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2017621 G.R.No.

95582

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RepublicofthePhilippines
SUPREMECOURT
Manila

SECONDDIVISION

G.R.No.95582October7,1991

DANGWATRANSPORTATIONCO.,INC.andTHEODORELARDIZABALyMALECDAN,petitioners,
vs.
COURTOFAPPEALS,INOCENCIACUDIAMAT,EMILIACUDIAMATBANDOY,FERNANDOCUDLAMAT,
MARRIETACUDIAMAT,NORMACUDIAMAT,DANTECUDIAMAT,SAMUELCUDIAMATandLIGAYA
CUDIAMAT,allHeirsofthelatePedritoCudiamatrepresentedbyInocenciaCudiamat,respondents.

FranciscoS.ReyesLawOfficeforpetitioners.

AntonioC.deGuzmanforprivaterespondents.

REGALADO,J.:p

OnMay13,1985,privaterespondentsfiledacomplaint1fordamagesagainstpetitionersforthedeathofPedritoCudiamatasaresult
of a vehicular accident which occurred on March 25, 1985 at Marivic, Sapid, Mankayan, Benguet. Among others, it was alleged that on said date, while
petitioner Theodore M. Lardizabal was driving a passenger bus belonging to petitioner corporation in a reckless and imprudent manner and without due
regardtotrafficrulesandregulationsandsafetytopersonsandproperty,itranoveritspassenger,PedritoCudiamat.However,insteadofbringingPedrito
immediatelytothenearesthospital,thesaiddriver,inutterbadfaithandwithoutregardtothewelfareofthevictim,firstbroughthisotherpassengersand
cargototheirrespectivedestinationsbeforebangingsaidvictimtotheLepantoHospitalwhereheexpired.

On the other hand, petitioners alleged that they had observed and continued to observe the extraordinary
diligencerequiredintheoperationofthetransportationcompanyandthesupervisionoftheemployees,evenas
theyaddthattheyarenotabsoluteinsurersofthesafetyofthepublicatlarge.Further,itwasallegedthatitwas
thevictim'sowncarelessnessandnegligencewhichgaverisetothesubjectincident,hencetheyprayedforthe
dismissalofthecomplaintplusanawardofdamagesintheirfavorbywayofacounterclaim.

OnJuly29,1988,thetrialcourtrenderedadecision,effectivelyinfavorofpetitioners,withthisdecretalportion:

IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, judgment is hereby pronounced that Pedrito Cudiamat was
negligent, which negligence was the proximate cause of his death. Nonetheless, defendants in
equity, are hereby ordered to pay the heirs of Pedrito Cudiamat the sum of P10,000.00 which
approximates the amount defendants initially offered said heirs for the amicable settlement of the
case.Nocosts.

SOORDERED.2

Notsatisfiedtherewith,privaterespondentsappealedtotheCourtofAppealswhich,inadecision 3inCAG.R.CVNo.
19504promulgatedonAugust14,1990,setasidethedecisionofthelowercourt,andorderedpetitionerstopayprivaterespondents:

1. The sum of Thirty Thousand (P30,000.00) Pesos by way of indemnity for death of the victim
PedritoCudiamat

2.ThesumofTwentyThousand(P20,000.00)bywayofmoraldamages

3. The sum of Two Hundred Eighty Eight Thousand (P288,000.00) Pesos as actual and
compensatorydamages

4.Thecostsofthissuit.4

Petitioners'motionforreconsiderationwasdeniedbytheCourtofAppealsinitsresolutiondatedOctober4,1990,
5hencethispetitionwiththecentralissuehereinbeingwhetherrespondentcourterredinreversingthedecisionofthetrialcourtandinfindingpetitioners
negligentandliableforthedamagesclaimed.

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ItisanestablishedprinciplethatthefactualfindingsoftheCourtofAppealsasarulearefinalandmaynotbe
reviewedbythisCourtonappeal.However,thisissubjecttosettledexceptions,oneofwhichiswhenthefindings
of the appellate court are contrary to those of the trial court, in which case a reexamination of the facts and
evidencemaybeundertaken.6

In the case at bar, the trial court and the Court of Appeal have discordant positions as to who between the
petitionersanthevictimisguiltyofnegligence.Perforce,wehavehadtoconductanevaluationoftheevidencein
thiscaseforthepropecalibrationoftheirconflictingfactualfindingsandlegalconclusions.

