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Torts and Damages Cases 2017

G.R. No. 77679 September 30, 1987


VICENTE VERGARA, petitioner, vs.
THE COURT OF APPEALS and AMADEO AZARCON, respondents.

FACTS
An action for damages based on quasi-delict (Art. 2176 of the Civil Code) was filed by
private respondent against petitioner. The action arose from a vehicular accident that
occurred when Martin Belmonte, while driving a cargo truck belonging to petitioner,
rammed "head-on" the store-residence of the private respondent, causing damages thereto.

The trial court rendered judgment in favor of private respondent. Upon appeal to the Court
of Appeals, the latter court affirmed in toto the decision of the trial court, which ordered
Petitioner to pay, jointly and severally with Travellers Insurance and Surety Corporation,
to the private respondent.

RULING
Petitioner's contention that the respondent court erred in finding him guilty of fault or
negligence is not tenable. It was established by competent evidence that the requisites of a
quasi-delict are present in the case at bar. These requisites are: (1) damages to the
plaintiff; (2) negligence, by act or omission, of which defendant, or some person for whose
acts he must respond, was guilty; and (3) the connection of cause and effect between such
negligence and the damages.

It is undisputed that private respondent suffered damages as a result of an act or omission


of petitioner. The issue of whether or not this act or omission can be considered as a
"negligent" act or omission was passed upon by the trial court.

The findings of said court, affirmed by the respondent court, which we are not prepared to
now disturb, show that the fact of occurrence of the "vehicular accident" was sufficiently
established by the policy report and the testimony of Patrolman Masiclat. And the fact of
negligence may be deduced from the surrounding circumstances thereof. According to the
police report, "the cargo truck was travelling on the right side of the road going to Manila
and then it crossed to the center line and went to the left side of the highway; it then
bumped a tricycle; and then another bicycle; and then said cargo truck rammed the store
warehouse of the plaintiff."

According to the driver of the cargo truck, he applied the brakes but the latter did not
work due to mechanical defect. Contrary to the claim of the petitioner, a mishap caused by
defective brakes cannot be consideration as fortuitous in character. Certainly, the defects
were curable and the accident preventable.

Furthermore, the petitioner failed to adduce any evidence to overcome the disputable
presumption of negligence on his part in the selection and supervision of his driver.

Petition is DENIED.
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G.R. No. 137775. March 31, 2005


FGU INSURANCE CORPORATION, Petitioners,vs.
THE COURT OF APPEALS, SAN MIGUEL CORPORATION, and ESTATE OF ANG GUI,
represented by LUCIO, JULIAN, and JAIME, all surnamed ANG, and CO TO,
Respondents.

G.R. No. 140704. March 31, 2005


ESTATE OF ANG GUI, Represented by LUCIO, JULIAN and JAIME, all surnamed ANG,
and CO TO, Petitioners, vs.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, SAN MIGUEL CORP., and FGU INSURANCE
CORP., Respondents.

FACTS
Evidence shows that Anco Enterprises Company (ANCO), a partnership between Ang Gui
and Co To, was engaged in the shipping business. It owned the M/T ANCO tugboat and
the D/B Lucio barge which were operated as common carriers. Since the D/B Lucio had
no engine of its own, it could not maneuver by itself and had to be towed by a tugboat for
it to move from one place to another.

San Miguel Corporation (SMC) shipped from Mandaue City, Cebu, on board the D/B
Lucio, for towage by M/T ANCO. The D/B Lucio was towed by the M/T ANCO all the way
from Mandaue City to San Jose, Antique. When the vessels arrived at San Jose, Antique,
the tugboat M/T ANCO left the barge immediately after reaching San Jose, Antique.

