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No. L-40570. January 30, 1976.* other person who might by accident get into contact with it.

er person who might by accident get into contact with it. Stated otherwise,
even if the child was allowed to leave the house unattended due to the parents’
TEODORO C. UMALI, petitioner, vs. HON. ANGEL BACANI, in his capacity as negligence, he would not have died that morning were it not for the cut live wire
Presiding Judge of Branch IX of the Court of First Instance of Pangasinan and he accidentally touched.
FIDEL H. SAYNES, respondents.
Same; Same; Negligence of employee is presumed to be negligence of his employer
Civil law; Torts; Quasi-delicts; An electric plant company which fails to use who may escape liability only by proof that it exercised diligence of good father of
ordinary foresight in taking necessary precaution to eliminate tall banana plants family to prevent damage not only in selection of employees but in adequately
which when blown by a moderate wind could trigger danger, vis-a-vis, its electric supervising their work.—The negligence of the employee is presumed to be the
lines; which after a storm and foresecable damage to its lines that could endanger negligence of the employer x x x. This liability of the employer is primary and
life and limb did not cut off electric power from its plant; and which, after being direct. In fact, the proper defense for the employer to raise so that he may escape
made aware, thru one of its employees, that a live wire had been cut by the action liability is to prove that he exercised the diligence of the good father of the family
of the storm, did not take precaution to prevent anybody from approaching the live to prevent damage not only in the selection of his employees but also in
wire, is negligent and liable for damages for death of 3½ year old boy who went to adequately supervising them over their work. This defense was not adequately
the place where live wire is located and got into contact with it.—A careful proven as found by the trial Court, and We do not find any sufficient reason to
examination of the record convince Us that a series of negligence on the part of deviate from its finding.
defendants’ employees in the Alcala Electric Plant resulted in the death of the
victim by electrocution. First, by the very evidence of the defendant, there were PETITION for certioari to review the decision of the Court of First Instance of
tall and big banana plants at the place of the incident standing on an elevated Pangasinan. Bacani. J.
ground which were about 30 feet high and which were higher than the electric
post supporting the electric line, and yet the employees of the defendant, who, The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.
with ordinary foresight, could have easily seen that even in case of moderate
winds the electric line would be in angered by banana plants being blown down
Julian M. Armas for petitioner.
did not even take the necessary precaution to eliminate that source of danger to
the electric line. Second, even after the employees of the Plant were already
aware of the possible damage the storm of May 11, 1972, could have caused their Antonino de los Reyes for private respondent.
electric lines, thus becoming a possible threat lo life and property, they did not cut
off from the plant the flow of electricity along the lines, an act they could have ESGUERRA, J.:
easily done pending inspection of the wires to see if they had been cut. Third,
employee Cipriano Baldomero was negligent on the morning of the incident
Petition for certiorari to review the decision of the Court of First Instance of
because even if he was already made aware of the live cut wire, he did not have
Pangasinan, Branch IX, in Civil Case No. U-2412, entitled, “Fidel H. Saynes,
the foresight to realize that the same posed a danger to life and property, and that
plaintiff-appellee versus Teodoro C. Umali, defendant-appellant”, which found the
he should have taken the necessary precaution to prevent anybody from
death by electrocution of Manuel Saynes, a boy of 3 years and 8 months, as “due
approaching the live wire; instead Baldomero left the promises because what was
to the fault or negligence of the defendant (Umali) as owner and manager of the
foremost in his mind was the repair of the line, obviously forgetting that if left
AlcaIa Electric Plant”, although the liability of defendant is mitigated by the
unattended to it could endanger life and property.
contributory negligence of the parents of the boy “in not providing for the proper
and delegate supervision and control over their son.” The dispositive part of the
Same; Same; Same; Where negligence of electric utility plant was proximate cause decision reads as follows:
of death of child, parental negligence in allowing the child to go to place where
fallen live wire was located is merely contributory.—It may be true, as the lower “Wherefore, the Court hereby renders judgment in favor of the plaintiff by ordering the
Court found out, that the contributory negligence of the victim’s parents in not defendant to pay to the plaintiff the sum of Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00) for the death of
properly taking care of the child, which enabled him to leave the house alone on his son, Manuel Saynes; the sum of One Thousand. Two Hundred Pesos (Pl,200.00) for
the morning of the incident and to go a nearby place (cut wire was very near the actual expenses for and in connection with the burial of said deceased child, and the further
house where victim was living) where the fatal fallen wire electrocuted him, sum of Three Thousand Pesos (P3,000.00) for moral damages and Five Hundred (P500.00)
might mitigate respondent’s liability, but We cannot agree with petitioner’s Pesos as reasonable attorney’s fee, or a total of Nine Thousand Seven Hundred (P9,700.00)
theory that the parents’ negligence constituted the proximate cause of the victim’s Pesos, and to pay the cost of this suit, it Is So Ordered.”
death because the real proximate cause was the fallen live wire which posed a
threat to life and property that morning due to the series of negligence adverted Undisputed facts appearing of record are:
to above committed by defendants’ employees and which could have killed any
“On May 14, 1972, a storm with strong rain hit the Municipality of Alcala, Pangasinan, because what was foremost in his mind was the repair of the line, obviously
which started from 2:00 o’clock in the afternoon and lasted up to about midnight of the same forgetting that if left unattended to it could endanger life and property.
day. During the storm, the banana plants standing on an elevated ground along the barrio
road in San Pedro Ili of said municipality and near the transmission line of the Alcala
Electric Plant were blown down and fell on the electric wire. As a result, the live electric On defendants’ argument that the proximate cause of the victim’s death could be
wire was cut, one end of which was left hanging on the electric post and the other fell to the attributed to the parents’ negligence in allowing a child of tender age to go out of
ground under the fallen banana plants. the house alone, We could readily see that because of the aforementioned series of
negligence on the part of defendants’ employees resulting in a live wire lying on
“On the following morning, at about 9:00 o’clock barrio captain Luciano Bueno of San Pedro the premises without any visible warning of its lethal character, anybody, even a
Ili who was passing by saw the broken electric wire and so he warned the people in the place responsible grown up or not necessarily an innocent child, could have met the
not to go near the wire for they might get hurt. He also saw Cipriano Baldomero, a laborer same fate that befell the victim. It may be true, as the lower Court found out, that
of the Alcala Electric Plant near the place and notified him right then and there of the the contributory negligence of the victim’s parents in not properly taking care of
broken line and asked him to fix it, but the latter told the barrio captain that he could not do the child, which enabled him to leave the house alone on the morning of the
it but that he was going to look for the lineman to fix it.
incident and go to a nearby place (cut wire was very near the house where victim
was living) where the fatal fallen wire electrocuted him, might mitigate
“Sometime after the barrio captain and Cipriano Baldomero had left the place, a small boy respondent’s liability, but We cannot agree with petitioner’s theory that the
of 3 years and 8 months old by the name of Manuel P. Saynes, whose house is just on the parents’ negligence constituted the proximate cause of the victim’s death because
opposite side of the road, went to the place where the broken line wire was and got in
the real proximate cause was the fallen live wire which posed a threat to life and
contact with it, The boy was electrocuted and he subsequently died. It was only after the
electrocution of Manuel Saynes that the broken wire was fixed at about 10:00 o’clock on the property on that morning due to the series of negligence adverted to above
same morning by the lineman of the electric plant.” committed by defendants’ employees and which could have killed any other
person who might by accident get into contact with it. Stated otherwise, even if
the child was allowed to leave the house unattended due to the parents’
Petitioner claims that he could not be liable under the concept of quasi-delict or
negligence, he would not have died that morning where it not for the cut live wire
tort as owner and manager of the Alcala Electric Plant because the proximate
he accidentally touched.
cause of the boy’s death by electrocution could not be due to any negligence on his
part, but rather to a fortuitous event—the storm that caused the banana plants to
fall and cut the electric line—pointing out the absence of negligence on the part of Art. 2179 of the Civil Code provides that if the negligence of the plaintiff (parents
his employee Cipriano Baldomero who tried to have the line repaired and the of the victim in this case) was only contributory, the immediate and proximate
presence of negligence of the parents of the child in allowing him to leave his cause of the injury being the defendants’ lack of due care, the plaintiff may
house during that time. recover damages, but the courts shall mitigate the damages to be awarded. This
law may be availed of by the petitioner but does not exempt him from liability.
A careful examination of the record convinces Us that a series of negligence on
the part of defendants’ employees in the Alcala Electric Plant resulted in the Petitioner’s liability for injury caused by his employees negligence is well defined
death of the victim by electrocution. First, by the very evidence of the defendant, in par. 4, of Article 2180 of the Civil Code, which states:
there were big and tall banana plants at the place of the incident standing on an
elevated ground which were about 30 feet high and which were higher than the “The owner and manager of an establishment or enterprise are likewise responsible for
electric post supporting the electric line, and yet the employees of the defendant damages caused by their employees in the service of the branches in which the latter are
who, with ordinary foresight, could have easily seen that even in case of moderate employed or on the occasion of their functions.”
winds the electric line would be endangered by-banana plants being blown down,
did not even take the necessary precaution to eliminate that source of danger to The negligence of the employee is presumed to be the negligence of the employer
the electric line. Second, even after the employees of the Alcala Electric Plant because the employer is supposed to exercise supervision over the work of the
were already aware of the possible damage the storm of May 14, 1972, could have employees. This liability of the employer is primary and direct (Standard Vacuum
caused their electric lines, thus becoming a possible threat to life and property, Oil Co. vs. Tan and Court of Appeals, 107 Phil. 109). In fact the proper defense for
they did not cut off from the plant the flow of electricity along the lines, an act the employer to raise so that he may escape liability is to prove that he exercised,
they could have easily done pending inspection of the wires to see if they had been the diligence of the good father of the family to prevent damage not only in the
cut. Third, employee Cipriano Baldomero was negligent on the morning of the selection-of his employees but also in adequately supervising them over their
incident because even if he was already made aware of the live cut wire, he did work. This defense was not adequately proven as found by the trial Court, and We
not have the foresight to realize that the same posed a danger to life and do not find any sufficient reason to deviate from its finding.
property, and that he should have taken the necessary precaution to prevent
anybody from approaching the live wire; instead Baldomero left the premises Notwithstanding diligent efforts, We fail to find any reversible error committed by
the trial Court in this case, either in its appreciation of the evidence on questions
of facts or on the interpretation and application of laws governing quasi-delicts
and liabilities emanating therefrom. The inevitable conclusion is that no error
amounting to grave abuse of discretion was committed and the decision must be
left untouched.

