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Fernando v.

CA
FACTS:

November 7, 1975: Bibiano Morta, market master of the Agdao Public Market
filed a requisition request with the Chief of Property of the City Treasurer's Office
for the re-emptying of the septic tank in Agdao wherein Bascon won

November 22, 1975: bidder Bertulano with four other companions namely
Joselito Garcia, William Liagoso, Alberto Fernando and Jose Fajardo, Jr. were
found dead inside the septic tank.

The bodies were removed by a fireman.

The body of Joselito Garcia, was taken out by his uncle, Danilo Garcia
and taken to the Regional Hospital but he expired there.

The City Engineer's office investigated the case and learned they entered the
septic tank without clearance from it nor with the knowledge and consent of the
market master.

Since the septic tank was found to be almost empty, they were
presumed to be the ones who did the re-emptying.

Dr. Juan Abear of the City Health Office found them to have died
from "asphyxia" - diminution of oxygen supply in the body and intake of toxic
gas

November 26, 1975: Bascon signed the purchase order

RTC: Dismissed the case

CA: Reversed - law intended to protect the plight of the poor and the needy,
the ignorant and the indigent
ISSUE: W/N Davao city is negligent and its negligence is the proximate cause
therefore can be liable for damages
HELD: NO. CA affirmed.

test by which to determine the existence of negligence in a particular case:

Did the defendant in doing the alleged negligent act use that
reasonable care and caution which an ordinarily prudent person would have
used in the same situation? If not, then he is guilty of negligence

standard supposed to be supplied by the imaginary conduct of


the discreet pater familias of the Roman law

Conduct is said to be negligent when a prudent man in the position of the


tortfeasor would have foreseen that an effect harmful to another was sufficiently
probable warrant his foregoing the conduct or guarding against its consequences

The question as to what would constitute the conduct of a prudent


man in a given situation must of course be always determined in the light of
human experience and in view of the facts involved in the particular case

Reasonable foresight of harm, followed by the ignoring of the


suggestion born of this provision, is always necessary before negligence can be
held to exist

Distinction must be made between the accident and the injury

Where he contributes to the principal occurrence, as one of its


determining factors, he can not recover

Where, in conjunction with the occurrence, he contributes only to his


own injury, he may recover the amount that the defendant responsible for the
event should pay for such injury, less a sum deemed a suitable equivalent for
his own imprudence
Toilets and septic tanks are not nuisances per se as defined in Article 694 of
the New Civil Code which would necessitate warning signs for the protection of
the public
While the construction of these public facilities demands utmost
compliance with safety and sanitary requirements, the putting up of warning
signs is not one of those requirements
accident such as toxic gas leakage from the septic tank is unlikely to happen
unless one removes its covers
Considering the nature of the task of emptying a septic tank especially one
which has not been cleaned for years, an ordinarily prudent person should
undoubtedly be aware of the attendant risks. The victims are no exception;
more so with Mr. Bertulano, an old hand in this kind of service, who is presumed
to know the hazards of the job. His failure, therefore, and that of his men to
take precautionary measures for their safety was the proximate cause of the
accident.
proximate and immediate cause of the death of the victims was due to their
own negligence. Consequently, the petitioners cannot demand damages from the public
respondent

Vda. da Bataclan v. Medina


Facts:
The deceased Juan Bataclan was among the passengers of Medina Transportation, driven by
Conrado Saylon and operated by Mariano Medina. On its way from Cavite to Pasay, the front
tires burst and the vehicle fell into a canal. Some passengers were able to escape by themselves
or with some help, while there were 4, including Bataclan, who could not get out. Their cries
were heard in the neighbourhood. Then there came about 10 men, one of them carrying a torch.
As they approached the bus, it caught fire and the passengers died. The fire was due to gasoline
leak and the torch. Salud Villanueva Vda. de Bataclan, in her name and on behalf of her 5 minor
children, sought to claim damages from the bus company. The CFI favored the plaintiff, and the
Court of Appeals forwarded the case to the Supreme Court due to the amount involved.
Issue:
What was the proximate cause of the death of Juan and the other passengers?
Held:
We agree with the trial court that the case involves a breach of contract of transportation for
hire, the Medina Transportation having undertaken to carry Bataclan safely to his destination,
Pasay City. We also agree with the trial court that there was negligence on the part of the

