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KRAMER v CA,

G.R. No. L-83524, October


13, 1989
FACTS:

April 8, 1976- F/B Marjolea, a fishing


boat owned by the petitioners Ernesto Kramer, Jr. and
Marta Kramer, was navigating its way from
Marinduque to Manila. Somewhere near Maricabon
Island and Cape Santiago, the boat figured in a
collision with an inter-island vessel, the M/V Asia
Philippines owned by the private respondent TransAsia Shipping Lines, Inc. As a consequence of the
collision, the F/B Marjolea sank, taking with it its
fish catch.
After the mishap, the captains of both vessels filed
their respective marine protests with the Board of
Marine Inquiry of the Philippine Coast Guard.
The Board conducted an investigation for the purpose
of determining the proximate cause of the maritime
collision.

Code, the prescriptive


period for instituting a
Complaint for damages
arising from a quasidelict like a maritime
collision is four years.
He maintained that the
petitioners should have
filed their Complaint
within four years from
the date when their cause
of action accrued, i.e.,
from April 8, 1976 when
the maritime collision
took place,
the Complaint filed on
May 30, 1985 was
instituted beyond the
four-year
prescriptive
period.

The Board concluded that the loss of the F/B


Marjolea and its fish catch was attributable to the
negligence of the employees of the private
respondent who were on board the M/V Asia
Philippines during the collision.
May 30, 1985 (9 years after the incident) - The
petitioners instituted a Complaint for damages
against the private respondent the Regional Trial
Court

RESPOPNDENTS:

He argued that under


Article 1146 of the Civil

peculiarities
and
characteristics
which
only persons with special
skill,
training
and
experience
like
the
members of the Board of
Marine
Inquiry can
properly analyze and
resolve. The petitioners
argued that the running
of the prescriptive
period was tolled by the
filing of the marine
protest and that their
cause of action accrued
only on April 29, 1982,
the date when the
Decision ascertaining
the negligence of the
crew of the M/V Asia
Philippines had become
final, and that the fouryear prescriptive period
under Article 1146 of the
Civil Code should be
computed from the said
date.

quasi-delict within four


years from the said
marine incident because
its cause of action had
already
definitely
ripened at the onset of
the collision.

The trial court went on to


say that the four-year
prescriptive
period
provided in Article 1146
of the Civil Code should
begin to run only from
April 29, 1982, the date
when the negligence of
the crew of the M/V Asia
Philippines had been
finally ascertained.

HELD:

The petition is devoid of merit. Under


Article 1146 of the Civil Code, an action based upon
a quasi-delict must be instituted within four (4) years.
The prescriptive period begins from the day the
quasi-delict is committed.

RATIO:
ISSUE: Whether or not the prescriptive period for
filing the complaint has been prescribed

RTC:

CA:

The trial court observed


that
in
ascertaining
negligence relating to a
maritime collision, there

Private
respondents
should have immediately
instituted a complaint for
damages based on a

PETITIONERS:

Contended that maritime


collisions
have

is a need to rely on
highly technical aspects
attendant
to
such
collision, and that the
Board of Marine Inquiry
was constituted pursuant
to
the
Philippine
Merchant Marine Rules
and Regulations

In Espanol vs. Chairman, Philippine


Veterans Administration, 17 this Court held as
followsThe right of action accrues when there exists
a cause of action, which consists of 3
elements, namely: a) a right in favor of the
plaintiff by whatever means and under
whatever law it arises or is created; b) an
obligation on the part of defendant to
respect such right; and c) an act or
omission on the part of such defendant
violative of the right of the plaintiff ... It is

only when the last element occurs or takes


place that it can be said in law that a cause
of action has arisen ...

From the foregoing ruling, it is clear that the


prescriptive period must be counted when the last
element occurs or takes place, that is, the time of
the commission of an act or omission violative of
the right of the plaintiff, which is the time when the
cause of action arises.

The aggrieved party need not wait for a


determination by an administrative body like a
Board of Marine Inquiry, that the collision was
caused by the fault or negligence of the other party
before he can file an action for damages.