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1.

NELEN LAMBERT, assisted by her husband, GLENROY ALOYSUIS LAMBERT,


petitioners,
vs.
HEIRS OF RAY CASTILLON, Represented by MARILOU T. CASTILLON and
SERGIO LABANG, respondents.
G.R. No. 160709. February 23, 2005
Facts:
The general rule is that drivers of vehicles who bumped the rear of another vehicle are
presumed negligent. But in this case Rey is an exception. Also applied here is the rule on
contributory negligence where the damages to be awarded are mitigated.
The incident started when Rey went to his brother and borrowed the latter’s
motorcycle. He then invited his friend Rolly to roam around the city. Rey drove the
motorcycle without a protective helmet with Rolly as backrider.
Around past 10 p.m. after eating supper at a restaurant and imbibing one or two bottles of
beer, Rey and Rolly traversed the highway going back to his brother’s home at high
speed. Upon reaching a barangay, they were tailgating a Tamaraw jeepney owned by Nita
and driven by Gardo. When the jeepney was approaching the side road with Rey and Rolly
following closely behind, Gardo slightly veered to the right causing Rey to instinctively veer
to the left. But at this moment Gardo suddenly turned sharply to the left towards the side of
the road. Thus the motorcycle sliced into the side of the jeepney throwing Rey forward so
that his forehead hit the angle bar on the left front door of the jeepney even as the
motorcycle shot forward and the jeepney veered back to the right and sped away. The
incident resulted in the instantaneous death of Rey and injuries to Rolly.
The heirs of Rey thus filed an action for damages against Nita the jeepney owner for the
death of Rey and damages to the motorcycle. After trial the lower court rendered judgment
in favor of the heirs of Rey finding that Nita’s driver was negligent and that such
negligence was the proximate cause of the damages for which Nita is liable. But the court
reduced liability by 20 percent in view of the contributory negligence of Rey.
ISSUE:
Nita questioned this ruling. She claimed that the accident was entirely due to the fault of
Rey since his motorcycle bumped the rear of the jeepney and was therefore presumed to be
the cause of the accident. Was Nita correct?
HELD:
No. Clearly, the abrupt and sudden left turn of Gardo without first establishing his right of
way, was the proximate cause of the mishap which claimed the life of Rey and injured Rolly.
Proximate cause is that which, in the natural and continuous sequence, unbroken by any
efficient, intervening cause, produces the injury, and without which the result would not
have occurred. The cause of the collision is traceable to the negligent act of Gardo for
without that sudden left turn executed without precaution, the mishap in all probability
would not have happened. Drivers of vehicles who bump the rear of another vehicle are
presumed to be the cause of the accident unless contradicted by other evidence. In this case
the said rule is contradicted by the sudden left turn made by Gardo which proximately
caused the collision.
The trial court is likewise correct in finding Rey guilty of contributory negligence. But the
ratio of apportionment of damages must be increased. It was established at the time of the
mishap that Rey (1) was driving the motorcycle at high speed; (2) was tailgating the
jeepney; (3) had imbibed one or two bottles of beer; and (4) was not wearing a protective
helmet. These circumstances, although not constituting the proximate cause of his demise
and injury to Rolly contributed to the same result. Considering these circumstances, and
pursuant to the ruling in the case of Rakes v. A.G. & P, 7 Phil. 359, the heirs of Rey shall

recover damages only up to 50 percent of the award of P611,355 consisting of burial


expenses, death indemnity, moral damages and loss of earning capacity.