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Philippine Airlines v.

Judge Savillo and Simplicio Griño


Chico-Nazario, J. 4 July 2008 G.R. No. 149547
Doctrine There is a distinction between (1) damage to passenger’s baggage, and (2) humiliation or emotional harm he suffered at the
hands of the airline’s employees. The first cause of action is covered by the Warsaw Convention, prescribing in 2 years. The
second is covered by the NCC on quasi-delict, prescribing in 4 years.
Summary Simplicio Griño was set to participate in a golf tournament in Jakarta. He booked a flight that took him to his destination via
Singapore. When he arrived, SIA, which was supposed to carry him to Jakarta refused to honor his ticket without PAL’s
endorsement. Griño attempted to contact the PAL office but it was closed. He arrived in Jakarta at a late hour and was unable
to participate in the tournament. Griño sued PAL for damages. PAL claimed that the suit was filed out of time based on the 2
year prescriptive period in the Warsaw convention. The Courts held that the Civil Code applied since the liability for PAL for
emotional harm is distinct from the liability for damages incurred as an incident of the delay. Only the latter situation is covered
by the Warsaw convention.
Facts ANTECEDENTS
 Simplicio Griño was invited to participate in the 1993 ASEAN Seniors Annual Golf Tournament to be held in Jakarta,
Indonesia. He and several companions purchased passenger tickets from Philippine Airlines (PAL) with route Manila-
Singapore-Jakarta-Singapore-Manila.
 PAL would undertake the Manila-Singapore route, while Singapore Airlines (SIA) would take them from SG to Jakarta.
 Upon their arrival to SG, they proceeded to SG Airlines to check-in for their flight to Jakarta scheduled at 8pm. However,
SIA rejected the tickets of Griño et al. because these were not endorsed by PAL.
 SIA explained that if it would honor the tickets without PAL’s endorsement, PAL would not pay SG Airlines for their passage.
Griño et al. tried to contact the PAL office at the airport, but it was closed.
 The said passengers were then stranded at the airport in SG. They were in panic and at a loss where to go. They were then
forced to purchase tickets from Garuda Airlines, and boarded its last flight bound for Jakarta. The party who was supposed
to fetch them from the airport had already left and they had to arrange for their transportation to the hotel at a very late hour.
 Griño claimed that he became ill and was unable to participate in the tournament.
 Upon returning to PH, Griño brought the matter to PAL. He sent a demand letter on Dec. 20, 1993 to PAL, and another one
to SIA on March 21, 1994. Both airlines disowned liability and blamed each other.
COMPLAINT before RTC
 Griño then filed a Complaint for Damages seeking compensation for moral damages in the amount of P1M.
 PAL filed a Motion to Dismiss on the ground of prescription under Sec. 1(f) of Rule 16.
o Prescription is based on Art. 291 of the Warsaw Convention, providing that any claim for damages in connection with
the international transportation of persons is subject to the prescription period of 2 years.
o Since the complaint was filed on Aug. 15, 1997, more than 3 years had passed after PAL received the demand letter
on Jan. 25, 1994.
 RTC Ruling: Denied the MTD, held that the provisions of the Civil Code and other pertinent PH laws, not the Warsaw
Convention, were applicable to the present case.
 CA Ruling: dismissed the Petition for Certiorari and affirmed the RTC order. It held that the application of the Warsaw
Convention must not be construed to preclude the application of the NCC and other pertinent laws. The CA applied Art.
1144 (10-year prescription).
Issues/Ratio
W/N the lower courts erred in applying the Civil Code and holding that the complaint by Griño had not prescribed
[NO: PAL’s negligence did not occur during its performance of the contract of carriage, and thus is not covered by
Warsaw]
 The stated purpose of Warsaw is to provide uniformity of rules governing claims arising from international air travel; thus, it
precludes a passenger from maintaining an action for personal injury damages under local law when his or her claim does
not satisfy the conditions of liability under the Convention.
 A number of Articles of Warsaw have provisions on the liability of carriers. Art. 19 provides for liability due to damages
caused by delay in the transportation of passengers and goods. Art. 24 provides that an action for damages in cases
covered by Art. 19 is subject to the limitations set by the Convention, including the 2 year prescriptive period in Art. 29
 The Courts in both the Philippines and US, have held the Warsaw Convention does not “exclusively regulate” the
relationship between passenger and carrier on an international flight.
 In United Airlines v. Uy, the Court distinguished between (1) damage to passenger’s baggage, and (2) humiliation he
suffered at the hands of the airline’s employees. The first cause of action is covered by the Warsaw Convention, prescribing
in 2 years. The second is covered by the NCC on quasi-delict, prescribing in 4 years.
 Like in United, American courts in Mahaney v. France and Wogel v. Mexicana Airliness have held that liability for damages
due to humiliation or unjust discrimination fall outside the scope of Warsaw.
 In Mahaney, the court ruled that if the suit was purely for the costs caused by the delay (renting a van for example), Warsaw
would apply, but since the plaintiff alleged undue discrimination, a suit for compensatory damages can be filed outside the
restrictions set by Warsaw. In Wogel the court held that an action for damages due to the “bumping off” itself is outside the
scope of Warsaw as opposed to a suit for damages due to the incidental costs of the delay.
As Applied
 Griño’s complaint alleged that both PAL and SG Airlines were guilty of gross negligence, which resulted in his being
subjected to “humiliation, embarrassment, mental anguish, serious anxiety, fear and distress.” The emotional harm suffered
by Griño as a result of having been unreasonably and unjustly prevented from boarding the plane should be distinguished
from actual damages, which resulted from the same incident.
 The Court compared the case to that of Lathigra v. British Airways. There, a US court held that the airlines’ negligent act of