Thelowercourt,indeclaringthatthevictimwasnegligent,madethefollowingfindings:

This Court is satisfied that Pedrito Cudiamat was negligent in trying to board a moving vehicle,
especially with one of his hands holding an umbrella. And, without having given the driver or the
conductoranyindicationthathewishestoboardthebus.Butdefendantscanalsobefoundwanting
ofthenecessarydiligence.Inthisconnection,itissafetoassumethatwhenthedeceasedCudiamat
attempted to board defendants' bus, the vehicle's door was open instead of being closed. This
shouldbeso,foritishardtobelievethatonewouldevenattempttoboardavehicle(i)nmotionifthe
doorofsaidvehicleisclosed.Hereliesthedefendant'slackofdiligence.Undersuchcircumstances,
equity demands that there must be something given to the heirs of the victim to assuage their
feelings. This, also considering that initially, defendant common carrier had made overtures to
amicablysettlethecase.Itdidofferacertainmonetaryconsiderationtothevictim'sheirs.7

However,respondentcourt,inarrivingatadifferentopinion,declaresthat:

Fromthetestimonyofappellees'ownwitnessinthepersonofVitalianoSafarita,itisevidentthatthe
subjectbuswasatfullstopwhenthevictimPedritoCudiamatboardedthesameasitwasprecisely
on this instance where a certain Miss Abenoja alighted from the bus. Moreover, contrary to the
assertionoftheappellees,thevictimdidindicatehisintentiontoboardthebusascanbeseenfrom
thetestimonyofthesaidwitnesswhenhedeclaredthatPedritoCudiamatwasnolongerwalkingand
madeasigntoboardthebuswhenthelatterwasstillatadistancefromhim.Itwasattheinstance
whenPedritoCudiamatwasclosinghisumbrellaattheplatformofthebuswhenthelattermadea
suddenjerkmovement(as)thedrivercommencedtoacceleratethebus.

Evidently, the incident took place due to the gross negligence of the appelleedriver in prematurely
steppingontheacceleratorandinnotwaitingforthepassengertofirstsecurehisseatespeciallyso
whenwetakeintoaccountthattheplatformofthebuswasatthetimeslipperyandwetbecauseofa
drizzle. The defendantsappellees utterly failed to observe their duty and obligation as common
carrier to the end that they should observe extraordinary diligence in the vigilance over the goods
and for the safety of the passengers transported by them according to the circumstances of each
case(Article1733,NewCivilCode).8

Afteracarefulreviewoftheevidenceonrecord,wefindnoreasontodisturbtheaboveholdingoftheCourtof
Appeals.Itsaforesaidfindingsaresupportedbythetestimonyofpetitioners'ownwitnesses.Oneofthem,Virginia
Abalos,testifiedoncrossexaminationasfollows:

QItisnotafactMadamwitness,thatatbunkhouse54,thatisbeforetheplaceofthe
incident,thereisacrossing?

AThewaygoingtotheminesbutitisnotbeingpass(ed)bythebus.

QAndtheincidenthappenedbeforebunkhouse56,isthatnotcorrect?

AIthappenedbetween54and53bunkhouses.9

Thebusconductor,MartinAnglog,alsodeclared:

Q When you arrived at Lepanto on March 25, 1985, will you please inform this
HonorableCourtiftherewasanvunusualincidentthatoccurred?

AWhen we delivered a baggage at Marivic because a person alighted there between


Bunkhouse53and54.

Q What happened when you delivered this passenger at this particular place in
Lepanto?

AWhenwereachedtheplace,apassengeralightedandIsignalledmydriver.Whenwe
stopped we went out because I saw an umbrella about a split second and I signalled

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againthedriver,sothedriverstoppedandwewentdownandwesawPedritoCudiamat
askingforhelpbecausehewaslyingdown.

Q How far away was this certain person, Pedrito Cudiamat, when you saw him lying
downfromthebushowfarwashe?

AItisabouttwotothreemeters.

QOnwhatdirectionofthebuswashefoundaboutthreemetersfromthebus,wasitat
thefrontorattheback?

AAttheback,sir.10(Emphasissupplied.)

The foregoing testimonies show that the place of the accident and the place where one of the passengers
alightedwerebothbetweenBunkhouses53and54,hencethefindingoftheCourtofAppealsthatthebuswasat
fullstopwhenthevictimboardedthesameiscorrect.Theyfurtherconfirmtheconclusionthatthevictimfellfrom
the platform of the bus when it suddenly accelerated forward and was run over by the rear right tires of the
vehicle, as shown by the physical evidence on where he was thereafter found in relation to the bus when it
stopped.Undersuchcircumstances,itcannotbesaidthatthedeceasedwasguiltyofnegligence.

