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7/13/2017 G.R. No.

L-20392

TodayisThursday,July13,2017

RepublicofthePhilippines
SUPREMECOURT
Manila

ENBANC

G.R.No.L20392December18,1968

MARCIALT.CAEDO,JUANASANGALANGCAEDO,andtheMinors,EPHRAIMCAEDO,EILEENCAEDO,
ROSEELAINECAEDO,suingthroughtheirfather,MARCIALT.CAEDO,asguardianadlitem,plaintiffs
appellants,
vs.
YUKHETHAIandRAFAELBERNARDO,defendantsappellants.

NorbertoJ.Quisumbingforplaintiffsappellants.
DeJoya,Lopez,Dimaguila,HermosoandDivinofordefendantsappellants

MAKALINTAL,J.:

AsaresultofavehicularaccidentinwhichplaintiffMarcialCaedoandseveralmembersofhisfamilywereinjured
they filed this suit for recovery of damages from the defendants. The judgment, rendered by the Court of First
InstanceofRizalonFebruary26,1960(Q2952),containsthefollowingdisposition:

INVIEWOFTHEFOREGOING,thecourtrendersajudgment,oneinfavoroftheplaintiffsandagainstthe
defendants,YuKheThaiandRafaelBernardo,jointlyandseverally,topaytoplaintiffsMarcialCaedo,etal.,
the sum of P1,929.70 for actual damages P48,000.00 for moral damages P10,000.00 for exemplary
damages and P5,000.00 for attorney's fees, with costs against the defendants. The counterclaim of the
defendantsagainsttheplaintiffsisherebyordereddismissed,forlackofmerits.

OnMarch12,1960thejudgmentwasamendedsoastoincludeanadditionalawardofP3,705.11infavorofthe
plaintiffsforthedamagesustainedbytheircarintheaccident.

Both parties appealed to the Court of Appeals, which certified the case to us in view of the total amount of the
plaintiffs'claim.

Therearetwoprincipalquestionsposedforresolution:(1)whowasresponsiblefortheaccident?and(2)ifitwas
defendant Rafael Bernardo, was his employer, defendant Yu Khe Thai, solidarily liable with him? On the first
questionthetrialcourtfoundRafaelBernardonegligentandonthesecond,heldhisemployersolidarilyliablewith
him.

Themishapoccurredatabout5:30inthemorningofMarch24,1958onHighway54(nowE.delosSantosAvenue)
inthevicinityofSanLorenzoVillage.MarcialwasdrivinghisMercurycaronhiswayfromhishomeinQuezonCity
totheairport,wherehissonEphraimwasscheduledtotakeaplaneforMindoro.WiththeminthecarwereMrs.
Caedo and three daughters. Coming from the opposite direction was the Cadillac of Yu Khe Thai, with his driver
RafaelBernardoatthewheel,takingtheownerfromhisParaaquehometoWackWackforhisregularroundof
golf.Thetwocarsweretravelingatfairlymoderatespeeds,consideringtheconditionoftheroadandtheabsenceof
traffic the Mercury at 40 to 50 kilometers per hour, and the Cadillac at approximately 30 to 35 miles (48 to 56
kilometers). Their headlights were mutually noticeable from a distance. Ahead of the Cadillac, going in the same
direction,wasacaretellaownedbyacertainPedroBautista.Thecarretelawastowinganotherhorsebymeansofa
short rope coiled around the rig's vertical post on the right side and held at the other end by Pedro's son, Julian
Bautista.

RafaelBernardotestifiedthathewasalmostupontherigwhenhesawitinfrontofhim,onlyeightmetersaway.
Thisisthefirstclearindicationofhisnegligence.Thecarretelawasprovidedwithtwolights,oneoneachside,and
theyshouldhavegivenhimsufficientwarningtotakethenecessaryprecautions.Andevenifhedidnotnoticethe
lights,asheclaimedlateronatthetrial,thecarretelashouldanywayhavebeenvisibletohimfromafarifhehad
beencareful,asitmusthavebeeninthebeamofhisheadlightsforaconsiderablewhile.

