiorari, contending that:
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN EXONERATING THE VESSEL F/B AQUARIUS B AND HER MASTER FROM NEGLIGENCE DESPITE THE ADMISSION BY AGAPITO GERBOLINGA, PATRON OF SAID VESSEL THAT THEY HAD NO LOOKOUT DURING THE COLLISION.
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN DISREGARDING THE REGULATION FOR PREVENTING COLLISION AT SEA, MORE POPULARLY KNOWN AS THE RULES OF THE ROAD IN DETERMINING WHICH OF THE TWO VESSELS WAS NEGLIGENT AND LIABLE.
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN IMPUTING NEGLIGENCE ON THE VESSEL M/V DON SULPICIO, THE PRIVILEGED VESSEL WHICH COMPLIED WITH RULES 19 AND 21, RULES OF THE ROAD.
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN AWARDING TO PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE THE AMOUNT OF P564,448.80 AS ACTUAL LOSS PLUS P10,000.00 PER MONTH FROM THE PERIOD OF NOVEMBER 18, 1978 REPRESENTING DEPRIVATION OF USE AND SERVICES OF F/B AQUARIUS B AND ANOTHER SUM OF P10,000.00 FOR ACTUAL EXPENSES AND COST OF LITIGATION.
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN AWARDING PLAINTIFF AND AGAINST DEFENDANTS THE SUM OF P10,000.00 AS EXEMPLARY DAMAGES.
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN AWARDING PLAINTIFF AND AGAINST THE DEFENDANT-APPELLEE THE SUM EQUIVALENT TO 15% OF THE TOTAL CLAIM AS ATTORNEYS FEES PLUS P300.00 PER COURT APPEARANCE.
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN AWARDING LEGAL RATE OF INTEREST OF ALL THE AWARDS TO PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE FROM NOVEMBER 18, 1978 UNTIL ALL THE AMOUNTS ARE FULLY PAID.
Placing reliance on the Rules of the Road and Regulations on the Prevention of Collision, petitioners maintain:
xxx that respondent Court of Appeals completely disregarded the rule of admission in matters adverse to ones interest. It is very clear that the F/B Aquarius B, her patron and crew were negligent in this case. The Rules of the Road which is Annex A' of the Philippine Merchant Rules and Regulations requires that all vessels must have a lookout (Rule 29, Rules of the Road). All vessels irrespective of size and make must keep a lookout. There is no exception to this rule.
xxx xxx xxx
It was clearly established by the positive testimony of second mate, Aurelio Villacampa, Jr. on July 14, 1981 and the sketch prepared by said witness (Exhibit 2) that the two vessels were in a crossing situation. The vessel M/V Don Sulpicio was approaching on the starboard or right side of the crossing vessel F/B Aquarius B. The applicable rules in such a crossing situation are Rules 19, 21, 22 and 23. We quote the above Rules as follows:
Rule 19. When two power driven vessels are crossing, so as to involve risk of
collision, the vessel which has the other on her starboard side shall keep out of the way of the other.
Rule 21. Where, by any of the Rules, one of two vessels is to keep out of the way, the other shall keep her course and speed.
Rule 22. Every vessel which is directed by these Rules to keep out of the way of another vessel, so far as possible, take positive early action to comply with this obligation, and shall, if the circumstance of the case admit, avoid crossing ahead of the other.
Rule 23. Every power-driven vessel which is directed by these Rules to keep out of the way of another vessel shall, on approaching her, if necessary, slacken her speed or stop or reverse.
The M/V DON SULPICIO was the privileged vessel and the F/B Aquarius B was the burdened vessel in the crossing situation (Exhibits 2, 3, 4, 9, 10). However, the F/B Aquarius B violated the rules, did not keep out of the way, did not slacken speed but instead went full ahead and crossed the bow of M/V DON SULPICIO. xxx
xxx xxx xxx
In the case at bar F/B Aquarius B by failure to keep out of the way and slacken her speed has allowed herself to come to close proximity to the vessel M/V DON SULPICIO bringing about the collision.
The award to private respondent of the sum of P564,448.80 as actual loss is based on surmises and conjectures. No appraisal of the value of the vessel F/B Aquarius B was presented to support said claim of total loss. The claim of P564,448.80 was derived after summarizing up invoices and receipts of alleged purchases of materials, provisions dating back since 1972 and even after November 18, 1978 the date of the collision (Exhibits CC to KK). This award is exaggerated (sic) and speculative.
On October 24, 1990, respondent Aquarius Fishing Co., Inc. sent in its Comment, stating:
Granting for the sake of argument that any or all of the petitioners witnesses can be classified as lookouts for M/V Don Sulpicio, their negligence is made much clearer because they could not determine risk of collision, speed was not slackened, no warning sign was made and the course of M/V Don Sulpicio was not changed to avoid the collision.
At any rate, the office of the Coast Guard Judge Advocate which we believed is the proper authority and has the technical competence to determine who is at fault in maritime cases has this to say on the look out defense put up by the petitioners:
It is clear that the M/V Don Sulpicio was the overtaking vessel and, under the Rules on the Road, was the burdened vessel which had the duty to take all the necessary actions to keep clear of the overtaken vessel. It was also shown that M/V Don Sulpicio did not alter her course to reduce her speed and being at close range with F/B Aquarius G, did not even give a warning signal. It was likewise shown that the Aquarius Fishing Co., Inc. did not own a vessel named F/B Aquarius B ( as identified by Chief Mate Oro), but it did own a vessel named Aquarius G at the time of the incident. The fact that F/B 'Aquarius G' had no lookout at the time of the collision does not excuse M/V Don Sulpicio from observing her duty to keep clear of the overtaken vessel especially so when there was sufficient room for her to do so.
The Petition is not impressed with merit.
Well-settled to the point of being elementary is the doctrine that the findings by the trial court are binding on the appellate court and will not be disturbed on appeal, unless the trial court has overlooked or ignored some fact or circumstance of sufficient weight or significance which, if considered, would alter the situation.
"Factual findings of the appellate court deemed conclusive. (Estonina v. Court of Appeals, 266 SCRA 627)"
It is a fundamental rule in criminal as well as in civil cases that in the matter of credibility of witnesses, the findings of the trial court are given great weight and highest degree of respect by the appellate court. (Lee Eng Hong v. Court of Appeals, 241 SCRA 392 citing Pagsuyuin v. Intermediate Appellate Court, 193 SCRA 547)
xxx It is not the function of this Court to assess and evaluate all over again the evidence, testimonial and evidentiary, adduced by the parties particularly where, such as here, the findings of both the trial court and the appellate court on the matter coincide. (South Sea Surety and Insurance Company, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 244 SCRA 744)
It is a settled principle of civil procedure that the conclusions of the trial court regarding the credibility of witnesses are entitled to great respect from the appellate court xxx" (Limketkai Sons Milling, Inc. vs. Court of Appeals, 250 SCRA 253, citing Serrano vs. Court of Appeals, 196 SCRA 107)
After a thorough review and examination of the evidence on hand, we discern no ground or basis for disregarding the findings and conclusion arrived at below.
Petitioners asserted that private respondent, through its patron, admitted that the vessel had no lookout during the collision despite the absolute rule provided in Rule 9 of the Rules of Road. To bolster its stance, it contended that it was a privileged vessel pursuant to Rules 19, 21, 22, 23 of the Regulations for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea.
Both the trial court and the respondent court found that M/V Don Sulpicio was crossing at 15.5 knots per hour while F/B Aquarius G was obeying a speed limit of 7.5 knots per hour. The weather was clear and visibility was good. M/V Don Sulpicio was four (4) miles away when it first sighted F/B Aquarius G. All the time up to the collision, M/V Don Sulpicio maintained its speed of 16 knots. It was only two (2) minutes before the collision when M/V Don Sulpicio
changed its course.
Whether or not the collision sued upon occurred in a crossing situation is immaterial as the Court of Appeals, relying on Rule 24-C, Regulations for Preventing Collisions at the Sea, rules that the duty to keep out of the way remained even if the overtaking vessel cannot determine with certainty whether she is forward of or abaft more than 2 points from the vessel. It is beyond cavil that M/V Don Sulpicio must assume responsibility as it was in a better position to avoid the collision. It should have blown its horn or give signs to warn the other vessel that it was to overtake it.
Assuming argumenti ex gratia that F/B Aquarius G had no lookout during the collision, the omission does not suffice to exculpate Sulpicio Lines from Liability. M/V Don Sulpicio cannot claim that it was a privileged vessel being in the portside which can maintain its course and speed during the collision. When it overtook F/B Aquarius G, it was duty bound during the collision. When it overtook F/B Aquarius G, it was duty bound to slacken its speed and keep away from other vessel, which it failed to do. The stance of petitioners that F/B Aquarius G is a burdened vessel which should have kept out of the way of M/V Don Sulpicio is not supported by facts.
Anent the award of actual damage in the amount of P564,448.80, petitioners mere allegation that the award of actual damages is exaggerated and speculative, without controverting the receipts and invoices when the boat was constructed and which were bases of accounting entries in the books of accounts presented by the private respondent, are unavailing to defeat the award. To be sure, the private respondent amply established the compensatory damages it suffered by reason of the collision.
The award of fifteen (15%) percent of the total claim sued upon as attorneys fees and the legal rate of interest adjudged are proper. However, the P10,000.00 a month awarded by the trial court and the respondent court for earnings that would have derived from F/B Aquarius G, without indicating the material period is too uncertain and onerous to deserve serious consideration.
In awarding P10,000.00 per month, representing the supposed profits F/B
Aquarius G could have netted, the trial court relied on the sole testimony of Mr. Johnny L. Chua, who is in the employ of private respondent.
The arguments of petitioners that the earnings of F/B Aquarius G must be shown is not applicable in this case. F/B Aquarius G is just a carrier to its mother boat Aquarius G. Its role was to carry the catch from the fishing ground to the port and it was serving not only its mother boat, but other boats owned by respondent Aquarius. The income of F/B Aquarius G is therefore impossible to really determine. The only reasonable basis is only its rental value compared with similar boats.
As regards the reckoning period, there is tenability in petitioners submission that a fishing boat deteriorates quite quickly due to exposure to the elements. To hold Sulpicio Lines to pay the profits that would have been realized by the private respondents for an unlimited period of time is to burden it indefinitely, which cannot be countenanced.
xxx The decision awarding P10,000.00 per month reckoned from November 1978 up to the present implies unlimited existence of the fishing vessel F/B Aquarius G which is not the case as any common man will experience. The Honorable Court can take judicial notice of the deterioration of the wood in a fishing boat that is always exposed to the elements. Surely, said existence will not last for more than ten years. Considering that the fishing vessel is already six years old, then it has a lifespan of not more than four more years. 
Failure of Aquarius Fishing Co., Inc. to come forward with controverting evidence to the allegation of Sulpicio Lines that the ordinary lifespan of a fishing vessel is more than ten (10) years, amounted to an admission of such allegation. The vessel was constructed in 1972 while the collision occurred in 1978. The remaining life span of F/B Aquarius G was therefore four (4) years. Conformably, computed at P10,000.00 per month for a period of four (4) years, the unrealized profits/earnings involved, amounted to at most P480,000.00.
As regards the attorneys fees equivalent to 15% of all the awards granted by the Regional Trial Court, the propriety thereof cannot be questioned. Gross
and evident bad faith on the part of petitioner in refusing to pay the claim sued upon constrained the private respondent to enlist the services of a lawyer to litigate.
Petitioner must have placed reliance on the general rule that attorneys fees cannot be recovered as part of damages because of the policy that no premium should be placed on the right to litigate. (Philtranco Service Enterprises, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 273 SCRA 562; Morales v. Court of Appeals, 274 SCRA 282). But the aforecited rule is inapplicable here in the face of the stubborn refusal of petitioner to respect the valid claim of the private respondent.
The payment of legal interest is also in order. But it should be computed from November 18, 1978, not from March 30, 1986, when the Regional Trial Court a quo came out with its Decision. It was from the time of the collision complained of that the private respondent began to be deprived of subject vessel.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED and the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA GR CV No. 15081 AFFIRMED, with the MODIFICATION that the award for exemplary damages is deleted for want of legal basis, and the amount of unrealized profits awarded is fixed at P480,000.00. No pronouncement as to cost.
