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IV. Burden of Proof 1997, at around 5:00 a.m.

, the said jitney figured in an accident at an


3. Doctrine of res ipsa loquitur intersection along Maharlika Highway, Barangay Bangyas, Calauan, Laguna,
as it collided with a JAM Transit passenger bus bound for Manila, bearing plate
3.a. Concept number DVG-557 and body number 8030. The bus was driven by Eddie
D. M. CONSUNJI, INC., petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and MARIA J. Dimayuga (Dimayuga).
JUEGO, respondents. At the time of the collision, Tan’s jitney was loaded with quail eggs and duck
At around 1:30 p.m., November 2, 1990, Jose Juego, a construction worker of eggs (balot and salted eggs). It was driven by Alexander M. Ramirez
D. M. Consunji, Inc., fell 14 floors from the Renaissance Tower, Pasig City to (Ramirez). Tan alleged that Dimayuga was reckless, negligent, imprudent, and
his death. not observing traffic rules and regulations, causing the bus to collide with the
As a rule of evidence, the doctrine of res ipsa loquituris peculiar to the law of
jitney which was then, with care and proper light direction signals, about to
negligence which recognizes that prima facie negligence may be established negotiate a left turn towards the feeder or barangay road of Barangay
without direct proof and furnishes a substitute for specific proof of Bangyas, Calauan, Laguna going to the Poblacion. The jitney turned turtle
negligence.20 along the shoulder of the road and the cargo of eggs was destroyed.
The concept of res ipsa loquitur has been explained in this wise: This rule is grounded on the superior logic of ordinary human experience, and
While negligence is not ordinarily inferred or presumed, and while the it is on the basis of such experience or common knowledge that negligence
mere happening of an accident or injury will not generally give rise to anmay be deduced from the mere occurrence of the accident itself. Hence, the
inference or presumption that it was due to negligence on defendant’s rule is applied in conjunction with the doctrine of common knowledge.8
part, under the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, which means, literally, theHowever, res ipsa loquitur is not a rule of substantive law and does not
thing or transaction speaks for itself, or in one jurisdiction, that the thing
constitute an independent or separate ground for liability. Instead, it is
or instrumentality speaks for itself, the facts or circumstances considered as merely evidentiary, a mode of proof, or a mere procedural
accompanying an injury may be such as to raise a presumption, or at convenience, since it furnishes a substitute for, and relieves a plaintiff of, the
least permit an inference of negligence on the part of the defendant, or burden of producing a specific proof of negligence. In other words, mere
some other person who is charged with negligence. invocation and application of the doctrine do not dispense with the requirement
x x x where it is shown that the thing or instrumentality which caused theof proof of negligence. It is simply a step in the process of such proof,
injury complained of was under the control or management of the permitting plaintiff to present, along with the proof of the accident, enough of
defendant, and that the occurrence resulting in the injury was such as in the attending circumstances to invoke the doctrine, creating an inference or
the ordinary course of things would not happen if those who had its presumption of negligence, and thereby placing on defendant the burden of
control or management used proper care, there is sufficient evidence, or, going forward with the proof.9 Still, before resort to the doctrine may be
as sometimes stated, reasonable evidence, in the absence of explanation allowed, the following requisites must be satisfactorily shown:
by the defendant, that the injury arose from or was caused by the 1. The accident is of a kind which ordinarily does not occur in the absence
defendant’s want of care.21 of someone’s negligence;
The CA held that all the requisites of res ipsa loquitur are present in the case 2. It is caused by an instrumentality within the exclusive control of the
at bar: defendant or defendants; and
There is no dispute that appellee’s husband fell down from the 14 th floor 3. The possibility of contributing conduct which would make the plaintiff
of a building to the basement while he was working with appellant’s responsible is eliminated.10
construction project, resulting to his death. The construction site is within
We cannot agree with the CA when it said that how the incident happened
the exclusive control and management of appellant. It has a safety could not be established, neither from the photographs offered in evidence in
engineer, a project superintendent, a carpenter leadman and others who favor of petitioner, nor from the Certification11 that quoted an excerpt from the
