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De Guzman v Court Of Appeals
Cendena was a junk dealer and was engaged in buying used bottles and scrap materials in Pangasinan and brought these to Manila for resale. He used two 6-wheeler trucks. On the return trip to Pangasinan, he would load his vehicles with cargo which various merchants wanted delivered to Pangasinan. For that service, he charged freight lower than regular rates. General Milk Co. contacted with him for the hauling of 750 cartons of milk. On the way to Pangasinan, one of the trucks was hijacked by armed men who took with them the truck and its cargo and kidnapped the driver and his helper.
Only 150 cartons of milk were delivered. The Milk Co. sued to claim the value of the lost merchandise based on an alleged contract of carriage. Cendena denied that he was a common carrier and contended that he could not be liable for the loss it was due to force majeure. The trial court ruled that he was a common carrier. The Court of Appels reversed.
Whether or not Cendena is a common carrier.
Yes, Cendena is properly characterized as a common carrier even though he merely backhauled goods for other merchants, and even if it was done on a periodic basis rather than on a regular basis, and even if his principal occupation was not the carriage of goods. Article 1732 makes no distinction between one whose principal business activity is the carrying of persons or goods or both, and one who does such carrying only as an ancillary activity. It also avoids making a distinction between a person or enterprise offering transportation services on a regular or scheduled basis and one offering service on an occasional, episodic, or unscheduled basis. Neither does it make a distinction between a carrier offering its services to the public and one who offers services or solicits business only from a narrow segment of population.