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Hidalgo Enterprises Inc. v.

Guillermo Balandan, Anselma Anila and CA


GR No. L-3422. June 13, 1952, J. Bengzon
Topic: Doctrine of Attractive Nuisance
Facts: Hidalgo Enterprises was the owner of an ice-plant factory in San Pablo, Laguna.
In the factory, there were two tanks full of water, both 9-ft deep, for cooling purposes of
its engine. There was no fence or top cover; the edges of the tanks were barely a foot
high from the surface of the ground. The factory itself was surrounded with a fence.
However, the wide gate entrance was continually open, and anyone could easily enter
the factory. There was no guard assigned on the gate.
Around noon on April 16, 1948, Mario Balandan, a boy barely 3 years old, was
playing with other boys his age when he entered the factory premises through the gate.
Mario Balandan then took a bath in one of the tanks of water and, later on, sank to the
bottom of the tank. He died of asphyxia secondary to drowning. The CFI and CA ruled
that Hidalgo Enterprises maintained an attractive nuisance and neglected to adopt the
necessary precautions to avoid accident to person entering its premises.
Issue: Whether or not a water tank is an attractive nuisance.
Held: No. Hidalgo Enterprises Inc.s water tanks are not classified as attractive
nuisance. Other issues such as whether it exercised reasonable precautions, and if the
parents were guilty of contributory negligence are immaterial. Appealed decision
reversed. Hidalgo Enterprises is absolved from liability.
Ratio:
One who maintains on his premises dangerous instrumentalities or appliances of
a character likely to attract children in play, and who fails to exercise ordinary care to
prevent children from playing therewith or resorting thereto, is liable to a child of tender
years who is injured thereby, even if the child is technically a trespasser in the premises.
This is the doctrine of attractive nuisance. The principal reason for the doctrine is that
the condition or appliance in question although its danger is apparent to those of age, is
so enticing or alluring to children of tender years as to induce them to approach, get on
or use it, and this' attractiveness is an implied invitation to such children.
The majority of American jurisprudence posits that the doctrine of attractive
nuisance is generally not applicable to bodies of water, whether artificial or natural. The
exception to this is if there is some unusual condition or artificial feature other than
mere water and its location. Furthermore, in Anderson v. Reith-Riley Const. Co., the
Indiana Appellate Court explained why bodies of water are not considered as attractive
nuisance. It ruled that children have been instructed early on to exercise caution around
bodies of water and are presumed to know the danger.
Dissent of J. Pablo: Children are naturally curious and do not have perfect knowledge of
things. They are amazed by the natural attraction of the waters and shall explore where
their curiosity leads them unless there is something that prevents them. As such,
petitioners should have placed fences around the ponds as an ordinary precaution.
(Note: translated and paraphrased from Spanish text)