are in complete control of the situation therein. The circumstances of anyrecords on the Police Blotter of the Calauan Municipal Police Station. The CA,
accident that would occur therein are peculiarly within the knowledge of likewise, discounted the probative value of the Police Blotter because,
the appellant or its employees. On the other hand, the appellee is not in although prepared in the regular performance of official duty, it was not
a position to know what caused the accident. Res ipsa loquitur is a rule conclusive proof of the truth of its entries, since police blotters are usually
of necessity and it applies where evidence is absent or not readily incomplete and inaccurate; and sometimes based on partial suggestion,
available, provided the following requisites are present: (1) the accidentinaccurate reporting and hearsay.12
was of a kind which does not ordinarily occur unless someone is It is worth noting, however, that photographs are in the nature of physical
negligent; (2) the instrumentality or agency which caused the injury evidence13 -- a mute but eloquent manifestation of truth ranking high in the
was under the exclusive control of the person charged with hierarchy of trustworthy evidence.14 When duly verified and shown by extrinsic
negligence; and (3) the injury suffered must not have been due to evidence to be faithful representations of the subject as of the time in question,
any voluntary action or contribution on the part of the person they are, in the discretion of the trial court, admissible in evidence as aids in
injured. x x x. arriving at an understanding of the evidence, the situation or condition of
No worker is going to fall from the 14th floor of a building to the basement
objects or premises, or the circumstances of an accident.15
while performing work in a construction site unless someone is Whenever an employee’s negligence causes damage or injury to another,
negligent[;] thus, the first requisite for the application of the rule of res
there instantly arises a presumption juris tantum that the employer failed to
ipsa loquitur is present. As explained earlier, the construction site with all
exercise diligentissimi patris families in the section (culpa in eligiendo) or
its paraphernalia and human resources that likely caused the injury is supervision (culpa in vigilando) of its employees.27 To avoid liability for a quasi-
under the exclusive control and management of appellant[;] thus[,] the delict committed by its employee, an employer must overcome the
second requisite is also present. No contributory negligence was presumption, by presenting convincing proof that he exercised the care and
attributed to the appellee’s deceased husband[;] thus[,] the last requisite
diligence of a good father of a family in the selection and supervision of his
is also present. All the requisites for the application of the rule of res ipsa
employee.28
loquitur are present, thus a reasonable presumption or inference of In this case, aside from the testimony of Dimayuga, JAM did not present any
appellant’s negligence arises. x x x.24 other evidence, whether documentary or testimonial, in its favor. Inevitably,
The presumption or inference may be rebutted or overcome by other evidence the presumption of its negligence as Dimayuga’s employer stands and it is,
and, under appropriate circumstances disputable presumption, such as that of thus, solidarily liable for the damages sustained by petitioner.
due care or innocence, may outweigh the inference.27 It is not for the defendant
to explain or prove its defense to prevent the presumption or inference from
arising. Evidence by the defendant of say, due care, comes into play only after
4. Instances where negligence is presumed
the circumstances for the application of the doctrine has been 4.i. In motor vehicle mishap
established.1âwphi1.nêt Liability of owner
Regrettably, petitioner does not cite any other evidence to rebut the inference MARCIAL T. CAEDO, JUANA SANGALANG CAEDO, and the Minors,
or presumption of negligence arising from the application of res ipsa loquitur, EPHRAIM CAEDO, EILEEN CAEDO, ROSE ELAINE CAEDO, suing
or to establish any defense relating to the incident. through their father, MARCIAL T. CAEDO, as guardian ad litem, plaintiffs-
appellants, vs. YU KHE THAI and RAFAEL BERNARDO, defendants-
3.b. Requisites of application appellants.
LUZ PALANCA TAN, Petitioner, vs. JAM TRANSIT, INC., Respondent. The mishap occurred at about 5:30 in the morning of March 24, 1958 on
In her Complaint, petitioner Luz Palanca Tan (Tan) alleged that she was the Highway 54 (now E. de los Santos Avenue) in the vicinity of San Lorenzo
owner of a passenger-type jitney with plate number DKF-168. On March 14, Village. Marcial was driving his Mercury car on his way from his home in
Quezon City to the airport, where his son Ephraim was scheduled to take a is not necessarily so on the part, say, of an old and infirm person who is not
plane for Mindoro. With them in the car were Mrs. Caedo and three daughters. similarly equipped.
