a collections of case digests and laws that can help aspiring law students to become a lawyer.
At about 1:30 a.m. on November 15, 1975, private respondent Leonardo Dionisio was on his way home from cocktails and dinner meeting with his boss. He was proceeding down General Lacuna Street when he saw a Ford dump truck parked askew, partly blocking the way of oncoming traffic, with no lights or early warning reflector devices. The truck was driven earlier by Armando Carbonel, a regular driver of the petitioner company. Dionisio tried to swerve his car to the left, but it was too late. He suffered some physical injuries and nervous breakdown. Dionision filed an action for damages against Carbonel and Phoenix Insurance. Petitioners countered the claim by imputing the accident to respondent’s own negligence in driving at high speed without curfew pass and headlights, and while intoxicated. The trial court and the Court of Appeals ruled in favor of private respondent.
Whether the collision was brought about by the way the truck was parked, or by respondent’s own negligence
We find that private respondent Dionisio was unable to prove possession of a valid curfew pass during the night of the accident and that the preponderance of evidence shows that he did not have such a pass during that night. It is the petitioners' contention that Dionisio purposely shut off his headlights even before he reached the intersection so as not to be detected by the police in the police precinct which he (being a resident in the area) knew was not far away from the intersection. We believe that the petitioners' theory is a more credible explanation than that offered by private respondent Dionisio, i.e., that he had his headlights on but that, at the crucial moment, these had in some mysterious if convenient way malfunctioned and gone off, although he succeeded in switching his lights on again at "bright" split seconds before contact with the dump truck. We do not believe that this evidence is sufficient to show that Dionisio was so heavily under the influence of liquor as to constitute his driving a motor vehicle per se an act of reckless imprudence. The conclusion we draw from the factual circumstances outlined above is that private respondent Dionisio was negligent the night of the accident. He was hurrying home that night and driving faster than he should have been. Worse, he extinguished his headlights at or near the intersection of General Lacuna and General Santos Streets and thus did not see the dump truck that was parked askew and sticking out onto the road lane.
Nonetheless, we agree with the Court of First Instance and the Intermediate Appellate Court that the legal and proximate cause of the accident and of Dionisio's injuries was the wrongful or negligent manner in which the dump truck was parked in other words, the negligence of petitioner Carbonel. The collision of Dionisio's car with the dump truck was a natural and foreseeable consequence of the truck driver's negligence.
The distinctions between "cause" and "condition" which the 'petitioners would have us adopt have already been "almost entirely discredited. If the defendant has created only a passive static condition which made the damage possible, the defendant is said not to be liable. But so far as the fact of causation is concerned, in the sense of necessary antecedents which have played an important part in producing the result it is quite impossible to distinguish between active forces and passive situations, particularly since, as is invariably the case, the latter are the result of other active forces which have gone before. Even the lapse of a considerable time during which the "condition" remains static will not necessarily affect liability. "Cause" and "condition" still find occasional mention in the decisions; but the distinction is now almost entirely discredited. So far as it has any validity at all, it must refer to the type of case where the forces set in operation by the defendant have come to rest in a position of apparent safety, and some new force intervenes. But even in such cases, it is not the distinction between "cause" and "condition" which is important but the nature of the risk and the character of the intervening cause.
We believe, secondly, that the truck driver's negligence far from being a "passive and static condition" was rather an indispensable and efficient cause. The improper parking of the dump truck created an unreasonable risk of injury for anyone driving down General Lacuna Street and for having so created this risk, the truck driver must be held responsible. In our view, Dionisio's negligence, although later in point of time than the truck driver's negligence and therefore closer to the accident, was not an efficient intervening or independent cause.
The defendant cannot be relieved from liability by the fact that the risk or a substantial and important part of the risk, to which the defendant has subjected the plaintiff has indeed come to pass. Foreseeable intervening forces are within the scope original risk, and hence of the defendant's negligence. The courts are quite generally agreed that intervening causes which fall fairly in this category will not supersede the defendant's responsibility. Thus, a defendant who blocks the sidewalk and forces the plaintiff to walk in a street where the plaintiff will be exposed to the risks of heavy traffic becomes liable when the plaintiff is run down by a car, even though the car is negligently driven; and one who parks an automobile on the highway without lights at night is not relieved of responsibility when another negligently drives into it. We hold that private respondent Dionisio's negligence was "only contributory," that the "immediate and proximate cause" of the injury remained the truck driver's "lack of due care" and that consequently respondent Dionisio may recover damages though such damages are subject to mitigation by the courts.
Petitioners also ask us to apply what they refer to as the "last clear chance" doctrine. The common law notion of last clear chance permitted courts to grant recovery to a plaintiff who had also been negligent provided that the defendant had the last clear chance to avoid the casualty and failed to do so. Accordingly, it is difficult to see what role, if any, the common law last clear chance doctrine has to play in a jurisdiction where the common law concept of contributory negligence as an absolute bar to recovery by the plaintiff, has itself been rejected, as it has been in Article 2179 of the Civil Code of the Philippines. Under Article 2179, the task of a court, in technical terms, is to determine whose negligence - the plaintiff's or the defendant's - was the legal or proximate cause of the injury. The relative location in the continuum of time of the plaintiff's and the defendant's negligent acts or omissions, is only one of the relevant factors that may be taken into account. Of more fundamental importance are the nature of the negligent act or omission of each party and the character and gravity of the risks created by such act or omission for the rest of the community. Our law on quasi-delicts seeks to reduce the risks and burdens of living in society and to allocate them among the members of society. To accept the petitioners' pro-position must tend to weaken the very bonds of society.
We believe that the demands of substantial justice are satisfied by allocating most of the damages on a 20-80 ratio. Thus, 20% of the damages awarded by the respondent appellate court, except the award of P10,000.00 as exemplary damages and P4,500.00 as attorney's fees and costs, shall be borne by private respondent Dionisio; only the balance of 80% needs to be paid by petitioners Carbonel and Phoenix who shall be solidarity liable therefor to the former. The award of exemplary damages and attorney's fees and costs shall be borne exclusively by the petitioners. Phoenix is of course entitled to reimbursement from Carbonel. We see no sufficient reason for disturbing the reduced award of damages made by the respondent appellate court.
On January 20, 1915, Jose Cangco was riding the train of Manila Railroad Co (MRC). He was an employee of the latter and he was given a pass so that he could ride the train for free. When he was nearing his destination at about 7pm, he arose from his seat even though the train was not at full stop. When he was about to alight from the train (which was still slightly moving) he accidentally stepped on a sack of watermelons which he failed to notice due to the fact that it was dim. This caused him to lose his balance at the door and he fell and his arm was crushed by the train and he suffered other serious injuries. He was dragged a few meters more as the train slowed down.
It was established that the employees of MRC were negligent in piling the sacks of watermelons. MRC raised as a defense the fact that Jose Cangco was also negligent as he failed to exercise diligence in alighting from the train as he did not wait for it to stop.
Whether or not Manila Railroad Co is liable for damages.
Yes. Alighting from a moving train while it is slowing down is a common practice and a lot of people are doing so every day without suffering injury. Jose Cangco has the vigor and agility of young manhood, and it was by no means so risky for him to get off while the train was still moving as the same act would have been in an aged or feeble person. He was also ignorant of the fact that sacks of watermelons were there as there were no appropriate warnings, and the place was dimly lit.
The Court also elucidated on the distinction between the liability of employers under Article 2180 and their liability for breach of contract [of carriage].
Petitioner Hedy Gan was driving along North Bay Boulevard on July 4, 1972. There were 2 vehicles parked on the right side of the road. As the petitioner approached the place where the vehicles were parked, a vehicle from the opposite direction tried to overtake another vehicle and encroached the lane of her car. To avoid collision, the petitioner swerved to the right and hit a pedestrian. The pedestrian was pinned to the rear of the parked jeepney and died on arrival to the hospital. Petitioner was found guilty of homicide through reckless imprudence by the trial court. The Corut of Appeals modified the decision and found her guilty of homicide through simple imprudence.
Whether the petitioner is negligent as to hold her guilty for the death of the pedestrian.
No, SC reverse.
The test for determining whether or not a person is negligent in doing an act whereby injury or damage results to the person or property of another is this: Would a prudent man in the position of the person to whom negligence is attributed foresee harm to the person injured as a reasonable consequence of the course about to be pursued? If so, the law imposes the duty oil the doer to take precaution against its mischievous results and the failure to do so constitutes negligence. A corollary rule is what is known in the law as the emergency rule. "Under that rule, one who suddenly finds himself in a place of danger, and is required to act without time to consider the best means that may be adopted to avoid the impending danger, is not guilty of negligence, if he fails to adopt what subsequently and upon reflection may appear to have been a better method, unless the emergency in which he finds himself is brought about by his own negligence." Applying the above test to the case at bar, we find the petitioner not guilty of the crime of Simple Imprudence resulting in Homicide.
The course of action suggested by the appellate court would seem reasonable were it not for the fact that such suggestion did not take into account the amount of time afforded petitioner to react to the situation she was in. For it is undeniable that the suggested course of action presupposes sufficient time for appellant to analyze the situation confronting her and to ponder on which of the different courses of action would result in the least possible harm to herself and to others. The appellate court is asking too much from a mere mortal like the petitioner who in the blink of an eye had to exercise her best judgment to extricate herself from a difficult and dangerous situation caused by the driver of the overtaking vehicle. Petitioner certainly could not be expected to act with all the coolness of a person under normal conditions. The danger confronting petitioner was real and imminent, threatening her very existence. She had no opportunity for rational thinking but only enough time to heed the very powerful instinct of self-preservation.
On November 2, 1911, defendant Segundo Barias, a motorman for the Manila Electric Railroad and Light Company, was driving his car along Rizal Avenue and stopped at an intersection to take on some passengers. He looked backward, presumably to be sure that all passengers were aboard, and then started the car. At that moment, Fermina Jose, a 3-year-old child, walked or ran in front of the car. She was knocked down and dragged at some distance to death. Defendant knew nothing of this until his return when he was informed of what happened. He was charged and found guilty of homicide resulting from reckless negligence.
Whether the evidence shows such carelessness or want of ordinary care on the part of the defendant as to amount to reckless negligence
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.
The evidence shows that the thoroughfare on which the incident occurred was a public street in a densely populated section of the city. The hour was six in the morning, or about the time when the residents of such streets begin to move about. Under such conditions a motorman of an electric street car was clearly charged with a high degree of diligence in the performance of his duties. He was bound to know and to recognize that any negligence on his part in observing the track over which he was running his car might result in fatal accidents. He had no right to assume that the track before his car was clear. It was his duty to satisfy himself of that fact by keeping a sharp lookout, and to do everything in his power to avoid the danger which is necessarily incident to the operation of heavy street cars on public thoroughfares in populous sections of the city. At times, it might be highly proper and prudent for him to glance back before again setting his car in motion, to satisfy himself that he understood correctly a signal to go forward or that all the passengers had safely alighted or gotten on board. But we do insist that before setting his car again in motion, it was his duty to satisfy himself that the track was clear, and, for that purpose, to look and to see the track just in front of his car. This the defendant did not do, and the result of his negligence was the death of the child.
We hold that the reasons of public policy which impose upon street car companies and their employees the duty of exercising the utmost degree of diligence in securing the safety of passengers, apply with equal force to the duty of avoiding the infliction of injuries upon pedestrians and others on the public streets and thoroughfares over which these companies are authorized to run their cars. And while, in a criminal case, the courts will require proof of the guilt of the company or its employees beyond a reasonable doubt, nevertheless the care or diligence required of the company and its employees is the same in both cases, and the only question to be determined is whether the proofs shows beyond a reasonable doubt that the failure to exercise such care or diligence was the cause of the accident, and that the defendant was guilty thereof.
Standing erect, at the position he would ordinarily assume while the car is in motion, the eye of the average motorman might just miss seeing the top of the head of a child, about three years old, standing or walking close up to the front of the car. But it is also very evident that by inclining the head and shoulders forward very slightly, and glancing in front of the car, a person in the position of a motorman could not fail to see a child on the track immediately in front of his car; and we hold that it is the manifest duty of a motorman, who is about to start his car on a public thoroughfare in a thickly-settled district, to satisfy himself that the track is clear immediately in front of his car, and to incline his body slightly forward, if that be necessary, in order to bring the whole track within his line of vision. Of course, this may not be, and usually is not necessary when the car is in motion, but we think that it is required by the dictates of the most ordinary prudence in starting from a standstill.
JULIAN SINGSON vs. BANK OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS
Appeal by plaintiffs from a decision of the Court of First Instance(CFI) Manila dismissing their complaint against defendants.
On May 8, 1963, the Singsong commenced the present action against the Bank and its president, Freixas, for damages in consequence of said illegal freezing of plaintiffs' account.
After appropriate proceedings, the CFI Manila rendered judgment dismissing the complaint upon the ground that plaintiffs cannot recover from the defendants upon the basis of a quasi-delict, because the relation between the parties is contractual in nature.
Whether or not the existence of a contractual relation between the parties bar recovery of damages.
The judgment appealed from is reversed holding defendant BPI to pay to the plaintiff’s nominal damages, and attorney's fees, apart from the costs. The Supreme Court have repeatedly held that the existence of a contract between the parties does not bar the commission of a tort by the one against the order and the consequent recovery of damages therefore.
In view, of the facts obtaining in the case at bar, and considering, particularly, the circumstance, that the wrong done to the plaintiff was remedied as soon as the President of the bank realized the mistake they had committed, the Court finds that an award of nominal damages the amount of which need not be proven in the sum of P1,000, in addition to attorney's fees in the sum of P500, would suffice to vindicate plaintiff's rights.
A vehicular accident occurred on August 5, 1979, when Martin Belmonte, while driving a cargo truck belonging to petitioner Vicente Vergara, rammed the store-residence of private respondent Amadeo Azarcon, causing damage assessed at P53,024.22. The trial court rendered decision in favor of private respondent, ordering the petitioner to pay, jointly and severally with Traveller’s Insurance and Surety Corporation, the following: (a) P53,024.22 as actual damages; (b) P10,000.00 as moral damages; (c) P10,000.00 as exemplary damages; and (d) the sum of P5,000.00 for attorney's fees and the costs. The insurance company was sentenced to pay to the petitioner the following: (a) P50,000.00 for third party liability under its comprehensive accident insurance policy; and (b) P3,000.00 for and as attorney's fees. The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision in toto; hence, this instant petition for certiorari.
Whether the petitioner is guilty of quasi-delict
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. 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 considered as fortuitous in character. Certainly, the defects were curable and the accident preventable.
AMADO PICART vs. FRANK SMITH, JR.
(37 Phil 809) G.R. No. L-12219, March 15, 1918
Amado Picart was riding on his pony over Carlatan Bridge in San Fernando, La Union When Frank Smith approached from the opposite direction in an automobile with rate of speed of about ten or twelve miles per hour. As the Smith 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.
Picart saw the automobile and heard the warning signals. Being perturbed by the rapid approach of the vehicle, he pulled the pony closely up against the railing on the right side of the bridge instead of going to the left. The bridge is about 75 meters and a width of only 4.80 meters. The vehicle approached without slowing down. Smith quickly turned his car sufficiently to the right to escape hitting the horse alongside of the railing where it as then standing; but due to the automobile’s proximity to the animal, the animal became frightened and turned its body across the bridge with its head toward the railing. In so doing, it has struck on the hock of the left hind leg by the flange of the car and the limb was broken.
The horse fell and its rider was thrown off. As a result of its injuries the horse died. The plaintiff received contusions which caused temporary unconsciousness and required medical attention for several days.
Whether Smith was guilty of negligence and liable for civil obligations
Yes. 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.
A prudent man, placed in the position of the defendant, would in our opinion, have recognized that the course which he was pursuing was fraught with risk, and would therefore have foreseen harm to the horse and the rider as reasonable consequence of that course. Under these circumstances the law imposed on the defendant the duty to guard against the threatened harm.
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. Under these circumstances the law is that the person who has the last clear 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.
Test of Negligence:
Did the defendant in doing the alleged negligent act use that person would have used in the same situation? If not, then he is guilty of negligence.
“Last clear chance” rule is applicable. In other words, when a traveler has reached a point where he cannot extricate himself and vigilance on his part will not avert the injury, his negligence in reaching that position becomes the condition and not the proximate cause of the injury and will not preclude a recovery.