SO ORDERED. 14. ALFREDO MALLARI SR. and ALFREDO MALLARI JR., petitioners, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and BULLETIN PUBLISHING CORPORATION, respondents.
ALFREDO MALLARI SR. and ALFREDO MALLARI JR. in this petition for review on certiorari seek to set aside the Decision of the Court of Appeals which reversed the court a quo and adjudged petitioners to be liable for damages due to negligence as a common carrier resulting in the death of a passenger.
On 14 October 1987, at about 5:00 o'clock in the morning, the passenger jeepney driven by petitioner Alfredo Mallari Jr. and owned by his co-petitioner Alfredo Mallari Sr. collided with the delivery van of respondent Bulletin Publishing Corp. (BULLETIN, for brevity) along the National Highway in Barangay San Pablo, Dinalupihan, Bataan. Petitioner Mallari Jr. testified that he went to the left lane of the highway and overtook a Fiera which had stopped on the right lane. Before he passed by the Fiera, he saw the van of respondent BULLETIN coming from the opposite direction. It was driven by one Felix Angeles. The sketch of the accident showed that the collision occurred after Mallari Jr. overtook the Fiera while negotiating a curve in the highway. The points of collision were the left rear portion of the passenger jeepney and the left front side of the delivery van of BULLETIN. The two (2) right wheels of the delivery van were on the right shoulder of the road and pieces of debris from the accident were found scattered along the shoulder of the road up to a certain portion of the lane travelled by the passenger jeepney. The impact caused the jeepney to turn around and fall on its left side resulting in injuries to its passengers one of whom was Israel Reyes who eventually died due to the gravity of his injuries. Manikan
On 16 December 1987 Claudia G. Reyes, the widow of Israel M. Reyes, filed a complaint for damages with the Regional Trial Court of Olongapo City against Alfredo Mallari Sr. and Alfredo Mallari Jr., and also against BULLETIN, its driver Felix Angeles, and the N.V. Netherlands Insurance Company. The complaint alleged that the collision which resulted in the death of Israel Reyes was caused by the fault and negligence of both drivers of the passenger jeepney and the Bulletin Isuzu delivery van. The complaint also prayed that the defendants be ordered jointly and severally to pay plaintiff P1,006,777.40 in compensatory damages, P40,000.00 for hospital and medical expenses, P18,270.00 for burial expenses plus such amounts as may be fixed by the trial court for exemplary damages and attorneys fees.
The trial court found that the proximate cause of the collision was the negligence of Felix Angeles, driver of the Bulletin delivery van, considering the fact that the left front portion of the delivery truck driven by Felix Angeles hit and bumped the left rear portion of the passenger jeepney driven by
Alfredo Mallari Jr. Hence, the trial court ordered BULLETIN and Felix Angeles to pay jointly and severally Claudia G. Reyes, widow of the deceased victim, the sums of P42,106.93 for medical expenses; P8,600.00 for funeral and burial expenses; P1,006,777.40 for loss of earning capacity; P5,000.00 for moral damages and P10,000.00 for attorneys fees. The trial court also ordered N.V. Netherlands Insurance Company to indemnify Claudia G. Reyes P12,000.00 as death indemnity and P2,500.00 for funeral expenses which when paid should be deducted from the liabilities of respondent BULLETIN and its driver Felix Angeles to the plaintiff. It also dismissed the complaint against the other defendants Alfredo Mallari Sr. and Alfredo Mallari Jr.
On appeal the Court of Appeals modified the decision of the trial court and found no negligence on the part of Angeles and consequently of his employer, respondent BULLETIN. Instead, the appellate court ruled that the collision was caused by the sole negligence of petitioner Alfredo Mallari Jr. who admitted that immediately before the collision and after he rounded a curve on the highway, he overtook a Fiera which had stopped on his lane and that he had seen the van driven by Angeles before overtaking the Fiera. The Court of Appeals ordered petitioners Mallari Jr. and Mallari Sr. to compensate Claudia G. Reyes P1,006,777.50 for loss of earning capacity, P50,000.00 as indemnity for death and P10,000.00 for attorneys fees. It absolved from any liability respondent BULLETIN, Felix Angeles and N.V. Netherlands Insurance Company. Hence this petition. Oldmis o
Petitioners contend that there is no evidence to show that petitioner Mallari Jr. overtook a vehicle at a curve on the road at the time of the accident and that the testimony of Angeles on the overtaking made by Mallari Jr. was not credible and unreliable. Petitioner also submits that the trial court was in a better position than the Court of Appeals to assess the evidence and observe the witnesses as well as determine their credibility; hence, its finding that the proximate cause of the collision was the negligence of respondent Angeles, driver of the delivery van owned by respondent BULLETIN, should be given more weight and consideration.
We cannot sustain petitioners. Contrary to their allegation that there was no evidence whatsoever that petitioner Mallari Jr. overtook a vehicle at a curve on the road at the time of or before the accident, the same petitioner himself testified that such fact indeed did occur -
Q:.......And what was that accident all about?
A:.......Well, what happened, sir, is that at about that time 5:00 oclock in that morning of October 14 while I was negotiating on the highway at San Pablo, Dinalupihan, Bataan, I was then following a blue Ford Fierra and my distance behind was about twenty (20) feet and then I passed that blue Ford Fierra. I overtook and when I was almost on the right lane of the highway towards Olongapo City there was an oncoming delivery van of the Bulletin Publishing Corporation which bumped the left rear portion of the jeepney which I was driving and as a result of which the jeepney x x x turned around and fell on its left side and as a result of which some of my passengers including me were injured, sir x x x x
Q:.......Before you overtook the Ford Fierra jeepney did you look x x x whether there was any vehicle coming towards you?
Q:.......Did you see the Bulletin van or the Press van coming towards you?
Q:.......At the moment the Ford Fierra xxx stop(ped) and in overtaking the Fierra, did you not have an option to stop and not to overtake the Ford Fierra?
A:.......Well, at the time when the Ford Fierra stopped in front of me I slowed down with the intention of applying the brake, however, when I saw the oncoming vehicle which is the Press van is very far x x x which is 100 feet distance, x x x it is sufficient to overtake the Ford Fierra so I overt(ook) it x x x x
Q:.......You said that you took into consideration the speed of the oncoming Press van but you also could not estimate the speed of the press van because
it was dark at that time, which of these statements are true? Ncm
A:.......What I wanted to say, I took into consideration the speed of the oncoming vehicle, the Press van, although at the moment I could not estimate the speed of the oncoming vehicle x x x x
The Court of Appeals correctly found, based on the sketch and spot report of the police authorities which were not disputed by petitioners, that the collision occurred immediately after petitioner Mallari Jr. overtook a vehicle in front of it while traversing a curve on the highway. This act of overtaking was in clear violation of Sec. 41, pars. (a) and (b), of RA 4136 as amended, otherwise known as The Land Transportation and Traffic Code which provides:
Sec. 41. Restrictions on overtaking and passing. - (a) The driver of a vehicle shall not drive to the left side of the center line of a highway in overtaking or passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction, unless such left side is clearly visible and is free of oncoming traffic for a sufficient distance ahead to permit such overtaking or passing to be made in safety.
(b) The driver of a vehicle shall not overtake or pass another vehicle proceeding in the same direction when approaching the crest of a grade, nor upon a curve in the highway, where the drivers view along the highway is obstructed within a distance of five hundred feet ahead except on a highway having two or more lanes for movement of traffic in one direction where the driver of a vehicle may overtake or pass another vehicle:
Provided That on a highway, within a business or residential district, having two or more lanes for movement of traffic in one direction, the driver of a vehicle may overtake or pass another vehicle on the right.
The rule is settled that a driver abandoning his proper lane for the purpose of overtaking another vehicle in an ordinary situation has the duty to see to it that the road is clear and not to proceed if he cannot do so in safety. When a motor vehicle is approaching or rounding a curve, there is special necessity for keeping to the right side of the road and the driver does not have the right to drive on the left hand side relying upon having time to turn to the right if a
car approaching from the opposite direction comes into view. Ncmmis
In the instant case, by his own admission, petitioner Mallari Jr. already saw that the BULLETIN delivery van was coming from the opposite direction and failing to consider the speed thereof since it was still dark at 5:00 o'clock in the morning mindlessly occupied the left lane and overtook two (2) vehicles in front of it at a curve in the highway. Clearly, the proximate cause of the collision resulting in the death of Israel Reyes, a passenger of the jeepney, was the sole negligence of the driver of the passenger jeepney, petitioner Alfredo Mallari Jr., who recklessly operated and drove his jeepney in a lane where overtaking was not allowed by traffic rules. Under Art. 2185 of the Civil Code, unless there is proof to the contrary, it is presumed that a person driving a motor vehicle has been negligent if at the time of the mishap he was violating a traffic regulation. As found by the appellate court, petitioners failed to present satisfactory evidence to overcome this legal presumption.
The negligence and recklessness of the driver of the passenger jeepney is binding against petitioner Mallari Sr., who admittedly was the owner of the passenger jeepney engaged as a common carrier, considering the fact that in an action based on contract of carriage, the court need not make an express finding of fault or negligence on the part of the carrier in order to hold it responsible for the payment of damages sought by the passenger. Under Art. 1755 of the Civil Code, a common carrier is bound to carry the passengers safely as far as human care and foresight can provide using the utmost diligence of very cautious persons with due regard for all the circumstances. Moreover, under Art. 1756 of the Civil Code, in case of death or injuries to passengers, a common carrier is presumed to have been at fault or to have acted negligently, unless it proves that it observed extraordinary diligence. Further, pursuant to Art. 1759 of the same Code, it is liable for the death of or injuries to passengers through the negligence or willful acts of the formers employees. This liability of the common carrier does not cease upon proof that it exercised all the diligence of a good father of a family in the selection of its employees. Clearly, by the contract of carriage, the carrier jeepney owned by Mallari Sr. assumed the express obligation to transport the passengers to their destination safely and to observe extraordinary diligence with due regard for all the circumstances, and any injury or death that might be suffered by its passengers is right away attributable to the fault or negligence of the carrier. Scnc m
The monetary award ordered by the appellate court to be paid by petitioners
to the widow of the deceased passenger Israel M. Reyes of P1,006,777.50 for loss of earning capacity, P50,000.00 as civil indemnity for death, and P10,000.00 for attorneys fees, all of which were not disputed by petitioners, is a factual matter binding and conclusive upon this Court.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED and the Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 20 September 1995 reversing the decision of the trial court being in accord with law and evidence is AFFIRMED. Consequently, petitioners are ordered jointly and severally to pay Claudia G. Reyes P1,006,777.50 for loss of earning capacity, P50,000.00 as civil indemnity for death, and P10,000.00 for attorneys fees. Costs against petitioners.
Mendoza, Quisumbing, Buena and De Leon, Jr., concur.2/22/00 9:44 AM 15. FORTUNE EXPRESS, INC., petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, PAULIE U. CAORONG, and minor children YASSER KING CAORONG, ROSE HEINNI and PRINCE ALEXANDER, all surnamed CAORONG, and represented by their mother PAULIE U. CAORONG, respondents. DECISION MENDOZA, J.:
This is an appeal by petition for review on certiorari of the decision, dated July 29, 1994, of the Court of Appeals, which reversed the decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch VI, Iligan City. The aforesaid decision of the trial court dismissed the complaint of private respondents against petitioner for damages for breach of contract of carriage filed on the ground that petitioner had not exercised the required degree of diligence in the operation of one of its buses. Atty. Talib Caorong, whose heirs are private respondents herein, was a passenger of the bus and was killed in the ambush involving said bus.
The facts of the instant case are as follows:
Petitioner is a bus company in northern Mindanao. Private respondent Paulie Caorong is the widow of Atty. Caorong, while private respondents Yasser King, Rose Heinni, and Prince Alexander are their minor children.
On November 18, 1989, a bus of petitioner figured in an accident with a jeepney in Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte, resulting in the death of several passengers of the jeepney, including two Maranaos. Crisanto Generalao, a volunteer field agent of the Constabulary Regional Security Unit No. X, conducted an investigation of the accident. He found that the owner of the jeepney was a Maranao residing in Delabayan, Lanao del Norte and that certain Maranaos were planning to take revenge on the petitioner by burning some of its buses. Generalao rendered a report on his findings to Sgt. Reynaldo Bastasa of the Philippine Constabulary Regional Hearquarters at Cagayan de Oro. Upon the instruction of Sgt. Bastasa, he went to see Diosdado Bravo, operations manager of petitioner, at its main office in Cagayan de Oro City. Bravo assured him that the necessary precautions to insure the safety of lives and property would be taken.