When the barge and tugboat arrived, the clouds over the area were dark and the waves
were already big. There was difficulty in unloading the cargoes. ANCO’s representative was
requested to transfer the barge to a safer place because the vessel might not be able to
withstand the big waves. ANCO’s representative did not heed the request because he was
confident that the barge could withstand the waves. This, notwithstanding the fact that at
that time, only the M/T ANCO was left at the wharf of San Jose, Antique, as all other
vessels already left the wharf to seek shelter. With the waves growing bigger and bigger,
only 10,790 cases of beer were discharged into the custody of the arrastre operator. At
about ten to eleven o’clock in the evening of 01 October 1979, the crew of D/B Lucio
abandoned the vessel because the barge’s rope attached to the wharf was cut off by the big
waves. At around midnight, the barge run aground and was broken and the cargoes of
beer in the barge were swept away.

As a result, ANCO failed to deliver to SMC’s consignee 29,210 cases of Pale Pilsen and 550
cases of Cerveza Negra. As a consequence of the incident, SMC filed a complaint for
Breach of Contract of Carriage and Damages against ANCO.

ANCO claims that the losses or damages resulting to the cargoes was by reason of
fortuitous events. Subsequently, ANCO, with leave of court, filed a Third-Party Complaint
against FGU, alleging that before the vessel of ANCO left for San Jose, Antique with the
cargoes owned by SMC, the cargoes, to the extent of 20,000 cases, were insured with FGU
for a total amount of P858,500.00 under Marine Insurance Policy No. 29591.

The trial court found that while the cargoes were indeed lost due to fortuitous event, there
was failure on ANCO’s part, through their representatives, to observe the degree of
diligence required that would exonerate them from liability. The trial court thus held the
Estate of Ang Gui and Co To liable to SMC for the amount of the lost shipment. With
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respect to the Third-Party complaint, the court a quo found FGU liable to bear Fifty-Three
Percent (53%) of the amount of the lost cargoes.

The appellate court affirmed in toto the decision of the lower court and denied the motion
for reconsideration and the supplemental motion for reconsideration.

RULING
A careful study of the records shows no cogent reason to fault the findings of the lower
court, as sustained by the appellate court, that ANCO’s representatives failed to exercise
the extraordinary degree of diligence required by the law to exculpate them from liability
for the loss of the cargoes.

While the loss of the cargoes was admittedly caused by the typhoon Sisang, a natural
disaster, ANCO could not escape liability to respondent SMC. The records clearly show the
failure of petitioners’ representatives to exercise the extraordinary degree of diligence
mandated by law. To be exempted from responsibility, the natural disaster should have
been the proximate and only cause of the loss. There must have been no contributory
negligence on the part of the common carrier.

Therefore, as correctly pointed out by the appellate court, there was blatant negligence on
the part of M/T ANCO’s crewmembers, first in leaving the engine-less barge D/B Lucio at
the mercy of the storm without the assistance of the tugboat, and again in failing to heed
the request of SMC’s representatives to have the barge transferred to a safer place, as was
done by the other vessels in the port; thus, making said blatant negligence the proximate
cause of the loss of the cargoes.

G.R. No. L-21438 September 28, 1966


AIR FRANCE, petitioner, vs.
RAFAEL CARRASCOSO and the HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, respondents.

FACTS
In March 1958, Rafael Carrascoso and several other Filipinos were tourists en route to
Rome from Manila. Carrascoso was issued a first class round trip ticket by Air France. But
during a stop-over in Bangkok, he was asked by the plane manager of Air France to vacate
his seat because a white man allegedly has a “better right” than him. Carrascoso protested
but when things got heated and upon advise of other Filipinos on board, Carrascoso gave
up his seat and was transferred to the plane’s tourist class.

After their tourist trip when Carrascoso was already in the Philippines, he sued Air France
for damages for the embarrassment he suffered during his trip. In court, Carrascoso
testified, among others, that he when he was forced to take the tourist class, he went to
the plane’s pantry where he was approached by a plane purser who told him that he noted
in the plane’s journal the following:

“First-class passenger was forced to go to the tourist class against his will, and that
the captain refused to intervene.”