Thecontentionofpetitionersthatthedriverandtheconductorhadnoknowledgethatthevictimwouldrideonthe
bus,sincethelatterhadsupposedlynotmanifestedhisintentiontoboardthesame,doesnotmeritconsideration.
Whenthebusisnotinmotionthereisnonecessityforapersonwhowantstoridethesametosignalhisintention
toboard.Apublicutilitybus,onceitstops,isineffectmakingacontinuousoffertobusriders.Hence,itbecomes
the duty of the driver and the conductor, every time the bus stops, to do no act that would have the effect of
increasingtheperiltoapassengerwhilehewasattemptingtoboardthesame.Theprematureaccelerationofthe
businthiscasewasabreachofsuchduty.11

It is the duty of common carriers of passengers, including common carriers by railroad train, streetcar, or
motorbus,tostoptheirconveyancesareasonablelengthoftimeinordertoaffordpassengersanopportunityto
board and enter, and they are liable for injuries suffered by boarding passengers resulting from the sudden
startinguporjerkingoftheirconveyanceswhiletheyaredoingso.12

Further,evenassumingthatthebuswasmoving,theactofthevictiminboardingthesamecannotbeconsidered
negligentunderthecircumstances.Asclearlyexplainedinthetestimonyoftheaforestatedwitnessforpetitioners,
VirginiaAbalos,thbushad"juststarted"and"wasstillinslowmotion"atthepointwherethevictimhadboarded
andwasonitsplatform.13

Itisnotnegligenceperse, or as a matter of law, for one attempt to board a train or streetcar which is moving
slowly.14Anordinarilyprudentpersonwouldhavemadetheattemptboardthemovingconveyanceunderthesameorsimilarcircumstances.Thefact
thatpassengersboardandalightfromslowlymovingvehicleisamatterofcommonexperienceboththedriverandconductorinthiscasecouldnothave
beenunawareofsuchanordinarypractice.

Thevictimherein,bysteppingandstandingontheplatformofthebus,isalreadyconsideredapassengerandis
entitledalltherightsandprotectionpertainingtosuchacontractualrelation.Hence,ithasbeenheldthattheduty
whichthecarrierpassengersowestoitspatronsextendstopersonsboardingcarsaswellastothosealighting
therefrom.15

Common carriers, from the nature of their business and reasons of public policy, are bound to observe
extraordina diligence for the safety of the passengers transported by the according to all the circumstances of
eachcase. 16Acommoncarrierisboundtocarrythepassengerssafelyasfarashumancareandforesightcanprovide,usingtheutmostdiligence
verycautiouspersons,withadueregardforallthecircumstances.17

Ithasalsobeenrepeatedlyheldthatinanactionbasedonacontractofcarriage,thecourtneednotmakean
expressfindingoffaultornegligenceonthepartofthecarrierinordertoholditresponsibletopaythedamages
sought by the passenger. By contract of carriage, the carrier assumes the express obligation to transport the
passenger to his destination safely and observe extraordinary diligence with a due regard for all the
circumstances, and any injury that might be suffered by the passenger is right away attributable to the fault or
negligence of the carrier. This is an exception to the general rule that negligence must be proved, and it is
therefore incumbent upon the carrier to prove that it has exercised extraordinary diligence as prescribed in
Articles1733and1755oftheCivilCode.18

Moreover, the circumstances under which the driver and the conductor failed to bring the gravely injured victim
immediately to the hospital for medical treatment is a patent and incontrovertible proof of their negligence. It
defies understanding and can even be stigmatized as callous indifference. The evidence shows that after the
accidentthebuscouldhaveforthwithturnedatBunk56andthencetothehospital,butitsdriverinsteadoptedto
firstproceedtoBunk70toallowapassengertoalightandtodeliverarefrigerator,despitetheseriouscondition

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2017621 G.R.No.95582

ofthevictim.Thevacuousreasongivenbypetitionersthatitwasthewifeofthedeceasedwhocausedthedelay
wasterselyandcorrectlyconfutedbyrespondentcourt:

...Thepretensionoftheappelleesthatthedelaywasduetothefactthattheyhadtowaitforabout
twenty minutes for Inocencia Cudiamat to get dressed deserves scant consideration. It is rather
scandalousanddeplorableforawifewhosehusbandisatthevergeofdyingtohavetheluxuryof
dressing herself up for about twenty minutes before attending to help her distressed and helpless
husband.19