At about 6:45 P.M. on November 22, 1989, three armed Maranaos who pretended to be passengers, seized a bus of petitioner at Linamon, Lanao del Norte while on its way to Iligan City. Among the passengers of the bus was Atty. Caorong. The leader of the Maranaos, identified as one Bashier Mananggolo, ordered the driver, Godofredo Cabatuan, to stop the bus on the side of the highway. Mananggolo then shot Cabatuan on the arm, which caused him to slump on the steering wheel. Then one of the companions of Mananggolo started pouring gasoline inside the bus, as the other held the passengers at bay with a handgun. Mananggolo then ordered the passengers to get off the bus. The passengers, including Atty. Caorong, stepped out of the bus and went behind the bushes in a field some distance from the highway.
However, Atty. Caorong returned to the bus to retrieve something from the overhead rack. At that time, one of the armed men was pouring gasoline on the head of the driver. Cabatuan, who had meantime regained consciousness, heard Atty. Caorong pleading with the armed men to spare the driver as he was innocent of any wrong doing and was only trying to make a living. The armed men were, however, adamant as they repeated their warning that they were going to burn the bus along with its driver. During this exchange between Atty. Caorong and the assailants, Cabatuan climbed out of the left window of the bus and crawled to the canal on the opposite side of the
highway. He heard shots from inside the bus. Larry de la Cruz, one of the passengers, saw that Atty. Caorong was hit. Then the bus was set on fire. Some of the passengers were able to pull Atty. Caorong out of the burning bus and rush him to the Mercy Community Hospital in Iligan City, but he died while undergoing operation.
The private respondents brought this suit for breach of contract of carriage in the Regional Trial Court, Branch VI, Iligan City. In his decision, dated December 28, 1990, the trial court dismissed the complaint, holding as follows:
The fact that defendant, through Operations Manager Diosdado Bravo, was informed of the rumors that the Moslems intended to take revenge by burning five buses of defendant is established since the latter also utilized Crisanto Generalaos as a witness. Yet despite this information, the plaintiffs charge, defendant did not take proper precautions. . . . Consequently, plaintiffs now fault the defendant for ignoring the report. Their position is that the defendant should have provided its buses with security guards. Does the law require common carriers to install security guards in its buses for the protection and safety of its passengers? Is the failure to post guards an omission of the duty to exercise the diligence of a good father of the family which could have prevented the killing of Atty. Caorong? To our mind, the diligence demanded by law does not include the posting of security guards in buses. It is an obligation that properly belongs to the State. Besides, will the presence of one or two security guards suffice to deter a determined assault of the lawless and thus prevent the injury complained of? Maybe so, but again, perhaps not. In other words, the presence of a security guard is not a guarantee that the killing of Atty. Caorong would have been definitely avoided.
Accordingly, the failure of defendant to accord faith and credit to the report of Mr. Generalao and the fact that it did not provide security to its buses cannot, in the light of the circumstances, be characterized as negligence.
Finally, the evidence clearly shows that the assailants did not have the least
intention of harming any of the passengers. They ordered all the passengers to alight and set fire on the bus only after all the passengers were out of danger. The death of Atty. Caorong was an unexpected and unforseen occurrence over which defendant had no control. Atty. Caorong performed an act of charity and heroism in coming to the succor of the driver even in the face of danger. He deserves the undying gratitude of the driver whose life he saved. No one should blame him for an act of extraordinary charity and altruism which cost his life. But neither should any blame be laid on the doorstep of defendant. His death was solely due to the willful acts of the lawless which defendant could neither prevent nor stop.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the complaint is hereby dismissed. For lack of merit, the counter-claim is likewise dismissed. No cost.
On appeal, however, the Court of Appeals reversed. It held:
In the case at bench, how did defendant-appellee react to the tip or information that certain Maranao hotheads were planning to burn five of its buses out of revenge for the deaths of two Maranaos in an earlier collision involving appellees bus? Except for the remarks of appellees operations manager that we will have our action . . . . and Ill be the one to settle it personally, nothing concrete whatsoever was taken by appellee or its employees to prevent the execution of the threat. Defendant-appellee never adopted even a single safety measure for the protection of its paying passengers. Were there available safeguards? Of course, there were: one was frisking passengers particularly those en route to the area where the threats were likely to be carried out such as where the earlier accident occurred or the place of influence of the victims or their locality. If frisking was resorted to, even temporarily, . . . . appellee might be legally excused from liability. Frisking of passengers picked up along the route could have been implemented by the bus conductor; for those boarding at the bus terminal, frisking could have been conducted by him and perhaps by additional personnel of defendant-appellee. On hindsight, the handguns and especially the gallon of gasoline used by the felons all of which were brought inside the bus would have been discovered, thus preventing the burning of the bus and the fatal shooting of the victim.
Appellees argument that there is no law requiring it to provide guards on its buses and that the safety of citizens is the duty of the government, is not well taken. To be sure, appellee is not expected to assign security guards on all of its buses; if at all, it has the duty to post guards only on its buses plying predominantly Maranao areas. As discussed in the next preceding paragraph, the least appellee could have done in response to the report was to adopt a system of verification such as frisking of passengers boarding its buses. Nothing, and to repeat, nothing at all, was done by defendant-appellee to protect its innocent passengers from the danger arising from the Maranao threats. It must be observed that frisking is not a novelty as a safety measure in our society. Sensitive places in fact, nearly all important places have applied this method of security enhancement. Gadgets and devices are available in the market for this purpose. It would not have weighed much against the budget of the bus company if such items were made available to its personnel to cope up with situations such as the Maranao threats.
In view of the constitutional right to personal privacy, our pronouncement in this decision should not be construed as an advocacy of mandatory frisking in all public conveyances. What we are saying is that given the circumstances obtaining in the case at bench that: (a) two Maranaos died because of a vehicular collision involving one of appellees vehicles; (b) appellee received a written report from a member of the Regional Security Unit, Constabulary Security Group, that the tribal/ethnic group of the two deceased were planning to burn five buses of appellee out of revenge; and (c) appellee did nothing absolutely nothing for the safety of its passengers travelling in the area of influence of the victims, appellee has failed to exercise the degree of diligence required of common carriers. Hence, appellee must be adjudged liable.
WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is hereby REVERSED and another rendered ordering defendant-appellee to pay plaintiffs-appellants the following:
1) P3,399,649.20 as death indemnity;
2) P50,000.00 and P500.00 per appearance as attorneys fees; and
Costs against defendant-appellee.
Hence, this appeal. Petitioner contends:
(A) THAT PUBLIC RESPONDENT ERRED IN REVERSING THE DECISION OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT DATED DECEMBER 28, 1990 DISMISSING THE COMPLAINT AS WELL AS THE COUNTERCLAIM, AND FINDING FOR PRIVATE RESPONDENTS BY ORDERING PETITIONER TO PAY THE GARGANTUAN SUM OF P3,449,649.20 PLUS P500.00 PER APPEARANCE AS ATTORNEYS FEES, AS WELL AS DENYING PETITIONERS MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION AND THE SUPPLEMENT TO SAID MOTION, WHILE HOLDING, AMONG OTHERS, THAT PETITIONER BREACHED THE CONTRACT OF CARIAGE BY ITS FAILURE TO EXERCISE THE REQUIRED DEGREE OF DILIGENCE;
(B) THAT THE ACTS OF THE MARANAO OUTLAWS WERE SO GRAVE, IRRESISTIBLE, VIOLENT, AND FORCEFUL, AS TO BE REGARDED AS CASO FORTUITO; AND
(C) THAT PUBLIC RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED IN HOLDING THAT PETITIONER COULD HAVE PROVIDED ADEQUATE SECURITY IN PREDOMINANTLY MUSLIM AREAS AS PART OF ITS DUTY TO OBSERVE EXTRAORDINARY DILIGENCE AS A COMMON CARRIER.
The instant petition has no merit.
First. Petitioners Breach of the Contract of Carriage
Art. 1763 of the Civil Code provides that a common carrier is responsible for injuries suffered by a passenger on account of the wilful acts of other
passengers, if the employees of the common carrier could have prevented the act the exercise of the diligence of a good father of a family. In the present case, it is clear that because of the negligence of petitioners employees, the seizure of the bus by Mananggolo and his men was made possible.
Despite warning by the Philippine Constabulary at Cagayan de Oro that the Maranaos were planning to take revenge on the petitioner by burning some of its buses and the assurance of petitioners operation manager, Diosdado Bravo, that the necessary precautions would be taken, petitioner did nothing to protect the safety of its passengers.
Had petitioner and its employees been vigilant they would not have failed to see that the malefactors had a large quantity of gasoline with them. Under the circumstances, simple precautionary measures to protect the safety of passengers, such as frisking passengers and inspecting their baggages, preferably with non-intrusive gadgets such as metal detectors, before allowing them on board could have been employed without violating the passengers constitutional rights. As this Court intimated in Gacal v. Philippine Air Lines, Inc., a common carrier can be held liable for failing to prevent a hijacking by frisking passengers and inspecting their baggages.
From the foregoing, it is evident that petitioners employees failed to prevent the attack on one of petitioners buses because they did not exercise the diligence of a good father of a family. Hence, petitioner should be held liable for the death of Atty. Caorong.
Second. Seizure of Petitioners Bus not a Case of Force Majeure
The petitioner contends that the seizure of its bus by the armed assailants was a fortuitous event for which it could not be held liable.
Art. 1174 of the Civil Code defines a fortuitous even as an occurrence which could not be foreseen or which though foreseen, is inevitable. In Yobido v. Court of Appeals, we held that to be considered as force majeure, it is necessary that: (1) the cause of the breach of the obligation must be
independent of the human will; (2) the event must be either unforeseeable or unavoidable; (3) the occurrence must be such as to render it impossible for the debtor to fulfill the obligation in a normal manner; and (4) the obligor must be free of participation in, or aggravation of, the injury to the creditor. The absence of any of the requisites mentioned above would prevent the obligor from being excused from liability.
Thus, in Vasquez v. Court of Appeals, it was held that the common carrier was liable for its failure to take the necessary precautions against an approaching typhoon, of which it was warned, resulting in the loss of the lives of several passengers. The event was foreseeable, and, thus, the second requisite mentioned above was not fulfilled. This ruling applies by analogy to the present case. Despite the report of PC agent Generalao that the Maranaos were going to attack its buses, petitioner took no steps to safeguard the lives and properties of its passengers. The seizure of the bus of the petitioner was foreseeable and, therefore, was not a fortuitous event which would exempt petitioner from liability.
Petitioner invokes the ruling in Pilapil v. Court of Appeals and De Guzman v. Court of Appeals in support of its contention that the seizure of its bus by the assailants constitutes force majeure. In Pilapil v. Court of Appeals, it was held that a common carrier is not liable for failing to install window grills on its buses to protect passengers from injuries caused by rocks hurled at the bus by lawless elements. On the other hand, in De Guzman v. Court of Appeals, it was ruled that a common carrier is not responsible for goods lost as a result of a robbery which is attended by grave or irresistible threat, violence, or force.
It is clear that the cases of Pilapil and De Guzman do not apply to the present case. Art. 1755 of the Civil Code provides that a common carrier is bound to carry the passengers as far as human care and foresight can provide, using the utmost diligence of very cautious person, with due regard for all the circumstances. Thus, we held in Pilapil and De Guzman that the respondents therein were not negligent in failing to take special precautions against threats to the safety of passengers which could not be foreseen, such as tortious or criminal acts of third persons. In the present case, this factor of unforeseeablility (the second requisite for an event to be considered force majeure) is lacking. As already stated, despite the report of PC agent Generalao that the Maranaos were planning to burn some of petitioners buses and the assurance of petitioners operations manager (Diosdado Bravo)
that the necessary precautions would be taken, nothing was really done by petitioner to protect the safety of passengers.
