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I.

MEANING OF VICARIOUS LIABILITY AND QUASI-DELICT

Vicarious Liability is a legal doctrine in tort law that imposes responsibility upon one
person for the failure of another or assigns liability for an injury to a person who did
not cause the injury but with whom the person has a special legal relationship to
exercise such care as a reasonably prudent person would use under similar
circumstances. It is also referred to as imputed negligence.

Legal relationships that can lead to imputed negligence include the relationship
between parent and child, husband and wife, owner of a vehicle and driver, and
employer and employee and the likes. Ordinarily the independent negligence of one
person is not imputable to another person.[1]

Sample Illustration

Eager to start your day, you run into the local diner to grab a cup of coffee and a
donut. When the waitress arrives to pour your coffee, you notice that she is a bit
wobbly on her feet. You also notice she is wearing a medical alert bracelet, but dont
pay much attention to it. She pours the steaming hot coffee in your cup, on the table
and even your lap. After letting out a loud yelp, it becomes painfully obvious that you
require medical attention to treat your first-degree burns. This means you will be out
of work, unable to wear pants and need costly follow-up care.

The waitress was unable to perform her job due to what could have been a medical
condition. Someone must pay, but it is the employer that will bear the brunt of this
waitresss actions. You see, the doctrine of vicarious liability holds that there can be a
person responsible for the actions of another because of a special relationship the
parties maintain.[2]

Quasi-Delict

Whoever by act or omission causes damage to another, there being fault or


negligence, is obliged to pay for the damage done. Such fault or negligence, if there is
no pre-existing contractual relation between the parties, is called a quasi-delict.[3]

Quasi-delicts give rise to a liability or an obligation to pay for the damage done, and
this obligation is demandable not only for ones own acts or omissions, but also for
those of persons for whom one is responsible.

A quasi-delict may be public or private; the neglect of the affairs of a community,


when it is our duty to attend to them, may be a crime; the neglect of a private matter,
under similar circumstances, may be the ground of a civil action.[4]

II.LEGAL BASIS OF VICARIOUS LIABILITY

Article 2180 of the Civil Code enumerates those who are subject to this vicarious
liability, among them are teachers and heads of establishments of arts and trades with
respect to their pupils and students and apprentices so long as they remain in their
custody[5]. In order that one may not be made to satisfy this liability, one needs to
prove that the diligence of a good father of a family was observed to prevent damage.

Meaning Of Custody As Used In Article 2180

The Supreme Court refined the definition of custody as used in Article 2180. In
Amadora v. CA it was held not to mean the student must be boarding with the school
authorities, but it does signify that the student should be within the control and under
the influence of the school authorities at the time of the occurrence of the injury,
whether the semester or school term has not yet begun or has already ended. As long
as the student is still subject to the disciplinary authority of the school and cannot
consider himself released altogether from observance of its rules, he is in the custody
of the school.

Also, as long as the student is in the school premises in pursuance of a legitimate


student objective, in the exercise of a legitimate student right, and even in the
enjoyment of a legitimate student privilege [like doing nothing but relaxing in the
campus in the company of his classmates] the responsibility of the school authorities
over the student continues.

III. Doctrine of in loco parentis

School heads and teachers are subject to this vicarious liability because they stand, to
a certain extent, as to their pupils or students, in loco parentis or as substitute parents,
as expressly provided under Article 218 of the Family Code.

Schools exercise their educational functional principally through their administrators


and teachers, while parents exercise their parental authority by sending their children
to school to comply with their duty to educate them according to their means, as
provided in Article 220 of the Family Code, and Article 72 of the Child and Youth
Welfare Code, as amended.

Consequently, when parents send their minor child to school, they must necessarily
pass on or share their parental authority, their custody over the child, and the
responsibility to educate their child properly with the school, its administrators and
teachers temporarily, as the latter shall assume such during all the time the child is
under their supervision and instruction. This, in essence, is the principle of substituted
parental authority.[6]

A teachers liability arises from the failure to provide due diligence in the
performance of the responsibilities that come with the substituted parental authority.
[7] A teacher must not only be charged with teaching but also vigilance over their
students or pupils. Without the parents to look after their children when in school, it
is the teacher who takes over in the supervision. It is thus fitting that the basis of a
teachers liability is the principle of in loco parentis which, according to Blacks
Dictionary, means in the place of a parent.[8]

The law holds the teachers and heads of the school staff liable unless they relieve
themselves of such liability pursuant to the last paragraph of Article 2180 by proving
that they observed all the diligence to prevent damage.[9]
The law also applies to all kinds of educational institutions, academic or vocational.
[10] When an academic institution accepts students for enrollment, there is
established a contract between them, resulting in bilateral obligations which both
parties are bound to comply with. The contract between school and student is one
imbued with public interest but a contract nonetheless.[11]

For its part, the school undertakes to provide the student with an education that would
presumably suffice to equip him with the necessary tools and skills to pursue higher
education or a profession. On the other hand, the student covenants to abide by the
schools academic requirements and observe its rules and regulations.[12]

In all such cases, it had been stressed that the law (Article 2180) plainly provides that
the damage should have been caused or inflicted by pupils or students of the
educational institution sought to be held liable for the acts of its pupils or students
while in its custody.[13]

IV. The Palisoc Doctrine:

The case of Spouses Palisoc v. Brillantes, et al.,[14] raised into a doctrine the idea that
teachers are responsible for the acts of their students, not only minors but those
emancipated as well.

