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Torts and Damages (1st set FULL TEXT)

G.R. Nos. 74387-90 November 14, 1988


BATANGAS LAGUNA TAYABAS BUS COMPANY & ARMANDO PON, petitioners,
vs.
INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT, THE HEIRS OF PAZ VDA. DE PAMFILO, THE HEIRS OF NORMA NERI, and
BAYLON SALES and NENA VDA. DE ROSALES, respondents.
PARAS, J.:
Before Us is a Petition to Review by Certiorari, the decision 1 of the respondent appellate court which affirmed with modification
the joint decision of the trial court in four (4) cases involving similar facts and issues, finding favorably for the plaintiffs (private
respondents herein), the dispositive portion of said appellate judgment reading as follows:
WHEREFORE, with the modification that the death indemnity is raised to P30,000.00 to each set of the
victims' heirs, the rest of the judgment appealed from is hereby affirmed in toto. Costs against the
defendants-appellants.
SO ORDERED. (p. 20, Rollo)
From the records of the case We have gathered the following antecedent facts:
The collision between Bus No. 1046 of the Batangas Laguna Tayabas Bus Company (BLTB, for brevity) driven by Armando Pon
and Bus No. 404 of Superlines Transportation Company (Superlines, for brevity) driven by Ruben Dasco took place at the highway
traversing Barangay Isabong, Tayabas, Quezon in the afternoon of August 11, 1978, which collision resulted in the death of
Aniceto Rosales, Francisco Pamfilo and Romeo Neri and in several injuries to Nena Rosales (wife of Anecito) and Baylon Sales,
all passengers of the BLTB Bus No. 1046. The evidence shows that as BLTB Bus No. 1046 was negotiating the bend of the
highway, it tried to overtake a Ford Fiera car just as Bus No. 404 of Superlines was coming from the opposite direction. Seeing
thus, Armando Pon (driver of the BLTB Bus) made a belated attempt to slacken the speed of his bus and tried to return to his
proper lane. It was an unsuccessful try as the two (2) buses collided with each other.
Nena Vda. de Rosales and Baylon Sales and the surviving heirs of the deceased Francisco Pamfilo, Aniceto Rosales and Romeo
Neri instituted separate cases in the Court of First Instance of Marinduque against BLTB and Superlines together with their
respective drivers praying for damages, attorney's fees and litigation expenses plus costs. Criminal cases against the drivers of
the two buses were filed in the Court of First Instance of Quezon.
Defendants BLTB and Superlines, together with their drivers Pon and Dasco, denied liability by claiming that they exercised
due care and diligence and shifted the fault, against each other. They all interposed counterclaims against the plaintiffs and
crossclaims against each other.
After trial on the merits, the lower court exonerated defendants Superlines and its driver Dasco from liability and attributed sole
responsibility to defendants BLTB and its driver Pon, and ordered them jointly and severally to pay damages to the plaintiffs.
Defendants BLTB and Armando Pon appealed from the decision of the lower court to respondent appellate court which
affirmed with modification the judgment of the lower court as earlier stated.
Hence, this petition to review by certiorari of defendant BLTB assigning a lone error, to wit:

