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Caedo vs.

Yu Khe Thai
G.R. No. L-20392 December 18, 1968
Facts: On March 24, 1958 on Highway 54 (now E. de los Santos Avenue) in the vici
nity of San Lorenzo Village, Marcial Caedo was driving his Mercury car. With the
m in the car were Mrs. Caedo and three daughters. Coming from the opposite direc
tion was the Cadillac of Yu Khe Thai, with his driver Rafael Bernardo at the whe
el, taking the owner from his Parañaque home to Wack Wack for his regular round of
golf. The two cars were traveling at fairly moderate speeds, their headlights w
ere mutually noticeable from a distance. Ahead of the Cadillac, going in the sam
e direction, was a caretella owned by Pedro Bautista. The carretela was towing a
nother horse by means of a short rope coiled around the rig's vertical post on t
he right side and held at the other end by Pedro's son, Julian Bautista.
Bernardo tried to overtake the carretela, instead of slowing down or stopping be
hind the carretela until the lane was clear. Its rear bumper caught the wheel of
the carretela and wrenched it loose, and the car skidded to the other lane. Cae
do tried to avoid the collision at the last moment by going farther to the right
, but was unsuccessful.
Caedo and his family members were injured. They filed a suit for recovery of dam
ages from the defendants. The CFI Rizal rendered judgment in favor of the plaint
iffs and against the defendants, Yu Khe Thai and Rafael Bernardo.
ISSUE: Is Yu Khe Thai, as owner of the Cadillac, solidarily liable with the dri
ver?
HELD: No. The applicable law is Article 2184 of the Civil Code:
ART. 2184. In motor vehicle mishaps, the owner is solidarily liable with his dri
ver, if the former, who was in the vehicle, could have, by the use of due dilige
nce, prevented the misfortune. It is disputably presumed that a driver was negli
gent, if he had been found guilty of reckless driving or violating traffic regul
ations at least twice within the next preceding two months.
Under the foregoing provision, if the causative factor was the driver's negligen
ce, the owner of the vehicle who was present is likewise held liable if he could
have prevented the mishap by the exercise of due diligence.
The basis of the master's liability in civil law is not respondent superior but
rather the relationship of paterfamilias. The theory is that ultimately the negl
igence of the servant, if known to the master and susceptible of timely correcti
on by him, reflects his own negligence if he fails to correct it in order to pre
vent injury or damage.
In the present case the defendants' evidence is that Rafael Bernardo had been Yu
Khe Thai's driver since 1937, and before that had been employed by Yutivo Sons
Hardware Co. in the same capacity for over ten years. During that time he had no
record of violation of traffic laws and regulations. No negligence for having e
mployed him at all may be imputed to his master.
The time element was such that there was no reasonable opportunity for Yu Khe Th
ai to assess the risks involved and warn the driver accordingly.
The law does not require that a person must possess a certain measure of skill o
r proficiency either in the mechanics of driving or in the observance of traffic
rules before he may own a motor vehicle. The test of his intelligence, within t
he meaning of Article 2184, is his omission to do that which the evidence of his
own senses tells him he should do in order to avoid the accident. And as far as

absent a minimum level imposed by law. have real need of drivers' services. a maneuver that appears to be fraught with danger to one passenger may appear to be entirely sa fe and commonplace to another. employment of professional drivers by car owners who. perception is concerned. Were the law to require a uniform standard of per ceptiveness. by their very inadequacies. . would be effectively proscri bed.