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G.R. No.

122445 November 18, 1997 fourth element of reckless imprudence: that the injury to the person
or property was a consequence of the reckless imprudence.
LYDIA UMALI, respondents. Whether or not a physician has committed an "inexcusable
lack of precaution" in the treatment of his patient is to be determined
Facts: according to the standard of care observed by other members of the
profession in good standing under similar circumstances bearing in
The present case against petitioner is in the nature of a mind the advanced state of the profession at the time of treatment or
medical malpractice suit, which in simplest terms is the type of claim the present state of medical science. The prosecution's expert
which a victim has available to him or her to redress a wrong witnesses in the persons of Dr. Floresto Arizala and Dr. Nieto
committed by a medical professional which has caused bodily harm. Salvador, Jr. of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) only
The petitioner and one Dr. Lina Ercillo who was the attending testified as to the possible cause of death but did not venture to
anaesthesiologist during the operation of the deceased were charged illuminate the court on the matter of the standard of care that
with "reckless imprudence and negligence resulting to (sic) homicide petitioner should have exercised. Expert testimony should have been
for the untimely death of said Lydia Umali on the day following her offered to prove that the circumstances cited by the courts below are
surgical operation. constitutive of conduct falling below the standard of care employed by
other physicians in good standing when performing the same
Rowena Umali De Ocampo, accompanied her mother, Lydia,
operation. It must be remembered that when the qualifications of a
to the Perpetual Help Clinic and General Hospital. Lydia was examined
physician are admitted, as in the instant case, there is an inevitable
by the petitioner who found a "myoma" in her uterus, and scheduled
presumption that in proper cases he takes the necessary precaution
her for a hysterectomy operation on March 23, 1991. Because of the
and employs the best of his knowledge and skill in attending to his
untidy state of the clinic, Rowena tried to persuade her mother not to
clients, unless the contrary is sufficiently established. This
proceed with the operation. The following day, before her mother
presumption is rebuttable by expert opinion which is so sadly lacking
was wheeled into the operating room, Rowena asked the petitioner if
in the case at bench.
the operation could be postponed. Lydia then informed Rowena that
the petitioner told her that she must be operated on as scheduled. In litigations involving medical negligence, the plaintiff has
Rowena and her other relatives waited outside the operating room the burden of establishing appellant's negligence and for a reasonable
while Lydia underwent operation. While they were waiting, Dr. Ercillo conclusion of negligence, there must be proof of breach of duty on
went out of the operating room and instructed them to buy tagamet the part of the surgeon as well as a causal connection of such breach
ampules which Rowena's sister immediately bought. About one hour and the resulting death of his patient. It is significant to state at this
had passed when Dr. Ercillo came out again this time to ask them to juncture that the autopsy conducted by Dr. Arizala on the body of
buy blood for Lydia. After the lapse of a few hours, the petitioner Lydia did not reveal any untied or unsutured cut blood vessel nor was
informed them that the operation was finished. Some thirty minutes there any indication that the tie or suture of a cut blood vessel had
after, Lydia was brought out of the operating room in a stretcher and become loose thereby causing the hemorrhage. This Court has no
the petitioner asked Rowena and the other relatives to buy additional recourse but to rely on the expert testimonies rendered by both
blood for Lydia. Unfortunately, they were not able to comply with prosecution and defense witnesses that substantiate rather than
petitioner's order as there was no more type "A" blood available in contradict petitioner's allegation that the cause of Lydia's death was
the blood bank. Thereafter, a person arrived to donate blood which DIC which, as attested to by an expert witness, cannot be attributed
was later transfused to Lydia. to the petitioner's fault or negligence. The probability that Lydia's
death was caused by DIC was unrebutted during trial and has
Rowena then noticed her mother, who was attached to an
engendered in the mind of this Court a reasonable doubt as to the
oxygen tank, gasping for breath. Apparently the oxygen supply had
petitioner's guilt. Thus, her acquittal of the crime of reckless
run out and Rowena's husband together with the driver of the
imprudence resulting in homicide, but this Court finds the petitioner
accused had to go to the San Pablo District Hospital to get oxygen.
civilly liable for the death of Lydia Umali, for while a conviction of a
Lydia was given the fresh supply of oxygen as soon as it arrived. But
crime requires proof beyond reasonable doubt, only a preponderance
at around 10:00 o'clock P.M. she went into shock and her blood
of evidence is required to establish civil liability.
pressure dropped to 60/50. Lydia's unstable condition necessitated
her transfer to the San Pablo District Hospital so she could be WHEREFORE, premises considered, petitioner DR. NINEVETCH CRUZ
connected to a respirator and further examined. Upon Lydia's arrival is hereby ACQUITTED of the crime of reckless imprudence resulting in
at the San Pablo District Hospital, she was wheeled into the operating homicide but is ordered to pay the heirs of the deceased Lydia Umali
room and the petitioner and Dr. Ercillo re-operated on her because the amount of FIFTY THOUSAND PESOS (P50,000.00) as civil liability,
there was blood oozing from the abdominal incision. While the ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (P100,000.00) as moral damages,
petitioner was closing the abdominal wall, the patient died. Lydia and FIFTY THOUSAND PESOS (P50,000.00) as exemplary damages.
Umali was pronounced dead. Her death certificate states "shock" as
the immediate cause of death and "Disseminated Intravascular
Coagulation (DIC)" as the antecedent cause.
Trial ensued after both the petitioner and Dr. Lina Ercillo G.R. No. L-21291, March 28, 1969
pleaded not guilty to the above-mentioned charge. On March 4, 1994,
the Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) of San Pablo City rendered FACTS: Ralph Corliss Jr. was an air police of the Clark Air Force Base.
a decision finding the accused Dra. Lina Ercillo not guilty of the The jeep he was driving while accompanied with a P.C. soldier,
offense charged for insufficiency of evidence while her co-accused collided with a locomotive of Manila Railroad Company (MRC) close to
Dra. Ninevetch Cruz is hereby held responsible for the death of Lydia midnight at the railroad crossing in Balibago, Angeles, Pampanga, in
Umali on March 24, 1991, and therefore guilty under Art. 365 of the front of the Clark Air Force Base. Corliss Jr. died of serious burns at
Revised Penal Code. The RTC and the Court of Appeals affirmed the the hospital the next day, while the soldier sustained serious physical
MTCC in toto and further directed petitioner to pay the heirs of Lydia injuries and burns.
Umali P50,000.00 as indemnity for her death.
In the decision appealed from, the lower court, after summarizing the
Issue: Won petitioner is guilty of reckless imprudence resulting in evidence, concluded that the deceased in his eagerness to beat, so
homicide? to speak, the oncoming locomotive, took the risk and attempted to
reach the other side, but unfortunately he became the victim of his
Held: own miscalculation.