THE INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT ERRED IN ADJUDGING THAT THE ACTIONS OF PRIVATE
RESPONDENTS ARE BASED ON CULPA CONTRACTUAL. (p. 12, Rollo)
It is argued by petitioners that if the intention of private respondents were to file an action based on culpa contractual or breach
of contract of carriage, they could have done so by merely impleading BLTB and its driver Pon. As it was in the trial court, private
respondents filed an action against all the defendants basing their action on culpa aquiliana or tort.
Petitioners' contentions deserve no merit. A reading of the respondent court's decision shows that it anchored petitioners'
liability both on culpa contractual and culpa aquiliana, to wit:
The proximate cause of the collision resulting in the death of three and injuries to two of the passengers of
BLTB was the negligence of the driver of the BLTB bus, who recklessly operated and drove said bus by
overtaking a Ford Fiera car as he was negotiating the ascending bend of the highway (tsn, October 4,
1979, pp. 9-10, 35, 36, 61; Exhibit 6 Superlines, p. 47) which was divided into two lanes by a continuous
yellow strip (tsn, October 4, 1979, p. 36). The driver of the BLTB bus admitted in his cross-examination
that the continuous yellow line on the ascending bend of the highway signifies a no-overtaking zone (tsn,
October 4, 1979, p. 36). It is no surprise then that the driver of the Superlines bus was exonerated by the
lower court. He had a valid reason to presuppose that no one would overtake in such a dangerous
situation. These facts show that patient imprudence of the BLTB driver.
It is well settled that a driver abandoning his proper lane for the purpose of overtaking another vehicle in
ordinary situation has the duty to see that the road is clear and not to proceed if he can not do so in safety
(People v. Enriquez, 40 O.G. No. 5, 984).
... Before attempting to pass the vehicle ahead, the rear driver must see that the road is clear and if there
is no sufficient room for a safe passage, or the driver ahead does not turn out so as to afford opportunity to
pass, or if, after attempting to pass, the driver of the overtaking vehicle finds that he cannot make the
passage in safety, the latter must slacken his speed so as to avoid the danger of a collision, even bringing
his car to a stop if necessary. (3-4 Huddy Encyclopedia of Automobile Law, Sec. 212, p. 195).
The above rule becomes more particularly applicable in this case when the overtaking took place on an
ascending curved highway divided into two lanes by a continuous yellow line. Appellant Pon should have
remembered that:
When a motor vehicle is approaching or rounding a curve there is special necessity for keeping to the right
side of the road and the driver has not the right to drive on the left hand side relying upon having time to
turn to the right if a car is approaching from the opposite direction comes into view. (42 C.J. 42 906).
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. (Art. 2165, Civil Code).
In failing to observe these simple precautions, BLTB's driver undoubtedly failed to act with the diligence
demanded by the circumstances.
We now come to the subject of liability of the appellants.

Torts and Damages (1st set FULL TEXT)


G.R. No. 84458

For his own negligence in recklessly driving the truck owned by his employer, appellant Armando Pon is
primarily liable (Article 2176, Civil Code).<re||an1w>

November 6, 1989

ABOITIZ SHIPPING CORPORATION, petitioner,Vs


On the other hand the liability of Pon's employer, appellant BLTB, is also primary, direct and immediate in
view of the fact that the death of or injuries to its passengers was through the negligence of its employee
(Marahan v. Mendoza, 24 SCRA 888, 894), and such liability does not cease even upon proof that BLTB
had exercised all the diligence of a good father of a family in the selection and supervision of its employees
(Article 1759, Civil Code).

HON. COURT OF APPEALS, ELEVENTH DIVISION, LUCILA C. VIANA, SPS. ANTONIO


VIANA and GORGONIA VIANA, and PIONEER STEVEDORING CORPORATION, respondents.
REGALADO, J.:

The common carrier's liability for the death of or injuries to its passengers is based on its contractual
obligation to carry its passengers safely to their destination. That obligation is so serious that the Civil
Code requires "utmost diligence of very cautious person (Article 1755, Civil Code). They are presumed to
have been at fault or to have acted negligently unless they prove that they have observed extraordinary
diligence" (Article 1756, Civil Code). In the present case, the appellants have failed to prove extraordinary
diligence. Indeed, this legal presumption was confirmed by the fact that the bus driver of BLTB was
negligent. It must follow that both the driver and the owner must answer for injuries or death to its
passengers.
The liability of BLTB is also solidarily with its driver (Viluan v. Court of Appeals, 16 SCRA 742, 747) even
though the liability of the driver springs from quasi delict while that of the bus company from contract. (pp.
17-19, Rollo)

In this appeal by certiorari, petitioner Aboitiz Shipping Corporation seeks a review of the decision 1 of respondent Court of
Appeals, dated July 29, 1988, the decretal portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, the judgment appealed from as modified by the order of October 27, 1982, is hereby affirmed with the modification
that appellant Aboitiz Shipping is hereby ordered to pay plaintiff-appellees the amount of P30,000.00 for the death of Anacleto
Viana; actual damages of P9,800.00; P150,000.00 for unearned income; P7,200.00 as support for deceased's parents; P20,000.00
as moral damages; P10,000.00 as attorney's fees; and to pay the costs.
The undisputed facts of the case, as found by the court a quo and adopted by respondent court, are as follows: .