Coming from the opposite direction was the Cadillac of Yu Khe Thai, with his
driver Rafael Bernardo at the wheel, taking the owner from his Parañaque DE LEON BROKERAGE CO., INC., petitioner, vs. THE COURT OF
home to Wack Wack for his regular round of golf. The two cars were traveling APPEALS and ANGELINE STEEN, respondents.
at fairly moderate speeds, considering the condition of the road and the The awards were for injuries said respondent suffered as a result of the
absence of traffic — the Mercury at 40 to 50 kilometers per hour, and the collision between the passenger jeepney in which she was riding, and
Cadillac at approximately 30 to 35 miles (48 to 56 kilometers). Their headlights petitioner's cargo truck reclessly driven by its employee, Luna, and for which
were mutually noticeable from a distance. Ahead of the Cadillac, going in the the latter had been prosecuted and convicted of the crime of homicide with
same direction, was a caretella owned by a certain Pedro Bautista. physical injuries thru reckless imprudence.In the criminal action against Luna
The carretela was towing another horse by means of a short rope coiled (and the driver of the passenger jeepney, who was, however, acquitted),
around the rig's vertical post on the right side and held at the other end by respondent had reserved her right to file a separate civil action.
Pedro's son, Julian Bautista. After a judgment of conviction had been rendered, respondent filed in the court
Rafael Bernardo testified that he was almost upon the rig when he saw it in of first instance of Manila, an action for recovery of damages against Luna and
front of him, only eight meters away. This is the first clear indication of his petitioner. As proof of Luna's negligence, she presented during the hearing the
negligence. The carretela was provided with two lights, one on each side, and judgment of conviction in the criminal case, Exh. B; and likewise established
they should have given him sufficient warning to take the necessary her claim for actual, moral and exemplary damages. Defendants, that is, Luna
precautions. And even if he did not notice the lights, as he claimed later on at and petitioner, sought to prove by means of the former's testimony that he was
the trial, the carretela should anyway have been visible to him from afar if he not engaged in the performance of his duties at the time of the accident.
had been careful, as it must have been in the beam of his headlights for a The court of origin and the appellate court correctly considered respondent's
considerable while. complaint to be based on a quasidelict. She alleged that she suffered unjuries
In the meantime the Mercury was coming on its own lane from the opposite because of the carelessness and imprudence of petitioner's chauffeur who
direction. Bernardo, instead of slowing down or stopping altogether behind was driving the cargo truck TH-776 belonging to petitioner,which truck collided
the carretela until that lane was clear, veered to the left in order to pass. As he with the passenger jeepney wherein she was riding. Since averment had been
did so the curved end of his car's right rear bumper caught the forward rim of made of the employer-employee relationship and of the damages caused by
the rig's left wheel, wrenching it off and carrying it along as the car skidded the employee on occasion of his function, there is a clear statement of a right
obliquely to the other lane, where it collided with the oncoming vehicle. On his of action under Article 2180 of the Civil Code. The complaint does not, and did
part Caedo had seen the Cadillac on its own lane; he slackened his speed, not have to allege that petitioner did not exercise due deligence in choosing
judged the distances in relation to the carretela and concluded that the and supervising Luna, because this is a matter of defense.
Cadillac would wait behind. Bernardo, however, decided to take a gamble — Contrary to petitioner's view, respondent is holding it liable for its own lack of
beat the Mercury to the point where it would be in line with the carretela, or car. Her allegation "that the acts of the defendants above described
else squeeze in between them in any case. It was a risky maneuver either consitutute gross negligence and recklessness", plainly refers to petitioner's
way, and the risk should have been quite obvious. Or, since the car was act of employing Luna as driver of its cargo truck, and to Luna's careless
moving at from 30 to 35 miles per hour (or 25 miles according to Yu Khe Thai) manner of driving it.