defendant, through his agent, the driver Saylon. There is evidence to show that at the time of the
blow out, the bus was speeding, as testified to by one of the passengers, and as shown by the fact
that according to the testimony of the witnesses, including that of the defense, from the point
where one of the front tires burst up to the canal where the bus overturned after zig-zaging,
there was a distance of about 150 meters. The chauffeur, after the blow-out, must have applied
the brakes in order to stop the bus, but because of the velocity at which the bus must have been
running, its momentum carried it over a distance of 150 meters before it fell into the canal and
turned turtle.
There is no question that under the circumstances, the defendant carrier is liable. The only
question is to what degree. A satisfactory definition of proximate cause is found in Volume 38,
pages 695-696 of American jurisprudence, cited by plaintiffs-appellants in their brief. It is as
follows:
. . . 'that cause, which, in natural and continuous sequence, unbroken by any efficient
intervening cause, produces the injury, and without which the result would not have
occurred.' And more comprehensively, 'the proximate legal cause is that acting first and
producing the injury, either immediately or by setting other events in motion, all
constituting a natural and continuous chain of events, each having a close causal connection
with its immediate predecessor, the final event in the chain immediately effecting the injury
as a natural and probable result of the cause which first acted, under such circumstances
that the person responsible for the first event should, as an ordinary prudent and intelligent
person, have reasonable ground to expect at the moment of his act or default that an injury
to some person might probably result therefrom.
In the present case under the circumstances obtaining in the same, we do not hesitate to hold
that the proximate cause was the overturning of the bus, this for the reason that when the
vehicle turned not only on its side but completely on its back, the leaking of the gasoline from
the tank was not unnatural or unexpected; that the coming of the men with a lighted torch was
in response to the call for help, made not only by the passengers, but most probably, by the
driver and the conductor themselves, and that because it was dark (about 2:30 in the morning),
the rescuers had to carry a light with them, and coming as they did from a rural area where
lanterns and flashlights were not available; and what was more natural than that said rescuers
should innocently approach the vehicle to extend the aid and effect the rescue requested from
them. In other words, the coming of the men with a torch was to be expected and was a natural
sequence of the overturning of the bus, the trapping of some of its passengers and the call for
outside help. What is more, the burning of the bus can also in part be attributed to the
negligence of the carrier, through is driver and its conductor. According to the witness, the
driver and the conductor were on the road walking back and forth. They, or at least, the driver
should and must have known that in the position in which the overturned bus was, gasoline
could and must have leaked from the gasoline tank and soaked the area in and around the bus,
this aside from the fact that gasoline when spilled, specially over a large area, can be smelt and
directed even from a distance, and yet neither the driver nor the conductor would appear to have
cautioned or taken steps to warn the rescuers not to bring the lighted torch too near the bus