WHEREFORE, the decision of respondent Court dated June 27, 1974 is


affirmed.

Costs against petitioner.

SO ORDERED.

Teehankee (Chairman), Makasiar, Muñoz Palma and Martin, JJ., concur.

Decision affirmed.

Notes.—Under the provisions of Article 2180 of the new Civil Code, the
president of a vocational school and the instructor of the student of the school who
caused the death of his classmate are jointly and severally liable for damages to
the parents of the deceased who was fatally injured at the school’s laboratory
room. (Palisoc vs. Brillantes, 41 SCRA 548).

Civil liability coexists with criminal responsibility. In negligence cases, the


offended party (or his heirs) has the option between an action for enforcement of
civil liability based on culpa criminal under article 100 of the Revised Penal Code
and an action for recovery of damages based on culpa aquiliana under article 2177
of the Civil Code. The action for enforcement of civil liability based on culpa
criminal section 1 of Rule 111 of the Rules of Court deems simultaneously
instituted with the criminal action, unless expressly waived or reserved for a
separate application by the offended party. Article 2177 of the Civil Code,
however, precludes recovery of damages twice for the same negligent act or
omission. (Padua vs. Robles, 66 SCRA 489). Under these principles, it has been
held that where after convicting a driver in the criminal case for negligence, the
trial court stated in its judgment that “the civil liability of the accused has
already been determined and assessed in Civil Case No. 427-0”, the offended
party who failed to obtain the damages awarded in the civil case may still run
after the owner of the vehicle based on the latter’s subsidiary responsibility under
the provisions of article 103 of the Revised Penal Code. (Ibid.)