it was already too late to apply the brakes when Bernardo saw Respondent neither had to wait for the termination of the criminal proceeding
the carretela only eight meters in front of him, and so he had to swerve to the nor to reserve in the same her right to file a separate civil action.1 She waited
left in spite of the presence of the oncoming car on the opposite lane. As it for the results of the criminal action because she wanted to be sure which
was, the clearance Bernardo gave for his car's right side was insufficient. Its driver and respective employer she could rightly sue, since both Luna and the
rear bumper, as already stated, caught the wheel of the carretela and driver of the passenger jeepney were prosecuted. An she reserved because
wrenched it loose. Caedo, confronted with the unexpected situation, tried to otherwise, the court in the criminal proceeding would have awarded her
avoid the collision at the last moment by going farther to the right, but was indemnity, since the civil action for recovery of civil liablity arising from the
unsuccessful. offense is deemed instuted with the criminal action.2 In such event, she would
There is no doubt at all that the collision was directly traceable to Rafael no longer be able to file the separate civil action contemplated by the civil code,
Bernardo's negligence and that he must be held liable for the damages not because of failure to reserve the same but because she would have
suffered by the plaintiffs. The next question is whether or not Yu Khe Thai, as already received indemnity forher injuries.3
owner of the Cadillac, is solidarily liable with the driver. The applicable law is However, it seems that petitioner understood quite well that it was being held
Article 2184 of the Civil Code, which reads: liablie under the civil code. In its answer, it alleged as an affirmative defense
Negligence on the part of the latter, if any, must be sought in the immediate that in the selection and supervision of its employees and drivers, it had
setting and circumstances of the accident, that is, in his failure to detain the exercised the diligence of a good father of a family — a defense available only
driver from pursuing a course which not only gave him clear notice of the to an employer being sued for a quasi-delict. Petitioner arques that, not
danger but also sufficient time to act upon it. We do not see that such knowing the nature of respondent's action and deciding to play it safe,it put up
negligence may be imputed. The car, as has been stated, was not running at defense both against a suit for quasi-delict and against an action for civil
an unreasonable speed. The road was wide and open, and devoid of traffic liability arising from crime. Yet,it did not aver that the complaint failed to alleged
that early morning. There was no reason for the car owner to be in any special that its employee was insolvent — the defense consistent with an action
state of alert. He had reason to rely on the skill and experience of his driver. against an employer for subsidiary liabilityunder the criminal code. What it
He became aware of the presence of thecarretela when his car was only alleged was that the complaint failed to state a cause of action as against
twelve meters behind it, but then his failure to see it earlier did not constitute it,which could nt be sustained since the complaint sufficientlyalleges an action
negligence, for he was not himself at the wheel. And even when he did see it based on quasi-delict and the court could validly have granted respondent's
at that distance, he could not have anticipated his driver's sudden decision to prayer for relief.4
pass the carretela on its left side in spite of the fact that another car was Considering that the judgment of conviction, Exh. B,had been admitted without
approaching from the opposite direction. The time element was such that there objection, its competency can no longer be questioned on appeal. 5 It
was no reasonable opportunity for Yu Khe Thai to assess the risks involved established the fact of Luna's negligence, giving rise to the presumption that
and warn the driver accordingly. The thought that entered his mind, he said, petitioner had been negligent in the selection and supervision of its
was that if he sounded a sudden warning it might only make the other man employees.6 And petitioner failed to prove that it had exercised such requisite
nervous and make the situation worse. It was a thought that, wise or not, care and deligence as would relieve it from responsibility.
connotes no absence of that due diligence required by law to prevent the But, was Luna in the performance of his duties at the time of the colision? He
misfortune. testified that on the day of the accident he had been instructed to go to
The test of imputed negligence under Article 2184 of the Civil Code is, to a Pampanga, from there to proceed to Nueva Ecija, but that after unloading his
great degree, necessarily subjective. Car owners are not held to a uniform and cargo in Pampanga, he at once returned to Manila.However, his reason for
inflexible standard of diligence as are professional drivers. In many cases they immediately returning to Manilais not clear. He could have returned for
refrain from driving their own cars and instead hire other persons to drive for purposes of repair. It does not appear that he was on an errand of his own. In
them precisely because they are not trained or endowed with sufficient the absence of determinative proof that the deviation as so complete as would
discernment to know the rules of traffic or to appreciate the relative dangers constitute a cessation orsuspension of his service, petitioner should be held
posed by the different situations that are continually encountered on the road. liable,7 In fact, the Court of Appeals disbelieved the alleged violation of
What would be a negligent omission under aforesaid Article on the part of a instructions.
car owner who is in the prime of age and knows how to handle a motor vehicle
Since both Luna and petitioner are responsible for the quasi-delict, their liablity courts agreed that the motorist himself caused the collision with his own
is solidary8, although the latter can recover from the former whatever sums it negligence. The facts are deceptively simple, but the resolution entails
pays to respondent.9 thorough consideration of fundamental precepts on negligence.
costs.