Further, it cannot be said that the main intention of petitioner Lardizabal in going to Bunk 70 was to inform the
victim'sfamilyofthemishap,sinceitwasnotsaidbusdrivernortheconductorbutthecompanionofthevictim
who informed his family thereof. 20 In fact, it was only after the refrigerator was unloaded that one of the passengers thought of sending
somebodytothehouseofthevictim,asshownbythetestimonyofVirginiaAbalosagain,towit:

QWhy,whathappenedtoyourrefrigeratoratthatparticulartime?

AIaskedthemtobringitdownbecausethatisthenearestplacetoourhouseandwhen
Iwentdownandaskedsomebodytobringdowntherefrigerator,Ialsoaskedsomebody
tocallthefamilyofMr.Cudiamat.

COURT:

QWhydidyouasksomebodytocallthefamilyofMr.Cudiamat?

ABecauseMr.Cudiamatmetanaccident,soIasksomebodytocallforthefamilyofMr.
Cudiamat.

QButnobodyask(ed)youtocallforthefamilyofMr.Cudiamat?

ANosir.21

Withrespecttotheawardofdamages,anoversightwas,however,committedbyrespondentCourtofAppealsin
computingtheactualdamagesbasedonthegrossincomeofthevictim.Theruleisthattheamountrecoverable
by the heirs of a victim of a tort is not the loss of the entire earnings, but rather the loss of that portion of the
earningswhichthebeneficiarywouldhavereceived.Inotherwords,onlynetearnings,notgrossearnings,areto
be considered, that is, the total of the earnings less expenses necessary in the creation of such earnings or
incomeandminuslivingandotherincidentalexpenses.22

Weareoftheopinionthatthedeductiblelivingandotherexpenseofthedeceasedmayfairlyandreasonablybe
fixedatP500.00amonthorP6,000.00ayear.Inadjudicatingtheactualorcompensatorydamages,respondent
courtfoundthatthedeceasedwas48yearsold,ingoodhealthwitharemainingproductivelifeexpectancyof12
years, and then earning P24,000.00 a year. Using the gross annual income as the basis, and multiplying the
sameby12years,itaccordinglyawardedP288,000.Applyingtheaforestatedruleoncomputationbasedonthe
netearnings,saidawardmustbe,asitherebyis,rectifiedandreducedtoP216,000.00.However,inaccordance
withprevailingjurisprudence,thedeathindemnityisherebyincreasedtoP50,000.00.23

WHEREFORE,subjecttotheabovemodifications,thechallengedjudgmentandresolutionofrespondentCourtof
AppealsareherebyAFFIRMEDinallotherrespects.

SOORDERED.

MelencioHerrera(Chairperson),Paras,PadillaandSarmiento,JJ.,concur.

#Footnotes

1CivilCaseNo.584R,RegionalTrialCourt,Branch7,BaguioCity.

2Rollo,51.

3PennedbyJusticeBonifacioA.Cacdac,Jr.,withJusticesGloriaC.ParasandSerafinV.C.
Guingonaconcurring.

4Rollo,2627.

5Ibid.,48.

6Sabinosavs.CourtofAppeals,etal.,175SCRA552(1989).
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2017621 G.R.No.95582

7OriginalRecord,169JudgeRodolfoD.Rodrigo,presiding.

8Rollo,25.

9TSN,January20,1987,2627.

10TSN,November18,1986,34.

11SeeDelPradovs.ManilaElectricCo.,52Phil.900(1929).

1214Am.Jur.2d436.

13TSN,January20,1987,11.

14Am.Jur.2d414.

15DelPradovs.ManilaElectricCo.,supra.

16Art.1733,CivilCode.

17Art.1755,CivilCode.

18Syvs.MalateTajdcab&Garage,Inc.,102Phil.482(1957)BatangasTransportationCo.vs.
Caguimbal,etal.,22SCRA171(1968).

19Rollo,25.

20TSN,June20,1986,34.

21TSN,January20,1987,16.

22VillaReyTransit,Inc.vs.CourtofAppeals,etal.,31SCRA511(1970)Davila,etal.vs.Philippine
Airlines,Inc.,49SCRA497(1973).

23Peoplevs.Sazon,189SCRA700(1990).

TheLawphilProjectArellanoLawFoundation

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