——o0o——

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[No. 12219. March 15, 1918.] In this action the plaintiff, Amado Picart, seeks to recover of the defendant, Frank
Smith, jr., the sum of P31,100, as damages alleged to have been caused by an
AMADO PICART, plaintiff and appellant, vs. FRANK SMITH, jr., defendant and automobile driven by the defendant. From a judgment of the Court of First
appellee. Instance of the Province of La Union absolving the defendant from liability the
plaintiff has appealed.
1.
NEGLIGENCE; CRITERION FOR DETERMINING EXISTENCE OF NEGLI-
GENCE.—The test for determining whether a person is negligent in doing an act The occurrence which gave rise to the institution of this action took place on
whereby injury or damage results to the person or property of another is this: December 12, 1912, on the Carlatan Bridge, at San Fernando, La Union. It
Would a prudent man, in the position of the person to whom negligence is appears that upon the occasion in question the plaintiff was riding on his pony
attributed, foresee harm to the person injured as a reasonable consequence of the over said bridge. Before he had gotten half way across, the defendant approached
course about to be pursued. If so, the law imposes a duty on the actor to refrain from the opposite direction in an automobile, going at the rate of about ten or
from that course or to take precaution against its mischievous results, and the twelve miles per hour. As the defendant neared the bridge he saw a horseman on
failure to do so constitutes negligence. Reasonable foresight of harm, followed by it and blew his horn to give warning of his approach. He continued his course and
the ignoring of the admonition born of this prevision, is the constitutive f act in after he had taken the bridge he gave two more successive blasts, as it appeared
negligence. to him that the man on horseback before him was not observing the rule of the
road.
2.
ID.; CONTRIBUTORY NEGLIGENCE; SUCCESSIVE NEGLIGENT ACTS.—
Where both parties are guilty of negligence, but the negligent act of one succeeds The plaintiff, it appears, saw the automobile coming and heard the warning
that of the other by an appreciable interval of time, the one who has the last signals. However, being perturbed by the novelty of the apparition or the rapidity
reasonable opportunity to avoid the impending harm and fails to do so is of the approach, he pulled the pony closely up against the railing on the right side
chargeable with the consequences, without reference to the prior negligence of the of the bridge instead of going to the left. He says that the reason he did this was
other party. that he thought he did not have sufficient time to get over to the other side. The
bridge is shown to have a length of about 75 meters and a width of 4.80 meters.
As the automobile approached, the defendant guided it toward his left, that being
3.
ID.; ID.; ID.; CASE AT BAR.—The plaintiff was riding a pony on a bridge,
the proper side of the road for the machine. In so doing the defendant assumed
Seeing an automobile ahead he improperly pulled his horse over to the railing on that the horseman would move to the other side. The pony had not as yet
the right. The driver of the automobile, however, guided his car toward the exhibited fright, and the rider had made no sign for the automobile to stop. Seeing
plaintiff without diminution of speed until he was only a few feet away. He then that the pony was apparently quiet, the defendant, instead of veering to the right
turned to the right but passed so closely to the horse that the latter being
while yet some distance away or slowing down, continued to approach directly
frightened, jumped around and was killed by the passing car. Held: That although toward the horse without diminution of speed. When he had gotten quite near,
the plaintiff was guilty of negligence in being on the wrong side of the bridge, the there being then no possibility of the horse getting across to the other side, the
defendant was nevertheless civilly liable for the legal damages resulting from the defendant quickly turned his car sufficiently to the right to escape hitting the
collision, as he had a fair opportunity to avoid the accident af ter he realized the horse alongside of the railing where it was then standing; but in so doing the
situation created by the negligence of the plaintiff and failed to avail himself of automobile passed in such close proximity to the animal that it became frightened
that opportunity; while the plaintiff could by no means then place himself in a and turned its body across the bridge with its head toward the railing. In so
position of greater safety. doing, it was struck on the hock of the left hind leg by the flange of the car and
the limb was broken. The horse fell and its rider was thrown off with some
APPEAL from a judgment of the Court of First Instance of La Union. Camus, J. violence. From the evidence adduced in the case we believe that when the
accident occurred the free space where the pony stood between the automobile
The facts are stated in the opinion of the court. and the railing of the bridge was probably less than one and one half meters. As a
result of its injuries the horse died. The plaintiff received contusions which caused
temporary unconsciousness and required medical attention for several days.
Alejo Mabanag for appellant.

The question presented for decision is whether or not the defendant in


G. E. Campbell for appellee.
maneuvering his car in the manner above described was guilty of negligence such
as gives rise to a civil obligation to repair the damage done; and we are of the
STREET, J.: opinion that he is so liable. As the defendant started across the bridge, he had the
right to assume that the horse and rider would pass over to the proper side; but
as he moved toward the center of the bridge it was demonstrated to his eyes that
this would not be done; and he must in a moment have perceived that it was too A prudent man, placed in the position of the defendant, would, in our opinion,
late for the horse to cross with safety in front of the moving vehicle. In the nature have recognized that the course which he was pursuing was fraught with risk,
of things this change of situation occurred while the automobile was yet some and would therefore have foreseen harm to the horse and rider as a reasonable
distance away; and from this moment it was not longer within the power of the consequence of that course. Under these circumstances the law imposed on the
plaintiff to escape being run down by going to a place of greater safety. The defendant the duty to guard against the threatened harm.
control of the situation had then passed entirely to the defendant; and it was his
duty either to bring his car to an immediate stop or, seeing that there were no It goes without saying that the plaintiff himself was not free from fault, for he
other persons on the bridge, to take the other side and pass sufficiently far away was guilty of antecedent negligence in planting himself on the wrong side of the
from the horse to avoid the danger of collision. Instead of doing this, the road. But as we have already stated, the defendant was also negligent; and in
defendant ran straight on until he was almost upon the horse. He was, we think, such case the problem always is to discover which agent is immediately and
deceived into doing this by the fact that the horse had not yet exhibited fright. directly responsible. It will be noted that the negligent acts of the two parties
But in view of the known nature of horses, there was an appreciable risk that, if were not contemporaneous, since the negligence of the defendant succeeded the
the animal in question was unacquainted with automobiles, he might get excited negligence of the plaintiff by an appreciable interval. Under these circumstances
and jump under the conditions which here confronted him. When the defendant the law is that the person who has the last fair chance to avoid the impending
exposed the horse and rider to this danger he was, in our opinion, negligent in the harm and f ails to do so is chargeable with the consequences, without reference to
eye of the law. the prior negligence of the other party.

