De Guzman v.

CA

Facts:
Respondent Ernesto Cendana was a junk dealer. He buys scrap materials and brings
those that he gathered to Manila for resale using 2 six-wheeler trucks. On the
return trip to Pangasinan, respondent would load his vehicle with cargo which va
rious merchants wanted delivered, charging fee lower than the commercial rates.
Sometime in November 1970, petitioner Pedro de Guzman contracted with respondent
for the delivery of 750 cartons of Liberty Milk. On December 1, 1970, responden
t loaded the cargo. Only 150 boxes were delivered to petitioner because the truc
k carrying the boxes was hijacked along the way. Petitioner commenced an action
claiming the value of the lost merchandise. Petitioner argues that respondent, b
eing a common carrier, is bound to exercise extraordinary diligence, which it fa
iled to do. Private respondent denied that he was a common carrier, and so he co
uld not be held liable for force majeure. The trial court ruled against the resp
ondent, but such was reversed by the Court of Appeals.
Issues:
(1) Whether or not private respondent is a common carrier
(2) Whether private respondent is liable for the loss of the goods
Held:
(1) Article 1732 makes no distinction between one whose principal business activ
ity is the carrying of persons or goods or both, and one who does such carrying
only as an ancillary activity. Article 1732 also carefully avoids making any dis
tinction between a person or enterprise offering transportation service on a reg
ular or scheduled basis and one offering such service on an occasional, episodic
or unscheduled basis. Neither does Article 1732 distinguish between a carrier o
ffering its services to the "general public," i.e., the general community or pop
ulation, and one who offers services or solicits business only from a narrow seg
ment of the general population. It appears to the Court that private respondent
is properly characterized as a common carrier even though he merely "back-hauled
" goods for other merchants from Manila to Pangasinan, although such backhauling
was done on a periodic or occasional rather than regular or scheduled manner, a
nd even though private respondent's principal occupation was not the carriage of
goods for others. There is no dispute that private respondent charged his custo
mers a fee for hauling their goods; that fee frequently fell below commercial fr
eight rates is not relevant here. A certificate of public convenience is not a r
equisite for the incurring of liability under the Civil Code provisions governin
g common carriers.
(2) Article 1734 establishes the general rule that common carriers are responsib
le for the loss, destruction or deterioration of the goods which they carry, "un
less the same is due to any of the following causes only:
a. Flood, storm, earthquake, lightning, or other natural disaster or calamity;
b. Act of the public enemy in war, whether international or civil;
c. Act or omission of the shipper or owner of the goods;
d. The character of the goods or defects in the packing or in the containers; an
d

We believe and so hold that the limits of the du ty of extraordinary diligence in the vigilance over the goods carried are reache d where the goods are lost as a result of a robbery which is attended by "grave or irresistible threat. Private respondent as com mon carrier is presumed to have been at fault or to have acted negligently." The hijacking of the carrier's truck .e. provided that they shall have complied with the rigorous standard of extraordinary diligence. This presumption. may be overthrown by proof of extraordinary diligence on the part of private respondent.does not fall within any of the five (5) categories of exempting causes listed in Article 1734. however. violence or force. and are not held liable for acts or events which cannot be foreseen or are inevitable. ." we hold that the occurrence of the l oss must reasonably be regarded as quite beyond the control of the common carrie r and properly regarded as a fortuitous event. Order or act of competent public authority. It is necessary to recall that ev en common carriers are not made absolute insurers against all risks of travel an d of transport of goods.