Third. Deceased not Guilty of Contributory Negligence
The petitioner contends that Atty. Caorong was guilty of contributory negligence in returning to the bus to retrieve something. But Atty. Caorong did not act recklessly. It should be pointed out that the intended targets of the violence were petitioner and its employees, not its passengers. The assailants motive was to retaliate for the loss of life of two Maranaos as a result of the collision between petitioners bus and the jeepney in which the two Maranaos were riding. Mananggolo, the leader of the group which had hijacked the bus, ordered the passengers to get off the bus as they intended to burn it and its driver. The armed men actually allowed Atty. Caorong to retrieve something from the bus. What apparently angered them was his attempt to help the driver of the bus by pleading for his life. He was playing the role of the good Samaritan. Certainly, this act cannot be considered an act of negligence, let alone recklessness.
Fourth. Petitioner Liable to Private Respondents for Damages
We now consider the question of damages that the heirs of Atty. Caorong, private respondents herein, are entitled to recover from the petitioner.
Indemnity for Death. Art. 1764 of the Civil Code, in relation to Art. 2206 thereof, provides for the payment of indemnity for the death of passengers caused by the breached of contract of carriage by a common carrier. Initially fixed in Art. 2206 at P3,000.00, the amount of the said indemnity for death has through the years been gradually increased in view of the declining value of the peso. It is presently fixed at P50,000.00. Private respondents are entitled to this amount.
Actual damages. Art. 2199 provides that Except as provided by law or by stipulation, one is entitled to an adequate compensation only for such pecuniary loss suffered by him as he has duly proved. The trial court found that the private respondents spent P30,000.00 for the wake and burial of Atty.
Caorong. Since petitioner does not question this finding of the trial court, it is liable to private respondents in the said amount as actual damages.
Moral Damages. Under Art. 2206, the spouse, legitimate and illegitimate descendants and ascendants of the deceased may demand moral damages for mental anguish by reason of the death of the deceased. The trial court found that private respondent Paulie Caorong suffered pain from the death of her husband and worry on how to provide support for their minor children, private respondents Yasser King, Rose Heinni, and Prince Alexander. The petitioner likewise does not question this finding of the trial court. Thus, in accordance with recent decisions of this Court, we hold that the petitioner is liable to the private respondents in the amount of P100,000.00 as moral damages for the death of Atty. Caorong.
Exemplary Damages. Art. 2232 provides that in contracts and quasicontracts, the court may award exemplary damages if the defendant acted in a wanton, fraudulent, reckless, oppressive, or malevolent manner. In the present case, the petitioner acted in a wanton and reckless manner. Despite warning that the Maranaos were planning to take revenge against the petitioner by burning some of its buses, and contrary to the assurance made by its operations manager that the necessary precautions would be taken, the petitioner and its employees did nothing to protect the safety of passengers. Under the circumstances, we deem it reasonable to award private respondents exemplary damages in the amount of P100,000.00.
Attorneys Fees. Pursuant to Art. 2208, attorneys fees may be recovered when, as in the instant case, exemplary damages are awarded. In the recent case of Sulpicio Lines, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, we held an award of P50,000.00 as attorneys fees to be reasonable. Hence, the private respondents are entitled to attorneys fees in that amount.
Compensation for Loss of Earning Capacity. Art. 1764 of the Civil Code, in relation to Art. 2206 thereof, provides that in addition to the indemnity for death arising from the breach of contract of carriage by a common carrier, the defendant shall be liable for the loss of the earning capacity of the deceased, and the indemnity shall be paid to the heirs of the latter. The formula established in decided cases for computing net earning capacity is as follows:
Gross Necessary Net earning = Life x Annual - Living Capacity Expectancy Income Expenses Life expectancy is equivalent to two thirds (2/3) multiplied by the difference of eighty (80) and the age of the deceased. Since Atty. Caorong was 37 years old at the time of his death, he had a life expectancy of 28 2/3 more years. His projected gross annual income, computed based on his monthly salary of P11,385.00 as a lawyer in the Department of Agrarian Reform at the time of his death, was P148,005.00. allowing for necessary living expenses of fifty percent (50%)of his projected gross annual income, his total earning capacity amounts to P2,121,404.90. Hence, the petitioner is liable to the private respondents in the said amount as compensation for loss of earning capacity.
WHEREFORE, the decision, dated July 29, 1994, of the Court of Appeals is hereby AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that petitioner Fortune Express, Inc. is ordered to pay the following amounts to private respondents Paulie, Yasser King, Rose Heinni, and Prince Alexander Caorong:
1. death indemnity in the amount of fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00);
2. actual damages in the amount of thirty thousand pesos (P30,000.00);
3. moral damages in the amount of one hundred thousand pesos(P100,000.00);
4. exemplary damages in the amount of one hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00);
5. attorneys fees in the amount of fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00);
6. compensation for loss of earning capacity in the amount of two million one hundred twenty-one thousand four hundred four pesos and ninety centavos (P2,121,404.90); and
7) costs of suits.
Bellosillo, (Chairman), Puno, and Buena, JJ., concur. Quisumbing, J., on official business abroad. 16. G.R. No. 85691
July 31, 1990
BACHELOR EXPRESS, INCORPORATED, and CRESENCIO RIVERA, petitioners, vs. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS (Sixth Division), RICARDO BETER, SERGIA BETER, TEOFILO RAUTRAUT and ZOETERA RAUTRAUT, respondents.
Aquino W. Gambe for petitioners.
Tranquilino O. Calo, Jr. for private respondents.
GUTIERREZ, JR., J.:
This is a petition for review of the decision of the Court of Appeals which reversed and set aside the order of the Regional Trial Court, Branch I, Butuan
City dismissing the private respondents' complaint for collection of "a sum of money" and finding the petitioners solidarily liable for damages in the total amount of One Hundred Twenty Thousand Pesos (P120,000.00). The petitioners also question the appellate court's resolution denying a motion for reconsideration.
On August 1, 1980, Bus No. 800 owned by Bachelor Express, Inc. and driven by Cresencio Rivera was the situs of a stampede which resulted in the death of passengers Ornominio Beter and Narcisa Rautraut.
The evidence shows that the bus came from Davao City on its way to Cagayan de Oro City passing Butuan City; that while at Tabon-Tabon, Butuan City, the bus picked up a passenger; that about fifteen (15) minutes later, a passenger at the rear portion suddenly stabbed a PC soldier which caused commotion and panic among the passengers; that when the bus stopped, passengers Ornominio Beter and Narcisa Rautraut were found lying down the road, the former already dead as a result of head injuries and the latter also suffering from severe injuries which caused her death later. The passenger assailant alighted from the bus and ran toward the bushes but was killed by the police. Thereafter, the heirs of Ornominio Beter and Narcisa Rautraut, private respondents herein (Ricardo Beter and Sergia Beter are the parents of Ornominio while Teofilo Rautraut and Zoetera [should be Zotera] Rautraut are the parents of Narcisa) filed a complaint for "sum of money" against Bachelor Express, Inc. its alleged owner Samson Yasay and the driver Rivera.
In their answer, the petitioners denied liability for the death of Ornominio Beter and Narcisa Rautraut. They alleged that ... the driver was able to transport his passengers safely to their respective places of destination except Ornominio Beter and Narcisa Rautraut who jumped off the bus without the knowledge and consent, much less, the fault of the driver and conductor and the defendants in this case; the defendant corporation had exercised due diligence in the choice of its employees to avoid as much as possible accidents; the incident on August 1, 1980 was not a traffic accident or vehicular accident; it was an incident or event very much beyond the control of the defendants; defendants were not parties to the incident complained of as it was an act of a third party who is not in any way connected with the defendants and of which the latter have no control and supervision; ..." (Rollo, pp. 112-113).i•t•c-aüsl
After due trial, the trial court issued an order dated August 8, 1985 dismissing the complaint.
Upon appeal however, the trial court's decision was reversed and set aside. The dispositive portion of the decision of the Court of Appeals states:
WHEREFORE, the Decision appealed from is REVERSED and SET ASIDE and a new one entered finding the appellees jointly and solidarily liable to pay the plaintiffs-appellants the following amounts:
1) To the heirs of Ornominio Beter, the amount of Seventy Five Thousand Pesos (P75,000.00) in loss of earnings and support, moral damages, straight death indemnity and attorney's fees; and,
2) To the heirs of Narcisa Rautraut, the amount of Forty Five Thousand Pesos (P45,000.00) for straight death indemnity, moral damages and attorney's fees. Costs against appellees. (Rollo, pp. 71-72)
The petitioners now pose the following questions
What was the proximate cause of the whole incident? Why were the passengers on board the bus panicked (sic) and why were they shoving one another? Why did Narcisa Rautraut and Ornominio Beter jump off from the running bus?
The petitioners opine that answers to these questions are material to arrive at "a fair, just and equitable judgment." (Rollo, p. 5) They claim that the assailed decision is based on a misapprehension of facts and its conclusion is grounded on speculation, surmises or conjectures.
As regards the proximate cause of the death of Ornominio Beter and Narcisa Rautraut, the petitioners maintain that it was the act of the passenger who ran amuck and stabbed another passenger of the bus. They contend that the
stabbing incident triggered off the commotion and panic among the passengers who pushed one another and that presumably out of fear and moved by that human instinct of self-preservation Beter and Rautraut jumped off the bus while the bus was still running resulting in their untimely death." (Rollo, p. 6) Under these circumstances, the petitioners asseverate that they were not negligent in the performance of their duties and that the incident was completely and absolutely attributable to a third person, the passenger who ran amuck, for without his criminal act, Beter and Rautraut could not have been subjected to fear and shock which compelled them to jump off the running bus. They argue that they should not be made liable for damages arising from acts of third persons over whom they have no control or supervision.
Furthermore, the petitioners maintain that the driver of the bus, before, during and after the incident was driving cautiously giving due regard to traffic rules, laws and regulations. The petitioners also argue that they are not insurers of their passengers as ruled by the trial court.
The liability, if any, of the petitioners is anchored on culpa contractual or breach of contract of carriage. The applicable provisions of law under the New Civil Code are as follows:
ART. 1732. Common carriers are persons, corporations, firms or associations engaged in the business of carrying or transporting passengers or goods or both by land, water, or air, for compensation, offering their services to the public.
ART. 1733. Common carriers, from the nature of their business and for reasons of public policy, are bound to observe extraordinary diligence in the vigilance over the goods and for the safety of the passengers transported by them, according to all the circumstances of each case.
ART. 1755. A common carrier is bound to carry the passengers safely as far as human care and foresight can provide, using the utmost diligence of very
cautious persons, with a due regard for all the circumstances.
ART. 1756. In case of death of or injuries to passengers, common carriers are presumed to have been at fault or to have acted negligently, unless they prove that they observed extraordinary diligence as prescribed in Articles 1733 and 1755.
There is no question that Bachelor Express, Inc. is a common carrier. Hence, from the nature of its business and for reasons of public policy Bachelor Express, Inc. is bound to carry its passengers safely as far as human care and foresight can provide using the utmost diligence of very cautious persons, with a due regard for all the circumstances.
In the case at bar, Ornominio Beter and Narcisa Rautraut were passengers of a bus belonging to petitioner Bachelor Express, Inc. and, while passengers of the bus, suffered injuries which caused their death. Consequently, pursuant to Article 1756 of the Civil Code, petitioner Bachelor Express, Inc. is presumed to have acted negligently unless it can prove that it had observed extraordinary diligence in accordance with Articles 1733 and 1755 of the New Civil Code.
Bachelor Express, Inc. denies liability for the death of Beter and Rautraut on its posture that the death of the said passengers was caused by a third person who was beyond its control and supervision. In effect, the petitioner, in order to overcome the presumption of fault or negligence under the law, states that the vehicular incident resulting in the death of passengers Beter and Rautraut was caused by force majeure or caso fortuito over which the common carrier did not have any control.
Article 1174 of the present Civil Code states:
Except in cases expressly specified by law, or when it is otherwise declared by stipulations, or when the nature of the obligation requires the assumption of risk, no person shall be responsible for those events which could not be foreseen, or which though foreseen, were inevitable.
The above-mentioned provision was substantially copied from Article 1105 of the old Civil Code which states"
No one shall be liable for events which could not be foreseen or which, even if foreseen, were inevitable, with the exception of the cases in which the law expressly provides otherwise and those in which the obligation itself imposes liability.
In the case of Lasam v. Smith (45 Phil. 657 ), we defined "events" which cannot be foreseen and which, having been foreseen, are inevitable in the following manner:
... The Spanish authorities regard the language employed as an effort to define the term 'caso fortuito' and hold that the two expressions are synonymous. (Manresa Comentarios al Codigo Civil Español, vol. 8, pp. 88 et seq.; Scaevola, Codigo Civil, vol. 19, pp. 526 et seq.)