The test by which to determine the existence of negligence in a particular case The decision in the case of Rakes vs. Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific Co. (7 Phil. Rep.,
may be stated as follows: Did the defendant in doing the alleged negligent act use 359) should perhaps be mentioned in this connection. This Court there held that
that reasonable care and caution which an ordinarily prudent person would have while contributory negligence on the part of the person injured did not constitute
used in the same situation? If not, then he is guilty of negligence. The law here in a bar to recovery, it could be received in evidence to reduce the damages which
effect adopts the standard supposed to be supplied by the imaginary conduct of would otherwise have been assessed wholly against the other party. The
the discreet paterfamilias of the Roman law. The existence of negligence in a defendant company had there employed the plaintiff, a laborer, to assist in
given case is not determined by reference to the personal judgment of the actor in transporting iron rails from a barge in Manila harbor to the company's yards
the situation before him. The law considers what would be reckless, blameworthy, located not far away. The rails were conveyed upon cars which were hauled along
or negligent in the man of ordinary intelligence and prudence and determines a narrow track. At a certain spot near the water's edge the track gave way by
liability by that. reason of the combined effect of the weight of the car and the insecurity of the
road bed. The car was in consequence upset; the rails slid off; and the plaintiff's
The question as to what would constitute the conduct of a prudent man in a given leg was caught and broken. It appeared in evidence that the accident was due to
situation must of course be always determined in the light of human experience the effects of a typhoon which had dislodged one of the supports of the track. The
and in view of the f facts involved in the particular case. Abstract speculation court found that the defendant company was negligent in having failed to repair
cannot here be of much value but this much can be profitably said: Reasonable the bed of the track and also that the plaintiff was, at the moment of the accident,
men govern their conduct by the circumstances which are before them or known guilty of contributory negligence in walking at the side of the car instead 'of being
to them. They are not, and are not supposed to be, omniscient of the future. Hence in front or behind. It was held that while the defendant was liable to the plaintiff
they can be expected to take care only when there is something bef fore them to by reason of its negligence in having failed to keep the track in proper repair,
suggest or warn of danger. Could a prudent man, in the case under consideration, nevertheless the amount of the damages should be reduced on account of the
foresee harm as a result of the course actually pursued? If so, it was the duty of contributory negligence of the plaintiff. As will be seen the defendant's negligence
the actor to take precautions to guard against that harm. Reasonable foresight of in that case consisted in an omission only. The liability of the company arose from
harm, followed by the ignoring of the suggestion born of this prevision, is always its responsibility for the dangerous condition of its track. In a case like the one
necessary before negligence can be held to exist. Stated in these terms, the proper now before us, where the defendant was actually present and operating the
criterion for determining the existence of negligence in a given case is this: automobile which caused the damage, we do not f feel constrained to attempt to
Conduct is said to be negligent when a prudent man in the position of the weigh the negligence of the respective parties in order to apportion the damage
tortfeasor would have foreseen that an effect harmful to another was sufficiently according to the degree of their relative fault. It is enough to say that the
probable to warrant his foregoing the conduct or guarding against its negligence of the def fendant was in this case the immediate and determining
consequences. cause of the accident and that the antecedent negligence of the plaintiff was a
more remote factor in the case.
Applying this test to the conduct of the defendant in the present case we think
that negligence is clearly established. A point of minor importance in the case is indicated in the special defense pleaded
in the defendant's answer, to the effect that the subject matter of the action had
been previously adjudicated in the court of a justice of the peace. In this
connection it appears that soon after the accident in question occurred, the
plaintiff caused criminal proceedings to be instituted before a justice of the peace
charging the defendant with the infliction of serious injuries (lesiones graves). At
the preliminary investigation the defendant was discharged by the magistrate
and the proceedings were dismissed. Conceding that the acquittal of the def
fendant at a trial upon the merits in a criminal prosecution for the offense
mentioned would be res adjudicata upon the question of his civil liability arising
from negligence—a point upon which it is unnecessary to express an opinion—the
action of the justice of the peace in dismissing the criminal proceeding upon the
preliminary hearing can have no such effect. (See U. S. vs. Banzuela and
Banzuela, 31 Phil. Rep., 564.)

From what has been said it results that the judgment of the lower court
must be reversed, and judgment is here rendered that the plaintiff recover of the
defendant the sum of two hundred pesos (P200), with costs of both instances. The
sum here awarded is estimated to include the value of the horse, medical
expenses of the plaintiff, the loss or damage occasioned to articles of -his apparel,
and lawful interest on the whole to the date of this recovery. The other damages
claimed by the plaintiff are remote or otherwise of such character as not to be
recoverable. So ordered.

Arellano, C. J., Torres, Carson, Araullo, Avanceña, and Fisher, JJ., concur.

Johnson, J., reserves his vote.

MALCOLM, J., concurring:

After mature deliberation, I have finally decided to concur with the judgment in
this case. I do so because of my understanding of the "last clear chance" rule of
the law of negligence as particularly applied to automobile accidents. This rule
cannot be invoked where the negligence of the plaintiff is concurrent with that of
the defendant. Again, if a traveller when he reaches the point of collision is in a
situation to extricate himself and avoid injury, his negligence at that point will
prevent a recovery. But Justice Street finds as a fact that the negligent act of the
defendant succeeded that of the plaintiff by an appreciable interval of time, and
that at that moment the plaintiff had no opportunity to avoid the accident.
Consequently, the "last clear chance" rule is applicable. In other words, when a
traveller has reached a point where he cannot extricate himself and vigilance on
his part will not avert the injury, his negligence in reaching that position becomes
the condition and not the proximate cause of the injury and will not preclude a
recovery. (Note especially Aiken vs. Metcalf [1917], 102 Atl., 330.)

Judgment reversed.

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[No. 39587. March 24, 1934] Province of Laguna, and the balance to the plaintiff Aleko E. Lilius."

ALEKO E. LILIUS ET AL., plaintiffs and appellants, vs. THE MANILA In support of its appeal, the appellant the Manila Railroad Company assigns nine
RAILROAD COMPANY, defendant and appellant. alleged errors as committed by the trial court in its said judgment, which will be
discussed in the course of this decision.
1.
NEGLIGENCE; RAILROAD COMPANY; DAMAGES.—A railroad company
which does not install a semaphore at a crossing and does not see to it that its As a ground of their appeal, the appellants Aleko E. Lilius et al., in turn, assign
flagman and switchman faithfully complies with his duty of remaining at the two alleged errors as committed by the same court a quo in its judgment in
crossing when a train arrives, is guilty of negligence and is civilly liable for question, which will be discussed later.
damages suffered by a motorist and his family who cross its line without
negligence on their part. This case originated from a complaint filed by Aleko E. Lilius et al., praying,
under the facts therein alleged, that the Manila Railroad Company be ordered to
2.
ID.; ID.; ID.; AMOUNT OF DAMAGES.—An indemnity of P10,000 for a pay to said plaintiffs, by way of indemnity for material and moral damages
permanent deformity on the face and left leg, suffered by a young and beautiful suffered by them through the fault and negligence of the said defendant entity's
society woman, is not excessive. employees, the sum of P50,000 plus legal interest thereon from the date of the
filing of the complaint, with costs.
3.
ID. ; ID. ; ID. ; ID.—An indemnity of P5,000 for a permanent deformity on the
face and legs of a four-year old girl belonging to a well-to-do family, is not The defendant the Manila Railroad Company, answering the complaint, denies
excessive. each and every allegation thereof and, by way of special defense, alleges that the
plaintiff Aleko E. Lilius, with the cooperation of his wife and co-plaintiff,
4.
ID. ; ID. ; ID. ; PROOF OF DAMAGES.—In order that a husband may recover negligently and recklessly drove his car, and prays that it be absolved from the
damages for deprivation of his wife's assistance during her illness from an complaint.
accident, it is necessary for him to prove the existence of such assistance and his
wife's willingness to continue rendering the same had she not been prevented The following facts have been proven at the trial, some without question and the
from so doing by her illness. others by a preponderance of evidence, to wit:

APPEAL from a judgment of the Court of First Instance of Manila. Albert, J. The plaintiff Aleko E. Lilius has, for many years, been a well-known and reputed
journalist, author and photographer. At the time of the collision in question, he
The facts are stated in the opinion of the court was a staff correspondent in the Far East of the magazines The American Weekly
of New York and The Sphere of London.