Aonuevo claims that Villagracia violated traffic regulations when he failed to
4.ii. If driver was violating traffic regulation register his bicycle or install safety gadgets thereon. He posits that Article 2185
Need to establish causal connection of the New Civil Code applies by analogy.
TISON VS. POMASIN 173180 AUGUST 24, 2011
Two vehicles, a tractor-trailer and a jitney,[1] figured in a vehicular mishap But this is by no means a simple case. There is the fact which we consider as
along Maharlika Highway in Barangay Agos, Polangui, Albay last 12 August proven, that Aonuevo was speeding as he made the left turn, and such
1994. Laarni Pomasin (Laarni) was driving the jitney towards the direction of negligent act was the proximate cause of the accident. This reckless behavior
Legaspi City while the tractor-trailer, driven by Claudio Jabon (Jabon), was would have imperiled anyone unlucky enough within the path of Aonuevos car
traversing the opposite lane going towards Naga City.[2] as it turned into the intersection, whether they are fellow motorists,
pedestrians, or cyclists. We are hard put to conclude that Villagracia would
Going downward, the jitney had the tendency to accelerate. The fall into the have avoided injury had his bicycle been up to par with safety regulations,
shoulder of the road can result in the loss of control of the jitney, which explains especially considering that Aonuevo was already speeding as he made the
why it was running in a zigzag manner before it hit the tractor-trailer. turn, or before he had seen Villagracia. Even assuming that Aonuevo had
failed to see Villagracia because the bicycle was not equipped with headlights,
There was no showing that the tractor-trailer was speeding. There is a such lapse on the cyclists part would not have acquitted the driver of his duty
preponderance of evidence that the tractor-trailer was in fact ascending. to slow down as he proceeded to make the left turn.
Considering its size and the weight of the tractor-trailer, its speed could not be
more than that of a fully loaded jitney which was running downhill in a This court has appreciated that negligence per se, arising from the mere
zigzagging manner. violation of a traffic statute, need not be sufficient in itself in establishing liability
Neither can it be inferred that Jabon was negligent. In hindsight, it can be for damages.
argued that Jabon should have swerved to the right upon seeing the jitney
zigzagging before it collided with the tractor-trailer. Accidents, though, happen The rule on negligence per se must admit qualifications that may arise from
in an instant, and, understandably in this case, leaving the driver without the logical consequences of the facts leading to the mishap. The doctrine (and
sufficient time and space to maneuver a vehicle the size of a tractor-trailer Article 2185, for that matter) is undeniably useful as a judicial guide in
uphill and away from collision with the jitney oncoming downhill. adjudging liability, for it seeks to impute culpability arising from the failure of
the actor to perform up to a standard established by a legal fiat. But the
Clearly, the negligence of Gregorios daughter, Laarni was the proximate doctrine should not be rendered inflexible so as to deny relief when in fact
cause of the accident. there is no causal relation between the statutory violation and the injury
sustained. Presumptions in law, while convenient, are not intractable so as to
Driving without a proper license is a violation of traffic regulation. Under Article forbid rebuttal rooted in fact. After all, tort law is remunerative in spirit, aiming
2185 of the Civil Code, the legal presumption of negligence arises if at the time to provide compensation for the harm suffered by those whose interests have
of the mishap, a person was violating any traffic regulation. However, in been invaded owing to the conduct of others.[44]
Sanitary Steam Laundry, Inc. v. Court of Appeals,[27] we held that a causal
connection must exist between the injury received and the violation of the Under American case law, the failures imputed on Villagracia are not grievous
traffic regulation. It must be proven that the violation of the traffic regulation enough so as to negate monetary relief. In the absence of statutory
was the proximate or legal cause of the injury or that it substantially contributed requirement, one is not negligent as a matter of law for failing to equip a horn,
thereto. Negligence, consisting in whole or in part, of violation of law, like any bell, or other warning devise onto a bicycle.[45] In most cases, the absence of
other negligence, is without legal consequence unless it is a contributing proper lights on a bicycle does not constitute negligence as a matter of law[46]