Conclusively therefore in consideration of the foregoing findings of the respondent appellate court it is settled that the proximate
cause of the collision resulting in the death of three and injuries to two of the passengers of BLTB was the sole negligence of
the driver of the BLTB Bus, who recklessly operated and drove said bus in a lane where overtaking is not allowed by Traffic
Rules and Regulations. Such negligence and recklessness is binding against petitioner BLTB, more so when We consider the fact
that in an action based on a contract of carriage, the court need not make an express finding of fault or negligence on the part of
the carrier in order to hold it responsible for the payment of the damages sought by the passenger. By the contract of carriage, the
carrier BLTB assumed the express obligation to transport the passengers to their destination safely and to observe extraordinary
diligence with a due regard for all the circumstances, and any injury that might be suffered by its passengers is right away
attributable to the fault or negligence of the carrier (Art. 1756, New Civil Code).
Petitioners also contend that "a common carrier is not an absolute insurer against all risks of travel and are not liable for acts or
accidents which cannot be foreseen or inevitable and that responsibility of a common carrier for the safety of its passenger
prescribed in Articles 1733 and 1755 of the New Civil Code is not susceptible of a precise and definite formulation." (p. 13, Rollo)
Petitioners' contention holds no water because they had totally failed to point out any factual basis for their defense of force
majeure in the light of the undisputed fact that the cause of the collision was the sole negligence and recklessness of
petitioner Armando Pon. For the defense offorce majeure or act of God to prosper the accident must be due to natural causes
and exclusively without human intervention.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appealed decision is hereby AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.

The evidence disclosed that on May 11, 1975, Anacleto Viana boarded the vessel M/V Antonia, owned by defendant, at the port
at San Jose, Occidental Mindoro, bound for Manila, having purchased a ticket (No. 117392) in the sum of P23.10 (Exh. 'B'). On
May 12, 1975, said vessel arrived at Pier 4, North Harbor, Manila, and the passengers therein disembarked, a
gangplank having been provided connecting the side of the vessel to the pier. Instead of using said gangplank Anacleto Viana
disembarked on the third deck which was on the level with the pier. After said vessel had landed, the Pioneer Stevedoring
Corporation took over the exclusive control of the cargoes loaded on said vessel pursuant to the Memorandum of Agreement dated
July 26, 1975 (Exh. '2') between the third party defendant Pioneer Stevedoring Corporation and defendant Aboitiz
Shipping Corporation.
The crane owned by the third party defendant and operated by its crane operator Alejo Figueroa was placed alongside the vessel
and one (1) hour after the passengers of said vessel had disembarked, it started operation by unloading the cargoes from said
vessel. While the crane was being operated, Anacleto Viana who had already disembarked from said vessel
obviously remembering that some of his cargoes were still loaded in the vessel, went back to the vessel, and it was while he was
pointing to the crew of the said vessel to the place where his cargoes were loaded that the crane hit him, pinning him between the
side of the vessel and the crane. He was thereafter brought to the hospital where he later expired three (3) days thereafter, on May
15, 1975, the cause of his death according to the Death Certificate (Exh. "C") being "hypostatic pneumonia secondary to traumatic
fracture of the pubic bone lacerating the urinary bladder" (See also Exh. "B"). For his hospitalization, medical, burial and other
miscellaneous expenses, Anacleto's wife, herein plaintiff, spent a total of P9,800.00 (Exhibits "E", "E1", to "E-5"). Anacleto Viana who was only forty (40) years old when he met said fateful accident (Exh. 'E') was in good health. His
average annual income as a farmer or a farm supervisor was 400 cavans of palay annually. His parents, herein plaintiffs Antonio
and Gorgonia Viana, prior to his death had been recipient of twenty (20) cavans of palay as support or P120.00 monthly. Because of
Anacleto's death, plaintiffs suffered mental anguish and extreme worry or moral damages. For the filing of the instant case, they
had to hire a lawyer for an agreed fee of ten thousand (P10,000.00) pesos. 2

Torts and Damages (1st set FULL TEXT)


Private respondents Vianas filed a complaint 3 for damages against petitioner corporation (Aboitiz, for brevity) for breach of
contract of carriage.

(2)
ordering the third party defendant Pioneer Stevedoring Corporation to reimburse defendant and third party plaintiff
Aboitiz Shipping Corporation the said amounts that it is ordered to pay to herein plaintiffs.