No. This Court finds the foregoing circumstances insufficient to The negligence imputed to MRC was thus ruled out by the lower
sustain a judgment of conviction against the petitioner for the crime court, satisfactory proof to that effect, in its opinion, being lacking.
of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide. The elements of Hence this appeal direct to us, the amount sought in the concept of
reckless imprudence are: (1) that the offender does or fails to do an damages reaching the sum of P282,065.40.
act; (2) that the doing or the failure to do that act is voluntary; (3)
that it be without malice; (4) that material damage results from the ISSUE: WON the lower courts decision is erroneous
reckless imprudence; and (5) that there is inexcusable lack of
precaution on the part of the offender, taking into consideration his HELD: The decision of the lower court dismissing the complaint, is
employment or occupation, degree of intelligence, physical condition, affirmed.
and other circumstances regarding persons, time and place.
NO. The lower court judgment has in its favor the presumption of
Even granting arguendo that the inadequacy of the facilities correctness. It is entitled to great respect. In the absence of
and untidiness of the clinic; the lack of provisions; the failure to compelling reasons, [the factual] determination is best left to the trial
conduct pre-operation tests on the patient; and the subsequent judge why had the advantage of hearing the parties testify and
transfer of Lydia to the San Pablo Hospital and the reoperation observing their demeanor on the witness stand.
performed on her by the petitioner do indicate, even without expert
testimony, that petitioner was recklessly imprudent in the exercise of But more importantly, this action is predicated on negligence, the
her duties as a surgeon, no cogent proof exists that any of these Civil Code making clear that whoever by act or omission causes
circumstances caused petitioner's death. Thus, the absence of the damage to another, there being negligence, is under obligation to pay
for the damage done. Unless it could be satisfactorily shown,
therefore, that MRC was guilty of negligence then it could not be held TC ruled in favor of the Mables. CA affirmed but reduced the award
liable. The crucial question, therefore, is the existence of negligence. ofdamages.

