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Criminal Case no. 123-456 For:

Reckless Imprudence Resulting
to Homicide plus Damages

versus -

DR. SEE, DR. DY, and XYZ Hospital Inc.,


Before this court is a complaint for Reckless Imprudence Resulting to

Homicide charged against the two accused herein named as Dr. See and Dr.
The information alleged That on or about January 2, 2009, in the City of General Santos,
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above
named accused, DR.SEE and DR. DY, being then the attending physicians of
one MRS. BEE, confederating and acting jointly with one another, did, then
and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously fail through negligence,
carelessness and imprudence to perform with due care required of any other
reasonably competent doctor upon their patient, MRS. BEE, thereby causing
by such negligence, carelessness, and imprudence, the untimely death of the
said victim.
Arising from the same events, the facts, as culled from the records, are as
That on January 2, 2009, Mrs. Bee, felt ill and requested her husband, Mr.
Hey, to seek medical help. Mr. Hey sought the help of Dr. See, his friend and
neighbor, whom examined Mrs. Bee and diagnosed her with Cancer. Dr. See
then suggested that the couple proceed to XYZ Hospital Inc. for further
examination and operation. The couple heeded the advice and proceeded to
XYZ Hospital where they were required to sign a waiver.
Upon arrival at the hospital, they were greeted by Dr. See who then
instructed that Mrs. Bee be operated. Dr. Dy conducted the operation under
the supervision of Dr. See.

After the success of the operation, Mrs. Bee complained of a recurring

pain in the incision. Dr. See then assured Mrs. Bee that the pain was a result
of the operation and prescribed medicine to ease the pain. He also suggested
that the couple seek medical advice and a second opinion in the United
The couple then proceeded to the United States to seek a second opinion
as suggested by Dr. See, however the results showed that Mrs. Bee was
negative of any signs of cancer, different from what Dr. See had diagnosed.
This prompted the couple to return back to the Philippines.
Upon arrival in the Philippines sometime in December 10, 2009, Mrs. Bee
lost consciousness and was immediately brought to STL Hospital for
treatment. She was then examined and the X-ray results showed the
presence of two gauze pads left inside the incision which caused the
infection. Mrs. Bee then died of serious infection prompting the husband, Mr.
Hey to file appropriate charges against the attending physicians and the
The complainants presented Mary Ann as their witness, she was a nurse
and was assisting the two doctors at the time the operation took place. She
stated that Dr. See was the head doctor and was only supervising the
operation conducted by Dr. Dy. When Dr. Dy informed Dr. See that the
operation was done, Dr. See then checked to make sure that the operation
was conducted under the required medical standards. Before he could close
the incision, Mary Ann, informed Dr. See that there were 3 remaining gauze
pads put by Dr. Dy in the incision due to perfuse bleeding. Dr. See looked for
the gauze pads but only found one. Thereafter he proceeded to close the
For the defendants, Dr. See presented himself and stated that he merely
supervised the operation. He stated that it was Dr. Dy who really conducted
the operation and that he only checked the incision once Dr. Dy finished.
However, he admitted that he only found 1 gauze pad as against three that
the nurse had earlier reported. He also admitted that he forgot to inform Mrs.
Dee that only 1 of the 3 gauze pads were recovered and assured her that the
pain was due to the operation. He also admits having suggested that the
couple go to the United States and seek a second opinion after Mrs. Bee
complained of recurring pain only to find out that the Mrs. Bee was negative
for any sign of cancer.
The president of XYZ Hospital Inc., Dr. E, testified that they were not
solidarily liable for the negligent acts, if any, of Dr. See since Dr. See was
merely a visiting consultant and was not considered a regular employee of
the Hospital. However, he admits that Dr. See has a clinic and holds
operations in the Hospital and that his name appears in the directory of
doctors of the hospital.
Considering the facts and circumstances, the court is presented with two
basic issues: (1) Whether or not the accused, Drs See and Dy are guilty of
the crime charged. (2) Whether or not XYZ hospital is liable for the negligent
acts of Dr. See and Dy.
As to the first issue:

The doctrine of RES IPSA LOQUITUR applies in the present case.

Res ipsa loquitur is a Latin phrase which literally means "the thing or the
transaction speaks for itself." The phrase "res ipsa loquitur'' is a maxim for
the rule that the fact of the occurrence of an injury, taken with the
surrounding circumstances, may permit an inference or raise a presumption
of negligence, or make out a plaintiff's prima facie case, and present a
question of fact for defendant to meet with an explanation. Where the thing
which caused the injury complained of is shown to be under the
management of the defendant or his servants and the accident is such as in
ordinary course of things does not happen if those who have its
management or control use proper care, it affords reasonable evidence, in
the absence of explanation by the defendant, that the accident arose from or
was caused by the defendant's want of care.
The doctrine provides that negligence may be deduced from the mere
occurrence of the accident itself. However, it is considered as merely
evidentiary and not conclusive. Before it may be applied, the element of
control must be shown to be within the dominion of the defendant. In order
to have the benefit of the rule, a plaintiff, in addition to proving injury or
damage, must show a situation where it is applicable, and must establish
that the essential elements of the doctrine were present in a particular
Thus, res ipsa loquitur may be applied when the circumstances upon the
harm are themselves of such a character as to justify an inference of
negligence as the cause of that harm because the injury itself provides the
proof of negligence.
Liability of the two doctors:
Reckless imprudence consists of voluntarily doing or failing to do,
without malice, an act from which material damage results by reason of an
inexcusable lack of precaution on the part of the person performing or failing
to perform such act. The elements of reckless imprudence are:
(1) that the offender does or fails to do an act;
(2) that the doing or the failure to do that act is voluntary;
(3) that it be without malice;
(4) that material damage results from the reckless imprudence;
(5) that there is inexcusable lack of precaution on the part of the
offender, taking into consideration his employment or occupation,
degree of intelligence, physical condition, and other circumstances
regarding persons, time and place.
With respect to Dr. See and Dr. Dy, all the requisites of the offense have
been clearly established by the evidence on record. The court a believes that

