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168 GRAND UNION SUPERMARKET vs ESPINO

FACTS:
Jose J. Espino. Jr., a civil engineer and an executive of Procter and Gamble Philippines, Inc, together with
his wife and two daughters went to shop at South Supermarket in Makati
Finding a cylindrical "rat tail" file which he needed for his hobby, he picked it up and held it fearing it
might get lost because of its tiny size
While shopping, they saw the maid of Jose's aunt so as he talked, he placed the rat tail in his breast
pocket partly exposed
At the check-out counter, he paid for their purchases worth P77 but forgot to pay the file
As he was exiting the supermarket, he was approached by Guard Ebreo regardingthe file in his
pocket. He quickly apologized saying "I'm Sorry" and he turned towards the cashier to pay. But, he was
stopped and instead was brought to the rear of the supermarket when he was asked to fill out an
Incident Report labeling him as "Shoplifter"
His wife joined him since he was taking so long and they were brought to the first checkout counter
where Ms. Nelia Santos-Fandino's desk was. She made a remark:"Ano, nakaw na naman ito". Jose told
Ms. Fandino that he was going to pay for the file because he needed it but she replied "That is all they
say, the people whom we cause not paying for the goods say... They all intended to pay for the things
that are found to them."
Jose objected stating he is a regular customer of the supermarket
He gave P5 to pay for the P3.85 cost of the file but Ms. Fandino said the P5 was his fine which will be
rewarded to the guard. People were staring at them. He took the file and paid the file at the nearest
checkout counter with P50 and got out as fast as they could. His first impulse was to go back to the
supermarket that night to throw rocks at its glass windows. But reason prevailed over passion and he
thought that justice should take its due course.
He filed against Grand Union Supermarket et al. founded on Article 21 in relation to Article 2219 of the
New Civil Code and prays for moral damages, exemplary damages, attorney s fees and 'expenses of
litigation, costs of the suit and the return of the P5 fine
CFI: dismissed
CA: reversed and granted damages of P75,000 by way of moral damages, P25,000 as exemplary
damages, and P5,000 as attorney's fee
ISSUE: Whether or not Grand Union Supermarket should be liable for public humiliation founded on
Article 21 in relation to Article 2219 of the New Civil Code

HELD: YES. Grand Union Supermarket ordered to pay, jointly and severally moral damages P5,000 and
P2,000 as and for attorney's fees; and to return the P5 fine
Jose did not intend to steal the file and that is act of picking up the file from the open shelf was not
criminal nor done with malice or criminal intent for on the contrary, he took the item with the intention
of buying and paying for it
Personal circumstances:

graduate Mechanical Engineer from U.P. Class 1950, employed as an executive of Proctor &
Gamble Phils., Inc., a corporate manager incharge of motoring and warehousing therein;
honorably discharged from the Philippine Army in 1946; a Philippine government pensionado of
the United States for six months; member of the Philippine veterans Legion; author of articles
published in the Manila Sunday Times and Philippines Free Press; member of the Knights of
Columbus, Council No. 3713; son of the late Jose Maria Espino, retired Minister, Department
of Foreign Affairs at the Philippine Embassy Washington
Jose was falsely accused of shoplifting is evident
Fine branding him as a thief which was not right nor justified
the mode and manner in which he was subjected, shouting at him, imposing upon him a fine,
threatening to call the police and in the presence and hearing of many people at the
Supermarket which brought and caused him humiliation and embarrassment, sufficiently
rendered the petitioners liable for damages under Articles 19 and 21 in relation to Article 2219
of the Civil Code

It is against morals, good customs and public policy to humiliate, embarrass and degrade the dignity of a
person
Everyone must respect the dignity, personality, privacy and peace of mind of his neighbors and other
persons (Article 26, Civil Code)
His forgetfulness led to his embarrassment and humiliation thereby causing him mental anguish,
wounded feelings and serious anxiety. His act of omission contributed to the occurrence of his injury or
loss and such contributory negligence is a factor which may reduce the damages that private respondent
may recover (Art. 2214, New Civil Code). Moreover, that many people were present and they saw and
heard the ensuing interrogation and altercation appears to be simply a matter of coincidence in a
supermarket which is a public place and the crowd of onlookers, hearers or bystanders was not
deliberately sought or called by management to witness private respondent's predicament.
Grand Union Supermarket acted in good faith in trying to protect and recover their property, a right
which the law accords to them. - eliminate the grant of exemplary damages