Negligence was defined by us in two 1912 decisions, United States v. ISSUE:

Juanillo and United States v. Barias. Cooley formulation was quoted
with approval in both the Juanillo and Barias decisions. Thus: Judge W/N the doctrine of res ipsa loquitor is applicable to the case.
Cooley in his work on Torts (3d ed.), Sec. 1324, defines negligence to
be: HELD:

The failure to observe for the protection of the interests of another YES. The doctrine of res ipsa loquitor is applicable to the case. The
person that degree of care, precaution and vigilance which the CA, therefore, had basis to find Cruz liable for the loss sustained by
circumstance justly demand whereby such other person suffers the Mables.
The doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, may be stated as follows:
There was likewise a reliance on Ahern v. Oregon Telephone Co.
Where the thing which caused the injury complained of is shown to be
under the management of the defendant or his servants and the
Negligence is want of the care required by the circumstances. It is a accident is such as in the ordinary course of things does not happen if
relative or comparative, not an absolute term and its application those who have its management or control use proper care, it affords
depends upon the situation of the parties and the degree of care and reasonable evidence, in the absence of explanation by the defendant,
vigilance which the circumstances reasonably require. Where the that the accident arose from want of care. [Africa v. Caltex
danger is great, a high degree of care is necessary, and the failure to (Phil.),Inc., G.R. No. L12986, March 31, 1966, 16 SCRA 448.]
observe it is a want of ordinary care under the circumstances.
The facts of the case likewise call for the application of the doctrine,
To repeat, by such a test, no negligence could be imputed to MRC and considering that in the normal course of operations of a furniture
the action of Corliss must necessarily fail. The facts being what they manufacturing shop, combustible material such as wood chips,
are, compel the conclusion that the liability sought to be fastened on sawdust, paint, varnish and fuel and lubricants for machinery may be
MRC had not arisen. found thereon.

Finally, each and every case on questions of negligence is to be It must also be noted that negligence or want of care on the part of
decided in accordance with the peculiar circumstances that present petitioneror its employees was not merely presumed.Cruz failed to
themselves. There can be no hard and fast rule. There must be that construct a firewall between its shop and the residenceof the Mables
observance of that degree of care, precaution, and vigilance which as required by a city ordinance:
the situation demands.
- that the fire could have been caused by a heated motor or a

Africa vs. Caltex, 16 SCRA 448 - that gasoline and alcohol were used and stored in the shop; and