Manila electric co. v. Remoquillo


SUMMARY: "A prior and remote cause cannot be made the basis of an action if such remote cause didnothing
more than furnish the condition or give rise to the occasion by which the injury was made
possible,if there intervened between such prior or remote cause and the injury a distinct,
successive, unrelated, andefficient cause of the injury, even though such injury would not have
happened but for such condition or occasion. If no danger existed in the condition except because of the
independent cause, such conditionwas not the proximate cause. And if an independent negligent act
or defective condition sets intooperation the instances, which result in injury because of the prior
defective condition, such subsequentact or condition is the proximate cause."DIGEST
NATURE
Review by certiorari of a CA decision
FACTS
Efren Magno went to his stepbrothers 3
story house to fix a leaking media agua, (downspout).
Heclimbed up to the media agua which was just below the 3
rd
floor window and stood on it to receive agalvanized iron sheet through the said window. After
grabbing hold of the sheet, he turned around and aportion of the iron sheet he was holding
came into contact with an electric wire of Manila ElectricCompany (the Company) strung 2.5 ft
parallel to the edge of the media agua, electrocuting him andkilling him.- His widow and children
filed a suit to recover damages from the company and the TC rendered judgment
in their favor. The Company appealed to the CA, which affirmed the judgment.
It is this CAdecision the Company now seeks to appeal.
ISSUE
WON the Companys negligence in the installation and maintenance of its wires was the
proximate
cause of the death
HELD
No. It merely provided the condition from which the cause arose (it set the stage for the cause
of the injuryto occur).
Ratio
A prior and remote cause (which furnishes the condition or gives rise to the occasion by which
aninjury was made possible) cannot be the basis of an action if a distinct, successive, unrelated
and efficientcause of the injury intervenes between such prior and remote cause and the injury.If
no danger existed in the condition except because of the independent cause, such condition
was notthe proximate cause. And if an independent negligent act or defective condition sets into
operation thecircumstances which result in injury because of the prior defective condition, such
subsequent act or condition is the proximate cause.
Reasoning
We fail to see how the Company could be held guilty of negligence or as lacking in
duediligence. To us it is clear that the principal and proximate cause of the electrocution was not
the electricwire, evidently a remote cause, but rather the reckless and negligent act of Magno in

turning around andswinging the galvanized iron sheet without taking any precaution, such as
looking back toward the streetand at the wire to avoid its contacting said iron sheet, considering
the latter's length of 6 feet.- The real cause of the accident or death was the reckless or
negligent act of Magno himself. When he wascalled by his stepbrother to repair the media agua
just below the third story window, it is to be presumedthat due to his age and experience he was
qualified to do so. Perhaps he was a tinsmith or carpenter andhad had training and experience
for the job. So, he could not have been entirely a stranger to electricwires and the danger
lurking in them. But unfortunately, in the instant case, his training and experiencefailed him, and
forgetting where he was standing, holding the 6-ft iron sheet with both hands and at armslength,
evidently without looking, and throwing all prudence and discretion to the winds, he turned
aroundswinging his arms with the motion of his body, thereby causing his own electrocution.
Disposition
CA decision reversed. Complaint against company dismissed

Taylor V. Manila Electric Co


FACTS:

September 30, 1905 Sunday afternoon: David Taylor, 15 years of age, the
son of a mechanical engineer, more mature than the average boy of his age, and
having considerable aptitude and training in mechanics with a boy named
Manuel Claparols, about 12 years of age, crossed the footbridge to the Isla del
Provisor, for the purpose of visiting Murphy, an employee of the defendant, who
and promised to make them a cylinder for a miniature engine

After leaving the power house where they had asked for Mr. Murphy, they
walked across the open space in the neighborhood of the place where the
company dumped in the cinders and ashes from its furnaces

they found some twenty or thirty brass fulminating caps scattered on


the ground

These caps are approximately of the size and appearance of


small pistol cartridges and each has attached to it 2 long thin wires by means of
which it may be discharged by the use of electricity

They are intended for use in the explosion of blasting charges of


dynamite, and have in themselves a considerable explosive power

the boys picked up all they could find, hung them on stick, of which each
took end, and carried them home

After crossing the footbridge, they met Jessie Adrian, less than 9 years
old, and they went to Manuel's home

The boys then made a series of experiments with the caps

trust the ends of the wires into an electric light socket - no result

break the cap with a stone - failed

opened one of the caps with a knife, and finding that it was filled with
a yellowish substance they got matches

David held the cap while Manuel applied a lighted match to the
contents

An explosion followed, causing more or less serious

injuries to all three


Jessie, who when the boys proposed putting a
match to the contents of the cap, became frightened and started to run away,
received a slight cut in the neck

Manuel had his hand burned and wounded

David was struck in the face by several particles of


the metal capsule, one of which injured his right eye to such an extent as to the
necessitate its removal by the surgeons

Trial Court: held Manila Electric Railroad And Light Company liable
ISSUE:

1. W/N the elemnents of quasi-delict to make Manila Electric Railroad And Light
Company liable - NO
2. W/N Manila Electric Railroad and Light Co. sufficiently proved that they employed
all the diligence of a good father of a family to avoid the damage - NO

HELD: reversing the judgment of the court below


ART. 1089 Obligations are created by law, by contracts, by quasi-contracts, and
illicit acts and omissions or by those in which any kind of fault or negligence occurs.
ART. 1902 A person who by an act or omission causes damage to another when
there is fault or negligence shall be obliged to repair the damage so done.
ART. 1903 The obligation imposed by the preceding article is demandable, not only
for personal acts and omissions, but also for those of the persons for whom they
should be responsible.
The father, and on his death or incapacity the mother, is liable for the damages
caused by the minors who live with them.
xxx
xxx
xxx
Owners or directors of an establishment or enterprise are equally liable for damages
caused by their employees in the service of the branches in which the latter may be
employed or on account of their duties.
xxx
xxx
xxx
The liability referred to in this article shall cease when the persons mentioned
therein prove that they employed all the diligence of a good father of a family to
avoid the damage.
ART. 1908 The owners shall also be liable for the damage caused
1 By the explosion of machines which may not have been cared for with due
diligence, and for kindling of explosive substances which may not have been placed
in a safe and proper place.

in order to establish his right to a recovery, must establish by competent


evidence:
1.
Damages to the plaintiff
2.
Negligence by act or omission of which defendant personally, or some person
for whose acts it must respond, was guilty.
3.
The connection of cause and effect between the negligence and the damage.

while we hold that the entry upon the property without express invitation or
permission would not have relieved Manila Electric from responsibility for
injuries incurred, without other fault on his part, if such injury were attributable
to his negligence, the negligence in leaving the caps exposed on its premises
was not the proximate cause of the injury received

cutting open the detonating cap and putting match to its contents was
the proximate cause of the explosion and of the resultant injuries inflicted

Manila Electric is not civilly responsible for the injuries thus


incurred

2 years before the accident, David spent 4 months at sea, as a cabin boy on
one of the interisland transports. Later he took up work in his father's office,
learning mechanical drawing and mechanical engineering. About a month after
his accident he obtained employment as a mechanical draftsman and continued
in that employment for 6 months at a salary of P2.50 a day; and it appears that
he was a boy of more than average intelligence, taller and more mature both
mentally and physically than most boys of 15

The series of experiments made by him in his attempt to produce an


explosion, as described by Jessie who even ran away

True, he may not have known and probably did not know the precise nature
of the explosion which might be expected from the ignition of the contents of
the cap, and of course he did not anticipate the resultant injuries which he
incurred; but he well knew that a more or less dangerous explosion might be
expected from his act, and yet he willfully, recklessly, and knowingly produced
the explosion. It would be going far to say that "according to his maturity and
capacity" he exercised such and "care and caution" as might reasonably be
required of him, or that defendant or anyone else should be held civilly
responsible for injuries incurred by him under such circumstances.

The law fixes no arbitrary age at which a minor can be said to have the
necessary capacity to understand and appreciate the nature and consequences
of his own acts, so as to make it negligence on his part to fail to exercise due
care and precaution in the commission of such acts; and indeed it would be
impracticable and perhaps impossible so to do, for in the very nature of things
the question of negligence necessarily depends on the ability of the minor to
understand the character of his own acts and their consequences

he was sui juris in the sense that his age and his experience qualified him to
understand and appreciate the necessity for the exercise of that degree of
caution which would have avoided the injury which resulted from his own
deliberate act; and that the injury incurred by him must be held to have been
the direct and immediate result of his own willful and reckless act, so that while
it may be true that these injuries would not have been incurred but for the
negligence act of the defendant in leaving the caps exposed on its premises,

nevertheless plaintiff's own act was the proximate and principal cause of the
accident which inflicted the injury
rule of the Roman law was: Quod quis ex culpa sua damnum sentit, non
intelligitur sentire
just thing is that a man should suffer the damage which comes to him
through his own fault, and that he can not demand reparation therefor from
another
Negligence is not presumed, but must be proven by him who alleges it.