cause of the injury.[28] Likewise controlling is our ruling in Aonuevo v. Court but is a question for the jury whether the absence of proper lights played a
of Appeals[29] where we reiterated that negligence per se, arising from the causal part in producing a collision with a motorist.[47] The absence of proper
mere violation of a traffic statute, need not be sufficient in itself in establishing lights on a bicycle at night, as required by statute or ordinance, may constitute
liability for damages. In said case, Aonuevo, who was driving a car, did not negligence barring or diminishing recovery if the bicyclist is struck by a motorist
attempt to establish a causal connection between the safety violations imputed as long as the absence of such lights was a proximate cause of the
to the injured cyclist, and the accident itself. Instead, he relied on a putative collision;[48] however, the absence of such lights will not preclude or diminish
presumption that these violations in themselves sufficiently established recovery if the scene of the accident was well illuminated by street lights,[49]
negligence appreciable against the cyclist. Since the onus on Aonuevo is to if substitute lights were present which clearly rendered the bicyclist visible,[50]
conclusively prove the link between the violations and the accident, we can if the motorist saw the bicycle in spite of the absence of lights thereon,[51] or
deem him as having failed to discharge his necessary burden of proving the if the motorist would have been unable to see the bicycle even if it had been
cyclists own liability.[30] We took the occasion to state that: equipped with lights.[52] A bicycle equipped with defective or ineffective
brakes may support a finding of negligence barring or diminishing recovery by
The rule on negligence per se must admit qualifications that may arise from an injured bicyclist where such condition was a contributing cause of the
the logical consequences of the facts leading to the mishap. The doctrine (and accident.[53]
Article 2185, for that matter) is undeniably useful as a judicial guide in
adjudging liability, for it seeks to impute culpability arising from the failure of The above doctrines reveal a common thread. The failure of the bicycle owner
the actor to perform up to a standard established by a legal fiat. But the to comply with accepted safety practices, whether or not imposed by
doctrine should not be rendered inflexible so as to deny relief when in fact ordinance or statute, is not sufficient to negate or mitigate recovery unless a
there is no causal relation between the statutory violation and the injury causal connection is established between such failure and the injury
sustained. Presumptions in law, while convenient, are not intractable so as to sustained.
forbid rebuttal rooted in fact. After all, tort law is remunerative in spirit, aiming
to provide compensation for the harm suffered by those whose interests have 4.iv. Driver of vehicles who bump rear of another vehicle
been invaded owing to the conduct of other.[31] EDNA A. RAYNERA, for herself and on behalf of the minors RIANNA and
REIANNE RAYNERA, petitioners, vs. FREDDIE HICETA and JIMMY
In the instant case, no causal connection was established between the tractor- ORPILLA, respondents.
trailer drivers restrictions on his license to the vehicular collision. Furthermore, The case is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision of the Court
Jabon was able to sufficiently explain that the Land Transportation Office of Appeals,[1] reversing that of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 45, Manila.[2]
merely erred in not including restriction code 8 in his license. The rule is well-settled that factual findings of the Court of Appeals are
generally considered final and may not be reviewed on appeal. However, this
JONAS AONUEVO, petitioner vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS and principle admits of certain exceptions, among which is when the findings of the
JEROME VILLAGRACIA, respondent appellate court are contrary to those of the trial court, a re-examination of the
The present petition seeks to bar recovery by an injured cyclist of damages facts and evidence may be undertaken.[3] This case falls under the cited
from the driver of the car which had struck him. The argument is hinged on the exception.
cyclists failure to install safety devices on his bicycle. However, the lower The antecedent facts are as follows:
Petitioner Edna A. Raynera was the widow of Reynaldo Raynera and (a) P33,412.00, actually spent for funeral services, interment and memorial lot;
the mother and legal guardian of the minors Rianna and Reianne, both (b) P20,000.00 as attorneys fees;
surnamed Raynera. Respondents Freddie Hiceta and Jimmy Orpilla were the (c) cost of suit.
