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PANTALEON v AMERICAN EXPRESS INTERNATIONAL, INC

FACTS:
Name of Offended party (petitioner): Polo S. Pantaleon
Name of respondent: American Express International, Inc.
-The petitioner, lawyer Polo Pantaleon, his wife, daughter and son joined an escorted tour of Western
Europe organized by Trafalgar Tours of Europe, Ltd., in October of 1991.
-The tour group arrived in Amsterdam in the afternoon of 25 October 1991, the second to the last day
of the tour. As the group had arrived late in the city, they failed to engage in any sight-seeing so they
agreed that they would start early the next day to see the entire city before ending the tour.
-The following day, the last day of the tour, the group arrived at the Coster Diamond House. The
group had agreed that the visit to Coster should end by 9:30 a.m. to allow enough time to take in a
guided city tour of Amsterdam.
- While in the diamond house, led to the stores showroom to allow them to select items for purchase.
Mrs. Pantaleon decided to buy a 2.5 karat diamond brilliant cut, and she found a diamond close
enough in approximation. Mrs. Pantaleon also selected for purchase a pendant and a chain, all of
which totaled U.S. $13,826.00.
-Pantaleon presented his American Express credit card together with his passport to the Coster sales
clerk. This occurred at around 9:15 a.m., or 15 minutes before the tour group was slated to depart
from the store. The sales clerk took the cards imprint, and asked Pantaleon to sign the charge slip.
The charge purchase was then referred electronically to respondents Amsterdam office at 9:20 a.m.
-clearance took too long. At 9:40am, Pantaleon asked the store clerk to cancel the sale to avoid
further delaying and inconveniencing the tour group. At around 10:00 a.m, 30 minutes after the tour
group was supposed to have left the store, Coster decided to release the items even without
respondents approval of the purchase.
-due to the delay, the city tour of Amsterdam was to be canceled due to lack of remaining time. The
spouses Pantaleon allegedly offered their apologies but were met by their tourmates with stony
silence and visible irritation. Mrs. Pantaleon ended up weeping, while her husband had to take a
tranquilizer to calm his nerves.
-two instances similar to the Castor incident happened.
purchased golf equipment amounting to US $1,475.00 using his AmEx card, but he cancelled
his credit card purchase and borrowed money instead from a friend, after more than 30
minutes had transpired without the purchase having been approved.
used the card to purchase childrens shoes worth $87.00 at a store in Boston, and it took 20
minutes before this transaction was approved by respondent.
Petitioners: after coming back to Manila, sent a letter demanding an apology for the "inconvenience,
humiliation and embarrassment he and his family thereby suffered" for respondents refusal to
provide credit authorization for the aforementioned purchases.
Respondent: refused to give an apology, sent a letter stating among others that the delay in
authorizing the purchase from Coster was attributable to the circumstance that the charged purchase
of US $13,826.00 "was out of the usual charge purchase pattern established."
RTC: petitioner instituted an action for damages. Petitioner won.
Court awarded P500,000.00 as moral damages, P300,000.00 as exemplary
damages, P100,000.00 as attorneys fees, and P85,233.01 as expenses of litigation.

PANTALEON v AMERICAN EXPRESS INTERNATIONAL, INC

normal approval time for purchases was "a matter of seconds." Based on that standard,
respondent had been in clear delay with respect to the three subject transactions.

CA: reversed the award of damages in favor of Pantaleon, holding that respondent had not breached
its obligations to petitioner.
delay was not attended by bad faith, malice, or gross negligence.
respondent "had exercised diligent efforts to effect the approval" of the purchases, which
were "not in accordance with the charge pattern" petitioner had established for himself
ISSUE:
1) WON has committed a breach of its obligations.
2) WON respondent is liable for damages.
DECISION: Petition granted. CA decision set aside.
HELD:
1) There was a breach.
-Notwithstanding the popular notion that credit card purchases are approved "within seconds," there
really is no strict, legally determinative point of demarcation on how long must it take for a credit
card company to approve or disapprove a customers purchase, much less one specifically contracted
upon by the parties. Yet this is one of those instances when "youd know it when youd see it," and
one hour appears to be an awfully long, patently unreasonable length of time to approve or
disapprove a credit card purchase.
-the respondent has the right, if not the obligation, to verify whether the credit it is extending upon
on a particular purchase was indeed contracted by the cardholder, and that the cardholder is within
his means to make such transaction. The culpable failure of respondent herein is not the failure to
timely approve petitioners purchase, but the more elemental failure to timely act on the same,
whether favorably or unfavorably.

Respondent should have promptly informed petitioner the reason for the delay, and duly
advised him that resolving the same could take some time so that petitioners will know WON
to continue with the purchases

2) YES.
-Moral damages avail in cases of breach of contract where the defendant acted fraudulently or in bad
faith, and the court should find that under the circumstances, such damages are due.
-in this case, there was bad faith and unjustified neglect of respondent, attributable in particular to
the "dilly-dallying" of respondents Manila credit authorizer, Edgardo Jaurique. This, to the Courts
mind, amounts to a wanton and deliberate refusal to comply with its contractual obligations, or at
least abuse of its rights, under the contract.
-The delay committed by defendant was clearly attended by unjustified neglect and bad faith, since it
alleges to have consumed more than one hour to simply go over plaintiffs past credit history with
defendant, his payment record and his credit and bank references, when all such data are already
stored and readily available from its computer and the fact that there were no delinquencies in the
plaintiffs account

PANTALEON v AMERICAN EXPRESS INTERNATIONAL, INC

-It should be emphasized that the reason why petitioner is entitled to damages is not simply
because respondent incurred delay, but because the delay, for which culpability lies under
Article 1170, led to the particular injuries under Article 2217 of the Civil Code for which moral
damages are remunerative. In this case, it was sufficiently shown that the incident gave rise to the
moral shock, mental anguish, serious anxiety, wounded feelings and social humiliation to the
petitioner.

Amount should be commensurate to the loss or injury suffered. Petitioners original prayer
for P5,000,000.00 for moral damages is excessive under the circumstances, and the amount
awarded by the trial court of P500,000.00 in moral damages more seemly.1avvphi1

-Likewise, we deem exemplary damages available under the circumstances, and the amount
of P300,000.00 appropriate. There is similarly no cause though to disturb the determined award
of P100,000.00 as attorneys fees, and P85,233.01 as expenses of litigation.