Harvey & O'Brien for plaintiffs-appellants.


Some of his works have been translated into various languages. He had others in
preparation when the accident occurred. According to him, his writings netted
Jose C. Abreu for defendant-appellant. him a monthly income of P1,500. He utilized the linguistic ability of his wife Sonja
Maria Lilius, who translated his articles and books into English, German, and
VlLLA-REAL, J.: Swedish. Furthermore, she acted as his secretary.

This case involves two appeals, one by the defendant the Manila Railroad At about 7 o'clock on the morning of May 10, 1931, the plaintiff, his wife Sonja
Company, and the other by the plaintiffs Aleko E. Lilius et al., from the judgment Maria Lilius, and his 4-year old daughter Brita Marianne Lilius, left Manila in
rendered by the Court of First Instance of Manila, the dispositive part of which their Studebaker car—driven by the said plaintiff Aleko E. Lilius—for the
reads as follows: municipality of Pagsanjan, Province of Laguna, on a sight-seeing trip. It was the
first time that he made said trip although he had already been to many places,
"Wherefore, judgment is rendered ordering the defendant company to pay to the plaintiffs, driving his own car, in and outside the Philippines. Where the road was clear and
for the purposes above stated, the total amount of P30,865, with the costs of the suit. And unobstructed, the plaintiff drove at the rate of from 19 to 25 miles an hour. Prior
although the suit brought by the plaintiffs has the nature of a joint action, it must be thereto, he had made the trip as far as Calauan, but never from Calauan to
understood that of the amount adjudicated to the said plaintiffs in this judgment, the sum of Pagsanjan, via Dayap, He was entirely unacquainted with the conditions of the
P10,000 personally belongs to the plaintiff Sonja Maria Lilius; the sum of P5,000, to the road at said points and had. no knowledge of the existence of a railroad crossing
plaintiff Brita Marianne Lilius; the sum of P250, to Dr. Marfori of the Calauan Hospital,
at Dayap. Before reaching the crossing in question, there was nothing to indicate flagman or switchman arrived after the collision, coming from the station with a
its existence and. inasmuch as there were many houses, shrubs and trees along red flag in one hand and a green one in the other, both of which were wound on
the road, it was impossible to see an approaching train. At about seven or eight their respective sticks. The said flagman and switchman had many times
meters from the crossing, coming from Calauan, the plaintiff saw an autotruck absented himself from his post at the crossing upon the arrival of a train. The
parked on the left side of the road. Several people, who seemed to have alighted train left Bay station a little late and therefore traveled at great speed.
from the said truck, were walking on the opposite side. He slowed down to about
12 miles an hour and sounded his horn f or the people to get out of the way. With Upon examination of the oral as well as of the documentary evidence which the
his attention thus occupied, he did not see the crossing. but he heard two short parties presented at the trial in support of their respective contentions, and after
whistles. Immediately afterwards, he saw a huge black mass fling itself upon him, taking into consideration all the circumstances of the case, this court is of the
which turned out to be locomotive No. 713 of the defendant company's train opinion that the accident was due to negligence on the part of the defendant-
coming eastward from Bay to Dayap station. The locomotive struck the plaintiff's appellant company, for not having had on that occasion any semaphore at the
car right in the center. After dragging the said car a distance of about ten meters, crossing at Dayap, to serve as a warning to passers-by of its existence in order
the locomotive threw it upon a siding. The force of the impact was so great that that they might take the necessary precautions before crossing the railroad; and,
the plaintiff's wife and daughter were thrown from the car and were picked up on the part of its employees—the flagman and switchman, for not having
from the ground unconscious and seriously hurt. In spite of the efforts of engineer remained at his post at the crossing in question to warn passers-by of the
Andres Basilio, he was unable to stop the locomotive until after it had gone about approaching train; the stationmaster, for failure to send the said flagman and
seventy meters from the crossing. switchman to his post on time; and the engineer, for not having taken the,
necessary precautions to avoid an accident, in view of the absence of said flagman
On the afternoon of the same day, the plaintiffs entered St. Paul's Hospital in the and switchman, by slackening his speed and continuously ringing the bell and
City of Manila where they were treated by Dr. Waterous. The plaintiff Aleko E. blowing the whistle before arriving at the crossing. Although it is probable that
Lilius suffered from a fractured nose, a contusion above the left eye and a the defendant-appellant entity employed the diligence of a good father of a family
lacerated wound on the right leg, in addition to multiple contusions and scratches in selecting its aforesaid employees, however, it did not employ such diligence in
on various parts of the body. As a result of the accident, the said plaintiff was supervising their work and the discharge of their duties because, otherwise, it
highly nervous and very easily irritated, and for several months he had great would have had a semaphore or sign at the crossing and, on previous occasions as
difficulty in concentrating his attention on any matter and could not write articles well as on the night in question, the flagman and switchman would have always
nor short stories for the newspapers and magazines to which he was a been at his post at the crossing upon the arrival of a train. The diligence of a good
contributor, thus losing for some time his only means of livelihood. father of a family, which the law requires in order to avoid damage, is not
confined to the careful and prudent selection of -subordinates or employees but
The plaintiff Sonja Maria Lilius suffered from fractures of the pelvic bone, the includes inspection of their work and supervision of the discharge of their duties.
tibia and fibula of the right leg, below the knee, and received a large lacerated
wound on the forehead. She underwent two surgical operations on the left leg for However, in order that a victim of an accident may recover indemnity for
the purpose of joining the fractured bones but said operations notwithstanding, damages from the person liable therefor, it is not enough that the latter has been
the leg in question still continues deformed. In the opinion of Dr. Waterous, the guilty of negligence, but it is also necessary that the said victim has not, through
deformity is permanent in character and as a result the plaintiff will have some his own negligence, contributed to the accident, inasmuch as nobody is a
difficulty in walking. The lacerated wound, which she received on her forehead, guarantor of his neighbor's personal safety and property, but everybody should
has left a disfiguring scar. look after them, employing the care and diligence that a good father of a family
should apply to his own person, to the members of his family and to his property,
The child Brita Marianne Lilius received two lacerated wounds, one on the in order to avoid any damage. It appears that the herein plaintiff-appellant Aleko
forehead and the other on the left side of the face, in addition to fractures of both E. Lilius took all precautions which his skill and the presence of his wife and child
legs, above and below the knees. Her condition was serious and, for several days, suggested to him in order that his pleasure trip might be enjoyable and have a
she was hovering between life and death. Due to a timely and successful surgical happy ending, driving his car at a speed which prudence demanded according to
operation, she survived her wounds. The lacerations received by the child have the circumstances and conditions of the road, slackening his speed in the face of
left deep scars which will permanently disfigure her face, and because of the an obstacle and blowing his horn upon seeing persons on the road, in order to
fractures of both legs, although now completely cured, she will be forced to walk warn them of his approach and request them to get out of the way, as he did when
with some difficulty and continuous extreme care in order to keep her balance. he came upon the truck parked on the left hand side of the road seven or eight
meters from the place where the accident occurred, and upon the persons who
appeared to have alighted from the said truck. If he failed to stop, look and listen
Prior to the accident, there had been no notice nor sign of the existence of the
before going over the crossing, in spite of the fact that he was driving at 12 miles
crossing, nor was there anybody to warn the public of approaching trains. The per hour after having been free from obstacles, it was because, his attention
having been occupied in attempting to go ahead, he did not see the crossing in daughter of Aleko E. Lilius and Sonja Maria Lilius, neither is the same excessive,
question, nor anything, nor anybody indicating its existence, as he knew nothing taking into consideration the fact that the lacerations received by her have left
about it beforehand. The first and only warning, which he received of the deep scars that permanently disfigure her face and that the fractures of both her
impending danger, was two short blows from the whistle of the locomotive legs permanently render it difficult for her to walk freely, continuous extreme
immediately preceding the collision and when the accident had already become care being necessary in order to keep her balance in addition to the fact that all of
inevitable. this unfavorably and to a great extent affect her matrimonial f uture.