the two failed to observe the required standard of care expected from
doctors. From the testimonies of the witnesses presented, it was irrefutably
proven that Drs See and Dy failed to practice that degree of skill and care
required in the treatment of his patient. The records revealed a want of
reasonable skill and care in attending to the needs of the victim.
Furthermore, the doctrine of Captain-of-the-Ship finds application due to
the factual circumstances obtaining in this case. From the facts on record it
can be logically inferred that Dr. See exercised a certain degree of, at the
very least, supervision over the procedure then being performed on Mrs. Bee.
First, it was Dr. See who recommended to complainants the services of
Dr. Dy. In effect, he represented to complainants that Dr. Dy possessed the
necessary competence and skills.
Second, although Dr. See did not admit to have done the primary
operation himself, he admitted that he took over the operation to ensure that
the procedure was in accordance with proper medical practice.
Third, it is conceded that in performing their responsibilities to the
patient, Drs. See and Dy worked as a team. They were certainly not
completely independent of each other so as to absolve one from the
negligent acts of the other physician.
That they were working as a medical team is evident from the fact that
Dr. See had to oversee the operation conducted by Dr. Dy to ensure its
proper execution. He in fact told Dr. Dy to rest while he would check on the
It is equally important to point out that Dr. See was remiss in his duty
when, despite the fact that the nurse informed her that 2 gauze pads were
still missing and probably lodge in the incised area, he proceeded to close
the incision.
As the attending surgeons, they should be primarily responsible in
ensuring that the standards required of the procedure is properly observed
althroughout the operation. Both doctors have a duty to use at least the
same level of care that any other reasonably competent doctor would use
under the same circumstances. Sadly, Dr. See and Dy did not display that
degree of care and precaution demanded by the circumstances.
As to the second issue of whether or not XYZ Hospital is liable for
the acts of the doctors:
The basis for holding an employer solidarily responsible for the
negligence of its employee is found in Article 2180 of the Civil Code which
considers a person accountable not only for his own acts but also for those of
others based on the former's responsibility under a relationship of patria
potestas. However, the existence of an employee-employer relationship must
first be proven.

It has been consistently held that in determining whether an employeremployee relationship exists between the parties, the following elements
must be present: (1) selection and engagement of services; (2) payment of
wages; (3) the power to hire and fire; and (4) the power to control not only
the end to be achieved, but the means to be used in reaching such an end.
XYZ Hospital admits that first, Dr. See is only a visiting consultant despite
the fact that his name is on the directory of doctors and that he is only
granted the privilege of maintaining a clinic and/or admitting patients in the
Second, it is the hospital that pays his fees on the basis of the extent of
his consultations.
Lastly, XYZ Hospital argues that when a doctor refers a patient for
admission in a hospital, it is the doctor who prescribes the treatment to be
given to said patient while the hospitals only obligation is limited to
providing the patient with the preferred room accommodation and
medications prescribed by the doctor, the equipment and facilities necessary
for the treatment of the patient, as well as the services of the hospital staff
who perform the ministerial tasks of ensuring that the doctors orders are
carried out strictly.
After a careful consideration, this Court finds that not all the elements are
present to establish an employee-employer relationship between XYZ
Hospital and Dr. See.
However, with respect to Dr. Dy, XYZ Hospital admitted through its
president that Dr. Dy was a regular member of the medical staff. The
respondent hospital, apart from a general denial of its responsibility over Dr.
Dy, failed to adduce evidence showing that it exercised the diligence of a
good father of a family in the supervision of the latter to prevent damage.
The respondent hospital thereby failed to discharge its burden under the
last paragraph of Article 2180. Having failed to do this, respondent hospital is
consequently solidarily responsible for the acts of Dr. Dy.
Based on the foregoing, we hold that XYZ Hospital were unable to rebut
the presumption of negligence and are solidarily liable for damages under
Article 2176 79 of the Civil Code.
Amount of Damages
As to the amount of damages due to the petitioners it is a well settled
rule that actual damages which may be claimed by the plaintiff are those
suffered by him as he has duly proved. The Civil Code provides:
Art. 2199. 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. Such compensation is referred to as actual or
compensatory damages.

In these cases, the amount of damages awarded, should be one which

compensates for pecuniary loss incurred and proved, up to the time of trial.
Considering that the couple spent around P 1,000,000.00 for their trip to the
United States and for the medical expenses, all of which are evidenced by
receipts of the transactions, an award of P 1,500,000.00 as actual damages
is highly reasonable.
As to the sleepless nights and mental anguish that will haunt the heirs of
the deceased, the Court is aware that no amount of compassion and
commiseration nor words of bereavement can suffice to assuage the sorrow
felt for the loss of a loved one. Considering the stature of the victim, an
award of P 2,000,000.00 as moral and exemplary damages in favor of the
heirs of Mrs. Bee are proper in the instant case.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the court hereby finds accused DR.
SEE and DR. DY GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of reckless
imprudence resulting to homicide.
The accused Dr. See, Dr. Dy and XYZ Hospital Inc. are declared to be
solidarily liable for the death of the victim and are hereby ordered to pay
(1) P 1,500,000.00 as actual damages;
(2) P 2,000,000.00 as moral damages;
(3) P 100,000.00 as exemplary damages;
(4) P 100,000.00 as attorneys fees; and
(5) the costs of the suit.