Dominador Palisoc, deceased son of petitioners spouses Palisoc, and the defendant
Virgilio Daffon (who was not a minor) were classmates at the Manila Technical
Institute. There was a fight during recess time, and Daffon caused the death of
Dominador Palisoc. The trial court found Daffon responsible for Dominadors death,
and sentenced him to pay damages. However, the owner (Antonio Brillantes) and the
president (Teodosio Valenton) of Manila Technical Institute (MTI) and the teacher in
charge of the students at that time (Santiago Quibulue) were absolved. The spouses
appealed.

In this particular case the action was instituted directly against the school officials,
and the Supreme Court had the occasion to decide directly on the question of the
liability of teachers and heads of schools under Article 2180, Civil Code for damages
caused by their pupils and students against fellow students on the school premises.
The Supreme Court held that defendants Valenton (President of MTI) and Quibulue
(teacher in charge) were liable.

According to the High Tribunal, the death resulting from the fight of the students
could have been avoided if Valenton and Quibulue had complied with their duty of
providing adequate supervision over the activities of the students in the school
premises to protect their students from harm, whether at the hands of fellow students
or other parties.

The construction of the phrase so long as (the students) remain in their custody
previously it was understood to mean that the student actually boarded in the school,
[15] now it was understood to mean the protective and supervisory custody that the
school and its heads and teachers exercise over the pupils and students for as long as
they are at attendance in the school, including recess time. In other words it is not
necessary that the student actually boarded in the school; as long as they are at
attendance in school, the school authorities will be liable.

The school head and the teacher-in-charge were found liable, even if Daffon was
already of age at the time of the commission of the offense. There was intent that the
liability be not restricted to the case of persons under age. Furthermore, teachers and
heads of scholarly establishments are not grouped with parents and guardians but
ranged with owners and managers of enterprises, employers and the state, as to whom
no reason is discernible to imply that they should answer only for minors. The
responsibility of the teachers and school heads are more plenary than that of the
parents.[16]

According to Justice Reyes in his concurring opinion:

While in the case of parents and guardians, their authority and supervision over the
children and wards end by law upon the latter reaching majority age, the authority
and custodial supervision over pupils exist regardless of the age of the latter.

A student over twenty-one, by enrolling and attending a school, places himself under
the custodial supervision and disciplinary authority of the school authorities, which is
the basis of the latters correlative responsibility for his torts, committed while under
such authority. Of course, the teachers control is not as plenary as when the student
is a minor; but that circumstance can only affect the decree of the responsibility but
cannot negate the existence thereof. It is only a factor to be appreciated in
determining whether or not the defendant has exercised due diligence in endeavoring
to prevent the injury, as prescribed in the last paragraph of Article 2180.

V. LIABILITIES OF ACADEMIC AND TECHNICAL SCHOOLS

The Palisoc doctrine applies to all schools, whether academic or non-academic.[17]


This was settled in the Amadora case.[18] The Supreme Court did not see any
substantial distinction between an academic school and a non-academic school with
respect to torts committed by their students. For them, the same vigilance of the
teacher with respect to the safety of his students should be expected, whether it the
school is academic or technical.

In academic schools, the liability attaches to the teacher, while in a technical school,
the liability attaches to the head[19]

According to the Supreme Court:

The reason for the disparity can be traced to the fact that historically the head of the
school of arts and trades exercised a closer tutelage over his pupils than the head of
the academic school. The old schools of arts and trades were engaged in the training
of artisans apprenticed to their master who personally and directly instructed them on
the technique and secrets of their craft.
The head of the school of arts and trades was such a master and so was personally
involved in the task of teaching his students, who usually even boarded with him and
so came under his constant control, supervision and influence.

By contrast, the head of the academic school was not as involved with his students
and exercised only administrative duties over the teachers who were the persons
directly dealing with the students. The head of the academic school then has only a
vicarious relationship with the students.

Consequently, while he could not be directly faulted for the acts of the students, the
head of the school of arts and trades, because of his closer ties with them, could be so
blamed.

The Court conceded however that the distinction no longer obtains at present because
of the expansion of technological schools, the increase in their enrolment, and the
decrease of the direct and personal contact of vocational school heads with their
students.

We no longer have masters and apprentices toiling in schools of arts and trades.
Students in technological colleges and universities are no different from students in
liberal arts or professional schools. Apprentices now work in regular shops and
factories and their relationship to the employer is covered by laws governing the
employment relationship and not by laws governing the teacher student relationship.
[20]

VI. LIABILITY OF THE SCHOOL ON ACTS OF A STRANGER AND

ACTIVITIES OUTSIDE OF THE SCHOOL

In the PSBA case[21] although the person injured was a student of PSBA, the person
that caused the injury was not a student of PSBA. Art. 2180 on quasi-delict would
naturally not apply as it requires that the damage should be caused by a student of the
educational institution. However, the Court held that although 2180 does not apply,
the schools liability can arise from a breach in contract as when an educational
institution accepts students for enrolment, there exists a contract which is one
imbued with public interest. This contract produces bilateral obligations, and one of
the schools obligations is to provide their students with an atmosphere that is
conducive in furthering their primary purpose which is to impart knowledge.

