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Respondeat Superior

Generally, Art. 2176 of the Civil Code holds that every person is liable
for the consequences of his or her own negligence when another
person is injured as a result. In some situations this liability also
extends to the employer.
An employer may be held responsible for the mistakes of his or her
employee and sometimes must pay damages for the negligent acts of
his or her employee. This is known as the doctrine of respondeat
superior.
Respondeat superior or let the master answer means that the
master, principal or employer is responsible for the wrongful acts of
his servant, agent, or employee in certain cases. The responsibility of
the master, principal or employer ceases when the latter proves that
he observed all the diligence of a good father of a family to prevent
damage.1
In a recent Supreme Court decided case, Dr. Huang vs. Philippine
Hoteliers, Inc., the petitioner alleged negligence of staff of
respondents Philippine Hoteliers, Inc. (PHI) and Dusit Thani Public
Co., Inc., (DTPCI), in the untimely putting off all the lights within the
hotels swimming pool area, as well as the locking of the main
entrance door of the area, prompting petitioner to grope for a way
out. While doing so, a folding wooden counter top fell on her head
causing her serious brain injury. The negligence was allegedly
compounded by respondents PHI and DTPCIs failure to render
prompt and adequate medical assistance.
In this case, the Supreme Court held that the doctrine of respondeat
superior finds no application in the absence of any showing that the
employees of respondents PHI and DTPCI were negligent. Since the
trial court and the appellate court found no negligence on the part of
the employees of respondents PHI and DTPCI, thus, the latter cannot
also be held liable for negligence and be made to pay the millions of
pesos damages prayed for by petitioner.2

1 Breach of Contract vis-a-vis Torts and Damages, 671 SCRA 510(2012).


2 Dr. Huang vs. Philippine Hoteliers, Inc., G.R. No. 180440, December 5,
2012.