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InthemeantimetheMercurywascomingonitsownlanefromtheoppositedirection.Bernardo,insteadofslowing
downorstoppingaltogetherbehindthecarretelauntilthatlanewasclear,veeredtotheleftinordertopass.Ashe
didsothecurvedendofhiscar'srightrearbumpercaughttheforwardrimoftherig'sleftwheel,wrenchingitoffand
carryingitalongasthecarskiddedobliquelytotheotherlane,whereitcollidedwiththeoncomingvehicle.Onhis
partCaedohadseentheCadillaconitsownlaneheslackenedhisspeed,judgedthedistancesinrelationtothe
carretelaandconcludedthattheCadillacwouldwaitbehind.Bernardo,however,decidedtotakeagamblebeat
theMercurytothepointwhereitwouldbeinlinewiththecarretela,orelsesqueezeinbetweentheminanycase.It
wasariskymaneuvereitherway,andtheriskshouldhavebeenquiteobvious.Or,sincethecarwasmovingatfrom
30 to 35 miles per hour (or 25 miles according to Yu Khe Thai) it was already too late to apply the brakes when
Bernardo saw the carretela only eight meters in front of him, and so he had to swerve to the left in spite of the
presenceoftheoncomingcarontheoppositelane.Asitwas,theclearanceBernardogaveforhiscar'srightside
wasinsufficient.Itsrearbumper,asalreadystated,caughtthewheelofthecarretelaandwrencheditloose.Caedo,
confrontedwiththeunexpectedsituation,triedtoavoidthecollisionatthelastmomentbygoingfarthertotheright,
but was unsuccessful. The photographs taken at the scene show that the right wheels of his car were on the
unpavedshoulderoftheroadatthemomentofimpact.

ThereisnodoubtatallthatthecollisionwasdirectlytraceabletoRafaelBernardo'snegligenceandthathemustbe
heldliableforthedamagessufferedbytheplaintiffs.ThenextquestioniswhetherornotYuKheThai,asownerof
theCadillac,issolidarilyliablewiththedriver.TheapplicablelawisArticle2184oftheCivilCode,whichreads:

ART.2184.Inmotorvehiclemishaps,theownerissolidarilyliablewithhisdriver,iftheformer,whowasinthe
vehicle,couldhave,bytheuseofduediligence,preventedthemisfortune.Itisdisputablypresumedthata
driverwasnegligent,ifhehadbeenfoundguiltyofrecklessdrivingorviolatingtrafficregulationsatleasttwice
withinthenextprecedingtwomonths.

Undertheforegoingprovision,ifthecausativefactorwasthedriver'snegligence,theownerofthevehiclewhowas
presentislikewiseheldliableifhecouldhavepreventedthemishapbytheexerciseofduediligence.Theruleisnot
new, although formulated as law for the first time in the new Civil Code. It was expressed in Chapman vs.
Underwood(1914),27Phil.374,wherethisCourtheld:

...Thesameruleapplieswheretheownerispresent,unlessthenegligentactsofthedriverarecontinuedfor
suchalengthoftimeastogivetheownerareasonableopportunitytoobservethemandtodirecthisdriverto
desisttherefrom.Anownerwhositsinhisautomobile,orothervehicle,andpermitshisdrivertocontinueina
violation of the law by the performance of negligent acts, after he has had a reasonable opportunity to
observethemandtodirectthatthedriverceasetherefrom,becomeshimselfresponsibleforsuchacts.The
ownerofanautomobilewhopermitshischauffeurtodriveuptheEscolta,forexample,ataspeedof60miles
an hour, without any effort to stop him, although he has had a reasonable opportunity to do so, becomes
himselfresponsible,bothcriminallyandcivilly,fortheresultsproducedbytheactsofthechauffeur.Onthe
other hand, if the driver, by a sudden act of negligence, and without the owner having a reasonable
opportunitytopreventtheactoritscontinuance,injuresapersonorviolatesthecriminallaw,theownerofthe
automobile, although present therein at the time the act was committed, is not responsible, either civilly or
criminally,therefor.Theactcomplainedofmustbecontinuedinthepresenceoftheownerforsuchalengthof
timethattheowner,byhisacquiescence,makeshisdriveracthisown.