Facts: In the afternoon of March 18, 1948, a fire broke out at the - that workers sometimes smoked inside the shop
Caltex service station at the corner of Antipolo St. and Rizal Avenue,
Even without applying the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, Cruz's failure
Manila. It started while gasoline was being hosed from a tank truck
to construct a firewall in accordance with city ordinances would suffice
into the underground storage, right at the opening of the receiving
to support a finding of negligence.Even then the fire possibly would
tank where the nozzle of the hose was inserted. The fire spread to
not have spread to the neighboring houses were it not for another
and burned several houses. The owners, among them petitioner
negligent omission on the part of defendants, namely, their failure to
spouses Africa and heirs of Ong, sued respondents Caltex Phil., Inc.,
provide a concrete wall high enough to prevent the flames from
the alleged owner of the station, and Mateo Boquiren, the agent in
leaping over it. Defendant's negligence,therefore, was not only with
charge of its operation, for damages. The CFI and CA found that the
respect to the cause of the fire but also with respect tothe spread
petitioners failed to prove negligence of the respondents, and that
thereof to the neighboring houses.
there was due care in the premises and with respect to the
supervision of their employees. In the instant case, with more reason should petitioner be found
guilty of negligence since it had failed to construct a firewall between
Issue: Whether or not, without proof as to the cause and origin of the
its property and private respondents' residence which sufficiently
fire, the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur should apply so as to presume
complies with the pertinent city ordinances. The failure to comply with
negligence on the part of the respondents.
an ordinance providing for safety regulations had been ruled by the
Held: Yes. Res ipsa loquitur literally means the thing or transaction Court as an act of negligence [Teague v. Fernandez, G.R. No. L-
speaks for itself. For the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur to apply, the 29745, June 4, 1973, 51 SCRA 181.]
following requisites should be present: (a) the accident is of a kind
which ordinarily does not occur in the absence of someones
negligence; (b) it is caused by an instrumentality within the exclusive
control of the defendant or defendants; and (c) the possibility of
In the early afternoon of August 17, 1960, barge L-
contributing conduct which would make the plaintiff responsible is
1892, owned by the Luzon Stevedoring Corporation was
eliminated. In the case at bar, the gasoline station, with all its
being towed down the Pasig River by two tugboats when
appliances, equipment and employees, was under the control of
the barge rammed against one of the wooden piles of the
respondents. A fire occurred therein and spread to and burned the
Nagtahan bailey bridge, smashing the posts and causing
neighboring houses. The persons who knew or could have known how
the bridge to list. The river, at the time, was swollen and
the fire started were respondents and their employees, but they gave
the current swift, on account of the heavy downpour in
no explanation thereof whatsoever. It is a fair and reasonable
Manila and the surrounding provinces on August 15 and
inference that the incident happened because of want of care. The
16, 1960.
negligence of the employees was the proximate cause of the fire,
which in the ordinary course of things does not happen. Therefore,
The Republic of the Philippines sued Luzon
the petitioners are entitled to the award for damages.
Stevedoring for actual and consequential damage caused
by its employees, amounting to P200,000. Defendant
Corporation disclaimed liability on the grounds that it had
FF CRUZ & CO. V. CA, GR NO. 52732, AUG 29, 1988 exercised due diligence in the selection and supervision of
its employees that the damages to the bridge were caused
FACTS: by force majeure, that plaintiff has no capacity to sue, and
that the Nagtahan bailey bridge is an obstruction to
The furniture manufacturing shop of F.F. Cruz in Caloocan City was navigation.
situatedadjacent to the residence of the Mables.Sometime in August
1971, private respondent Gregorio Mable first approached Eric Cruz, After due trial, the court rendered judgment on
petitioner's plant manager, to request that a firewall be constructed June 11, 1963, holding the defendant liable for the damage
between the shop and Mables residence. The request was repeated caused by its employees and ordering it to pay plaintiff the
several times but they fell on deaf ears.In the early morning of actual cost of the repair of the Nagtahan bailey bridge
September 6, 1974, fire broke out in Cruzs shop.Cruzs employees, which amounted to P192,561.72, with legal interest from
who slept in the shop premises, tried to put out the fire, buttheir the date of the filing of the complaint.
efforts proved futile. The fire spread to the Mables house. Both the
shopand the house were razed to the ground.The Mables collected ISSUE:
P35,000.00 on the insurance on their house and thecontents Was the collision of appellant's barge with the
thereof.The Mables filed an action for damages against the Cruzs.The supports or piers of the Nagtahan bridge caused by
fortuitous event or force majeure?
vessel, or to decline to act as pilot. Under certain systems of foreign
RULING: law, the pilot does not take entire charge of the vessel, but is deemed
Yes. Considering that the Nagtahan bridge was an merely the adviser of the master, who retains command and control
immovable and stationary object and uncontrovertedly of the navigation even in localities where pilotage is compulsory. It is
provided with adequate openings for the passage of water quite common for states and localities to provide for compulsory
craft, including barges like of appellant's, it was undeniable pilotage, and safety laws have been enacted requiring vessels
that the unusual event that the barge, exclusively approaching their ports, with certain exceptions, to take on board
controlled by appellant, rammed the bridge supports raises pilots duly licensed under local law. The purpose of these laws is to
a presumption of negligence on the part of appellant or its create a body of seamen thoroughly acquainted with the harbor, to
employees manning the barge or the tugs that towed it. For pilot vessels seeking to enter or depart, and thus protect life and
in the ordinary course of events, such a thing will not property from the dangers of navigation. Upon assuming such office
happen if proper care is used. In Anglo American as compulsory pilot, Capt. Gavino is held to the universally accepted
Jurisprudence, the inference arises by what is known as high standards of care and diligence required of a pilot, whereby he
the "res ipsa loquitur" rule assumes to have skill and knowledge in respect to navigation in the
The appellant strongly stressed the precautions particular waters over which his license extends superior to and more
taken by it on the day in question: that it assigned two of to be trusted than that of the master. He is not held to the highest
its most powerful tugboats to tow down river its barge L- possible degree of skill and care, but must have and exercise the
1892; that it assigned to the task the more competent and ordinary skill and care demanded by the circumstances, and usually
experienced among its patrons, had the towlines, engines shown by an expert in his profession. Under extraordinary
and equipment double-checked and inspected' that it instructed its circumstances, a pilot must exercise extraordinary care. In this case,
patrons to take extra precautions; and Capt. Gavino failed to measure up to such strict standard of care and
concludes that it had done all it was called to do, and that diligence required of pilots in the performance of their duties. As pilot,
the accident, therefore, should be held due to force he should have made sure that his directions were promptly and
majeure or fortuitous event. strictly followed.