owner and driver, respectively, of an Isuzu truck-trailer, with plate No. NXC SO ORDERED.[20]
848, involved in the accident. On January 10, 1992, respondents Hiceta and Orpilla appealed to the
On March 23, 1989, at about 2:00 in the morning, Reynaldo Raynera Court of Appeals.[21]
was on his way home. He was riding a motorcycle traveling on the southbound After due proceedings, on April 28, 1995, the Court of Appeals rendered
lane of East Service Road, Cupang, Muntinlupa. The Isuzu truck was travelling decision setting aside the appealed decision. The appellate court held that
ahead of him at 20 to 30 kilometers per hour.[4] The truck was loaded with two Reynaldo Rayneras bumping into the left rear portion of the truck was the
(2) metal sheets extended on both sides, two (2) feet on the left and three (3) proximate cause of his death,[22] and consequently, absolved respondents
feet on the right. There were two (2) pairs of red lights, about 35 watts each, from liability.
on both sides of the metal plates.[5] The asphalt road was not well lighted. Hence, this petition for review on certiorari.
At some point on the road, Reynaldo Raynera crashed his motorcycle In this petition, the heirs of Reynaldo Raynera contend that the
into the left rear portion of the truck trailer, which was without tail lights. Due appellate court erred in: (1) overturning the trial courts finding that respondents
to the collision, Reynaldo sustained head injuries and truck helper Geraldino negligent operation of the Isuzu truck was the proximate cause of the victims
D. Lucelo[6] rushed him to the Paraaque Medical Center. Upon arrival at the death; (2) applying the doctrine of last clear chance; (3) setting aside the trial
hospital, the attending physician, Dr. Marivic Aguirre,[7] pronounced Reynaldo courts award of actual and compensatory damages.
Raynera dead on arrival. The issues presented are (a) whether respondents were negligent, and
At the time of his death, Reynaldo was manager of the Engineering if so, (b) whether such negligence was the proximate cause of the death
Department, Kawasaki Motors (Phils.) Corporation. He was 32 years old, had of Reynaldo Raynera.
a life expectancy of sixty five (65) years, and an annual net earnings of not Petitioners maintain that the proximate cause of Reynaldo Rayneras
less than seventy three thousand five hundred (P73,500.00) pesos,[8] with a death was respondents negligence in operating the truck trailer on the highway
potential increase in annual net earnings of not less than ten percent (10%) of without tail lights and license plate.
his salary.[9] The Court finds no reason to disturb the factual findings of the Court of
On May 12, 1989, the heirs of the deceased demanded[10] from Appeals.
respondents payment of damages arising from the death of Reynaldo Negligence is the omission to do something which a reasonable man,
Raynera as a result of the vehicular accident. The respondents refused to pay guided by those considerations which ordinarily regulate the conduct of human
the claims. affairs, would do, or the doing of something, which a prudent and reasonable
On September 13, 1989, petitioners filed with the Regional Trial Court, man would not do.[23]
Manila[11] a complaint[12] for damages against respondents owner and driver of Proximate cause is that cause, which, in natural and continuous
the Isuzu truck. sequence, unbroken by any efficient intervening cause, produces the injury,
In their complaint against respondents, petitioners sought recovery of and without which the result would not have occurred.[24]
damages for the death of Reynaldo Raynera caused by the negligent During the trial, it was established that the truck had no tail lights. The
operation of the truck-trailer at nighttime on the highway, without tail lights. photographs taken of the scene of the accident showed that there were no tail
In their answer filed on April 4, 1990, respondents alleged that the truck lights or license plates installed on the Isuzu truck. Instead, what were installed
was travelling slowly on the service road, not parked improperly at a dark were two (2) pairs of lights on top of the steel plates, and one (1) pair of lights
portion of the road, with no tail lights, license plate and early warning device. in front of the truck. With regard to the rear of the truck, the photos taken and
At the trial, petitioners presented Virgilio Santos. He testified that at the sketch in the spot report proved that there were no tail lights.