In view of the foregoing considerations, this court is of the opinion that the With respect to the plaintiffs' appeal, the first question to be decided is that
defendant the Manila Railroad Company alone is liable for the accident by reason raised by the plaintiff Aleko E. Lilius relative to the insufficiency of the sum of
of its own negligence and that of its employees, for not having employed the P5,000 which.the trial court adjudicated to him by way of indemnity for damages
diligence of a good father of a family in the supervision of the said employees in consisting in the loss of his income as journalist and author as a result of his
the discharge of their duties. illness. This question has impliedly been decided in the negative when the
defendantappellant entity's petition for the reduction of said indemnity was
The next question to be decided refers to the sums of money fixed by the court a denied, declaring it to be reasonable.
quo as indemnities f or damages which the defendant company should pay to the
plaintiffsappellants. As to the amount of P10,000 claimed by the plaintiff Aleko E. Lilius as damages
for the loss of his wife's services in his business as journalist and author, which
With respect to the plaintiff-appellant Aleko E. Lilius, although this court services consisted in going over his writings, translating them into English,
believes his claim of a net income of P1,500 a month to be somewhat exaggerated, German and Swedish, and acting as his secretary, in addition to the fact that
however, the sum of P5,000, adjudicated to him by the trial court as indemnity for such services formed part of the work whereby he realized a net monthly income
damages, is reasonable. of P1,500, there is no sufficient evidence of the true value of said services nor to
the effect that he needed them during her illness and had to employ a translator
to act in her stead.
As to the sum of P10,635 which the court awards to the plaintiffs by way of
indemnity for damages, the different items thereof representing doctor's. fees,
hospital and nursing services, loss of personal effects and torn clothing, have duly The plaintiff Aleko E. Lilius also seeks to recover the sum of P2,500 for the loss of
been proven at the trial and the sum in question is not excessive, taking into what is called Anglo-Saxon common law "consortium" of his wife, that is, "her
consideration the circumstances in which the said expenses have been incurred. services, society and conjugal companionship", as a result of personal injuries
which she had received from the accident now under consideration.
Taking into consideration the fact that the plaintiff Sonja Maria Lilius, wife of the
plaintiff Aleko E. Lilius is—in the language of the court, which saw her at the In the case of Goitia vs. Campos Rueda (35 Phil., 252, 255, 256), this court,
trial—"young and beautiful and the big scar; which she has on her forehead interpreting the provisions of the Civil Marriage Law of 1870, in force in these
caused by the lacerated wound received by her from the accident, disfigures her Islands with reference to the mutual rights and obligations of the spouses,
face and that the fracture of her left leg has caused a permanent deformity which contained in articles 44-48 thereof, said as follows:
renders it very difficult for her to walk", and taking into further consideration her
social standing, neither is the sum of P10,000, adjudicated to her by the said trial "The above quoted provisions of the Law of Civil Marriage and the Civil Code fix
court by way of indemnity for patrimonial and moral damages, excessive. In the the duties and obligations of the spouses. The spouses must be faithful to, assist,
case of Gutierrez vs. Gutierrez (56 Phil., 177), the right leg of the plaintiff Narciso and support each other. The husband must live with and protect his wife. The
Gutierrez was fractured as a result of a collision between the autobus in which he wife must obey and live with her husband and follow him when he changes his
Was riding and the defendant's car, which fracture required medical attendance domicile or residence, except when he removes to a foreign country. * * *"
for a considerable period of time. On the day of the trial the fracture had not yet
completely healed but it might cause him permanent lameness. The trial court Therefore, under the law and the doctrine of this court, one of the husband's
sentenced the defendants to indemnify him in the sum of P10,000 which this rights is to count on his wife's assistance. This assistance comprises the
court reduced to P5,000, in spite of the fact that the said plaintiff therein was management of the home and the performance of household duties, including the
neither young nor good-looking, nor had he suffered any facial deformity, nor did care and education of the children and attention to the husband upon whom
he have the social standing that the herein plaintiff-appellant Sonja Maria Lilius primarily devolves the duty of supporting the family of which he is the head.
enjoys. When the wife's mission was circumscribed to the home, it was not difficult to
assume, by virtue of the marriage alone, that she performed all the said tasks and
As to the indemnity of P5,000 in favor of the child Brita Marianne Lilius, her physical incapacity always redounded to the husband's prejudice inasmuch as
it deprived him of her assistance. However, nowadays when women, in their from the date of the appealed judgment until this judgment becomes final will be
desire to be more useful to society and to the nation, are demanding greater civil added to the indemnities granted, with the costs of both instances against the
rights and are aspiring to become man's equal in all the activities of life, appellant. So ordered.
commercial and industrial, professional and political, many of them spending
their time outside the home, engaged in their businesses, industry, profession and Malcolm, Hull, Imperial, and Goddard, JJ., concur.
within a short time, in politics, and entrusting the care of their home to a
housekeeper, and their children, if not to a nursemaid, to public or private
Judgment modified.
institutions which take charge of young children while 'their mothers are at work,
marriage has ceased to create the presumption that a woman complies with the
duties to her husband and children, which the law imposes upon her, and he who _____________
seeks to collect indemnity for damages resulting from deprivation of her domestic
services must prove such services. In the case under consideration, apart from the © Copyright 2018 Central Book Supply, Inc. All rights reserved.
services of his wife Sonja Maria Lilius as translator and secretary, the value of
which has not been proven, the plaintiff Aleko E. Lilius has not presented any
evidence showing the existence of domestic services and their nature, rendered by
her prior to the accident, in order that it may serve as a basis in estimating their
value.

