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Proximate cause vs. contributory negligence.

In the tort-related case of LAMBERT S. RAMOS vs. C.O.L. REALTY CORPORATION, G.R. No. 184905,
August 28, 2009, the issue for resolution by the Philippine Supreme Court was whether petitioner could
be held solidarily liable with his driver, Rodel Ilustrisimo, to pay respondent C.O.L. Realty the amount of
P51,994.80 as actual damages suffered in a vehicular collision. It declared the following doctrines on
proximate cause and contributory negligence, thus:

1. Articles 2179 and 2185 of the Civil Code on quasi-delicts apply in this case, viz:

Article 2179. When the plaintiffs own negligence was the immediate and proximate cause of his injury,
he cannot recover damages. But if his negligence was only contributory, the immediate and proximate
cause of the injury being the defendants lack of due care, the plaintiff may recover damages, but the
courts shall mitigate the damages to be awarded.

Article 2185. Unless there is proof to the contrary, it is presumed that a person driving a motor vehicle
has been negligent if at the time of the mishap, he was violating any traffic regulation.

2. If the master is injured by the negligence of a third person and by the concurring contributory
negligence of his own servant or agent, the latters negligence is imputed to his superior and will defeat
the superiors action against the third person, assuming of course that the contributory negligence was
the proximate cause of the injury of which complaint is made.

3. Applying the foregoing principles of law to the instant case, Aquilinos act of crossing Katipunan
Avenue via Rajah Matanda constitutes negligence because it was prohibited by law. Moreover, it was
the proximate cause of the accident, and thus precludes any recovery for any damages suffered by
respondent from the accident.

4. Proximate cause is defined as that cause, which, in natural and continuous sequence, unbroken by
any efficient intervening cause, produces the injury, and without which the result would not have
occurred. And more comprehensively, the proximate legal cause is that acting first and producing the
injury, either immediately or by setting other events in motion, all constituting a natural and continuous
chain of events, each having a close causal connection with its immediate predecessor, the final event in
the chain immediately effecting the injury as a natural and probable result of the cause which first
acted, under such circumstances that the person responsible for the first event should, as an ordinary
prudent and intelligent person, have reasonable ground to expect at the moment of his act or default
that an injury to some person might probably result therefrom.

5. If Aquilino heeded the MMDA prohibition against crossing Katipunan Avenue from Rajah Matanda,
the accident would not have happened. This specific untoward event is exactly what the MMDA
prohibition was intended for. Thus, a prudent and intelligent person who resides within the vicinity
where the accident occurred, Aquilino had reasonable ground to expect that the accident would be a
natural and probable result if he crossed Katipunan Avenue since such crossing is considered dangerous
on account of the busy nature of the thoroughfare and the ongoing construction of the Katipunan-Boni
Avenue underpass. It was manifest error for the Court of Appeals to have overlooked the principle
embodied in Article 2179 of the Civil Code, that when the plaintiffs own negligence was the immediate
and proximate cause of his injury, he cannot recover damages.

6. Hence, we find it unnecessary to delve into the issue of Rodels contributory negligence, since it
cannot overcome or defeat Aquilinos recklessness which is the immediate and proximate cause of the
accident. Rodels contributory negligence has relevance only in the event that Ramos seeks to recover
from respondent whatever damages or injuries he may have suffered as a result; it will have the effect
of mitigating the award of damages in his favor. In other words, an assertion of contributory negligence
in this case would benefit only the petitioner; it could not eliminate respondents liability for Aquilinos
negligence which is the proximate result of the accident.

Last clear chance
PHILIPPINE HAWK CORPORATION, Petitioner, -versus- VIVIAN TAN LEE, Respondent. G.R. No. 166869
Present: CORONA, J., Chairperson, VELASCO, JR., NACHURA, PERALTA, and MENDOZA, JJ.
Promulgated: February 16, 2010 x- - - - -

LAPANDAY AGRICULTURAL and G.R. No. 153076 DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION (LADECO), HENRY
BERENGUEL, Present: and APOLONIO R. DEOCAMPO, Petitioners, QUISUMBING,* J., Chairperson,
CARPIO,**
Republic Act No. 4136