SANITARY STEAM LAUNDRY, INC vs COURT OF APPEALS


FACTS:
on August 31, 1980, a Mercedes Benz panel truck of petitioner Sanitary Steam Laundrycollided with a
Cimarron which caused the death of three persons and the injuries of several others.The passengers of
the Cimarron were mostly employees of the Project Management Consultants,Inc. (PMCI). The Cimarron
was owned by Salvador Salenga, father of one of the employees of PMCI.Driving the vehicle was Rolando
Hernandez. The driver of the truck claimed that a jeepney in frontof him suddenly stopped. He said he
stepped on the brakes to avoid hitting the jeepney and thatthis caused his vehicle to swerve to the
left and encroach on a portion of the opposite lane. As aresult, his panel truck collided
with the Cimarron on the north-bound lane.RTC: Rendered judgment for private respondents.CA:
Affirmed the decision of the RTC
ISSUE:
Whether or not the driver of Cimarron was guilty of contributory negligence.
SC:
First of all, it has not been shown how the alleged negligence of the Cimarron driver contributed to the
collision between the vehicles. Indeed, petitioner has the burden of showing a causal
connection between the injury received and the violation of the Land Transportation and Traffic Code. He
must show that the violation of the statute was the proximate or legal cause of the injury or that it
substantially contributed thereto. Negligence, consisting in whole or in part, of violation of law, like any
other negligence, is without legal consequence unless it is a contributing cause of the
injury. Petitioner says that driving an overloaded vehicle with only one functioning
headlight during nighttime certainly increases the risk of accident, that because the Cimarron had only
one headlight, there was decreased visibility, and that the fact that the vehicle was overloaded and its
front seat overcrowded decreased [its] maneuverability. However, mere allegations such as these
are not sufficient to discharge its burden of proving clearly that such alleged negligence was the
contributing cause of the injury. Furthermore, based on the evidence in this case, there was no way either
driver could have avoided the collision.

CAEDO vs YU KHE THAI and BERNARDO (G.R. No. L-20392 December 18, 1968)
MAKALINTAL, J.:
FACTS:
Caedo and family were traveling Highway 54 on the way to the airport. Private respondents
were traveling on the opposite direction. Bernardo was the personal river of Yu. Both vehicles
were running at moderate speeds when a carritela was traveling the same direction as
Bernardos. The latter overtook the caritella and took the lane Caedos were traveling and
caused multiple injuries and damage to the Caedos. Bernardo was held liable.
ISSUE:
Whether or not the owner of the vehicle who was riding with the driver at the time of the
accident be held solidarily liable.
RULING:
The court ruled that if the causative factor was the drivers negligence, the owner of the vehicle
who was present is likewise held liable if he could have prevented the mishap by the existence
of due diligence. The basis of the master's liability in civil law is not respondent superior but
rather the relationship of paterfamilias. The theory is that ultimately the negligence of the
servant, if known to the master and susceptible of timely correction by him, reflects his own
negligence if he fails to correct it in order to prevent injury or damage.

DOCTRINE OF IMPUTED NEGLIGENCE


1. MARCIAL T. CAEDO, JUANA SANGALANG CAEDO, and the Minors,
EPHRAIM CAEDO, EILEEN CAEDO, ROSE ELAINE CAEDO, suing
through their father, MARCIAL T. CAEDO vs. YU KHE THAI and RAFAEL
BERNARDO, G.R. No. L-20392, December 18, 1968
Facts:
At about 5:30 in the morning, Marcial Caedo was driving his Mercury car on his way
to the airport. With them in the car were Mrs. Caedo and three daughters. Coming
from the opposite direction was the Cadillac of Yu Khe Thai, with his driver Rafael
Bernardo at the wheel, taking the owner from his Paraaque home to Wack Wack for

his regular round of golf.


