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LOYOLA, JUAN SAMUEL ISMAEL A.

Negligence; Culpa Aquiliana and Culpa Contractual
Liability of the Head of House for Negligent Acts of the Driver who is his M inor Child
GUTIERREZ V. GUTIERREZ
23 September, 1931
Malcolm, J.
Petition:
Parties:
Narciso Gutierrez - plaintiffs-appellees
Bonifacio Gutierrez, M aria V. De Gutierrez, M anuel Gutierrez, Abelardo Velasco,
and Saturnino Cortez - defendants-appellants
Facts:
On February 2, 1930, a passenger truck and a privately owned car collided while attempting to pass each other on
the Talon bridge on the Manila South Road in the municipality of Las Piñas. The diver of the car, Bonifacio
Gutierrez, an 18 y/o boy, son of the car’s owners Manuel and Maria Gutierrez. It was found by the trial court that
both the boy and the driver of the autobus were negligent by which neither of them were willing to slow up and
give the right of way to the other. Plaintiff is the passenger of the bus who as a result of the incident fractured his
right leg to his damage which results in permanent lameness. Thus, plaintiff sued the boy, his parents as owners
of the car, the bus driver and its owner for damages. The trial court ruled in favor of plaintiff. Hence, this appeal.
Issue: What are the respective legal obligations of the defendant? How should civil liability be imposed upon the
parties in the case at bar?
Ruling: The case is dealing with the civil liability of parties for obligations which arise from fault or negligence.
For the boy, it is his father who is liable (based on culpa aquiliana) to the plaintiff The guaranty given by the father
at the time the son was granted a license to operate motor vehicles made the father responsible for the acts of his
son. Furthermore, the car was of general use of the family, second, the boy was authorized or designated by his
father to run the car, third, at the time of the collision the car is used for the purpose not of the child’s pleasure
but that of the other members of the car owner’s family members. The theory of the law is that the running of the
machine by a child to carry other members of the family is within the scope of the owner’s business, so that he is
liable for the negligence of the child because of the relationship of master and servant. For the chauffer and the
bus owner (based on culpa contractual), their liability rests upon the contract (contract of carriage) whereas that
degree of care expected from the chauffer is lacking. Plaintiff will have judgment in his favor against defendants,
jointly and severally, for the sum of P5,ooo, and the cost of both instances.
Notes:
Culpa Aquiliana - Liability arises from a mere tort, not involving a breach of positive obligation, an employer or
master may excuse himself by proving he had exercised “all the diligence of a good father of a family to prevent
the damage.
Culpa Contractual – Diligence is not available as a defense though it may mitigate damages.
* The theory of the law is that the running of the machine by a child to carry other members of the family is within
the scope of the owner’s business, so that he is liable for the negligence of the child because of the relationship
of master and servant.