Labayen v Talisay-Silay Milling Co.

Facts:  The plaintiff owns the hacienda known as Don Hermanos of Talisay, Negros Occidental.  The defendant is a corporation dedicated to the milling of sugar cane.  The plaintiff and the defendant entered into a contract similar to contracts entered into by the defendant and other planters.  In the contract, it was agreed that a permanent railroad run by steam or motor or both shall be operated.  It is admitted that the central has not continued its railroad through to the Hacienda Dos Hermanos. It comes to the Hacienda Esmeralda No. 2 and there stops.  A civil engineer employed in the construction said that it was possible to construct the railroad but it would very dangerous to do so. Issue: 1. W/N the defendant can excuse itself from constructing the railroad on the grounds that it would be very dangerous to do so 2. W/N the plaintiff can recover damages for breach of contract, through inability to mill the cane. Held: 1. Yes. One cannot obligate himself to do something which, when accomplished, will prove to be dangerous to life and property. 2. No. Doctrine: 1. It is elemental that the parties do what they have agreed to do. If a party charges himself with an obligation possible to be performed, he must abide by it unless performance is rendered impossible by the act of God, the law, or the other party. a. A showing of mere inconvenience, unexpected impediments, or increased expenses is not enough. b. Article 1271 of the Civil Code: “Impossible things or services cannot be the subject matter of contracts.” c. Article 1184 of the Civil Code: “The debtor shall also be relieved from obligations which consist in the performance of an act if fulfillment of the undertaking becomes legally or physically impossible.” 2. The plaintiff cannot recover damages. a. The defendant, on the other hand, could recover on its crosscomplaint.