These very precautions, however, completely

destroyed the appellant's defense. For caso fortuito or
force majeure (which in law are identical in so far as they (2) The negligence on the part of Capt. Gavino is evident; but Capt.
exempt an obligor from liability) by definition, are Kabancov is no less responsible for the allision. The master is still in
extraordinary events not foreseeable or avoidable, "events command of the vessel notwithstanding the presence of a pilot. A
that could not be foreseen, or which, though foreseen, were perusal of Capt. Kabankov's testimony makes it apparent that he was
inevitable" (Art. 1174, Civ. Code of the Philippines). It was, remiss in the discharge of his duties as master of the ship, leaving the
therefore, not enough that the event should not have been entire docking procedure up to the pilot, instead of maintaining
foreseen or anticipated, as was commonly believed but it watchful vigilance over this risky maneuver. The owners of a vessel
must be one impossible to foresee or to avoid. The mere are not personally liable for the negligent acts of a compulsory pilot,
difficulty to foresee the happening was not impossibility to but by admiralty law, the fault or negligence of a compulsory pilot is
foresee the same. The very measures adopted by appellant imputable to the vessel and it may be held liable therefor in rem.
prove that the possibility of danger was not only Where, however, by the provisions of the statute the pilot is
foreseeable, but actually foreseen, and was not caso compulsory only in the sense that his fee must be paid, and is not in
fortuito. compulsory charge of the vessel, there is no exemption from liability.
Even though the pilot is compulsory, if his negligence was not the
FAR EASTERN SHIPPING COMPANY vs. sole cause of the injury, but the negligence of the master or crew
COURT OF APPEALS and PHILIPPINE PORTS AUTHORITY contributed thereto, the owners are liable. But the liability of the ship
G.R. No. 130150; October, 1998 in rem does not release the pilot from the consequences of his own
negligence. The master is not entirely absolved of responsibility with
FACTS: respect to navigation when a compulsory pilot is in charge. Except
insofar as their liability is limited or exempted by statute, the vessel
M/V PAVLODAR, owned and operated by the Far Eastern Shipping or her owners are liable for all damages caused by the negligence or
Company (FESC), arrived at the Port of Manila and was assigned other wrongs of the owners or those in charge of the vessel. As a
Berth 4 of the Manila International Port, as its berthing space. Gavino, general rule, the owners or those in possession and control of a
who was assigned by the Appellant Manila Pilots' Association to vessel and the vessel are liable for all natural and proximate damages
conduct the docking maneuvers for the safe berthing, boarded the caused to persons or property by reason of her negligent
vessel at the quarantine anchorage and stationed himself in the management or navigation.
bridge, with the master of the vessel, Victor Kavankov, beside him.
After a briefing of Gavino by Kavankov of the particulars of the vessel
and its cargo, the vessel lifted anchor from the quarantine anchorage
and proceeded to the Manila International Port. The sea was calm and BATIQUIN V CA (Villegas)258 SCRA 334 DAVIDE; July 5, 1996
the wind was ideal for docking maneuvers. When the vessel reached
the landmark, one-half mile from the pier, Gavino ordered the engine FACTS- Mrs. Villegas submitted to Dr. Batiquin for prenatal care as
stopped. When the vessel was already about 2,000 feet from the pier, the latter's private patientsometime before September 21,1988. In
Gavino ordered the anchor dropped. Kavankov relayed the orders to the morning of September 21, 1988 Dr. Batiquin, alongwith other
the crew of the vessel on the bow. The left anchor, with two (2) physicians and nurses, performed a caesarean operation on Mrs.
shackles, were dropped. However, the anchor did not take hold as Villegas andsuccessfully delivered the latters baby. After leaving the
expected. The speed of the vessel did not slacken. A commotion hospital, Mrs. Villegas began tosuffer abdominal pains and complained
ensued between the crew members. After Gavino noticed that the of being feverish. She also gradually lost her appetite, soshe
anchor did not take hold, he ordered the engines half-astern. consulted Dr. Batiquin at the latter's polyclinic who prescribed for her
Abellana, who was then on the pier apron, noticed that the vessel was certain medicines.However, the pains still kept recurring. She then
approaching the pier fast. Kavankov likewise noticed that the anchor consulted Dr.Ma. Salud Kho. After examiningher, Dr Kho suggested
did not take hold. Gavino thereafter gave the "full-astern" code. that Mrs.Villegas submit to another surgery.- When Dr. Kho opened
Before the right anchor and additional shackles could be dropped, the theabdomen of Mrs. Villegas she found whitish-yellow discharge
bow of the vessel rammed into the apron of the pier causing inside, an ovarian cyst on each of the left and right ovaries which
considerable damage to the pier as well as the vessel. gave out pus, dirt and pus behind the uterus, and a piece of rubber
material on the right side of the uterus, embedded on the ovarian
ISSUES: cyst. The piece of rubber appeared to be a part of a rubber glove.
This was the cause of all of the infection of the ovariesand
(1) Is the pilot of a commercial vessel, under compulsory pilotage, consequently of all the discomfort suffered by Mrs. Villegas. The piece
solely liable for the damage caused by the vessel to the pier, at the of rubber allegedlyfound was not presented in court, and Dr. Kho
port of destination, for his negligence?; testified that she sent it to a pathologist in CebuCity for examination.
Aside from Dr. Kho's testimony, the evidence which mentioned the
(2) Would the owner of the vessel be liable likewise if the damage is pieceof rubber are a Medical Certificate, a Progress Record, an
caused by the concurrent negligence of the master of the vessel and Anaesthesia Record, a Nurse's Record,and a Physician's Discharge
the pilot under a compulsory pilotage? Summary. The trial court, however, regarded these
documentaryevidence as mere hearsay, "there being no showing that
HELD: the person or persons who prepared themare deceased or unable to
testify on the facts therein stated- There was also doubts as to
(1) Generally speaking, the pilot supersedes the master for the time
thewhereabouts of the piece of rubber, as 2 versions arose from Dr.
being in the command and navigation of the ship, and his orders must
Khos testimony: 1) that it wassent to the Pathologist in Cebu as
be obeyed in all matters connected with her navigation. He becomes
testified to in Court by Dr. Kho and (2) that Dr. Kho threw itaway as
the master pro hac vice and should give all directions as to speed,
told by her to Defendant. The failure of the Plaintiffs to reconcile
course, stopping and reversing anchoring, towing and the like. And
these two differentversions served only to weaken their claim against
when a licensed pilot is employed in a place where pilotage is
compulsory, it is his duty to insist on having effective control of the
Defendant Batiquin. The trial court ruled infavor of the defendants. W/N defendant is guilty of negligence.
The CA reversed the decision.
In our judgment, the cochero of the defendant was not negligent in
Procedural:WON the court can review questions of fact leaving the horses in the manner described by the evidence in this
Substantive:WON Dr. Batiquin is liable case. It appears from the undisputed evidence that the horses which
caused the damage were gentle and tractable; that the cochero was
HELD experienced and capable; that he had driven one of the horses
several years and the other for five or six months; that he had been
Procedural:YES - While the rule is that only questions of law may be in the habit, during all that time, of leaving them in the condition in
raised in a petition for review oncertiorari , there are exceptions, which they were left on the day of the accident; that they had never
among which are when the factual findings of the trial court andthe run away up to that time and there had been, therefore, no accident