Thebasisofthemaster'sliabilityincivillawisnotrespondentsuperiorbutrathertherelationshipofpaterfamilias.
The theory is that ultimately the negligence of the servant, if known to the master and susceptible of timely
correctionbyhim,reflectshisownnegligenceifhefailstocorrectitinordertopreventinjuryordamage.

Inthepresentcasethedefendants'evidenceisthatRafaelBernardohadbeenYuKheThai'sdriversince1937,and
beforethathadbeenemployedbyYutivoSonsHardwareCo.inthesamecapacityforovertenyears.Duringthat
timehehadnorecordofviolationoftrafficlawsandregulations.Nonegligenceforhavingemployedhimatallmay
beimputedtohismaster.Negligenceonthepartofthelatter,ifany,mustbesoughtintheimmediatesettingand
circumstancesoftheaccident,thatis,inhisfailuretodetainthedriverfrompursuingacoursewhichnotonlygave
himclearnoticeofthedangerbutalsosufficienttimetoactuponit.Wedonotseethatsuchnegligencemaybe
imputed.Thecar,ashasbeenstated,wasnotrunningatanunreasonablespeed.Theroadwaswideandopen,
anddevoidoftrafficthatearlymorning.Therewasnoreasonforthecarownertobeinanyspecialstateofalert.He
hadreasontorelyontheskillandexperienceofhisdriver.Hebecameawareofthepresenceofthecarretelawhen
hiscarwasonlytwelvemetersbehindit,butthenhisfailuretoseeitearlierdidnotconstitutenegligence,forhewas
not himself at the wheel. And even when he did see it at that distance, he could not have anticipated his driver's
suddendecisiontopassthecarretelaonitsleftsideinspiteofthefactthatanothercarwasapproachingfromthe
oppositedirection.ThetimeelementwassuchthattherewasnoreasonableopportunityforYuKheThaitoassess
the risks involved and warn the driver accordingly. The thought that entered his mind, he said, was that if he
sounded a sudden warning it might only make the other man nervous and make the situation worse. It was a
thoughtthat,wiseornot,connotesnoabsenceofthatduediligencerequiredbylawtopreventthemisfortune.

ThetestofimputednegligenceunderArticle2184oftheCivilCodeis,toagreatdegree,necessarilysubjective.Car
ownersarenotheldtoauniformandinflexiblestandardofdiligenceasareprofessionaldrivers.Inmanycasesthey
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refrainfromdrivingtheirowncarsandinsteadhireotherpersonstodriveforthempreciselybecausetheyarenot
trained or endowed with sufficient discernment to know the rules of traffic or to appreciate the relative dangers
posedbythedifferentsituationsthatarecontinuallyencounteredontheroad.Whatwouldbeanegligentomission
under aforesaid Article on the part of a car owner who is in the prime of age and knows how to handle a motor
vehicleisnotnecessarilysoonthepart,say,ofanoldandinfirmpersonwhoisnotsimilarlyequipped.

The law does not require that a person must possess a certain measure of skill or proficiency either in the
mechanics of driving or in the observance of traffic rules before he may own a motor vehicle. The test of his
intelligence,withinthemeaningofArticle2184,ishisomissiontodothatwhichtheevidenceofhisownsensestells
him he should do in order to avoid the accident. And as far as perception is concerned, absent a minimum level
imposed by law, a maneuver that appears to be fraught with danger to one passenger may appear to be entirely
safe and commonplace to another. Were the law to require a uniform standard of perceptiveness, employment of
professional drivers by car owners who, by their very inadequacies, have real need of drivers' services, would be
effectivelyproscribed.