The said testimony was admitted in favor of Carrascoso. The trial court eventually awarded
damages in favor of Carrascoso. This was affirmed by the Court of Appeals.
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Air France is assailing the decision of the trial court and the CA. It avers that the issuance
of a first class ticket to Carrascoso was not an assurance that he will be seated in first
class because allegedly in truth and in fact, that was not the true intent between the
parties.

Air France also questioned the admissibility of Carrascoso’s testimony regarding the note
made by the purser because the said note was never presented in court.

ISSUE
Whether or not Air France is liable for damages and on what basis.

RULING
Yes. It appears that Air France’s liability is based on culpa-contractual and on culpa
aquiliana.

Culpa Contractual

There exists a contract of carriage between Air France and Carrascoso. There was a
contract to furnish Carrasocoso a first class passage; Second, That said contract was
breached when Air France failed to furnish first class transportation at Bangkok; and
Third, that there was bad faith when Air France’s employee compelled Carrascoso to leave
his first class accommodation berth “after he was already, seated” and to take a seat in the
tourist class, by reason of which he suffered inconvenience, embarrassments and
humiliations, thereby causing him mental anguish, serious anxiety, wounded feelings and
social humiliation, resulting in moral damages.

The Supreme Court did not give credence to Air France’s claim that the issuance of a first
class ticket to a passenger is not an assurance that he will be given a first class seat. Such
claim is simply incredible.

Culpa Aquiliana

Here, the SC ruled, even though there is a contract of carriage between Air France and
Carrascoso, there is also a tortuous act based on culpa aquiliana. Passengers do not
contract merely for transportation. They have a right to be treated by the carrier’s
employees with kindness, respect, courtesy and due consideration. They are entitled to be
protected against personal misconduct, injurious language, indignities and abuses from
such employees. So it is, that any rule or discourteous conduct on the part of employees
towards a passenger gives the latter an action for damages against the carrier. Air France’s
contract with Carrascoso is one attended with public duty. The stress of Carrascoso’s
action is placed upon his wrongful expulsion. This is a violation of public duty by the Air
France — a case of quasi-delict. Damages are proper.
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G.R. No. 114791 May 29, 1997


NANCY GO AND ALEX GO, petitioners, vs.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, HERMOGENES ONG and JANE C. ONG,
respondents.

FACTS
Private respondents spouses Hermogenes and Jane Ong were married on June 7, 1981, in
Dumaguete City. The video coverage of the wedding was provided by petitioners at a
contract price of P1,650.00. Three times thereafter, the newlyweds tried to claim the video
tape of their wedding, which they planned to show to their relatives in the United States
where they were to spend their honeymoon, and thrice they failed because the tape was
apparently not yet processed. The parties then agreed that the tape would be ready upon
private respondents' return. When private respondents came home from their honeymoon,
however, they found out that the tape had been erased by petitioners and therefore, could
no longer be delivered.

They filed a complaint for specific performance and damages against petitioners before the
RTC. RTC rendered a decision in favor of respondents. CA affirmed the trial court's
decision.

RULING
Petitioners are guilty of actionable delay for having failed to process the video tape.
Considering that private respondents were about to leave for the United States, they took
care to inform petitioners that they would just claim the tape upon their return two
months later. Thus, the erasure of the tape after the lapse of thirty days was unjustified.

In this regard, Article 1170 of the Civil Code provides that "those who in the performance
of their obligations are guilty of fraud, negligence or delay, and those who is any manner
contravene the tenor thereof, are liable for damages."

In the instant case, petitioners and private respondents entered into a contract whereby,
for a fee, the former undertook to cover the latter's wedding and deliver to them a video
copy of said event. For whatever reason, petitioners failed to provide private respondents
with their tape. Clearly, petitioners are guilty of contravening their obligation to said
private respondents and are thus liable for damages.

Generally, moral damages cannot be recovered in an action for breach of contract because
this case is not among those enumerated in Article 2219 of the Civil Code. However, it is
also accepted in this jurisdiction that liability for a quasi-delict may still exist despite the
presence of contractual relations, that is, the act which violates the contract may also
constitute a quasi-delict. Consequently, moral damages are recoverable for the breach of
contract which was palpably wanton, reckless, and malicious or in bad faith, oppressive or
abusive. Petitioners' act or omission in recklessly erasing the video coverage of private
respondents' wedding was precisely the cause of the suffering private respondents had to
undergo.
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G.R. No. L-9356 February 18, 1915


C. S. GILCHRIST, plaintiff-appellee, vs.
E. A. CUDDY, ET AL., defendants.
JOSE FERNANDEZ ESPEJO and MARIANO ZALDARRIAGA, appellants.

FACTS
 Cuddy was the owner of the film Zigomar
 April 24: He rented it to C. S. Gilchrist for a week for P125
 A few days to the date of delivery, Cuddy sent the money back to Gilchrist
 Cuddy rented the film to Espejo and his partner Zaldarriaga P350 for the week
knowing that it was rented to someone else and that Cuddy accepted it because he
was paying about three times as much as he had contracted with Gilchrist but
they didn't know the identity of the other party
 Gilchrist filed for injunction against these parties
 Trial Court and CA: granted - there is a contract between Gilchrist and Cuddy

ISSUE
W/N Espejo and his partner Zaldarriaga should be liable for damages though they do not
know the identity of Gilchrist

RULING
YES. judgment is affirmed

 That Cuddy was liable in an action for damages for the breach of that contract,
there can be no doubt.
 The mere right to compete could not justify the appellants in intentionally inducing
Cuddy to take away the appellee's contractual rights
 Everyone has a right to enjoy the fruits and advantages of his own enterprise,
industry, skill and credit. He has no right to be free from malicious and wanton
interference, disturbance or annoyance. If disturbance or loss come as a result of
competition, or the exercise of like rights by others, it is damnum absque
injuria(loss without injury), unless some superior right by contract or otherwise is
interfered with
 Cuddy contract on the part of the appellants was a desire to make a profit by
exhibiting the film in their theater. There was no malice beyond this desire; but this
fact does not relieve them of the legal liability for interfering with that contract and
causing its breach.
 Liability of the appellants arises from unlawful acts and not from contractual
obligations, as they were under no such obligations to induce Cuddy to violate his
contract with Gilchrist
 So that if the action of Gilchrist had been one for damages, it would be governed by
chapter 2, title 16, book 4 of the Civil Code.
 Article 1902 of that code provides that a person who, by act or omission, causes
damages to another when there is fault or negligence, shall be obliged to repair the
damage do done
 There is nothing in this article which requires as a condition precedent to the
liability of a tort-feasor that he must know the identity of a person to whom he
causes damages
 An injunction is a "special remedy" which was there issued by the authority and
under the seal of a court of equity, and limited, as in order cases where equitable
relief is sought, to cases where there is no "plain, adequate, and complete remedy at
law," which "will not be granted while the rights between the parties are
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undetermined, except in extraordinary cases where material and irreparable injury


will be done," which cannot be compensated in damages, and where there will be no
adequate remedy, and which will not, as a rule, be granted, to take property out of
the possession of one party and put it into that of another whose title has not been
established by law
 irreparable injury
 not meant such injury as is beyond the possibility of repair, or beyond possible
compensation in damages, nor necessarily great injury or great damage, but that
species of injury, whether great or small, that ought not to be submitted to on the
one hand or inflicted on the other; and, because it is so large on the one hand, or so
small on the other, is of such constant and frequent recurrence that no fair or
reasonable redress can be had therefor in a court of law
 Gilchrist was facing the immediate prospect of diminished profits by reason of the
fact that the appellants had induced Cuddy to rent to them the film Gilchrist had
counted upon as his feature film
 It is quite apparent that to estimate with any decree of accuracy the damages which
Gilchrist would likely suffer from such an event would be quite difficult if not
impossible
 So far as the preliminary injunction issued against the appellants is concerned,
which prohibited them from exhibiting the Zigomar during the week which Gilchrist
desired to exhibit it, we are of the opinion that the circumstances justified the
issuance of that injunction in the discretion of the court
 the remedy by injunction cannot be used to restrain a legitimate competition,
though such competition would involve the violation of a contract

Separate Opinion: MORELAND, J., concurring:

The court seems to be of the opinion that the action is one for a permanent injunction;
whereas, under my view of the case, it is one for specific performance.

The very nature of the case demonstrates that a permanent injunction is out of the
question. The only thing that plaintiff desired was to be permitted to use the film for the
week beginning the 26th of May. With the termination of that week his rights expired.
After that time Cuddy was perfectly free to turn the film over to the defendants Espejo and
Zaldarriaga for exhibition at any time.

No damages are claimed by reason of the issuance of the mandatory injunction under
which the film was delivered to plaintiff and used by him during the week beginning the
26th of May.
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G.R. No. L-21291 March 28, 1969


PRECIOLITA V. CORLISS, plaintiff-appellant, vs.
THE MANILA RAILROAD CO., defendant-appellant.

Moises C. Nicomedes for plaintiff-appellant.


The Government Corporate Counsel for defendant-appellee.

FACTS
This is a case of complaint for recovery of damages filed by plaintiff-appellant, Preciolita V.
Corliss whose husband, the late Ralph W. Corliss, was, at the tender age of twenty-one,
the victim of a grim tragedy, when the jeep he was driving collided with a locomotive of
defendant-appellee Manila Railroad Company, close to midnight, at the railroad crossing
in Balibago, Angeles, Pampanga, in front of the Clark Air Force Base. The lower court, after
summarizing the evidence, concluded that the deceased "in his eagerness to beat, so to
speak, the oncoming locomotive, took the risk and attempted to reach the other side, but
unfortunately he became the victim of his own miscalculation."

The negligence imputed to defendant-appellee was thus ruled out by the lower court,
satisfactory proof to that effect, in its opinion, being lacking.

RULING
In the more traditional terminology, the lower court judgment has in its favor the
presumption of correctness. It is entitled to great respect. After all, the lower court had the
opportunity of weighing carefully what was testified to and apparently did not neglect it.
There is no affront to justice then if its finding be accorded acceptance subject of course
the contingency of reversal if error or errors, substantial in character, be shown in the
conclusion thus arrived at. It is a fair statement of the governing, principle to say that the
appellate function is exhausted when there is found to be a rational basis for the result
reached by the trial court.

This action is predicated on negligence, the Civil Code making clear that whoever by act or
omission causes damage to another, there being negligence, is under obligation to pay for
the damage done. Unless it could be satisfactorily shown, therefore, that defendant-
appellee was guilty of negligence then it could not be held liable. The crucial question,
therefore, is the existence of negligence.

Negligence defines to be: "The failure to observe for the protection of the interests of
another person that degree of care, precaution and vigilance which the circumstance justly
demands whereby such other person suffers injury."

There was likewise a reliance on Ahern v. Oregon Telephone Co. Thus: "Negligence is want
of the care required by the circumstances. It is a relative or comparative, not an absolute
term and its application depends upon the situation of the parties and the degree of care
and vigilance which the circumstances reasonably require. Where the danger is great, a
high degree of care is necessary, and the failure to observe it is a want of ordinary care
under the circumstances."

To repeat, by such a test, no negligence could be imputed to defendant-appellee, and the


action of plaintiff-appellee must necessary fail. The facts being what they are, compel the
conclusion that the liability sought to be fastened on defendant-appellee had not arisen.
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G.R. No. 79578 March 13, 1991


RADIO COMMUNICATIONS OF THE PHILIPPINES, INC. (RCPI), petitioner, vs.
HON. COURT OF APPEALS, and SPOUSES MINERVA TIMAN and FLORES TIMAN,
respondents.

FACTS
Private respondents-spouses Minerva Timan and Flores Timan sent a telegram of
condolence to their cousins, Mr. and Mrs. Hilario Midoranda, at Trinidad, Calbayog City,
through petitioner Radio Communications of the Philippines, Inc. (RCPI) to convey their
deepest sympathy for the recent death of the mother-in-law of Hilario Midoranda.

The condolence telegram was correctly transmitted as far as the written text was
concerned. However, the condolence message as communicated and delivered to the
addressees was typewritten on a "Happy Birthday" card and placed inside a
"Christmasgram" envelope. Believing that the transmittal to the addressees of the
aforesaid telegram in that nonsuch manner was done intentionally and with gross breach
of contract resulting to ridicule, contempt, and humiliation of the private respondents and
the addressees, including their friends and relatives, the spouses Timan demanded an
explanation. Unsatisfied with RCPI's explanations in its letters, the Timans filed a
complaint for damages.

The trial court rendered judgment in favor of the respondents Timans which was affirmed
in toto by the Court of Appeals.

ISSUE
WHETHER or not the act of delivering the condolence message in a Happy Birthday" card
with a "Christmasgram" envelope constitutes a breach of contract on the part of the
defendant.

RULING
The SC fully agrees with the appellate court's endorsement of the trial court's conclusion
that RCPI, a corporation dealing in telecommunications and offering its services to the
public, is engaged in a business affected with public interest. As such, it is bound to
exercise that degree of diligence expected of it in the performance of its obligation.

Petitioner is a domestic corporation engaged in the business of receiving and transmitting


messages. Every time a person transmits a message through the facilities of the petitioner,
a contract is entered into. Upon receipt of the rate or fee fixed, the petitioner undertakes to
transmit the message accurately . . . As a corporation, the petitioner can act only through
its employees. Hence the acts of its employees in receiving and transmitting messages are
the acts of the petitioner. To hold that the petitioner is not liable directly for the acts of its
employees in the pursuit of petitioner's business is to deprive the general public availing of
the services of the petitioner of an effective and adequate remedy.

In the present case, it is self-evident that a telegram of condolence is intended and meant
to convey a message of sorrow and sympathy. Precisely, it is denominated "telegram of
condolence" because it tenders sympathy and offers to share another's grief. It seems out
of this world, therefore, to place that message of condolence in a birthday card and deliver
the same in a Christmas envelope for such acts of carelessness and incompetence not only
render violence to good taste and common sense, they depict a bizarre presentation of the
sender's feelings. They ridicule the deceased's loved ones and destroy the atmosphere of
grief and respect for the departed.
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RCPI's argument that it cannot be held liable for exemplary damages, being penal or
punitive in character, is without merit. We have so held in many cases, and oddly, quite a
number of them likewise involved the herein petitioner as the transgressor.

xxx xxx xxx

. . . In contracts and quasi-contracts, exemplary damages may be awarded if the


defendant acted in a wanton, fraudulent, reckless, oppressive or malevolent
manner.1âwphi1 There was gross negligence on the part of RCPI personnel in
transmitting the wrong telegram, of which RCPI must be held liable. Gross
carelessness or negligence constitutes wanton misconduct.
xxx xxx xxx

. . . punitive damages may be recovered for wilful or wantonly negligent acts in


respect of messages, even though those acts are neither authorized nor ratified.
Thus, punitive damages have been recovered for mistakes in the transmission of
telegrams.

G.R. No. L-12219 March 15, 1918


AMADO PICART, plaintiff-appellant, vs.
FRANK SMITH, JR., defendant-appellee.

FACTS
The plaintiff was riding on his pony over the Carlatan bridge in La Union. Before he had
gotten half way across, the defendant approached from the opposite direction in an
automobile, going at the rate of about ten or twelve miles per hour. As the defendant
neared the bridge he saw a horseman on it and blew his horn to give warning of his
approach. He continued his course and after he had taken the bridge he gave two more
successive blasts, as it appeared to him that the man on horseback before him was not
observing the rule of the road. Seeing that the pony was apparently quiet, the defendant,
instead of veering to the right while yet some distance away or slowing down, continued to
approach directly toward the horse without diminution of speed.

The plaintiff, it appears, saw the automobile coming and heard the warning signals.
However, being perturbed by the novelty of the apparition or the rapidity of the approach,
he pulled the pony closely up against the railing on the right side of the bridge instead of
going to the left. He says that the reason he did this was that he thought he did not have
sufficient time to get over to the other side. The automobile passed in such close proximity
to the animal that it became frightened and turned its body across the bridge with its head
toward the railing. The horse fell and its rider was thrown off with some violence.

As a result of its injuries the horse died. The plaintiff received contusions which caused
temporary unconsciousness and required medical attention for several days.

ISSUE
Whether or not the defendant in maneuvering his car in the manner above described was
guilty of negligence such as gives rise to a civil obligation to repair the damage done
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RULING
Yes, he is liable.

The control of the situation had then passed entirely to the defendant; and it was his duty
either to bring his car to an immediate stop or, seeing that there were no other persons on
the bridge, to take the other side and pass sufficiently far away from the horse to avoid the
danger of collision. Instead of doing this, the defendant ran straight on until he was almost
upon the horse.

The existence of negligence in a given case is not determined by reference to the personal
judgment of the actor in the situation before him. The law considers what would be
reckless, blameworthy, or negligent in the man of ordinary intelligence and prudence and
determines liability by that.

It goes without saying that the plaintiff himself was not free from fault, for he was guilty of
antecedent negligence in planting himself on the wrong side of the road. But as we have
already stated, the defendant was also negligent; and in such case the problem always is
to discover which agent is immediately and directly responsible. It will be noted that the
negligent acts of the two parties were not contemporaneous, since the negligence of the
defendant succeeded the negligence of the plaintiff by an appreciable interval. Under these
circumstances the law is that the person who has the last fair chance to avoid the
impending harm and fails to do so is chargeable with the consequences, without reference
to the prior negligence of the other party.

G.R. No. L-40570 January 30, 1976


TEODORO C. UMALI, petitioner, vs.
HON. ANGEL BACANI, in his capacity as Presiding Judge of Branch IX of the Court of
First Instance of Pangasinan and FIDEL H. SAYNES, respondents.

FACTS
On May 14, 1972, a storm with strong rain hit the Municipality of Alcala Pangasinan.
During the storm, the banana plants standing near the transmission line of the Alcala
Electric Plant (AEP) were blown down and fell on the electric wire. The live electric wire
was cut, one end of which was left hanging on the electric post and the other fell to the
ground. The following morning, barrio captain saw Cipriano Baldomero, a laborer of the
AEP, asked him to fix it, but the latter told the barrio captain that he could not do it but
that he was going to look for the lineman to fix it. Sometime thereafter, a small boy of 3
years and 8 months old by the name of Manuel P. Saynes, whose house is just on the
opposite side of the road, went to the place where the broken line wire was and got in
contact with it. The boy was electrocuted and he subsequently died. It was only after the
electrocution that the broken wire was fixed.

ISSUES
(1) WON the proximate cause of the boy's death is due to a fortuitous event- storm; (2)
WON boy’s parents’ negligence exempts petitioner from liability.
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RULING
A careful examination of the record convinces the SC that a series of negligence on the
part of defendants' employees in the Alcala Electric Plant resulted in the death of the
victim by electrocution.

On defendants' argument that the proximate cause of the victim's death could be
attributed to the parents' negligence in allowing a child of tender age to go out of the house
alone, We could readily see that because of the aforementioned series of negligence on the
part of defendants' employees resulting in a live wire lying on the premises without any
visible warning of its lethal character, anybody, even a responsible grown up or not
necessarily an innocent child, could have met the same fate that befell the victim.

Art. 2179 of the Civil Code provides that if the negligence of the plaintiff (parents of the
victim in this case) was only contributory, the immediate and proximate cause of the
injury being the defendants' lack of due care, the plaintiff may recover damages, but the
courts shall mitigate the damages to be awarded. This law may be availed of by the
petitioner but does not exempt him from liability.

The negligence of the employee is presumed to be the negligence of the employer because
the employer is supposed to exercise supervision over the work of the employees. This
liability of the employer is primary and direct. In fact the proper defense for the employer
to raise so that he may escape liability is to prove that he exercised, the diligence of the
good father of the family to prevent damage not only in the selection of his employees but
also in adequately supervising them over their work. This defense was not adequately
proven as found by the trial Court, and We do not find any sufficient reason to deviate
from its finding.

G.R. No. 47258 July 13, 1989


ANTONIO R. BANZON and ROSA BALMACEDA, petitioners, vs.
COURT OF APPEALS, MAXIMO R. STA. MARIA and VALERIANA R. STA. MARIA,
respondents.

FACTS
Sometime in the year 1952, Maximo R. Sta. Maria obtained several crop loans from PNB.
For these loans, Associated acted as surety for Sta. Maria by filing surety bonds in favor of
PNB to guarantee and answer for the prompt and faithful repayment of said loans. In turn,
plaintiff Antonio R. Banzon and one Emilio R. Naval acted as indemnitors of Associated in
the indemnity agreements, obligating themselves to indemnify and hold it harmless from
any liabilities. However, Sta. Maria failed to pay his crop loan obligations in favor of PNB
when the same fell due, and accordingly, the bank demanded payment from Associated as
surety. Instead of paying the bank, Associated filed a complaint against Maximo R. Sta.
Maria and indemnitors Banzon and Naval. A writ of execution was issued and the
properties of Banzon were levied and later on sold in execution. In 1965, the spouses
Pedro Cardenas and Leonila Baluyot were able to execute upon and buy one of the
properties of Banzon to satisfy the judgment debt of Associated in favor of the Cardenas
spouses. The Banzons however refused to vacate the premises and to remove the
improvements thereon. Petitioner spouses Antonio Banzon and Rosa Balmaceda filed a
complaint against Maximo and Valeriana Sta. Maria for actual and moral damages in the
total amount of P251,750.00 allegedly arising from the deprivation of their property due to
the Sta. Marias’ failure and refusal to pay their plain, valid and just obligations with the
Torts and Damages Cases 2017

PNB. The Court of First Instance ordered the Sta Marias to pay damages. Upon appeal, the
Court of Appeals reversed the decision.

ISSUE
Whether or not respondent Maximo and Valeriana Sta. Maria were liable to the petitioners
for the prejudice and damages the latter suffered.

RULING
NO. The Court held that it was the trial court that erred when it arrived at the conclusion
that the Sta Marias were responsible for the prejudice caused petitioners. The Court ruled
that it is a settled principle that moral damages may be recovered if they are the proximate
result of the defendant’s wrongful act or omission. While ideally such debacle could have
been avoided by Sta Marias’ payment of their obligations to PNB, such fact of non-payment
alone, without Associated’s premature action and subsequent fraudulent acts, could not
possibly have resulted in the prejudice and damage complained of. While private
respondents’ non-payment was admittedly the remote cause or the factor which set in
motion the ensuing events, Associated’s premature action and execution were the
immediate and direct causes of the damage and prejudice suffered by petitioners. Active
supervening events consisting of said premature and fraudulent acts of the Associated
Insurance and Surety, Inc. had broken the causal connection between the fact of non-
payment and the damage suffered by petitioners, so that their claim should be directed not
against the Sta Marias but against Associated. The Court was convinced as well that the
failure of the Sta Marias to pay their obligations with the PNB was not attended by bad
faith or willful intent to cause injury to petitioners. Under the Civil Code, the damages for
which a defendant may be held liable are those which are the natural and probable
consequences of the act or omission complained of. The prejudice caused petitioners
cannot be said to be the natural and probable consequence of the Sta. Marias’ mere failure
to pay their crop loans as such prejudice arose due to active supervening forces or events.