The two cars were traveling at fairly moderate speeds, considering the condition of
the road and the absence of traffic and their headlights were mutually noticeable
from a distance. Ahead of the Cadillac, going in the same direction, was a caretella
owned by a certain Pedro Bautista. Instead of slowing down, Bernardo, veered to the
left to overtake and in so doing the car hit the carratellas left wheel and skidded
obliquely hitting the on coming car of Caedo who despite slackened speed to avoid
the collision was hit resulting to the injuries of Caedo and his passengers.
Issue:
WON negligence of the driver, Bernardo, may be imputed upon his employer, Yu
Khe Thai.
Ruling:
The applicable law is Article 2184 of the Civil Code, which reads:
ART. 2184. In motor vehicle mishaps, the owner is solidarily liable with his
driver, if the former, who was in the vehicle, could have, by the use of due
diligence, prevented the misfortune. It is disputably presumed that a driver was
negligent, if he had been found guilty of reckless driving or violating traffic
regulations at least twice within the next preceding two months.
Under the foregoing provision, if the causative factor was the driver's negligence,
the
owner of the vehicle who was present is likewise held liable if he could have
prevented the mishap by the exercise of due diligence.
No negligence for having employed him at all may be imputed to his master, since
Bernardo had been Yu Khe Thais driver since 1937, during that time, there was no
record of violation of traffic laws and regulations. Negligence on the part of the
latter, if any, must be sought in the immediate setting and circumstances of the
accident, that is, in his failure to detain the driver from pursuing a course which not
only gave him clear notice of the danger but also sufficient time to act upon it. We
do not see that such negligence may be imputed.
The test of imputed negligence under Article 2184 of the Civil Code is, to a great
degree, necessarily subjective. Car owners are not held to a uniform and inflexible
standard of diligence as are professional drivers.

We hold that the imputation of liability to Yu Khe Thai, solidarily with Rafael
Bernardo, is an error.

MA-AO SUGAR CENTRAL CO., INC. and GUILLERMO ARANETA, petitioners, vs. HON. COURT OF
APPEALS and HERMINIA FAMOSO, respondents.
FACTS:
Famoso was riding with a co-employee in the caboose or "carbonera" of Plymouth No. 12, a
cargo train of the petitioner, when the locomotive was suddenly derailed. He and his
companion jumped off to escape injury, but the train fell on its side, caught his legs by its
wheels and pinned him down. He was declared dead on the spot.
The claims for death and other benefits having been denied by the petitioner, the herein
private respondent filed suit in the RTC which ruled in her favor but deducted from the total
damages awarded 25% thereof for the decedent's contributory negligence and the total
pension of P41,367.60 private respondent and her children would be receiving from the SSS
for the next five years.
Investigation of the accident revealed that the derailment of the locomotive was caused by
protruding rails which had come loose because they were not connected and fixed in place
by fish plates. Fish plates are described as strips of iron 8" to 12" long and 3 1/2" thick which
are attached to the rails by 4 bolts, two on each side, to keep the rails aligned. Although
they could be removed only with special equipment, the fish plates that should have kept
the rails aligned could not be found at the scene of the accident.
The petitioner disclaims liability on the ground of Article 2176 of the Civil Code, contending it
has exercised due diligence in the selection and supervision of its employees.
ISSUE: Whether or not the deceased has a contributory negligence of his own death.
HELD:
NO.
We also do not see how the decedent can be held guilty of contributory negligence from the
mere fact that he was not at his assigned station when the train was derailed. That might
have been a violation of company rules but could not have directly contributed to his injury,
as the petitioner suggests. It is pure speculation to suppose that he would not have been
injured if he had stayed in the front car rather than at the back and that he had been killed
because he chose to ride in the caboose.
Contributory negligence has been defined as "the act or omission amounting to want of
ordinary care on the part of the person injured which, concurring with the defendant's
negligence, is the proximate cause of the injury." 5 It has been held that "to hold a person as
having contributed to his injuries, it must be shown that he performed an act that brought
about his injuries in disregard of warnings or signs of an impending danger to health and
body." 6 There is no showing that the caboose where Famoso was riding was a dangerous
place and that he recklessly dared to stay there despite warnings or signs of impending
danger.

