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NIKKO HOTEL MANILA GARDEN and RUBY LIM v.

ROBERTO REYES
2005 / Chico-Nazario / Petition for review on certiorari of CA decision and resolution
Defenses against charge of negligence > Plaintiff’s assumption of risk / v​ olenti non fit injuria
Cause of action was one for damages brought under the human relations provisions of NCC.

Roberto Reyes[1] said he was spotted by his friend Dr. Violeta Filart in the hotel lobby who approached him. She
invited him to join her in the GM’s birthday party at the penthouse. He carried Filart’s present—a basket of fruits.
When dinner was ready, Reyes lined up at the table but to his embarrassment, he was stopped by Ruby Lim (Hotel
Executive Secretary). In a loud voice and within the presence and hearing of other guests, Lim told him to
​ eyes tried to explain that he was invited by
leave—​huwag ka nang kumain, hindi ka imbitado, bumaba ka na lang. R
Dr. Filart, but the latter ignored him. He was escorted out by a police officer.
Ruby Lim said she was the hotel’s executive secretary for 20 years, and that she was tasked to organize the
GM’s birthday party. Mindful of the GM’s request to keep the party intimate, she requested 2 people to tell Reyes to
leave, but Reyes still lingered. She had the chance to talk to Reyes when he was starting to eat, so she told him,
Alam ninyo, hindi ho kayo dapat nandito. Pero total nakakuha na ho kayo ng pagkain, ubusin na lang ninyo at
pagkatapos kung pwede lang po umalis na kayo. ​Reyes made a scene by screaming and he threatened to dump
food on her.
Dr. Filart said Reyes volunteered to carry the basket of fruits as he was going to the elevator as well. When
they reached the penthouse, she told him to go down as he was not invited. She thought Reyes already left but she
saw him at the bar. When there was a commotion, she saw Reyes shouting, and she ignored him, as she did not
want the GM to think that she invited him.
Reyes claimed damages (1M actual damages, 1M moral and/or exemplary damages, 200k attorney’s fees).
RTC dismissed the complaint​, giving more credence to Lim’s testimony. RTC also said that Reyes assumed the
risk of being thrown out of the party as he was not invited. ​CA reversed RTC​, believing Reyes’ version of the facts.
Lim and Hotel Nikko contend that they cannot be made liable for damages under the doctrine of ​volenti non fit injuria
as Reyes assumed the risk of being asked to leave (and being embarrassed and humiliated in the process) as he
was a “gate-crasher.”

DOCTRINE OF ​VOLENTI NON FIT INJURIA ​DOES NOT FIND APPLICATION IN THIS CASE

● Volenti non fit injuria ​(to which a person assents is not esteemed in law as injury)—Self-inflicted injury or
consent to injury which precludes the recovery of damages by one who has knowingly and voluntarily
exposed himself to danger, even if he is not negligent in doing so

● Even if Reyes assumed the risk of being asked to leave the party, petitioners were still under obligation to
treat him fairly in order not to expose him to unnecessary ridicule and shame. [​NCC 19, 21​]

SC FINDS RTC’S FINDINGS OF FACT MORE CREDIBLE​—Lim did not abuse her right to ask Reyes to leave the
party as she talked to him politely and discreetly

● Lim, mindful of GM’s instruction to keep the party intimate, would naturally want to get rid of Reyes in the
most hush-hush manner so as not to call attention
● Reyes was not able to explain why Lim would make a scene; Reyes admitted that when Lim talked to him,
she was so close enough for him to kiss à unlikely that she would shout at him at such a close distance (SC
also noted the fact that she has been in the hotel business long enough as to imbibe virtues of politeness
and discreteness)

● Reyes was not able to present witnesses to back up his story; all his witnesses proved only that Filart invited
him to the party

LIM AND HOTEL NIKKO NOT LIABLE TO PAY FOR DAMAGES UNDER NCC 19 AND 21

● NCC 19 (principle of abuse of rights) is not a panacea for all human hurts and social grievances; NCC 19’s
object is to set certain standards which must be observed not only in the exercise of one’s rights but also in
the performance of one’s duties; its elements are the following:

○ Legal right or duty

○ Exercised in bad faith

○ For the sole ​intent​ of prejudicing or injuring another

● ​ nd has the following elements:


NCC 21 refers to acts ​contra bonus mores a

○ There is an act which is legal

○ But it is contrary to morals, good custom, public order, public policy

○ And it is done with ​intent​ to injure

● Common theme running through NCC 19 and 21–act must be INTENTIONAL

○ Reyes has not shown that Lim was driven by animosity against him; he had a lame argument: Lim,
being single at 44, had a very strong bias and prejudice against him possibly influenced by her
associates in her work at the hotel with foreign businessmen

○ Manner by which Lim asked Reyes to leave was acceptable and humane

Any damage which Reyes might have suffered through Lim’s exercise of a legitimate right done within the
bounds of propriety and good faith must be his to bear alone.

452 SCRA 532 – Civil Law – Human Relations – Abuse of Rights – Volenti Non Fit Injuria

One evening in October 1994, an exclusive party was being held at the Nikko Hotel Manila Garden. The party was being held for a
prominent Japanese national. The person in charge at the party was Ruby Lim who was also the executive secretary of the hotel.
Later during the party, she noticed Robert Reyes (popularly known as Amay Bisaya). Reyes was not on the list of exclusive guests.
Lim first tried to find out who invited Reyes to the party. When she ascertained that the host celebrant did not invite Reyes, Lim
approached Reyes and told the latter, in a discreet voice, to finish his food and leave the party. Reyes however made a scene and
began shouting at Lim. Later, a policeman was called to escort Reyes out of the party.

Reyes then sued Lim and Nikko Hotel Manila Garden for damages. In his version, he said that he was invited by another party
guest, Dr. Violeta Filart. He said that while he was queuing to get his food, Lim approached him and ordered him in a loud voice to
leave the party immediately. He told Lim he was invited by Dr. Filart however when he was calling for Dr. Filart the latter ignored
him. Later, he was escorted out of the party like a common criminal.

The trial court ruled in favor of Lim and Nikko Hotel. However, the Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Reyes as it ruled that Lim
abused her right and that Reyes deserved to be treated humanely and fairly. It is true that Lim had the right to ask Reyes to leave
the party but she should have done it respectfully.

ISSUE: Whether or not Lim acted with abuse of rights.

HELD: No. The Supreme Court found the version of Lim more credible. She has been employed by the hotel for more than 20 years
at that time. Her job requires her to be polite at all times. It is very unlikely for her to make a scene in the party she was managing.
That would only make her look bad.

Reyes based his complaint on Articles 19 and 21 of the Civil Code. Art. 19 which provides:

Every person must, in the exercise of his rights and in the performance of his duties, act with justice, give everyone his due, and
observe honesty and good faith.

was not violated by Lim as it appears that even Reyes testified in court that when Lim told him to leave, Lim did so very close to him
– so close that they could almost kiss. This only proves that Lim intended that only Reyes shall hear whatever is it that she’s going
to tell Reyes and exclude other guests from hearing.

Article 21 on the other hand is commonly known as ​contra bonus mores:​

Any person who willfully causes loss or injury to another in a manner that is contrary to morals, good customs or public policy shall
compensate the latter for the damage.

This article is likewise not violated. Lim, as proven by evidence on record, did not demean Reyes. They do not know each other
personally. She has no reason to treat him wrongfully especially so that Reyes himself is a prominent person.

On the other hand, Reyes brought whatever damage he incurred upon himself. Under the doctrine of ​volenti non fit injuria​, by
coming to the party uninvited, Reyes opens himself to the risk of being turned away, and thus being embarrassed. The injury he
incurred is thus self-inflicted. Evidence even shows that Dr. Filart herself denied inviting Reyes into the party and that Reyes simply
gate-crashed. Reyes did not even present any supporting evidence to support any of his claims. Since he brought injury upon
himself, neither Lim nor Nikko Hotel can be held liable for damages.