A similar ruling was adopted in the case of Regino v. Pangasinan Colleges of


Scienceand Technology[22] where it upheld the school-student relationship as
contractual in nature. In the case of Soliman although the Court held that the school
was not liable for the acts of the school security guard whose employer was a security
agency, the court still upheld the school-student contractual relationship.[23]

May a teacher escape liability for outings and activities held outside the school but
authorized by the school? Art 218 of the Family Code states that authority and
responsibility shall apply to all authorized activities whether inside or outside the
premises of the school, entity or institution.[24] In the case of St. Marys
Academy[25], the Court held that special parental authority and responsibility applies
to all authorized activities, whether inside or outside the school premises.

VII. DEFENSE AGAINST LIABILITY

To avoid responsibility and liability, the teacher must prove that due diligence was
observed. As to the kind of due diligence, the last paragraph of Art 2180 is clear
The persons must prove that they have observed all the diligence of a good father of
a family to prevent damage. This can only be done at a trial on the merits of the case.

The case of Amadora and St Francis,[26] the accused parties have proven that they
have exercised the diligence required of them by law under the circumstances to
guard against the harm they had foreseen.

The court held:

The school can show that it exercised proper measure in selecting the head or its
teachers and the appropriate supervision over them in the custody and instruction of
pupils pursuant to its rules and regulations for the maintenance among them. In fact,
these measures are affected through the assistance of an adequate security force to
help the teacher physically enforce the rules upon the students. It bolster the claim of
the school that it has taken adequate steps to prevent any injury that may be
committed by the students.

VIII. WAIVERS

Can a teacher or school escape responsibility by asking parents to file a waiver during
field trips and outings? This issue is closely related to liabilities outside school and
Art 218 is clear that authority and responsibility shall apply to all authorized
activities whether inside or outside the premises of the school, entity or institution. In
the case of St. Francis, the Court still held some teachers responsible despite the fact
that the parent permitted the child to go to the picnic.

IX. ILLUSTRATIVE CASES

School of the Holy Spirit vs Corazon P. Taguiam[27]

Respondent Corazon P. Taguiam was the Class Adviser of the petitioner, School of the
Holy Spirit of Quezon City. On March 10, 2000, the class president, wrote a letter to
the grade school principal requesting permission to hold a year-end celebration at the
school grounds. The principal authorized the activity and allowed the pupils to use
the swimming pool. In this connection, respondent distributed the parents/guardians
permit forms to the pupils.

Respondent admitted that Chiara Mae Federicos permit form was unsigned.
Nevertheless, she concluded that Chiara Mae was allowed by her mother to join the
activity since her mother personally brought her to the school with her packed lunch
and swimsuit.
Before the activity started, respondent warned the pupils who did not know how
to swim to avoid the deeper area. However, while the pupils were swimming, two of
them sneaked out. Respondent went after them to verify where they were going.

Unfortunately, while respondent was away, Chiara Mae drowned. When respondent
returned, the maintenance man was already administering cardiopulmonary
resuscitation on Chiara Mae. She was still alive when respondent rushed her to the
General Malvar Hospital where she was pronounced dead on arrival.

Petitioners dismissed respondent on the ground of gross negligence resulting to loss of


trust and confidence. Meanwhile, Chiara Maes parents filed a P7 Million damage suit
against petitioners and respondent, among others. They also filed against respondent
a criminal complaint for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide.

The Court held that As a teacher who stands in loco parentis to her pupils,
respondent should have made sure that the children were protected from all harm
while in her company. Respondent should have known that leaving the pupils in the
swimming pool area all by themselves may result in an accident. A simple reminder
not to go to the deepest part of the poolwas insufficient to cast away all the serious
dangers that the situation presented to the children, especially when respondent knew
that Chiara Mae cannot swim. Dismally, respondent created an unsafe situation which
exposed the lives of all the pupils concerned to real danger. This is a clear violation
not only of the trust and confidence reposed on her by the parents of the pupils but
also of the school.

X. CONCLUSION

The essence of the principle of substituted parental authority is that when parents send
their minor child to school, they must necessarily pass on or share their parental
authority, their custody over the child, and the responsibility to educate their child
properly with the school, its administrators and teachers temporarily, as the latter shall
assume such during all the time the child is under their supervision and instruction.

A teacher, who stands in loco parentis to her pupils, should make sure that the
children were protected from all harm while in her company. An academic institution
accepts students for enrollment, there is established a contract between them, resulting
in bilateral obligations which both parties are bound to comply with. The contract
between school and student is one imbued with public interest but a contract
nonetheless.

The law holds the teachers and heads of the school staff liable unless they relieve
themselves of such liability pursuant to the last paragraph of Article 2180 by proving
that they observed all the diligence to prevent damage