Furthermore, inasmuch as a wife's domestic assistance and conjugal


companionship are purely personal and voluntary acts which neither of the
spouses may be compelled to render (Arroyo vs. Vazquez de Arroyo, 42 Phil., 54),
it is necessary for the party claiming indemnity for the loss of such services to
prove that the person obliged to render them had done so before he was injured
and that he would be willing to continue rendering them had he not been
prevented from so doing.

In view of the foregoing considerations this court is of the opinion and so holds: (1)
That a railroad company which has not installed a semaphore at a crossing and
does not see to it that its flagman and switchman faithfully complies with his
duty of remaining at the crossing when a train arrives, is guilty of negligence and
is civilly liable for damages suffered by a motorist and his family who cross its
line without negligence on their part; (2) that an indemnity of P10,000 for a
permanent deformity on the face and on the left leg, suffered by a young and
beautiful society woman, is not excessive; (3) that an indemnity of P5,000 for a
permanent deformity on the face and legs of a four-year old girl belonging to a
well-to-do family, is not excessive; and (4) that in order that a husband may
recover damages for deprivation of his wife's assistance during her illness from an
accident, it is necessary for him to prove the existence of such assistance and his
wife's willingness to continue rendering it had she not been prevented from so
doing by her illness.

The plaintiffs-appellants are entitled to interest of 6 per cent per annum on the
amount of the indemnities adjudicated to them, from the date of the appealed
judgment until this judgment becomes final, in accordance with the provisions of
section 510 of Act No. 190.