appellate court conflict, when the appealed decision is clearly due to such practice; that to leave the horses and assist in unloading
contradicted by the evidenceon record, or when the appellate court the merchandise in the manner described on the day of the accident
misapprehended the facts was the custom of all cochero who delivered merchandise of the
character of that which was being delivered by the cochero of the
Substantive- The focal point of the appeal is Dr. Khos testimony.
defendant on the day in question, which custom was sanctioned by
There were inconsistencies within her own testimony, which led to the
their employers.
different decision of the RTC and CA. The CA was correct insaying
that the trial court erred when it isolated the disputed portion of Dr. It is a matter of common knowledge as well as proof that it is the
Khos testimony anddid not consider it with other portions of Dr. universal practice of merchants to deliver merchandise of the kind of
Khos testimony. Also, the phrase relied upon bythe trial court does that being delivered at the time of the injury, in the manner in which
not negate the fact that Dr. Kho saw a piece of rubber in private that was then being delivered; and that it is the universal practice to
respondentVillegas' abdomen, and that she sent it to a laboratory and leave the horses in the manner in which they were left at the time of
then to Cebu City for examination bya pathologist. Furthermore, Dr. the accident. This is the custom in all cities. It has not been
Kho's knowledge of the piece of rubber could not be based onother productive of accidents or injuries. The public, finding itself
than first hand knowledge for, as she asserted before the trial court. unprejudiced by such practice, has acquiesced for years without
objection. Ought the public now, through the courts, without prior
objection or notice, to be permitted to reverse the practice of decades
and thereby make culpable and guilty one who had every reason and
Res ipsa loquitur. The thing speaks for itself. Rebuttablepresumption assurance to believe that he was acting under the sanction of the
or inference thatdefendant was negligent, which arises upon proof strongest of all civil forces, the custom of a people? We think not.
that theinstrumentality causinginjury was in defendant's exclusive
Espiritu vs. Philippine Power and Development Co.
control,and that the accident was one whichordinary does not happen
inabsence of negligence. Res ipsa loquitur is a rule ofevidence (CA-G.R. No. 3240-R, September 20, 1949)
wherebynegligence of the alleged wrongdoer may be inferred from
themere factthat the accident happened provided the character of the In the afternoon of May 5, 1946while the plaintiff-appellee and other
accidentandcircumstances attending it lead reasonably to belief that companions were loading grass,an electric transmission wire, installed
in theabsence of negligenceit would not have occurred and that thing and maintained by the defendant Philippine Power andDevelopment
whichcaused injury is shown to havebeen under the management and Co., Inc., alongside the road suddenly parted, and one of the broken
controlof the alleged wrongdoer. Under thisdoctrine the happening of ends hit the head of the plaintiff as he was about to board the truck.
aninjury permits an inference of negligence whereplaintiff As a result, plaintiff received the full shock of 4,400volts of the wire.
producessubstantial evidence that the injury was caused by an The electric charge coursed through his body and caused extensive
agencyorinstrumentality under the exclusive control and management and seriousmultiple burns from skull to eyes, leaving the bone
ofdefendant, and thatthe occurrence was such that in the exposed in some parts and causing intense pain andwounds that were
ordinarycourse of things would not happen ifreasonable care had not completely healed when the case was tried on June 18, 1947,
been used. over one year afterthe incident. Defendant disclaimed such liability on
the ground that the plaintiff had failed to show anyspecific act of
The doctrine of res ipsa loquitur as a rule of evidence is peculiarto the negligence.
law ofnegligence which recognizes that prima facie negligencemay be
established withoutdirect proof and furnishes a substitute forspecific The appellate court, in overruling this defense, held: While it is the
proof of negligence. The doctrineis not a rule ofsubstantive law, but rule, as contended by the appellant, that in case of non-contractual
merely a mode of proof or a mereproceduralconvenience. The rule, negligence, or culpa aquiliana, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff
when applicable to the facts andcircumstances of aparticular case, is toestablish that the proximate cause of injury was the negligence of
not intended to and does not the defendant, it is also a recognized principle that where the thing
that causes injury, without fault of the injured person, is under the
S.D. MARTINEZ v. BUSKIRK, GR No. L-5691, Dec 27, 1910 exclusive control of the defendant and the injury is such as in the
ordinary course of things does notoccur as if he having such control
used proper care, it affords reasonable evidence, in the absence of
The plaintiff, Carmen Ong de Martinez, was riding in a carromata the explanation, that the injury arose from the defendants want of
when a delivery wagon belonging to the defendant which was care. And the burden of evidence is shifted to him to establish that
attached a pair of horses, came along the street in the opposite he had observed due diligence and care. This rule is known by the
direction to that the in which said plaintiff was proceeding, and that nameof res ipsa loquitur (the thing or transaction speaks for itself),
thereupon the driver of the said plaintiff's carromata, observing that and is peculiarly applicable to the case atbar, where it is unquestioned
the delivery wagon of the defendant was coming at great speed, that the plaintiff had every night to be on the highway, and the
crowded close to the sidewalk and stopped, in order to give electricwire was under the sole control of the defendant company. In
defendant's delivery wagon an opportunity to pass by, but that the ordinary course of events, electricwires do not part suddenly in
instead of passing by the defendant's wagon and horses ran into the fair weather and injure people, unless they are subject to unusual
carromata occupied by said plaintiff with her child and overturned it, strainand stress or there are defects in their installation, maintenance
severely wounding said plaintiff by making a serious cut upon her and supervision, just as barrels do notordinarily roll out of the
head, and also injuring the carromata itself and the harness upon the warehouse windows to injure passers-by, unless someone is negligent
horse which was drawing it. (which isadmittedly not present), the fact that the wire snapped
suffices to raise a reasonable presumption of negligence in its
The cochero, who was driving his delivery wagon, was a good servant installation, care and maintenance. Thereafter, as observed by Chief
and was considered a safe and reliable cochero; that the delivery Baron Pollock if there are any facts inconsistent with negligence, it
wagon had sent to deliver some forage and for the purpose of is for the defendant to prove.
delivery the cochero driving the team as defendant's employee tied
the driving lines of the horses to the front end of the delivery wagon RADIO COMMUNICATIONS OF THE PHILIPPINES, INC. (RCPI),
and then went back inside of the wagon to unload the forage; that petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS AND LORETO DIONELA,
while unloading the forage and in the act of carrying some of it out, respondents
another vehicle drove by, the driver of which cracked a whip and
No. L-44748. August 29, 1986
made some other noises, which frightened the horses attached to the
delivery wagon and they ran away, and the driver was thrown from Facts:
the inside of the wagon out through the rear upon the ground and
was unable to stop the horses; that the horses then ran up and on Loreto Dionela filed a complaint of damages against Radio
which street they came into collision with the carromata in which the Communiciations of the Philippines, Inc. (RCPI) due to the telegram
plaintiff, Carmen Ong de Martinez, was riding. sent through its Manila Office to the former, reading as follows:

WIRE ARRIVAL OF CHECK FER 1. Rakes was negligent. He disobeyed the orders of his superiors
LORETO DIONELA-CABANGAN-WIRE ARRIVAL OF CHECK-PER when he walked alongside the car instead of in front or behind it.
115 PM
SA IYO WALANG PAKINABANG DUMATING KA DIYAN-WALA-KANG 2. Atlantic is liable to Rakes. The negligence of Rakes will not totally
PADALA DITO KAHIT BULBUL MO bar him from recovering anything from Atlantic, although the liability
of the latter will be mitigated as a result of Rakes contributory
Loreto Dionela alleges that the defamatory words on the telegram negligence. This is because although Rakes contributed with his own
sent to him wounded his feelings, caused him undue embarrassment negligence, the primary cause of the accident was still the weak rails
and affected adversely his business because other people have come which Atlantic refused to repair.
to know of said defamatory words. RCPI alleges that the additional
Distinction must be made between the accident and the injury,
words in Tagalog was a private joke between the sending and
between the event itself, without which there could have been no
receiving operators, that they were not addressed to or intended for
accident, and those acts of the victim not entering into it,
plaintiff and therefore did not form part of the telegram, and that the
independent of it, but contributing to his own proper hurt.
Tagalog words are not defamatory.
Where he contributes to the principal occurrence as one of its
The RTC ruled that the additional words are libelous for any person
determining factors, he cannot recover. Where, in conjunction with
reading the same would logically think that they refer to Dionela, thus
the occurrence, he contributes only to his own injury, he may recover
RCPI was ordered to pay moral damages in the amount of P40,
the amount that the defendant responsible for the event should pay
000.00. The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision ruling that the
for such injury, less a sum deemedequivalent for his own imprudence.
company was negligent and failed to take precautionary steps to
avoid the occurrence of the humiliating incident, and the fact that a We are with reference to such obligations, that culpa or negligence,
copy of the telegram is filed among other telegrams and open to may be understood in two different senses: either as culpa,
public is sufficient publication; however reducing the amount awarded substantive and independent, which on account of its origin arises in
to P15, 000.00 an obligation between two persons not formerly bound by any other
obligation; or as an incident in the performance of an obligation; or as
already existed, which cannot be presumed to exist without the other,
Whether or not the company should answer directly and primarily for and which increases the liability arising from the already existing
the civil liability arising from the criminal act of its employee. obligation.


Yes. The cause of action of the private respondent is based on Arts.

19 and 20 of the New Civil Code, as well as on respondents breach of
contract thru the negligence of its own employees. By adding
extraneous and libelous matters in the message sent to the private
respondent, there is a clear breach of contract; for upon payment of
the fixed rate, the company undertakes to transmit the message

In contracts, the negligence of the employee (servant) is the

negligence of the employer (master). This is the master and servant
rule. As a corporation, the petitioner can act only through its
employees. Hence the acts of its employees in receiving and
transmitting messages are the acts of the petitioner. To hold that the
petitioner is not liable directly for the acts of its employees in the
pursuit of petitioners business is to deprive the general public
availing of the services of the petitioner of an effective and adequate

RCPI was negligent as it failed to take the necessary or precautionary

steps to avoid the occurrence of the humiliating incident now
complained of. The company had not imposed any safeguard against
such eventualities and this void in its operating procedure does not
speak well of its concern for their clienteles interests. Negligence
here is very patent. This negligence is imputable to appellant and not
to its employees. RCPI should be held liable for the acts of its
employees. As a corporation, RCPI acts and conducts its business
through its employees. It cannot now disclaim liability for the acts of
its employees. To hold that the RCPI is not liable directly for the acts
of its employees in the pursuit of its business is to deprive the general
public availing of the services of RCPI of an effective and adequate

In most cases, negligence must be proved in order that plaintiff may

recover. However, since negligence may be hard to substantiate in
some cases, we may apply the doctrine of RES IPSA LOQUITUR (the
thing speaks for itself), by considering the presence of facts or
circumstances surrounding the injury. The judgment of the CA is

RAKES V. AG & P, 7 PHIL 359


Rakes was a laborer employed by Atlantic. While transporting iron

rails from a barge to the companys yard using a railroad hand car,
Rakes broke his leg when the hand car toppled over and the rails fell
on him. It appears that the hand car fell due to a sagging portion of
the track that gave with the weight of the rails. Atlantic knew of the
weak state of the rail but did nothing to repair it. When Rakes filed an
action for damages, Atlantics defense was that Rakes injuries were
caused by his own negligence in walking alongside the car, instead of
in front or behind it, as the laborers were told to do.


1. Whether Rakes was negligent.

2. Whether Atlantic is liable to Rakes.