about 1:00 and 2:00 in the morning of March 23, 1989, he and his wife went Despite the absence of tail lights and license plate, respondents truck
to Alabang market, on board a tricycle. They passed by the service road going was visible in the highway. It was traveling at a moderate speed,
south, and saw a parked truck trailer, with its hood open and without tail approximately 20 to 30 kilometers per hour. It used the service road, instead
lights. They would have bumped the truck but the tricycle driver was quick in of the highway, because the cargo they were hauling posed a danger to
avoiding a collision. The place was dark, and the truck had no early warning passing motorists. In compliance with the Land Transportation Traffic Code
device to alert passing motorists.[13] (Republic Act No. 4136)[25] respondents installed 2 pairs of lights on top of the
On the other hand, respondents presented truck helper Geraldino steel plates, as the vehicles cargo load extended beyond the bed or body
Lucelo.[14] He testified that at the time the incident happened, the truck was thereof.
slowly traveling at approximately 20 to 30 kilometers per hour. Another We find that the direct cause of the accident was the negligence of the
employee of respondents, auto-mechanic Rogoberto Reyes,[15] testified that victim. Traveling behind the truck, he had the responsibility of avoiding
at about 3:00 in the afternoon of March 22, 1989, with the help of Lucelo, he bumping the vehicle in front of him. He was in control of the situation. His
installed two (2) pairs of red lights, about 30 to 40 watts each, on both sides motorcycle was equipped with headlights to enable him to see what was in
of the steel plates.[16] On his part, traffic investigation officer Cpl. Virgilio del front of him. He was traversing the service road where the prescribed speed
Monte[17] admitted that these lights were visible at a distance of 100 meters. limit was less than that in the highway.
On December 19, 1991, the trial court rendered decision in favor of Traffic investigator Cpl. Virgilio del Monte testified that two pairs of 50-
petitioners. It found respondents Freddie Hiceta and Jimmy Orpilla negligent watts bulbs were on top of the steel plates, [26] which were visible from a
in view of these circumstances: (1) the truck trailer had no license plate and distance of 100 meters.[27] Virgilio Santos admitted that from the tricycle where
tail lights; (2) there were only two pairs of red lights, 50 watts[18] each, on both he was on board, he saw the truck and its cargo of iron plates from a distance
sides of the steel plates; and (3) the truck trailer was improperly parked in a of ten (10) meters.[28] In light of these circumstances, an accident could have
dark area. been easily avoided, unless the victim had been driving too fast and did not
The trial court held that respondents negligence was the immediate and exercise due care and prudence demanded of him under the circumstances.
proximate cause of Reynaldo Rayneras death, for which they are jointly and Virgilio Santos testimony strengthened respondents defense that it was
severally liable to pay damages to petitioners. The trial court also held that the the victim who was reckless and negligent in driving his motorcycle at high
victim was himself negligent, although this was insufficient to overcome speed. The tricycle where Santos was on board was not much different from
respondents negligence. The trial court applied the doctrine of contributory the victims motorcycle that figured in the accident. Although Santos claimed
negligence[19] and reduced the responsibility of respondents by 20% on the tricycle almost bumped into the improperly parked truck, the tricycle driver
account of the victims own negligence. was able to avoid hitting the truck.
The dispositive portion of the lower courts decision reads as follows: It has been said that drivers of vehicles who bump the rear of another
All things considered, the Court is of the opinion that it is fair and reasonable vehicle are presumed to be the cause of the accident, unless contradicted by
to fix the living and other expenses of the deceased the sum of P54,000.00 a other evidence.[29] The rationale behind the presumption is that the driver of
year or about P4,500.00 a month (P150.00 p/d) and that, consequently, the the rear vehicle has full control of the situation as he is in a position to observe
loss or damage sustained by the plaintiffs may be estimated at P1,674,000.00 the vehicle in front of him.
for the 31 years of Reynaldo Rayneras life expectancy.
Taking into account the cooperative negligence of the deceased Reynaldo
Raynera, the Court believes that the demand of substantial justice are satisfied
by allocating the damages on 80-20 ratio. Thus, P1,337,200.00 shall be paid
by the defendants with interest thereon, at the legal rate, from date of decision,
as damages for the loss of earnings. To this sum, the following shall be added: