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USA v. Reyes, GR No. 79233 (1993)
ISSUE: Whether or not Bradford enjoys state immunity
FACTS: Nelia T. Montoya, an American citizen employed as an identification checker at the U.S. Navy Exchange (NEX) at the Joint United States Military Assistance Group (JUSMAG) headquarters in Quezon City, filed a complaint against Maxine Bradford, also an American citizen working as a manager at JUSMAG Headquarter’s activity exchange, for damages due to the oppressive and discriminatory acts committed by the latter in excess of her authority as store manager of the NEX JUSMAG. This was due to the incident on January 22, 1987 when Bradford searched Montoya’s body and belongings while the latter was already in the parking area after buying some items NEX JUSMAG’s retail store, where she had purchasing privileges. Bradford then invoked his non-suability on the ground of state immunity.
DECISION: No, Bradford does not enjoy state immunity.
RATIO DECIDENDI: The rule that a state may not be sued without its consent is expressly declared in the Constitution. It also applies to complaints filed against officials of the state for acts allegedly performed by them in the discharge of its duties. However, it is a different matter where the public official is made to account in his capacity as such for acts contrary to law and injurious to the rights of plaintiff. In other words, the doctrine of immunity from suit will not apply and may not be invoked where the public official is being sued in his private and personal capacity as an ordinary citizen. Here, Bradford acted beyond his authority when he searched Montoya in the parking lot, that is, outside of NEX JUSMAG. Hence, he may be sued in his private and personal capacity.
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