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G.R. No.

150304

June 15, 2005

QUEZON CITY GOVERNMENT and Engineer RAMIR J. TIAMZON, Petitioners,


vs.
FULGENCIO DACARA*, Respondent.
PANGANIBAN, J.:
Facts: Dacara Jr.s car turned turtle upon hitting a rammed into a pile of earth/street diggings found at Matahimik St.,
Quezon City, which was then being repaired by the Quezon City government. As a result, Dacarra (sic), Jr. allegedly
sustained bodily injuries and the vehicle suffered extensive damage. Thus his father Fulgencio Dacara Senior (Fulgencio)
filed a calim for damages against the Local Government. The LGU contended that the fault is with the driver, since the
LGU have out up warning signs. The trial court ruled that the LGU is liable.
Issue: Whether or not the Quezon City Government is liable for moral and exemplary damges due to the injuries suffered
by Dacara Jr.
Held: To award moral damages, a court must be satisfied with proof of the following requisites: (1) an injury -- whether
physical mental, or psychological -- clearly sustained by the claimant; (2) a culpable act or omission factually established;
(3) a wrongful act or omission of the defendant as the proximate cause of the injury sustained by the claimant; and (4) the
award of damages predicated on any of the cases stated in Article 2219.
In the present case, the Complaint alleged that respondents son Fulgencio Jr. sustained physical injuries. The son testified
that he suffered a deep cut on his left arm when the car overturned after hitting a pile of earth that had been left in the
open without any warning device whatsoever. It is apparent from the Decisions of the trial and the appellate courts,
however, that no other evidence (such as a medical certificate or proof of medical expenses) was presented to prove
Fulgencio Jr.s bare assertion of physical injury. Thus, there was no credible proof that would justify an award of moral
damages based on Article 2219(2) of the Civil Code. Moreover, the Decisions are conspicuously silent with respect to the
claim of respondent that his moral sufferings were due to the negligence of petitioners.
The Decision of the trial court, which summarizes the testimony of respondents four witnesses, makes no mention of any
statement regarding moral suffering, such as mental anguish, besmirched reputation, wounded feelings, social
humiliation and the like. well-settled is the rule that moral damages cannot be awarded -- whether in a civil or a criminal
case, in the absence of proof of physical suffering, mental anguish, fright, serious anxiety, besmirched reputation,
wounded feelings, moral shock, social humiliation, or similar injury.
The award of moral damages must be solidly anchored on a definite showing that respondent actually experienced
emotional and mental sufferings. Mere allegations do not suffice; they must be substantiated by clear and convincing
proof.
Article 2231 of the Civil Code mandates that in cases of quasi-delicts, exemplary damages may be recovered if the
defendant acted with gross negligence. Gross negligence means such utter want of care as to raise a presumption that the
persons at fault must have been conscious of the probable consequences of their carelessness, and that they must have
nevertheless been indifferent (or worse) to the danger of injury to the person or property of others. The negligence must
amount to a reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property. Such a circumstance obtains in the instant case. A
finding of gross negligence can be discerned from the Decisions of both the CA and the trial court. We quote from the RTC
Decision: Sad to state that the City Government through its instrumentalities have failed to show the modicum of
responsibility, much less, care expected of them (sic) by the constituents of this City. It is even more deplorable that it was
a case of a street digging in a side street which caused the accident in the so-called premier city. Article 2229 of the Civil
Code provides that exemplary damages may be imposed by way of example or correction for the public good. The award of
these damages is meant to be a deterrent to socially deleterious actions. Public policy requires such imposition to suppress
wanton acts of an offender. It must be emphasized that local governments and their employees should be responsible not
only for the maintenance of roads and streets, but also for the safety of the public. Thus, they must secure construction
areas with adequate precautionary measures.