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September 7, 2018

Mr. Peter Banag


16 Annapolis St.
Cubao, Quezon City

Dear Mr. Banag:

I addressed to you the summary of my legal opinion based on the


facts from your documents that you gave.

Mary Banag, your six year old daughter went to Arthur Sison’s house
to buy ice-candy on September 12 at about 3 PM. Mary knocked on the
gate, but when she heard no response, she tested the gate by pushing it.
Her action caused the gate to open and Arthur’s dog jumped out, and
attacked her, biting her on the leg and arms as she fell to the ground. She
was saved by Fred Puzon, a neighbor, who kicked the dog away and
protected her. Then, Arthur was awakened by the loud noises and when he
found out that his dog attacked Mary he immediately brought the child to a
nearby clinic for treatment and paid all the medical bills. Now, you are
claiming for damages amounting to P20,000 from Arthur for the incident
that happened but he responded thru a letter that he cannot grant your
demand because he was not at fault, his arguments are as follows, (1) That
he cannot be held negligent because he already placed a warning sign
about the presence of the dog in the gate; (2) That Mary should have been
accompanied by an adult to avoid this kind of incident, impliedly putting
the blame on you as her parent for letting her roam outside unattended
and therefore exposing her to danger; and (3) That he already paid the bill
for Mary’s medication.

The issue for this case is whether or not Arthur is liable to pay for
damages caused by his dog.

Here is my legal opinion, Arthur is liable for damages caused by his


dog even after considering his defensive arguments. This case is a clear
example of a quasi-delict. The Civil Code provides that “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
and is governed by the provisions of this Chapter.”1

Arthur’s cautiousness of placing a warning sign does not relieve him


from liability. “The possessor of an animal or whoever may make use of the
same is responsible for the damage which it may cause, although it may
escape or be lost. This responsibility shall cease only in case the damages
should come from force majeure from the fault of the person who has
suffered damage.”2

On Arthur’s argument that the proximate cause of the injuries were


brought about by Mary’s negligence and your negligence as well for letting
her roam without being accompanied by any adult. But he’s also guilty of
negligence in leaving the gate unlocked before napping. Both scenarios are
governed by the Civil Code that provides “when the plaintiff’s own
negligence was the immediate and proximate cause of his injury, he cannot
recover damages. But if his negligence was only contributory, the
immediate and proximate cause of the injury being the defendant’s lack of
due care, the plaintiff may recover damages, but the courts shall mitigate
the damages to be awarded.”3

In the case of Jarco Marketing Corporation v. Court of Appeals the


court ruled that “a child under nine years of age must be conclusively
presumed incapable of contributory negligence as a matter of law”4, this
jurisprudence covers Mary which exempts her for a contributory
negligence. Additionally, the ruling in Umali v. Bacani provides that
“parental negligence in allowing a young child to go out of the house alone
may at most qualify as contributory negligence” 5 and as such would be
covered by the second sentence of Article 2179.”

1
Civil Code of the Philippines, Art. 2176
2
Ibid, Art. 2183
3
Ibid, Art. 2179
4
G.R. No. 129792, 321 SCRA 375
5
G.R. No. L-40570, 69 SCRA 263
Therefore, Arthur is liable for damages, being the owner of the dog
that attacked Mary, taking into consideration all his defensive arguments.
Arthur’s lack of due care for leaving the gate unlocked before taking a nap
is a clear negligence on his part. Mary, as a minor could possibly test the
gate several times and she wouldn’t be attacked only if the gate had been
closed. Arthur’s argument for paying all the medical bills will only mitigate
but not extinguish his liability. Said payment is not enough for it does not
cover moral damages that Mary is entitled according to Article 2219 (2) of
the Civil Code.

If you decided to bring this issue to court, I am confident that the


court will rule in your favor.

Respectfully yours,

Jan Rafael F. Paril