1Article 29. (1) The right to damages shall be extinguished if an action is not brought within two years, reckoned from the date of arrival at the destination, or from
the date on which the aircraft ought to have arrived, or from the date on which the carriage stopped.
(2) The method of calculating the period of limitation shall be determined by the law of the court to which the case is submitted.
reconfirming the passenger’s reservation days before departure and failing to inform the latter that the flight had already
been discontinued is not among the acts covered by Warsaw, since the alleged negligence did not occur during the
performance of the contract of carriage.
 SIA barred Griño from boarding in its flight because PAL allegedly failed to endorse the tickets of private respondent and his
companions, despite PAL’s assurances to Griño that SIA had already confirmed their passage. An action based on these
allegations will not fall under the Warsaw Convention, since the purported negligence on the part of PAL did not occur
during the performance of the contract of carriage but days before the scheduled flight.
 This case is founded on the profound distress, fear, anxiety, and humiliation that Griño experienced due to the failure of PAL
to transport him. Griño’s action is based on quasi-delict2 and not on contract, and is not within the purview of the Warsaw
convention, following the logic of the cases cite above.
 Griño’s complaint was filed with the RTC on Aug. 15, 1997, which was less than 4 years since PAL received his extrajudicial
demand on Jan. 25, 1994. Thus the action had not yet prescribed.
Held Petition DENIED. CA Decision AFFIRMED.

Edited by: Bian Villanueva [PRIL]

Originally Prepared by: Jzev Villanueva [Transpo | Prof. Angeles]

2Article 2176. Whoever by act or omission causes damage to another, there being fault or negligence, is obliged to pay for the damage done. Such fault or negligence,
if there is no pre-existing contractual relation between the parties, is called a quasi-delict and is governed by the provisions of this Chapter. (1902a)
Article 19. Every person must, in the exercise of his rights and in the performance of his duties, act with justice, give everyone his due, and observe honesty and good
faith.
Article 21. Any person who wilfully causes loss or injury to another in manner that is contrary to morals, good customs or public policy shall compensate the latter for
the damage.