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SPS. FABRE v. CA ET AL.

26 July 1996 Mendoza, J. G.R. No. 111127


TOPIC: Common Carriers; In General; Definitions
SUMMARY: Cabil, Sps. Fabres driver, was found to be negligent in driving at 50kph on a slippery road in
Pangasinan on a rainy night, leading to an accident that injured several WWCF members. Because the
case involved a contract of carriage, the SC held that Sps. Fabre did not have to be engaged in the
business of public transportation for the Civil Code provisions on common carriers to apply.
NATURE: Petition for review on certiorari of the decision of the CA

Sps. Fabre operated a school bus service in St. Scholasticas College in Manila. They hired Porfirio
Cabil as a driver in 1981 after trying him out for 2 weeks.
Nov. 2, 1984 Word for the World Chistian Fellowship (WWCF) arranged with Sps. Fabre for the
transportation of 33 members of its Young Adults Ministry from Manila to La Union for P3,000.
Because several members were late, they left at 8:00pm instead of 5:00pm.
o Cabil drove the Sps. Fabres 1982 model Mazda minibus. It was his first trip to La Union.
o The usual route to Caba, La Union was through Carmen, Pangasinan, but since the Carmen
bridge was under repair, Cabil had to take a detour trhough Ba-ay, Lingayen, Pangasinan.
He was not familiar with the area.
o 11:30pm - Cabil came upon a sharp curve on the highway, running on a south to east
direction, which he described as "siete." The road was slippery because it was raining,
causing the bus, which was running at 50kph, to skid to the left road shoulder. Cabil only
slowed down when he noticed the curve some 15-30m. ahead. By then it was too late to
avoid falling off the road.
o The bus hit the left traffic steel brace and sign along the road and rammed the fence of
Escano, then turned over and landed on its left side, coming to a full stop off the road only
after a series of impacts. A coconut tree which it had hit fell on it and smashed its front .
o Several passengers were injured. Private respondent Amyline Antonio was thrown on the
floor of the bus and pinned down by a wooden seat. It took three persons to safely remove
her. She became permanently paralyzed from the waist down (paraplegic). She filed suit.
RTC held Cabil and Sps. solidarily liable for damages to Antonio and other plaintiffs.
CA affirmed with respect to Antonio but dismissed with respect to other plantiffs.

SPS. FABRE ARGUE: They are not liable because (1) an earlier departure (made impossible by the
congregations delayed meeting) could have averted the mishap and (2) under the contract, the WWCF
was directly responsible for the conduct of the trip.
Is this a case of breach of contract of carriage/ culpa contractual OR quasi delict/ culpa aquiliana?
It is unnecessary to determine the theory on which to decide this case, for although the relation of
passenger and carrier is "contractual both in origin and nature," nevertheless "the act that breaks the
contract may be also a tort." In either case, the question is whether Cabil was negligent.
(Although theres a contract of carriage here, Sps. Fabre may still be held liable for quasi-delict.)
W/N Cabil was negligent YES, he was GROSSLY negligent. CA affirmed with modifications.
Cabil should have driven his vehicle at a moderate speed. According to the testimony of Patrolman
Chito Esmenda, the vehicles passing on that portion of the road should only be running 20kph, so
that at 50kph, Cabil was running at a very high speed.
Factors considered: (1) it was raining; (2) the road was slippery; (3) it was dark; (4) he drove at
50kph when even on a good day the normal speed was only 20kph; (5) he was unfamiliar with the
terrain.
Sps. Fabres Liability
Pursuant to Arts. 2176 and 2180 of the Civil Code, Cabils negligence gave rise to the presumption
that the Fabres were themselves negligent in the selection and supervision of their employee.
Sps. Fabre failed to exercise due diligence in the selection and supervision of Cabil.
o Due diligence in selection of employees is not satisfied by finding that the applicant
possessed a professional drivers license. The employer should also examine the applicant
for his qualifications, experience and record of service.
VILLARAMA, BIANCA DANICA S.