In its answer. 4 Aboitiz denied responsibility contending that at the time of the accident, the vessel was completely under the
control of respondent Pioneer Stevedoring Corporation (Pioneer, for short) as the exclusive stevedoring contractor of Aboitiz,
which handled the unloading of cargoes from the vessel of Aboitiz. It is also averred that since the crane operator was not an
employee of Aboitiz, the latter cannot be held liable under the fellow-servant rule.

Both Aboitiz and Pioneer filed separate motions for reconsideration wherein they similarly raised the trial court's failure to
declare that Anacleto Viana acted with gross negligence despite the overwhelming evidence presented in support thereof. In
addition, Aboitiz alleged, in opposition to Pioneer's motion, that under the memorandum of agreement the liability of Pioneer as
contractor is automatic for any damages or losses whatsoever occasioned by and arising from the operation of its arrastre and
stevedoring service.

Thereafter, Aboitiz, as third-party plaintiff, filed a third-party complaint 5 against Pioneer imputing liability thereto for Anacleto
Viana's death as having been allegedly caused by the negligence of the crane operator who was an employee of Pioneer under
its exclusive control and supervision.

Pioneer, in its answer to the third-party complaint, 6 raised the defenses that Aboitiz had no cause of action against Pioneer
considering that Aboitiz is being sued by the Vianas for breach of contract of carriage to which Pioneer is not a party; that
Pioneer had observed the diligence of a good father of a family both in the selection and supervision of its employees as well
as in the prevention of damage or injury to anyone including the victim Anacleto Viana; that Anacleto Viana's gross negligence
was the direct and proximate cause of his death; and that the filing of the third-party complaint was premature by reason of the
pendency of the criminal case for homicide through reckless imprudence filed against the crane operator, Alejo Figueroa.

In a decision rendered on April 17, 1980 by the trial court, 7 Aboitiz was ordered to pay the Vianas for damages incurred, and
Pioneer was ordered to reimburse Aboitiz for whatever amount the latter paid the Vianas. The dispositive portion of said decision
provides:

In an order dated October 27, 1982, 8 the trial court absolved Pioneer from liability for failure of the Vianas and Aboitiz to
preponderantly establish a case of negligence against the crane operator which the court a quo ruled is never presumed, aside from
the fact that the memorandum of agreement supposedly refers only to Pioneer's liability in case of loss or damage to goods
handled by it but not in the case of personal injuries, and, finally that Aboitiz cannot properly invoke the fellow-servant rule simply
because its liability stems from a breach of contract of carriage. The dispositive portion of said order reads:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby modified insofar as third party defendant Pioneer Stevedoring Corporation is concerned
rendered in favor of the plaintiffs-,:

(1)
Ordering defendant Aboitiz Shipping Corporation to pay the plaintiffs the sum of P12,000.00 for the death of Anacleto
Viana; P9,000.00 (sic) as actual damages; P533,200.00 value of the 10,664 cavans of palay computed at P50.00 per cavan;
P10,000.00 as attorney's fees; P5,000.00 value of the 100 cavans of palay as support for five (5) years for deceased's parents,
herein plaintiffs Antonio and Gorgonia Viana,computed at P50.00 per cavan; P7,200.00 as support for deceased's parents
computed at P120.00 a month for five years pursuant to Art. 2206, Par. 2, of the Civil Code; P20,000.00 as moral damages, and
costs; and

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the plantiffs:


(2)
Absolving third-party defendant Pioneer Stevedoring Corporation for (sic) any liability for the death of Anacleto Viana
the passenger of M/V Antonia owned by defendant third party plaintiff Aboitiz Shipping Corporation it appearing that the
negligence of its crane operator has not been established therein.
(1)
ordering defendant Aboitiz Shipping Corporation to pay to plaintiffs the sum of P12,000.00 for the death of Anacleto
Viana P9,800.00 as actual damages; P533,200.00 value of the 10,664 cavans of palay computed at P50.00 per cavan;
P10,000.00 as attorney's fees; F 5,000.00, value of the 100 cavans of palay as support for five (5) years for deceased (sic)
parents, herein plaintiffs Antonio and Gorgonia Viana computed at P50.00 per cavan; P7,200.00 as support for deceased's
parents computed at P120.00 a month for five years pursuant to Art. 2206, Par. 2, of the Civil Code; P20,000.00 as moral
damages, and costs; and

Not satisfied with the modified judgment of the trial court, Aboitiz appealed the same to respondent Court of Appeals which
affirmed the findings of of the trial court except as to the amount of damages awarded to the Vianas.

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