The antecedent to Article 1105 is found in Law II, Title 33, Partida 7, which defines caso fortuito as 'occasion que acaese por aventura de que non se puede ante ver. E son estos, derrivamientos de casas e fuego que enciende a so ora, e quebrantamiento de navio, fuerca de ladrones' (An event that takes place by incident and could not have been foreseen. Examples of this are destruction of houses, unexpected fire, shipwreck, violence of robbers ...)
Escriche defines caso fortuito as an unexpected event or act of God which could neither be foreseen nor resisted, such as floods, torrents, shipwrecks, conflagrations, lightning, compulsion, insurrections, destruction of buildings by unforeseen accidents and other occurrences of a similar nature.
In discussing and analyzing the term caso fortuito the Enciclopedia Juridica Española says: 'In a legal sense and, consequently, also in relation to contracts, a caso fortuito presents the following essential characteristics: (1) The cause of the unforeseen and unexpected occurrence, or of the failure of the debtor to comply with his obligation, must be independent of the human
will. (2) It must be impossible to foresee the event which constitutes the caso fortuito, or if it can be foreseen, it must be impossible to avoid. (3) The occurrence must be such as to render it impossible for the debtor to fulfill his obligation in a normal manner. And (4) the obligor (debtor) must be free from any participation in the aggravation of the injury resulting to the creditor. (5) Enciclopedia Juridica Española, 309)
As will be seen, these authorities agree that some extraordinary circumstance independent of the will of the obligor or of his employees, is an essential element of a caso fortuito. ...
The running amuck of the passenger was the proximate cause of the incident as it triggered off a commotion and panic among the passengers such that the passengers started running to the sole exit shoving each other resulting in the falling off the bus by passengers Beter and Rautraut causing them fatal injuries. The sudden act of the passenger who stabbed another passenger in the bus is within the context of force majeure.
However, in order that a common carrier may be absolved from liability in case of force majeure, it is not enough that the accident was caused by force majeure. The common carrier must still prove that it was not negligent in causing the injuries resulting from such accident. Thus, as early as 1912, we ruled:
From all the foregoing, it is concluded that the defendant is not liable for the loss and damage of the goods shipped on the lorcha Pilar by the Chinaman, Ong Bien Sip, inasmuch as such loss and damage were the result of a fortuitous event or force majeure, and there was no negligence or lack of care and diligence on the part of the defendant company or its agents. (Tan Chiong Sian v. Inchausti & Co., 22 Phil. 152 ; Emphasis supplied).
This principle was reiterated in a more recent case, Batangas Laguna Tayabas Co. v. Intermediate Appellate Court (167 SCRA 379 ), wherein we ruled:
... [F]or their defense of force majeure or act of God to prosper the accident must be due to natural causes and exclusively without human intervention.
Therefore, the next question to be determined is whether or not the petitioner's common carrier observed extraordinary diligence to safeguard the lives of its passengers.
In this regard the trial court and the appellate court arrived at conflicting factual findings.
The trial court found the following facts:
The parties presented conflicting evidence as to how the two deceased Narcisa Rautruat and Ornominio Beter met their deaths.
However, from the evidence adduced by the plaintiffs, the Court could not see why the two deceased could have fallen off the bus when their own witnesses testified that when the commotion ensued inside the bus, the passengers pushed and shoved each other towards the door apparently in order to get off from the bus through the door. But the passengers also could not pass through the door because according to the evidence the door was locked.
On the other hand, the Court is inclined to give credence to the evidence adduced by the defendants that when the commotion ensued inside the bus, the two deceased panicked and, in state of shock and fear, they jumped off from the bus by passing through the window.
It is the prevailing rule and settled jurisprudence that transportation companies are not insurers of their passengers. The evidence on record does not show that defendants' personnel were negligent in their duties. The defendants' personnel have every right to accept passengers absent any manifestation of violence or drunkenness. If and when such passengers harm other passengers without the knowledge of the transportation company's personnel, the latter should not be faulted. (Rollo, pp. 46-47)
A thorough examination of the records, however, show that there are material facts ignored by the trial court which were discussed by the appellate court to arrive at a different conclusion. These circumstances show that the petitioner common carrier was negligent in the provision of safety precautions so that its passengers may be transported safely to their destinations. The appellate court states:
A critical eye must be accorded the lower court's conclusions of fact in its tersely written ratio decidendi. The lower court concluded that the door of the bus was closed; secondly, the passengers, specifically the two deceased, jumped out of the window. The lower court therefore concluded that the defendant common carrier is not liable for the death of the said passengers which it implicitly attributed to the unforeseen acts of the unidentified passenger who went amuck.
There is nothing in the record to support the conclusion that the solitary door of the bus was locked as to prevent the passengers from passing through. Leonila Cullano, testifying for the defense, clearly stated that the conductor opened the door when the passengers were shouting that the bus stop while they were in a state of panic. Sergia Beter categorically stated that she actually saw her son fall from the bus as the door was forced open by the force of the onrushing passengers.
Pedro Collango, on the other hand, testified that he shut the door after the last passenger had boarded the bus. But he had quite conveniently neglected to say that when the passengers had panicked, he himself panicked and had gone to open the door. Portions of the testimony of Leonila Cullano, quoted below, are illuminating:
Q When you said the conductor opened the door, the door at the front or rear portion of the bus?
Q And these two persons whom you said alighted, where did they pass, the fron(t) door or rear door?
(Tsn., p. 4, Aug. 8, 1984)
Q What happened after there was a commotion at the rear portion of the bus?
A When the commotion occurred, I stood up and I noticed that there was a passenger who was sounded (sic). The conductor panicked because the passengers were shouting 'stop, stop'. The conductor opened the bus.'
(Tsn. p. 3, August 8, 1984).
Accordingly, there is no reason to believe that the deceased passengers jumped from the window when it was entirely possible for them to have alighted through the door. The lower court's reliance on the testimony of Pedro Collango, as the conductor and employee of the common carrier, is unjustified, in the light of the clear testimony of Leonila Cullano as the sole uninterested eyewitness of the entire episode. Instead we find Pedro Collango's testimony to be infused by bias and fraught with inconsistencies, if not notably unreliable for lack of veracity. On direct examination, he testified:
Q So what happened to the passengers inside your bus?
A Some of the passengers jumped out of the window.
Q While the bus was in motion?
A Yes, your Honor, but the speed was slow because we have just picked up a passenger.
Q You said that at the time of the incident the bus was running slow because you have just picked up a passenger. Can you estimate what was your speed at that time?
No basis, your Honor, he is neither a driver nor a conductor.
Let the witness answer. Estimate only, the conductor experienced.
Not less than 30 to 40 miles.
Kilometers or miles?
Q That is only your estimate by your experience?
A Yes, sir, estimate.
(Tsn., pp. 4-5, Oct. 17, 1983).
At such speed of not less than 30 to 40 miles ..., or about 48 to 65 kilometers per hour, the speed of the bus could scarcely be considered slow considering that according to Collango himself, the bus had just come from a full stop after picking a passenger (Tsn, p. 4, Id.) and that the bus was still on its second or third gear (Tsn., p. 12, Id.).
In the light of the foregoing, the negligence of the common carrier, through its employees, consisted of the lack of extraordinary diligence required of common carriers, in exercising vigilance and utmost care of the safety of its passengers, exemplified by the driver's belated stop and the reckless opening of the doors of the bus while the same was travelling at an appreciably fast speed. At the same time, the common carrier itself acknowledged, through its
administrative officer, Benjamin Granada, that the bus was commissioned to travel and take on passengers and the public at large, while equipped with only a solitary door for a bus its size and loading capacity, in contravention of rules and regulations provided for under the Land Transportation and Traffic Code (RA 4136 as amended.) (Rollo, pp. 23-26)
Considering the factual findings of the Court of Appeals-the bus driver did not immediately stop the bus at the height of the commotion; the bus was speeding from a full stop; the victims fell from the bus door when it was opened or gave way while the bus was still running; the conductor panicked and blew his whistle after people had already fallen off the bus; and the bus was not properly equipped with doors in accordance with law-it is clear that the petitioners have failed to overcome the presumption of fault and negligence found in the law governing common carriers.
The petitioners' argument that the petitioners "are not insurers of their passengers" deserves no merit in view of the failure of the petitioners to prove that the deaths of the two passengers were exclusively due to force majeure and not to the failure of the petitioners to observe extraordinary diligence in transporting safely the passengers to their destinations as warranted by law. (See Batangas Laguna Tayabas Co. v. Intermediate Appellate Court, supra).
The petitioners also contend that the private respondents failed to show to the court that they are the parents of Ornominio Beter and Narcisa Rautraut respectively and therefore have no legal personality to sue the petitioners. This argument deserves scant consideration. We find this argument a belated attempt on the part of the petitioners to avoid liability for the deaths of Beter and Rautraut. The private respondents were Identified as the parents of the victims by witnesses during the trial and the trial court recognized them as such. The trial court dismissed the complaint solely on the ground that the petitioners were not negligent.
Finally, the amount of damages awarded to the heirs of Beter and Rautraut by the appellate court is supported by the evidence. The appellate court stated:
Ornominio Beter was 32 years of age at the time of his death, single, in good health and rendering support and service to his mother. As far as Narcisa Rautraut is concerned, the only evidence adduced is to the effect that at her death, she was 23 years of age, in good health and without visible means of support.
In accordance with Art. 1764 in conjunction with Art. 2206 of the Civil Code, and established jurisprudence, several factors may be considered in determining the award of damages, namely: 1) life expectancy (considering the state of health of the deceased and the mortality tables are deemed conclusive) and loss of earning capacity; (2) pecuniary loss, loss of support and service; and (3) moral and mental suffering (Alcantara, et al. v. Surro, et al., 93 Phil. 470).
In the case of People v. Daniel (No. L-66551, April 25, 1985, 136 SCRA 92, at page 104), the High Tribunal, reiterating the rule in Villa Rey Transit, Inc. v. Court of Appeals (31 SCRA 511), stated that the amount of loss of earring capacity is based mainly on two factors, namely, (1) the number of years on the basis of which the damages shall be computed; and (2) the rate at which the losses sustained by the heirs should be fixed.
As the formula adopted in the case of Davila v. Philippine Air Lines, 49 SCRA 497, at the age of 30 one's normal life expectancy is 33-1/3 years based on the American Expectancy Table of Mortality (2/3 x 80-32).i•t•c-aüsl By taking into account the pace and nature of the life of a carpenter, it is reasonable to make allowances for these circumstances and reduce the life expectancy of the deceased Ornominio Beter to 25 years (People v. Daniel, supra). To fix the rate of losses it must be noted that Art. 2206 refers to gross earnings less necessary living expenses of the deceased, in other words, only net earnings are to be considered (People v. Daniel, supra; Villa Rey Transit, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, supra).
Applying the foregoing rules with respect to Ornominio Beter, it is both just and reasonable, considering his social standing and position, to fix the deductible, living and incidental expenses at the sum of Four Hundred Pesos (P400.00) a month, or Four Thousand Eight Hundred Pesos (P4,800.00) annually. As to his income, considering the irregular nature of the work of a daily wage carpenter which is seasonal, it is safe to assume that he shall
have work for twenty (20) days a month at Twenty Five Pesos (P150,000.00) for twenty five years. Deducting therefrom his necessary expenses, his heirs would be entitled to Thirty Thousand Pesos (P30,000.00) representing loss of support and service (P150,000.00 less P120,000.00). In addition, his heirs are entitled to Thirty Thousand Pesos (P30,000.00) as straight death indemnity pursuant to Article 2206 (People v. Daniel, supra). For damages for their moral and mental anguish, his heirs are entitled to the reasonable sum of P10,000.00 as an exception to the general rule against moral damages in case of breach of contract rule Art. 2200 (Necesito v. Paras, 104 Phil. 75). As attorney's fees, Beter's heirs are entitled to P5,000.00. All in all, the plaintiffappellants Ricardo and Sergia Beter as heirs of their son Ornominio are entitled to an indemnity of Seventy Five Thousand Pesos (P75,000.00).