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Due diligence in supervision requires the formulation of rules and regulations for the
guidance of employees and the issuance of proper instructions as well as actual
implementation and monitoring of consistent compliance with the rules.
Sps. hired Fabre only after a 2-week apprenticeship. They did not consider the fact that Fabre had
only been driving school children from their homes to St. Scho. Though they tested him for certain
matters (e.g. if he could rememeber the names of the children), these were irrelevant to his
qualification to drive on a long distance travel, especially since it was his first trip to La Union.
The groups hour of departure had not been fixed. Even if it had been, the delay did not bear directly
on the cause of the accident.
With respect to the second contention, that WWCF was responsible for the conduct of the trip under
the contract, it was held in Yamada v. Manila Railroad Co. (1915) that:
o [A] person who hires a public automobile and gives the driver directions as to the place to
which he wishes to be conveyed, but exercises no other control over the conduct of the
driver, is not responsible for acts of negligence of the latter or prevented from recovering for
injuries suffered from a collision between the automobile and a train, caused by the
negligence either of the locomotive engineer or the automobile driver.
This case actually involves a contract of carriage. Sps. Fabre did not have to be engaged in
the business of public transportation for the Civil Code provisions on common carriers to
apply.
o CC Art. 1732 makes no distinction between one whose principal business activity is the
carrying of persons or goods or both, and one who does such carrying only as an ancillary
activity (in local idiom, as "a sideline"); or between a person or enterprise offering
transportation service on a regular or scheduled basis and one offering such service on an
occasional, episodic or unscheduled basis; or between a carrier offering its services to the
"general public," and one who offers services or solicits business only from a narrow
segment of the general population. SC has previously held that it believes the lack of
distinctions is deliberate.
o They are guilty of breach of contract of carriage under CC Arts. 1733, 1755, and 1759.
Solidary Liability of Cabil and Sps. Fabre
In previous cases, the SC has held the vehicle owners and operators liable with the negligent driver.
The same rule of liability was applied in situations where the negligence of the driver concurred with
the negligence of a third party (driver of another vehicle).
In Philippine Rabbit Bus Lines v. CA, the driver was exonerated because the case was tried and
decided exclusively on the theory of culpa contractual, and the contract of carriage is between the
carrier and the passenger. In case of breach, the carrier is exclusively responsible to the passenger,
even if such breach was due to the negligence of the driver.
In the case at bar, the plaintiffs did not stake out their claim against the carrier (Sps. Fabre) and the
driver exclusively on one theory, much less on breach of contract alone. They are permitted to allege
alternative causes of action and join as many parties as may be liable, so long as they do not
recover twice for the same injury.
What is clear from the cases is the intent of the plaintiff there to recover from both the carrier and the
driver, thus justifying the holding that the carrier and the driver were jointly and severally liable
because their separate and distinct acts concurred to produce the same injury.
Damages Awarded to Amyline Antonio and her Co-Plaintiffs
Actual/ compensatory CA erred in increasing the amount of compensatory damages because private
respondents did not question this award as inadequate (did not appeal). RTCs award of P500k was
already reasonable considering the contingent nature of Antonios income as a casual employee of a
company and as distributor of Avon products, and the fact that the possibility that she might be able to
work again has not been foreclosed. In fact she testified that one of her previous employers had
expressed willingness to employ her again.
Moral - This case falls squarely within the purview of Art. 2219(2) providing for the payment of moral
damages in cases of quasi delict. On the theory that the Sps. are liable for breach of contract of carriage,
the award of moral damages is authorized by Art. 1764, in relation to Art. 2220, since Cabils gross
negligence amounted to bad faith. Antonios testimony, as well as the testimonies of her father and copassengers, fully establish the physical suffering and mental anguish she endured from her injuries.
Exemplary and Attys Fees - Also properly made. However, CA should also not have increased them.
o

VILLARAMA, BIANCA DANICA S.

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