Magbanua vs IAC G.R. Nos.

L-66870-72 June 29, 1985 Facts: Magbanua and the other petitioners are share tenants of an agricultural land owned by the private respondents. The petitioners alleged in the case they filed in the trial court that the private respondents diverted the free flow of water from their landholdings which dried up their farm and wilted their palay crops. The trial court decided in favor of the petitioners. They were maintained as agricultural lessees and granted each one of them the amount of P10,000 as moral & exemplary damages and P5,000 for the attorney’s fees to be paid by the private respondents. However, the private respondents appealed the decision to the Intermediate Appellate Court which affirmed the decision of the trial court but removed the award of payment of damages and attorney’s fees granted to the petitioners. The IAC said in removing the damages award that there was no evidence that private respondents acted fraudulently or in bad faith, and no reason either in the recovery of attorney’s fees under Art 2208, Civil Code. And so the petitioners filed in the SC for the reinstatement of the damages and attorney’s fees awarded by the trial court, on the ground that the IAC committed a grave abuse of discretion in removing the said award. Held: The SC granted the reinstatement of the award of moral and exemplary damages and attorney’s fees, subject to modification of the amount. Art 2219, Civil Code states that moral damages may be recovered when a person wilfully causes loss or injury to another in a manner contrary to morals, good customs or public policy. Under Art 2232, Civil Code, “In contract and quasi-contracts, the court may award exemplary damages if the defendant acted in wanton, fraudulent, reckless, oppressive, or malevolent manner.” Art 2208, Civil Code states that attorney’s fees can be recovered, among others, when exemplary damages are awarded. The private respondents acted in an oppressive manner in closing the free flow of water into the farm lots of the petitioners in order to make the latter vacate their landholdings. The closure caused losses on the petitioners’ palay crops. The foregoing entitled the petitioners to payment of moral and exemplary damages, and as such, entitled them also to the recovery of attorney’s fees. And so the SC granted the payment to each of the petitioners in the amount of P1000 as moral damages, P500 as exemplary damages, and P1000 for attorney’s fees payable by the private respondents.