In the case of Narcisa Rautraut, her heirs are entitled to a straight death indemnity of Thirty Thousand Pesos (P30,000.00), to moral damages in the amount of Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00) and Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00) as attorney's fees, or a total of Forty Five Thousand Pesos (P45,000.00) as total indemnity for her death in the absence of any evidence that she had visible means of support. (Rollo, pp. 30-31)
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DISMISSED. The questioned decision dated May 19, 1988 and the resolution dated August 1, 1988 of the Court of Appeals are AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED. 17. CASE DIGEST (Transportation Law): Bacarro vs. Castano Bacarro vs. Castano (GR L-34597, 5 November 1982)
Respondent Castano boarded a jeep driven by Petitioner Montefalcon who thereafter drove it at around 40 kilometers per hour. While approaching
Sumasap Bridge at the said speed, a cargo truck coming from behind, blowing its horn to signal its intention to overtake the jeep. The jeep, without changing its speed, gave way by swerving to the right, such that both vehicles ran side by side for a distance of around 20 meters. Thereafter as the jeep was left behind, its driver was unable to return it to its former lane and instead it obliquely or diagonally ran down an inclined terrain towards the right until it fell into a ditch pinning down and crushing Castano’s right leg in the process.
Castano filed a case for damages against Rosita Bacarro, William Sevilla, and Felario Montefalcon. Defendants alleged that the jeepney was sideswiped by the overtaking cargo truck. After trial, the CFI of Misamis Oriental ordered Bacarro, et.al. to jointly and severally pay Castano. It was affirmed by the CA upon appeal.
1. Whether or not there was a contributory negligence on the part of the jeepney driver. 2. Whether or not extraordinary diligence is required of the jeepney driver. 3. Whether or not the sideswiping is a fortuitous event.
1.) Yes. X x x. The fact is, petitioner-driver Montefalcon did not slacken his speed but instead continued to run the jeep at about forty (40) kilometers per hour even at the time the overtaking cargo truck was running side by side for about twenty (20) meters and at which time he even shouted to the driver of the truck.
Thus, had Montefalcon slackened the speed of the jeep at the time the truck was overtaking it, instead of running side by side with the cargo truck, there would have been no contact and accident. He should have foreseen that at the speed he was running, the vehicles were getting nearer the bridge and as
the road was getting narrower the truck would be to close to the jeep and would eventually sideswiped it. Otherwise stated, he should have slackened his jeep when he swerved it to the right to give way to the truck because the two vehicles could not cross the bridge at the same time.
2.) Yes. x x x [T]he fact is, there was a contract of carriage between the private respondent and the herein petitioners in which case the Court of Appeals correctly applied Articles 1733, 1755 and 1766 of the Civil Code which require the exercise of extraordinary diligence on the part of petitioner Montefalcon.
Indeed, the hazards of modern transportation demand extraordinary diligence. A common carrier is vested with public interest. Under the new Civil Code, instead of being required to exercise mere ordinary diligence a common carrier is exhorted to carry the passengers safely as far as human care and foresight can provide "using the utmost diligence of very cautious persons." (Article 1755). Once a passenger in the course of travel is injured, or does not reach his destination safely, the carrier and driver are presumed to be at fault.
3.) The third assigned error of the petitioners would find fault upon respondent court in not freeing petitioners from any liability, since the accident was due to a fortuitous event. But, We repeat that the alleged fortuitous event in this case - the sideswiping of the jeepney by the cargo truck, was something which could have been avoided considering the narrowness of the Sumasap Bridge which was not wide enough to admit two vehicles. As found by the Court of Appeals, Montefalcon contributed to the occurrence of the mishap 18. G.R. No. L-55300
March 15, 1990
FRANKLIN G. GACAL and CORAZON M. GACAL, the latter assisted by her husband, FRANKLIN G. GACAL, petitioners, vs. PHILIPPINE AIR LINES, INC., and THE HONORABLE PEDRO SAMSON C. ANIMAS, in his capacity as PRESIDING JUDGE of the COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF
SOUTH COTABATO, BRANCH I, respondents.
Vicente A. Mirabueno for petitioners.
Siguion Reyna, Montecillo & Ongsiako for private respondent.
This is a, petition for review on certiorari of the decision of the Court of First Instance of South Cotabato, Branch 1, * promulgated on August 26, 1980 dismissing three (3) consolidated cases for damages: Civil Case No. 1701, Civil Case No. 1773 and Civil Case No. 1797 (Rollo, p. 35).
The facts, as found by respondent court, are as follows:
Plaintiffs Franklin G. Gacal and his wife, Corazon M. Gacal, Bonifacio S. Anislag and his wife, Mansueta L. Anislag, and the late Elma de Guzman, were then passengers boarding defendant's BAC 1-11 at Davao Airport for a flight to Manila, not knowing that on the same flight, Macalinog, Taurac Pendatum known as Commander Zapata, Nasser Omar, Liling Pusuan Radia, Dimantong Dimarosing and Mike Randa, all of Marawi City and members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), were their co-passengers, three (3) armed with grenades, two (2) with .45 caliber pistols, and one with a .22 caliber pistol. Ten (10) minutes after take off at about 2:30 in the afternoon, the hijackers brandishing their respective firearms announced the hijacking of the aircraft and directed its pilot to fly to Libya. With the pilot explaining to them especially to its leader, Commander Zapata, of the inherent fuel limitations of the plane and that they are not rated for international flights, the hijackers directed the pilot to fly to Sabah. With the same explanation, they relented and directed the aircraft to land at Zamboanga Airport, Zamboanga City for refueling. The aircraft landed at 3:00 o'clock in the afternoon of May 21, 1976 at Zamboanga Airport. When the plane began to
taxi at the runway, it was met by two armored cars of the military with machine guns pointed at the plane, and it stopped there. The rebels thru its commander demanded that a DC-aircraft take them to Libya with the President of the defendant company as hostage and that they be given $375,000 and six (6) armalites, otherwise they will blow up the plane if their demands will not be met by the government and Philippine Air Lines. Meanwhile, the passengers were not served any food nor water and it was only on May 23, a Sunday, at about 1:00 o'clock in the afternoon that they were served 1/4 slice of a sandwich and 1/10 cup of PAL water. After that, relatives of the hijackers were allowed to board the plane but immediately after they alighted therefrom, an armored car bumped the stairs. That commenced the battle between the military and the hijackers which led ultimately to the liberation of the surviving crew and the passengers, with the final score of ten (10) passengers and three (3) hijackers dead on the spot and three (3) hijackers captured.
City Fiscal Franklin G. Gacal was unhurt. Mrs. Corazon M. Gacal suffered injuries in the course of her jumping out of the plane when it was peppered with bullets by the army and after two (2) hand grenades exploded inside the plane. She was hospitalized at General Santos Doctors Hospital, General Santos City, for two (2) days, spending P245.60 for hospital and medical expenses, Assistant City Fiscal Bonifacio S. Anislag also escaped unhurt but Mrs. Anislag suffered a fracture at the radial bone of her left elbow for which she was hospitalized and operated on at the San Pedro Hospital, Davao City, and therefore, at Davao Regional Hospital, Davao City, spending P4,500.00. Elma de Guzman died because of that battle. Hence, the action of damages instituted by the plaintiffs demanding the following damages, to wit:
Civil Case No. 1701 —
City Fiscal Franklin G. Gacal and Mrs. Corazon M. Gacal — actual damages: P245.60 for hospital and medical expenses of Mrs Gacal; P8,995.00 for their personal belongings which were lost and not recovered; P50,000.00 each for moral damages; and P5,000.00 for attorney's fees, apart from the prayer for an award of exemplary damages (Record, pp. 4-6, Civil Case No. 1701).
Civil Case No. 1773 —
Civil Case No. 1797 —
The trial court, on August 26, 1980, dismissed the complaints finding that all the damages sustained in the premises were attributed to force majeure.
On September 12, 1980 the spouses Franklin G. Gacal and Corazon M. Gacal, plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 1701, filed a notice of appeal with the lower court on pure questions of law (Rollo, p. 55) and the petition for review on certiorari was filed with this Court on October 20, 1980 (Rollo, p. 30).
The Court gave due course to the petition (Rollo, p. 147) and both parties filed their respective briefs but petitioner failed to file reply brief which was noted by the Court in the resolution dated May 3, 1982 (Rollo, p. 183).
Petitioners alleged that the main cause of the unfortunate incident is the gross, wanton and inexcusable negligence of respondent Airline personnel in their failure to frisk the passengers adequately in order to discover hidden weapons in the bodies of the six (6) hijackers. They claimed that despite the prevalence of skyjacking, PAL did not use a metal detector which is the most effective means of discovering potential skyjackers among the passengers (Rollo, pp. 6-7).
Respondent Airline averred that in the performance of its obligation to safely transport passengers as far as human care and foresight can provide, it has exercised the utmost diligence of a very cautious person with due regard to all circumstances, but the security checks and measures and surveillance precautions in all flights, including the inspection of baggages and cargo and frisking of passengers at the Davao Airport were performed and rendered solely by military personnel who under appropriate authority had assumed exclusive jurisdiction over the same in all airports in the Philippines.
Similarly, the negotiations with the hijackers were a purely government matter and a military operation, handled by and subject to the absolute and exclusive jurisdiction of the military authorities. Hence, it concluded that the accident that befell RP-C1161 was caused by fortuitous event, force majeure and other causes beyond the control of the respondent Airline.
The determinative issue in this case is whether or not hijacking or air piracy during martial law and under the circumstances obtaining herein, is a caso fortuito or force majeure which would exempt an aircraft from payment of damages to its passengers whose lives were put in jeopardy and whose personal belongings were lost during the incident.
Under the Civil Code, common carriers are required to exercise extraordinary diligence in their vigilance over the goods and for the safety of passengers transported by them, according to all the circumstances of each case (Article 1733). They are presumed at fault or to have acted negligently whenever a passenger dies or is injured (Philippine Airlines, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Commission, 124 SCRA 583 ) or for the loss, destruction or deterioration of goods in cases other than those enumerated in Article 1734 of the Civil Code (Eastern Shipping Lines, Inc. v. Intermediate Appellate Court, 150 SCRA 463 ).
The source of a common carrier's legal liability is the contract of carriage, and by entering into said contract, it binds itself to carry the passengers safely as far as human care and foresight can provide. There is breach of this obligation if it fails to exert extraordinary diligence according to all the circumstances of the case in exercise of the utmost diligence of a very cautious person (Isaac v. Ammen Transportation Co., 101 Phil. 1046 ; Juntilla v. Fontanar, 136 SCRA 624 ).
It is the duty of a common carrier to overcome the presumption of negligence (Philippine National Railways v. Court of Appeals, 139 SCRA 87 ) and it must be shown that the carrier had observed the required extraordinary diligence of a very cautious person as far as human care and foresight can provide or that the accident was caused by a fortuitous event (Estrada v. Consolacion, 71 SCRA 523 ). Thus, as ruled by this Court, no person shall be responsible for those "events which could not be foreseen or which
though foreseen were inevitable. (Article 1174, Civil Code). The term is synonymous with caso fortuito (Lasam v. Smith, 45 Phil. 657 ) which is of the same sense as "force majeure" (Words and Phrases Permanent Edition, Vol. 17, p. 362).
In order to constitute a caso fortuito or force majeure that would exempt a person from liability under Article 1174 of the Civil Code, it is necessary that the following elements must concur: (a) the cause of the breach of the obligation must be independent of the human will (the will of the debtor or the obligor); (b) the event must be either unforeseeable or unavoidable; (c) the event must be such as to render it impossible for the debtor to fulfill his obligation in a normal manner; and (d) the debtor must be free from any participation in, or aggravation of the injury to the creditor (Lasam v. Smith, 45 Phil. 657 ; Austria v. Court of Appeals, 39 SCRA 527 ; Estrada v. Consolacion, supra; Vasquez v. Court of Appeals, 138 SCRA 553 ; Juan F. Nakpil & Sons v. Court of Appeals, 144 SCRA 596 ). Caso fortuito or force majeure, by definition, are extraordinary events not foreseeable or avoidable, events that could not be foreseen, or which, though foreseen, are inevitable. It is, therefore, not enough that the event should not have been foreseen or anticipated, as is commonly believed, but it must be one impossible to foresee or to avoid. The mere difficulty to foresee the happening is not impossibility to foresee the same (Republic v. Luzon Stevedoring Corporation, 21 SCRA 279 ).
Applying the above guidelines to the case at bar, the failure to transport petitioners safely from Davao to Manila was due to the skyjacking incident staged by six (6) passengers of the same plane, all members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), without any connection with private respondent, hence, independent of the will of either the PAL or of its passengers.
Under normal circumstances, PAL might have foreseen the skyjacking incident which could have been avoided had there been a more thorough frisking of passengers and inspection of baggages as authorized by R.A. No. 6235. But the incident in question occurred during Martial Law where there was a military take-over of airport security including the frisking of passengers and the inspection of their luggage preparatory to boarding domestic and international flights. In fact military take-over was specifically announced on October 20, 1973 by General Jose L. Rancudo, Commanding General of the Philippine Air Force in a letter to Brig. Gen. Jesus Singson, then
Director of the Civil Aeronautics Administration (Rollo, pp. 71-72) later confirmed shortly before the hijacking incident of May 21, 1976 by Letter of Instruction No. 399 issued on April 28, 1976 (Rollo, p. 72).
Otherwise stated, these events rendered it impossible for PAL to perform its obligations in a nominal manner and obviously it cannot be faulted with negligence in the performance of duty taken over by the Armed Forces of the Philippines to the exclusion of the former.
Finally, there is no dispute that the fourth element has also been satisfied. Consequently the existence of force majeure has been established exempting respondent PAL from the payment of damages to its passengers who suffered death or injuries in their persons and for loss of their baggages.
PREMISES CONSIDERED, the petition is hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit and the decision of the Court of First Instance of South Cotabato, Branch I is hereby AFFIRMED.
Melencio-Herrera, Padilla, Sarmiento and Regalado, JJ., concur.
19. G.R. No. 95582
October 7, 1991
DANGWA TRANSPORTATION CO., INC. and THEODORE LARDIZABAL y MALECDAN, petitioners, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, INOCENCIA CUDIAMAT, EMILIA CUDIAMAT BANDOY, FERNANDO CUDLAMAT, MARRIETA CUDIAMAT, NORMA CUDIAMAT, DANTE CUDIAMAT, SAMUEL CUDIAMAT and LIGAYA CUDIAMAT, all Heirs of the late Pedrito Cudiamat represented by Inocencia Cudiamat, respondents.
Francisco S. Reyes Law Office for petitioners.
Antonio C. de Guzman for private respondents.
On May 13, 1985, private respondents filed a complaint 1 for damages against petitioners for the death of Pedrito Cudiamat as a result of a vehicular accident which occurred on March 25, 1985 at Marivic, Sapid, Mankayan, Benguet. Among others, it was alleged that on said date, while petitioner Theodore M. Lardizabal was driving a passenger bus belonging to petitioner corporation in a reckless and imprudent manner and without due regard to traffic rules and regulations and safety to persons and property, it ran over its passenger, Pedrito Cudiamat. However, instead of bringing Pedrito immediately to the nearest hospital, the said driver, in utter bad faith and without regard to the welfare of the victim, first brought his other passengers and cargo to their respective destinations before banging said victim to the Lepanto Hospital where he expired.
On the other hand, petitioners alleged that they had observed and continued to observe the extraordinary diligence required in the operation of the transportation company and the supervision of the employees, even as they add that they are not absolute insurers of the safety of the public at large. Further, it was alleged that it was the victim's own carelessness and negligence which gave rise to the subject incident, hence they prayed for the dismissal of the complaint plus an award of damages in their favor by way of a counterclaim.
On July 29, 1988, the trial court rendered a decision, effectively in favor of petitioners, with this decretal portion:
IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, judgment is hereby pronounced that Pedrito Cudiamat was negligent, which negligence was the proximate cause of his death. Nonetheless, defendants in equity, are hereby ordered to pay the heirs of Pedrito Cudiamat the sum of P10,000.00 which approximates the amount defendants initially offered said heirs for the amicable settlement of the case. No costs.
SO ORDERED. 2
Not satisfied therewith, private respondents appealed to the Court of Appeals which, in a decision 3 in CA-G.R. CV No. 19504 promulgated on August 14, 1990, set aside the decision of the lower court, and ordered petitioners to pay private respondents:
1. The sum of Thirty Thousand (P30,000.00) Pesos by way of indemnity for death of the victim Pedrito Cudiamat;
The sum of Twenty Thousand (P20,000.00) by way of moral damages;
3. The sum of Two Hundred Eighty Eight Thousand (P288,000.00) Pesos as actual and compensatory damages;
The costs of this suit. 4
Petitioners' motion for reconsideration was denied by the Court of Appeals in its resolution dated October 4, 1990, 5 hence this petition with the central issue herein being whether respondent court erred in reversing the decision of the trial court and in finding petitioners negligent and liable for the damages claimed.
It is an established principle that the factual findings of the Court of Appeals as a rule are final and may not be reviewed by this Court on appeal. However, this is subject to settled exceptions, one of which is when the findings of the
appellate court are contrary to those of the trial court, in which case a reexamination of the facts and evidence may be undertaken. 6
In the case at bar, the trial court and the Court of Appeal have discordant positions as to who between the petitioners an the victim is guilty of negligence. Perforce, we have had to conduct an evaluation of the evidence in this case for the prope calibration of their conflicting factual findings and legal conclusions.
The lower court, in declaring that the victim was negligent, made the following findings:
This Court is satisfied that Pedrito Cudiamat was negligent in trying to board a moving vehicle, especially with one of his hands holding an umbrella. And, without having given the driver or the conductor any indication that he wishes to board the bus. But defendants can also be found wanting of the necessary diligence. In this connection, it is safe to assume that when the deceased Cudiamat attempted to board defendants' bus, the vehicle's door was open instead of being closed. This should be so, for it is hard to believe that one would even attempt to board a vehicle (i)n motion if the door of said vehicle is closed. Here lies the defendant's lack of diligence. Under such circumstances, equity demands that there must be something given to the heirs of the victim to assuage their feelings. This, also considering that initially, defendant common carrier had made overtures to amicably settle the case. It did offer a certain monetary consideration to the victim's heirs. 7
However, respondent court, in arriving at a different opinion, declares that:
From the testimony of appellees'own witness in the person of Vitaliano Safarita, it is evident that the subject bus was at full stop when the victim Pedrito Cudiamat boarded the same as it was precisely on this instance where a certain Miss Abenoja alighted from the bus. Moreover, contrary to the assertion of the appellees, the victim did indicate his intention to board the bus as can be seen from the testimony of the said witness when he declared that Pedrito Cudiamat was no longer walking and made a sign to board the bus when the latter was still at a distance from him. It was at the instance when Pedrito Cudiamat was closing his umbrella at the platform of
the bus when the latter made a sudden jerk movement (as) the driver commenced to accelerate the bus.
Evidently, the incident took place due to the gross negligence of the appellee-driver in prematurely stepping on the accelerator and in not waiting for the passenger to first secure his seat especially so when we take into account that the platform of the bus was at the time slippery and wet because of a drizzle. The defendants-appellees utterly failed to observe their duty and obligation as common carrier to the end that they should observe extra-ordinary diligence in the vigilance over the goods and for the safety of the passengers transported by them according to the circumstances of each case (Article 1733, New Civil Code). 8
After a careful review of the evidence on record, we find no reason to disturb the above holding of the Court of Appeals. Its aforesaid findings are supported by the testimony of petitioners' own witnesses. One of them, Virginia Abalos, testified on cross-examination as follows:
Q It is not a fact Madam witness, that at bunkhouse 54, that is before the place of the incident, there is a crossing?
A The way going to the mines but it is not being pass(ed) by the bus.
Q And the incident happened before bunkhouse 56, is that not correct?
A It happened between 54 and 53 bunkhouses. 9
The bus conductor, Martin Anglog, also declared:
Q When you arrived at Lepanto on March 25, 1985, will you please inform this Honorable Court if there was anv unusual incident that occurred?
A When we delivered a baggage at Marivic because a person alighted there between Bunkhouse 53 and 54.
Q What happened when you delivered this passenger at this particular place in Lepanto?
A When we reached the place, a passenger alighted and I signalled my driver. When we stopped we went out because I saw an umbrella about a split second and I signalled again the driver, so the driver stopped and we went down and we saw Pedrito Cudiamat asking for help because he was lying down.
Q How far away was this certain person, Pedrito Cudiamat, when you saw him lying down — from the bus how far was he?
A It is about two to three meters.
Q On what direction of the bus was he found about three meters from the bus, was it at the front or at the back?
A At the back, sir. 10 (Emphasis supplied.)
The foregoing testimonies show that the place of the accident and the place where one of the passengers alighted were both between Bunkhouses 53 and 54, hence the finding of the Court of Appeals that the bus was at full stop when the victim boarded the same is correct. They further confirm the conclusion that the victim fell from the platform of the bus when it suddenly accelerated forward and was run over by the rear right tires of the vehicle, as shown by the physical evidence on where he was thereafter found in relation to the bus when it stopped. Under such circumstances, it cannot be said that the deceased was guilty of negligence.
The contention of petitioners that the driver and the conductor had no
knowledge that the victim would ride on the bus, since the latter had supposedly not manifested his intention to board the same, does not merit consideration. When the bus is not in motion there is no necessity for a person who wants to ride the same to signal his intention to board. A public utility bus, once it stops, is in effect making a continuous offer to bus riders. Hence, it becomes the duty of the driver and the conductor, every time the bus stops, to do no act that would have the effect of increasing the peril to a passenger while he was attempting to board the same. The premature acceleration of the bus in this case was a breach of such duty. 11
It is the duty of common carriers of passengers, including common carriers by railroad train, streetcar, or motorbus, to stop their conveyances a reasonable length of time in order to afford passengers an opportunity to board and enter, and they are liable for injuries suffered by boarding passengers resulting from the sudden starting up or jerking of their conveyances while they are doing so. 12
Further, even assuming that the bus was moving, the act of the victim in boarding the same cannot be considered negligent under the circumstances. As clearly explained in the testimony of the aforestated witness for petitioners, Virginia Abalos, th bus had "just started" and "was still in slow motion" at the point where the victim had boarded and was on its platform. 13
It is not negligence per se, or as a matter of law, for one attempt to board a train or streetcar which is moving slowly. 14 An ordinarily prudent person would have made the attempt board the moving conveyance under the same or similar circumstances. The fact that passengers board and alight from slowly moving vehicle is a matter of common experience both the driver and conductor in this case could not have been unaware of such an ordinary practice.
The victim herein, by stepping and standing on the platform of the bus, is already considered a passenger and is entitled all the rights and protection pertaining to such a contractual relation. Hence, it has been held that the duty which the carrier passengers owes to its patrons extends to persons boarding cars as well as to those alighting therefrom. 15
Common carriers, from the nature of their business and reasons of public policy, are bound to observe extraordina diligence for the safety of the passengers transported by the according to all the circumstances of each case. 16 A common carrier is bound to carry the passengers safely as far as human care and foresight can provide, using the utmost diligence very cautious persons, with a due regard for all the circumstances. 17
It has also been repeatedly held that in an action based on a contract of carriage, the court need not make an express finding of fault or negligence on the part of the carrier in order to hold it responsible to pay the damages sought by the passenger. By contract of carriage, the carrier assumes the express obligation to transport the passenger to his destination safely and observe extraordinary diligence with a due regard for all the circumstances, and any injury that might be suffered by the passenger is right away attributable to the fault or negligence of the carrier. This is an exception to the general rule that negligence must be proved, and it is therefore incumbent upon the carrier to prove that it has exercised extraordinary diligence as prescribed in Articles 1733 and 1755 of the Civil Code. 18
Moreover, the circumstances under which the driver and the conductor failed to bring the gravely injured victim immediately to the hospital for medical treatment is a patent and incontrovertible proof of their negligence. It defies understanding and can even be stigmatized as callous indifference. The evidence shows that after the accident the bus could have forthwith turned at Bunk 56 and thence to the hospital, but its driver instead opted to first proceed to Bunk 70 to allow a passenger to alight and to deliver a refrigerator, despite the serious condition of the victim. The vacuous reason given by petitioners that it was the wife of the deceased who caused the delay was tersely and correctly confuted by respondent court:
... The pretension of the appellees that the delay was due to the fact that they had to wait for about twenty minutes for Inocencia Cudiamat to get dressed deserves scant consideration. It is rather scandalous and deplorable for a wife whose husband is at the verge of dying to have the luxury of dressing herself up for about twenty minutes before attending to help her distressed and helpless husband. 19
Further, it cannot be said that the main intention of petitioner Lardizabal in
going to Bunk 70 was to inform the victim's family of the mishap, since it was not said bus driver nor the conductor but the companion of the victim who informed his family thereof. 20 In fact, it was only after the refrigerator was unloaded that one of the passengers thought of sending somebody to the house of the victim, as shown by the testimony of Virginia Abalos again, to wit:
Why, what happened to your refrigerator at that particular time?
A I asked them to bring it down because that is the nearest place to our house and when I went down and asked somebody to bring down the refrigerator, I also asked somebody to call the family of Mr. Cudiamat.
Why did you ask somebody to call the family of Mr. Cudiamat?
A Because Mr. Cudiamat met an accident, so I ask somebody to call for the family of Mr. Cudiamat.
But nobody ask(ed) you to call for the family of Mr. Cudiamat?
No sir. 21
With respect to the award of damages, an oversight was, however, committed by respondent Court of Appeals in computing the actual damages based on the gross income of the victim. The rule is that the amount recoverable by the heirs of a victim of a tort is not the loss of the entire earnings, but rather the loss of that portion of the earnings which the beneficiary would have received. In other words, only net earnings, not gross earnings, are to be considered, that is, the total of the earnings less expenses necessary in the creation of such earnings or income and minus living and other incidental expenses. 22
We are of the opinion that the deductible living and other expense of the deceased may fairly and reasonably be fixed at P500.00 a month or P6,000.00 a year. In adjudicating the actual or compensatory damages, respondent court found that the deceased was 48 years old, in good health with a remaining productive life expectancy of 12 years, and then earning P24,000.00 a year. Using the gross annual income as the basis, and multiplying the same by 12 years, it accordingly awarded P288,000. Applying the aforestated rule on computation based on the net earnings, said award must be, as it hereby is, rectified and reduced to P216,000.00. However, in accordance with prevailing jurisprudence, the death indemnity is hereby increased to P50,000.00. 23
WHEREFORE, subject to the above modifications, the challenged judgment and resolution of respondent Court of Appeals are hereby AFFIRMED in all other respects.
Melencio-Herrera (Chairperson), Paras, Padilla and Sarmiento, JJ., concur. Dangwa Transco. Co. Inc. v. CA Facts:
Private respondents filed a complaint for damages against petitioners for the death of Pedrito Cudiamat. The deceased was attempting to board a bus, but it suddenly accelerated forward. He fell off and the bus ran over him, resulting to his death.
Whether the bus is liable as a common carrier to the deceased who was still attempting to board
It is the duty of common carriers of passengers to stop their conveyances a reasonable length of time in order to afford passengers an opportunity to board and enter, and they are liable for injuries suffered by boarding passengers resulting from the sudden starting up or jerking of their conveyances while they are doing so. 20. G.R. Nos. L-21477-81
April 29, 1966
FRANCISCA VILUAN, petitioner, vs. THE COURT OF APPEALS, PATRICIO HUFANA and GREGORIO HUFANA, respondents.
Jose A. Solomon, for petitioner. Lourdes M. Garcia, for respondents.
Seven persons were killed and thirteen others were injured in Bangar, La Union, on February 16, 1958, when a passenger bus on which they were riding caught fire after hitting a post and crashing against a tree. The bus, owned by petitioner and driven by Hermenegildo Aquino, came from San Fernando, La Union and was on its way to Candon, Ilocos Sur.
It appears that, as the bus neared the gate of the Gabaldon school building in the municipality of Bangar, another passenger bus owned by Patricio Hufana and driven by Gregorio Hufana tried to overtake it but that instead of giving way, Aquino increased the speed of his bus and raced with the overtaking bus. Aquino lost control of his bus as a result of which it hit a post, crashed against a tree and then burst into flames.
Among those who perished were Timoteo Mapanao, Francisca Lacsamana, Narcisa Mendoza and Gregorio Sibayan, whose heirs sued petitioner and the latter's driver, Hermenegildo Aquino, for damages for breach of contract of carriage. Carolina Sabado, one of those injured, also sued petitioner and the driver for damages. The complaints were filed in the Court of First Instance of La Union.
In their answer, petitioner and her driver blamed respondent Gregorio Hufana for the accident. With leave of court, they filed third party complaints against Hufana and the latter's employer, Patricio Hufana.
After trial, the court found that the accident was due to the concurrent negligence of the drivers of the two buses and held both, together with their respective employers, jointly and severally liable for damages.
The dispositive portion of its decision reads:
IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, judgment is hereby rendered, declaring the plaintiff's entitled to damages to be paid jointly and severally by the defendants and third-party defendants as follows:
(1) For plaintiff Juliana C. Vda. de Mapanao for the death of her son Timoteo Mapanao, the sum of P5,000.00 for actual damages, P1,000.00 as moral damages and P250.00 as attorney's fees;
(2) For plaintiff Leon Lacsamana for the death of his daughter Francisca Lacsamana, the sum of P4,000.00 as actual damages, P1,000.00 as moral damages and P250.00 as attorney's fees;
(3) For plaintiffs Juan Mendoza and Magdalena Mendoza for the death of their mother Narcisa Mendoza, the sum of P4,000.00 for actual damages, P1,000.00 for moral damages and P250.00 as attorney's fees;
(4) For plaintiffs Agustina Sabado, Quintin Sibayan, Julita Sibayan, Primitivo Sibayan and Avelina Sibayan, the sum of P4,000.00 for actual damages, P1,500.00 for moral damages and P250.00 as attorney's fees;
(5) For the injured passenger Carolina Sabado, P649.00 for actual damages, P1,000.00 for moral damages and P250.00 for attorney's fees.
All such amounts awarded as damages shall bear interest at the legal rate of six per cent (6%) per annum from the date of this decision until the same shall have been duly paid in full.
Defendants and third-party defendants are further ordered to pay proportionate costs."
Both petitioner and her driver and the respondents herein appealed to the Court of Appeals. While affirming the finding that the accident was due to the concurrent negligence of the drivers of both the Viluan and the Hufana buses, the Court of Appeals differed with the trial court in the assessment of liabilities of the parties. In its view only petitioner Francisca Viluan, as operator of the bus, is liable for breach of contract of carriage. The driver, Hermenegildo Aquino, cannot be made jointly and severally liable with petitioner because he is merely the latter's employee and is in no way a party to the contract of carriage. The court added, however —
Hermenegildo Aquino is not entirely free from liability. He may be held liable, criminally and civilly, under the Revised Penal Code (Articles 100 and 103), but not in a civil suit for damages predicated upon a breach of contract, such as this one (Aguas, et al. vs. Vargas, et al., CA-G.R. No. 27161-R, Jan. 22, 1963). Furthermore, the common carrier, Francisca Viluan could recover from Aquino any damages that she might have suffered by reason of the latter's negligence.
Neither may respondents Patricio Hufana and Gregorio Hufana be held liable in the opinion of the appellate court because the plaintiffs did not amend
complaints in the main action so as to assert a claim against the respondents as third party defendants.
The appellate court likewise disallowed the award of moral damages for P1,000.00 to Carolina Sabado, there being no showing that the common carrier was guilty of fraud or bad faith in the performance of her obligation. Accordingly, it rendered judgment as follows:
IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, we hereby find defendant-appellant Francisca Viluan solely liable to the plaintiffs-appellees for the damages and attorney's fees awarded to them by the court below and further declare null and void the lower court's award of moral damages in the amount of P1,000.00 in favor of plaintiff Carolina Sabado. Thus modified, the judgment appealed from is affirmed in all other respects, with costs in this instance against defendant-appellant Francisca Viluan.
From this judgment petitioner brought this appeal. In brief, her position is that since the proximate cause of the accident was found to be the concurrent negligence of the drivers of the two buses, then she and respondent Patricio and Gregorio Hufana should have been held equally liable to the plaintiffs in the damage suits. The fact that the respondents were not sued as principal defendants but were brought into the cases as third party defendants should not preclude a finding of their liability.
We agree with petitioner's contention. To begin with, the Court of Appeals' ruling is based on section 5 of Rule 12 of the former Rules of Court, 1 which was adopted from Rule 14-a of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. While the latter provision has indeed been held to preclude a judgment in favor of a plaintiff and against a third party defendant where the plaintiff has not amended his complaint to assert a claim against a third party defendant, 2 yet, as held in subsequent decisions, this rule applies only to cases where the third party defendant is brought in on an allegation of liability to the defendants. The rule does not apply where a third-party defendant is impleaded on the ground of direct liability to the plaintiffs, in which case no amendment of the plaintiffs complaint is necessary. 3 As explained in the Atlantic Coast Line R. Co. vs. U. S. Fidelity & Guaranty Co., 52 F. Supp. 177 (1943):
From the sources of Rule 14 and the decisions herein cited, it is clear that this rule, like the admiralty rule, "covers two distinct subjects, the addition of parties defendant to the main cause of action, and the bringing in of a third party for a defendant's remedy over." x x x
If the third party complaint alleges facts showing a third party's direct liability to plaintiff on the claim set out in plaintiff's petition, then third party "shall" make his defenses as provided in Rule 12 and his counterclaims against plaintiff as provided in Rule 13. In the case of alleged direct liability, no amendment is necessary or required. The subject-matter of the claim is contained in plaintiff's complaint, the ground of third party's liability on that claim is alleged in third party complaint, and third party's defense to set up in his an to plaintiff's complaint. At that point and without amendment, the plaintiff and third party are at issue as to their rights respecting the claim.
The provision in the rule that, "The third-party defendant may assert any defenses which the third-party plaintiff may assert to the plaintiff's claim," applies to the other subject, namely, the alleged liability of third party defendant. The next sentence in the rule, "The third-party defendant is bound by the adjudication of the third party plaintiff's liability to the plaintiff, as well as of his own to the plaintiff or to the third-party plaintiff," applies to both subjects. If third party is brought in as liable only to defendant and judgment is rendered adjudicating plaintiff's right to recover against defendant and defendant's rights to recover against third party, he is bound by both adjudications. That part of the sentence refers to the second subject. If third party is brought in as liable to plaintiff, then third party is bound by the adjudication as between him and plaintiff. That refers to the first subject. If third party is brought in as liable to plaintiff and also over to defendant, then third party is bound by both adjudications. The next sentence in the rule, "The plaintiff may amend his pleadings to assert against the third-party defendant any claim which the plaintiff might have asserted against the thirdparty defendant had he been joined originally as a defendant," refers to the second subject, that is, to briging in third party as liable to defendant only, and does not apply to the alleged liability of third party directly to plaintiff."
In this case the third-party complaints filed by petitioner and her driver charged respondents with direct liability to the plaintiffs. It was contended that the accident was due "to the fault, negligence, carelessness and imprudence of the third party defendant Gregorio Hufana" and, in petitioner's motion for leave to file a third party complaint, it was stated that "Patricio
Hufana and Gregorio Hufana were not made parties to this action, although the defendants are entitled to indemnity and/or subrogation against them in respect of plaintiff's claim."
It should make no difference therefore whether the respondents were brought in as principal defendants or as third-party defendants. As Chief Justice Moran points out, since the liability of the third-party defendant is already asserted in the third-party complaint, the amendment of the complaint to assert such liability is merely a matter of form, to insist on which would not be in keeping with the liberal spirit of the Rules of Court. 4
Nor should it make any difference that the liability of petitioner springs from contract while that of respondents arises from quasi-delict. As early as 1913, we already ruled in Gutierrez vs. Gutierrez, 56 Phil. 177,5 that in case of injury to a passenger due to the negligence of the driver of the bus on which he was riding and of the driver of another vehicle, the drivers as well as the owners of the two vehicles are jointly and severally liable for damages. Some members of the Court, though, are of the view that under the circumstances they are liable on quasi-delict.
Wherefore, the decision appealed from is hereby modified in the sense that petitioner as well as respondents Patricio Hufana and Gregorio Hufana are jointly and severally liable for the damages awarded by the trial court. The disallowance of moral damages in the amount of P1,000.00 is correct and should be affirmed. No costs.
Bengzon, C.J., Bautista Angelo, Concepcion, Dizon, Makalintal, Zaldivar and Sanchez, JJ., concur. Reyes, J.B.L., and Barrera, JJ., took no part.