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18. United Airlines v. Willie Uy, Nov.

19, 1999 and social humiliation; and (2) the slashing of his luggage and the loss of personal
Topic: effects amounting to US$5,310.00. (Action for damages)
C. Aviation Law United Airlines moved to dismiss the complaint on the ground that it was filed out
1. The Warsaw Convention of time. Under Art. 29 of the Warsaw Convention, the right to damages shall be
extinguished if an action is not brought within 2 years. However, the second
Doctrine: paragraph of the said provision stated that the method of calculating the period of
Applicability of the Warsaw Convention: the Convention's provisions do not regulate or limitation shall be determined by the law of the court to which the case is submitted.
exclude liability for other breaches of contract by the carrier or misconduct of its officers and It is Willies position that our rules on interruption of prescriptive period should
employees, or for some particular or exceptional type of damage. Neither may the Convention apply. When he sent his letters of demand, the 2-year period was tolled, giving him
be invoked to justify the disregard of some extraordinary sort of damage resulting to a ample time to file his complaint. (Prescriptive period)
passenger and preclude recovery therefor beyond the limits set by said Convention. Likewise, TC - The trial court ordered the dismissal of the case, holding that Art. 29(2) refers
we have held that the Convention does not preclude the operation of the Civil Code and other not to the local forums rules in interrupting the prescriptive period but only to the
pertinent laws. It does not regulate, much less exempt, the carrier from liability for damages rules of determining the time in which the action was deemed commenced (meaning
for violating the rights of its passengers under the contract of carriage, especially if willful filed). Willie filed his motion for reconsideration of the order of dismissal only on
misconduct on the part of the carrier's employees is found or established the 14th day. The trial court denied his motion and 2 days later Willie filed his notice
of appeal. United Airlines this time contended that the notice of appeal was filed
Emergency recit: Uy, a passenger of United airlines checked in his baggage but was overweight beyond the 15-day reglementary period and should therefore be dismissed.
and an employee of petitioner rebuked him saying that he should have known the maximum CA - The CA, however, took cognizance of the case in the interest of justice and ruled
weight allowance per bag. Upon arrival in manila, he discovered that one of his bags had been in favour of respondent. Hence, this petition for certiorari.
slashed and its contents stolen. Petitioner moved to dismiss the complaint invoking the
provisions of Article 29 of the Warsaw Convention. Court held that in our jurisdiction, we have Issue:
held that the Warsaw Convention can be applied, or ignored, depending on the peculiar facts 1) Does the Warsaw Convention preclude the operation of the Civil Code and other
presented by each case. pertinent laws?
2) Has the respondents cause of action prescribed?
Facts:
Held:
Respondent Willie Uy is a passenger of petitioner United Airlines, bound from San
Francisco to Manila. While in San Francisco, it was found that one piece of his luggage 1) No.
was over the maximum weight allowance of 70 kg. per bag. (Overweight luggage) Within our jurisdiction we have held that the Warsaw Convention can be applied, or
A United Airlines employee rebuked him and in a loud voice, in front of the milling ignored, depending on the peculiar facts presented by each case.
crowd, ordered him to repack his things accordingly. Wishing not to create a scene, Convention provisions do not regulate or exclude liabilities for other breaches of
Willie did as asked. Unfortunately, his luggage was still overweight so the airline contract by the carrier or misconduct of its officers and employees, or for some
billed him overweight charges. Willie offered to pay the charges with a Miscellaneous particular or exceptional type of damage.
Charge Order (MCO) or an airline pre-paid credit but the same employee, and an Neither may the Convention be invoked to justify the disregard of some
airline supervisor, refused to honor it, contending that there were discrepancies in extraordinary type of damage. Neither may the Convention be invoked to justify the
the figures. Thus, Willie was forced to pay the charges with his American Express disregard of some extraordinary sort of damage resulting to a passenger and
credit card. preclude recovery therefore beyond the limits et by said convention.
Upon arrival in Manila, Willie discovered that one of his bags had been slashed and Likewise, we have held that the Convention does not preclude the operation of the
its contents, amounting to US$5,310.00, stolen. (Stolen contents) Civil Code and other pertinent laws. It does not regulate, much less exempt, the
He sent his first letter of demand to United Airlines. The airline did not refute Willies carrier from liability for damages for violating the rights of its passengers under the
allegations and mailed a check representing payment of his loss based on the contract of carriage, especially if willful misconduct on the part of the carriers
maximum liability of US$9.70 per pound. Willie, thinking the amount to be grossly employees is found or established.
inadequate to compensate him for his losses as well as for the indignities he was
subjected to, sent two more letters to petitioner airline, demanding out-of-court 2) No.
settlement of P1,000,000.00. While his 2nd cause of action (an action for damages arising from theft or damage
Willie filed a complaint for damages before the Philippine courts. He had two causes to property or goods) is well within the bounds of the Warsaw convention, his 1st
of action: (1) the shabby and humiliating treatment he received from petitioners cause of action (an action for damages arising from the misconduct of
employees at the San Francisco Airport which caused him extreme embarrassment
the airline employees and the violation of respondents rights as passengers) clearly
is not.
The 2-yr limitation incorporated in Art. 29 of the Warsaw Convention as an absolute
bar to suit and not to be made subject to the various tolling provisions of the laws of
the forum, forecloses the application of our own rules on interruption of prescriptive
periods. (Art. 29, par. 2 was indented only to let local laws determine whether an
action shall be deemed commenced upon the filing of a complaint.) Since, it
is indisputable that respondent filed the present action beyond the 2-yr time frame
his 2nd cause of action must be barred.
However, it is obvious that respondent was forestalled from immediately filing an
action because petitioner gave him the runaround, answering his letters but not
giving in to his demands.
True, respondent should have already filed an action at the first instance when
petitioner denied his claims but the same could only be due to his desire to make an
out-of-court settlement for which he cannot be faulted.
Hence, despite the express mandate of Article 29 of the Warsaw Convention that an
action for damages should be filed within 2 years from the arrival at the place of
destination, such rule shall not be applied in the instant case because of the
delaying tactics employed by petitioner airlines itself.
Thus, respondents 2nd cause of action cannot be considered as time barred.