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Coca Cola Bottlers vs.

Ca
G.R.No. 110295 (October 18, 1993)
Facts: Lydia Geronimo is the proprietress of a school canteen. On August 12, 198
9, a group of parents complained before Geronimo that they found fibrous materia
l in the bottles of Coke and Sprite that their children bought from her store. G
eronimo examined her stock and found that there were indeed fibrous materials in
the unopened soda bottles. She brought the bottles to the Department of Health
Regional Office and was informed that the soda samples she sent were adulterated
.
Because of this, the canteen had to close down due to the big drop in its sales
of soft drinks. On Geronimo filed a complaint for damages against Coca cola. Coc
a-Cola moved to dismiss the complaint on the grounds of failure to exhaust admin
istrative remedies and prescription. According to Coca-Cola, under the law on sa
les on breach of warranty, more particularly Article 1561 , the action should ha
ve been brought within six months from the delivery of the goods.
Coca cola moved to dismiss on the basis of failure to exhaust all administrative
remedies and prescription. It contends that the existence of a contractual rela
tion between the parties (arising from the contract of sale) bars the applicatio
n of the law on quasi-delicts and that since Geronimo s cause of action arose from
the breach of implied warranties, the complaint should have been filed within s
ix months from delivery of the soft drinks pursuant to Article 1571 of the Civil
Code. Geronimo claims that the cause of action is based on injury to her right
and can be brought within four years pursuant to Article 1146 of the civil code.
Issue: Has the action prescribed? Can Geronimo s action based on quasi-delict exis
t despite the pre-existing contract of sale?
Held: While it may be true that the pre-existing contract between the parties ma
y, as a general rule, bar the applicability of the law on quasi-delict, the liab
ility may itself be deemed to arise from quasi-delict, i.e., the act which break
s the contract may also be a quasi-delict.
In Singson vs. Bank of the Philippine Islands," this Court stated: "We have repe
atedly held, however, that the existence of a contract between the parties does
not bar the commission of a tort by the one against the other and the consequent
recovery of damages therefor. Indeed, this view has been, in effect, reiterated
in a comparatively recent case. Thus, in Air France vs. Carrascosa, involving a
n airplane passenger who, despite his first-class ticket, had been illegally ous
ted from his first-class accommodation and compelled to take a seat in the touri
st compartment, was held entitled to recover damages from the air-carrier, upon
the ground of tort on the latter's part, for, although the relation between the
passenger and a carrier is contractual both in origin and nature x x x the act t
hat breaks the contract may also be a tort.'''
Otherwise put, liability for quasi-delict may still exist despite the presence o
f contractual relations. Therefore, Geronimo has four years to file the case, re
ckoned from the time the cause of action accrued.