WeholdthattheimputationofliabilitytoYuKheThai,solidarilywithRafaelBernardo,isanerror.Thenextquestion
refers to the sums adjudged by the trial court as damages. The award of P48,000 by way of moral damages is
itemizedasfollows:

1.MarcialCaedo P20,000.00

2.JuanaS.Caedo 15,000.00

3.EphraimCaedo 3,000.00

4.EileenCaedo 4,000.00

5.RoseElaineCaedo 3,000.00

6.MerilynCaedo 3,000.00

Plaintiffsappealedfromtheaward,claimingthattheCourtshouldhavegrantedthemalsoactualorcompensatory
damages, aggregating P225,000, for the injuries they sustained. Defendants, on the other hand maintain that the
amountsawardedasmoraldamagesareexcessiveandshouldbereduced.Wefindnojustificationforeitherside.
Theamountofactualdamagessufferedbytheindividualplaintiffsbyreasonoftheirinjuries,otherthanexpenses
formedicaltreatment,hasnotbeenshownbytheevidence.Actualdamages,tobecompensable,mustbeproven.
Painandsufferingarenotcapableofpecuniaryestimation,andconstituteapropergroundforgrantingmoral,not
actual,damages,asprovidedinArticle2217oftheCivilCode.

Theinjuriessustainedbyplaintiffsarethefollowing:

MARCIALT.CAEDO:

A.Contusion,withhematoma,scalp,frontalleftabrasions,chestwall,anterior
B.Multiplefractures,ribs,right,lstto5thinclusive.ThirdribhasadoublefractureSubparietoplaural
hematomaBasaldiscatelectasis,lung,rightlowerlobe,secondary
C.Pseudotosis,left,secondarytoprobablebasalfracture,skull.

JUANASANGALANGCAEDO:

A.Abrasions,multiple:
(1)frontalregion,left(2)apexofnose(3)uppereyelid,left(4)knees.
B.Wound,lacerated,irregular,deep,frontal
C.Fracture,simple,2ndribposterior,leftwithdisplacement.
D.Fracture,simple,base,proximalphalanxright,bigtoe.
E.Fracture,simple,base,metatarsalsIIIandVright.
F.Concussion,cerebral.

EPHRAIMCAEDO:

A.Abrasions,multiple:
(1)lefttemporalarea(2)leftfrontal(3)leftsupraorbital

EILEENCAEDO:

A.Laceratedwound(Vshaped),base,5thfinger,right,lateralaspect.
B.Abrasions,multiple:
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(1)dorsum,proximalphalanxmiddlefinger(2)Knee,anterior,bilateral(3)shin,lower1/3.

ROSEELAINECAEDO:

A.Abrasions,multiple:(1)upperandlowerlids(2)lefttemporal(3)nasolabialregion(4)leg,lower
third,anterior.

MARILYNCAEDO:

A.Abrasions,multiple:(1)shin,lower1/3right(2)arm,lowerthird

C.Contusionwithhematoma,shin,lower1/3,anterioraspect,right.(SeeExhibitsD,D1,D2,D3,D
4,andD5)

It is our opinion that, considering the nature and extent of the abovementioned injuries, the amounts of moral
damagesgrantedbythetrialcourtarenotexcessive.

WHEREFORE,thejudgmentappealedfromismodifiedinthesenseofdeclaringdefendantappellantYuKheThai
freefromliability,andisotherwiseaffirmedwithrespecttodefendantRafaelBernardo,withcostsagainstthelatter.

Concepcion,C.J.,Reyes,J.B.L.,Dizon,Zaldivar,Sanchez,CastroandCapistrano,JJ.,concur.

Fernando,J.,tooknopart.

TheLawphilProjectArellanoLawFoundation

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