F.F. CRUZ and Co., INC. VS Court of Appeals


164 SCRA 731
No. L-52732, August 29, 1988

Facts:
Petitioner F.F. Cruz and Co., Inc. is an owner of a furniture shop in Caloocan
City which was adjacent to the residence of Mable family, herein private
respondents.
That sometime in August 1971, private respondent Gregorio Mable requested
to the herein petitioner that a firewall be constructed between the latters shop and
their house. Such request fell on deaf ears. Unfortunately, on September 6, 1974, a
fire broke out in the petitioners shop which eventually spread into private
respondents house. Both the house and the shop were razed to the ground. As a
result, the private respondent filed an action for recovery of damages against the
petitioner. After the trial, the trial court ruled in favor of the private respondents and
ordered the petitioner to pay the damages for the loss of the formers house,
furnitures and other valuables. The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the
Lower Court. Hence, this appeal.

Issue:
Whether or not the Doctrine of RES IPSA LOQUITUR is applicable in this case?

Held:
The Supreme Court ruled in affirmative. Under the Doctrine of RES IPSA
LOQUITUR: Where the thing which cause the injury complained of is shown to be
under the management of the defendant or his servants and the accident is such as
in the 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 want of care. The facts
of the case at hand clearly call the application of the abovementioned doctrine. In
the normal course of operations of a furniture manufacturing shop, combustible
materials may usually be found thereon.

Furthermore, negligence or want of care on the part of the petitioner was not
merely presumed; the latters failure to construct a firewall in accordance with city
ordinance would suffice to support findings of negligence.

THE SPOUSES BERNABE AFRICA and SOLEDAD C. AFRICA, and the HEIRS OF
DOMINGA ONG, petitioners-appellants,
vs.
CALTEX (PHIL.), INC., MATEO BOQUIREN and THE COURT OF APPEALS,
respondents-appellees.
Facts:
A fire broke out at the Caltex service station at the corner of Antipolo street and Rizal
Avenue, Manila. It started while gasoline was being hosed from a tank truck into the
underground storage, right at the opening of the receiving tank where the nozzle of the hose was
inserted, when an unknown bystander threw a matchstick into the nozzle after lighting a
cigarette. The fire spread to and burned several neighboring houses, including the personal
properties and effects inside them. Their owners, among them petitioners here, sued respondents
Caltex (Phil.), Inc. and Mateo Boquiren, the first as alleged owner of the station and the second
as its agent in charge of operation. Negligence on the part of both of them was attributed as the
cause of the fire. The trial court and the Court of Appeals found that petitioners failed to prove
negligence and that respondents had exercised due care in the premises and with respect to the
supervision of their employees.
Issue:
Whether or not, without proof as to the cause and origin of the fire, the doctrine of res
ipsa loquitur should apply so as to presume negligence on the part of appellees.
Held: Reversed.
The gasoline station, with all its appliances, equipment and employees, was under the
control of appellees. A fire occurred therein and spread to and burned the neighboring houses.
The persons who knew or could have known how the fire started were appellees and their
employees, but they gave no explanation thereof whatsoever. It is a fair and reasonable inference
that the incident happened because of want of care.
The report submitted by a police officer in the performance of his duties on the basis of
his own personal observation that the gasoline station being located on a thickly populated area,
a person lighting a cigarette cannot be excluded and poses as a secondary hazard, may properly
be considered as an exception to the hearsay rule. These facts, descriptive of the location and
objective circumstances surrounding the operation of the gasoline station in question, strengthen
the presumption of negligence under the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, since on their face they
called for more stringent measures of caution than those which would satisfy the standard of due
diligence under ordinary circumstances.

Even then, the fire possibly would not have spread to the neighboring houses were it not
for another negligent omission on the part of defendants, namely, their failure to provide a
concrete wall high enough to prevent the flames from leaping over it. As it was the concrete wall
was only 2-1/2 meters high, and beyond that height it consisted merely of galvanized iron sheets,
which would predictably crumple and melt when subjected to intense heat. Defendants'
negligence, therefore, was not only with respect to the cause of the fire but also with respect to
the spread thereof to the neighboring houses.