Wherefore, not finding any error in the judgment appealed from, it is hereby
affirmed in toto, with the sole modification that interest of 6 per cent per annum
No. L-21291. March 28, 1969. not exercise that precaution and that control over it as to be able to stop the same
almost immediately upon the appearance of a train, is guilty of criminal
PRECIOLITA V. CORLISS, plaintiff-appellant, vs. THE MANILA RAILROAD negligence, providing a collision occurs and injury results.
Co., defendant-appellee.
Same; Same; Where facts of the case show it was incumbent upon the victim to stop
Appeal; Findings of fact by the trial court supported by substantial evidence his vehicle.—Predicated on the testimonies of the plaintiff s witnesses, on the
binding on appeal.—In the more traditional terminology, the lower court’s knowledge of the deceased and his familiarity with the set up of the checkpoint,
judgment has in its favor the presumption of correctness. It is entitled to great the existence of the tracks, and on the further fact that the locomotive had blown
respect. After all, the lower court had the opportunity of weighing carefully what its siren or whistle, which was heard by said witnesses, it is dear that the victim
was testified to and apparently did not neglect it. There is no affront to justice was so sufficiently warned in advance of the oncoming train that it was
then if its finding be accorded acceptance, subject of course to the contingency of incumbent upon him to avoid a possible accident—and this consisted simply in
ultimate reversal if error or errors, substantial in character, be shown in the stopping his vehicle before the crossing and allowing the train to move on. A
conclusion thus arrived at. It is a fair statement of the governing principle to say prudent man under similar circumstances would have acted in this manner. This,
that the appellate function is exhausted when there is f ound to be a rational unfortunately, the victim failed to do.
basis f or the result reached by the trial court.
DIRECT APPEAL from a decision of the Court of First Instance of Pampanga.
Damages; Negligence; One is liable for damages for act of negligence causing Pasicolan, J.
damage to another.—The Civil Code making clear .that whoever by act or
omission causes damage to another, there being negligence, is under obligation to The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.
pay for the damage done. (Art. 2176) Unless it could be satisfactorily shown,
therefore, that defendant-appellee was guilty of negligence, then it could not be Moises C. Nicomedes for plaintiff-appellant.
held liable.
The Government Corporate Counsel for defendantappellee.
Same; Same; Definition.—Negligence is want of the care required by the
circumstances. It is a relative or comparative, not an absolute, term and its
FERNANDO, J.:
application depends upon the situation of the parties and the degree of care and
vigilance which the circumstances reasonably require. Where the danger is great,
a high degree of care is necessary, and the failure to observe it is a want of Youth, the threshold of life, is invariably accompanied by that euphoric sense of
ordinary care under the circumstances. well-being, and with reason. The future, bright with promise, looms ahead. One’s
powers are still to be tested, but one feels ready for whatever challenge may come
Same; Same; Where victim has duty to stop despite failure of appellee’s employer to his way. There is that heady atmosphere of self-confidence, at times carried to
put down crossing bars.—The f irst two assigned ‘errors would make much of ,the excess. The temptation to take risks is there, ever so often, difficult, if not
failure of the lower court to hold that the crossing bars not having been put down impossible, to resist. There could be then a lessening of prudence and foresight,
and there being no guard at the gate-house, there still was a duty on the part of qualities usually associated with age. For death seems so remote and contingent
the- victim to stop his jeep to avoid a collision and that main witness of an event. Such is not always the case though, and a slip may be attended with
defendant-appellee, who drove the engine, was not qualified to do so at the time of consequences at times unfortunate, even fatal.
the accident. For one cannot just single out a circumstance and then confidently
assign to it decisive weight and significance. Considered separately, neither of the Some such thought apparently was in the mind of the lower court when it
two above errors assigned would call for a judgment different in character. Nor dismissed the complaint for recovery of damages filed by plaintiff-appellant,
would a combination of acts allegedly impressed with negligence suffice to alter Preciolita V. Corliss, whose husband, the late Ralph W. Corliss, was, at the tender
the result. The quantum of proof required still had not been met. The alleged age of twenty-one, the victim of a grim tragedy, when the jeep he was driving
errors fail of their desired effect. The case for plaintiff-appellant, such as it was, collided with a locomotive of defendant-appellee Manila Railroad Company, close
had not been improved. There is no justification for reversing the judgment of the to midnight on the evening of February 21, 1957, at the railroad crossing in
lower court. Balibago, Angeles, Pampanga, in front of the Clark Air Force Base. In the
decision appealed from, the lower court, after summarizing the evidence,
Same; Same; Criminal negligence; May be attributed to a person who does not concluded that the deceased “in his eagerness to beat, so to speak, the oncoming
locomotive, took the risk and attempted to reach the other side, but unfortunately
exercise precaution and control in crossing railroads.—A person in control of an
automobile who crosses a railroad, even at a regular road crossing, and who does he became the victim of his own miscalculation."1
The negligence imputed to defendant-appellee was thus ruled out by the lower In the more traditional terminology, the lower court judgment has in its favor the
court, satisfactory proof to that eff ect, in its opinion, being lacking. Hence this presumption of correctness. It is entitled to great respect. After all, the lower
appeal direct to us, the amount sought in the concept of damages reaching the court had the opportunity of weighing carefully what was testified to and
sum of P282,065.40. An examination of the evidence of record fails to yield a basis apparently did not neglect it. There is no affront to justice then if its finding be
for a reversal of the decision appealed from. We affirm. accorded acceptance, subject of course to the contingency of ultimate reversal if
error or errors, substantial in character, be shown in the conclusion thus arrived
According to the decision appealed from, there is no dispute as to the following: at. It is a fair statement of the governing principle to say that the appellate
“In December 1956, plaintiff, 19 years of age, married Ralph W. Corliss, Jr., 21 function is exhausted when there is found to be a rational basis for the result
years of age, x x x; that Corliss, Jr. was an air police of the Clark Air Force Base; reached by the trial court.
that at the time of the accident, he was driving the fatal jeep; that he was then
returning in said jeep, together with a P.C. soldier, to the Base; and that Corliss, As was held in a 1961 decision: “We have already ruled that when the credibility
Jr. died of serious burns at the Base Hospital the next day, while the soldier of witnesses is the one at issue, the trial court’s judgment as to their degree of
sustained serious physical injuries and burns."2 credence deserves serious consideration by this Court."6 An earlier expression of
the same view is found in Jai-Alai Corporation v. Ching Kiat: “After going over
Then came a summary of the testimony of two of the witnesses for plaintiff- the record, we find no reason for rejecting the findings of the court below. The
appellant. Thus: “Ronald J. Ennis, a witness of the plaintiff, substantially questions raised hinge on credibility, and it is wellsettled that in the absence of
declared in his deposition, x x x, that at the time of the accident, he was awaiting compelling reasons, its determination is best left to the trial judge who had the
transportation at the entrance of Clark Field, which was about 40 to 50 yards advantage of hearing the parties testify and observing their demeanor on the
away from the tracks and that while there he saw the jeep coming towards the witness stand."7
Base. He said that said jeep slowed down before reaching the crossing, that it
made a brief stop but that it did not stop—dead stop. Elaborating, he declared In a 1964 opinion, we adhered to such an approach. Thus: “‘Nothing in the record
that while it was slowing down, Corliss, Jr. shifted into first gear and that was suggests any arbitrary or abusive conduct on the part of the trial judge in the
what he meant by a brief stop. He also testified that he could see the train coming formulation of the ruling. His conclusion on the matter is sufficiently borne out by
from the direction of San Fernando and that he heard a warning but that it was the evidence presented. We are denied, therefore, the prerogative to disturb that
not sufficient enough to avoid the accident."3 Also: “Virgilio de la Paz, another finding, consonant to the time honored tradition of this Tribunal to hold trial
witness of the plaintiff, testified that on the night of February 21, 1957, he was at judges better situated to make conclusions on questions of fact'."8 On this ground
the Balibago checkpoint and saw the train coming from Angeles and a jeep going alone we can rest the affirmance of the Judgment appealed from.
towards the direction of Clark Field. He stated that he heard the whistle of the
locomotive and saw the collision. The jeep, which caught fire, was pushed 2. Nor is the result different -even if no such presumption were indulged
forward. He helped the P.C. soldier. He stated that he saw the jeep running fast in and the matter examined as if we were exercising original and not appellate
and heard the tooting of the horn. It did not stop at the railroad crossing, jurisdiction. The sad and deplorable situation in which plaintiff-appellant now
according to him."4 finds herself, to the contrary notwithstanding; we find no reason for reversing the
judgment of the lower court.
After which reference was made to the testimony of the main witness for
defendant-appellee, Teodorico Capili, “who was at the engine at the time of the This action is predicated on negligence, the Civil Code making clear that whoever
mishap/' and who “testified that before the locomotive, which had been previously by act or omission causes damage to another, there being negligence, is under
inspected and found to be in good condition, approached the crossing, that is, obligation to pay for the damage done.9 Unless it could be satisfactorily shown,
about 300 meters away, he blew the siren and repeated it in compliance with the therefore, that defendant-appellee was guilty of negligence then it could not be
regulations until he saw the jeep suddenly spurt, and that although the held liable. The crucial question, therefore, is the existence of negligence.
locomotive was running between 20 and 25 kilometers an hour and although he
had applied the brakes, the jeep was caught in the middle of the tracks.''5
The above Civil Code provision, which is a reiteration of that found in the Civil
Code of Spain, formerly applicable in this jurisdiction, 10 had been interpreted in
1. The above finding as to the non-existence of negligence attributable to earlier decisions. Thus, in Smith v. Cadwallader Gibson Lumber Co., 11 Manresa
defendant-appellee Manila Railroad Company comes to us encased in the armor was cited to the following effect:” ‘Among the questions most frequently raised
of what admittedly appears to be a careful judicial appraisal and scrutiny of the and upon which the majority of cases have been decided with respect to the
evidence of record. It is thus proof against any attack unless sustained and application of this liability, are those referring to the determination of the damage
overwhelming. Not that it is invulnerable, but it is likely to stand firm in the face or prejudice, and to the fault or negligence of the person responsible therefor.
of even the most formidable barrage. These are the two indispensable factors in the obligations under discussion, for
without damage or prejudice there can be no liability, and although this element judgment are too many and diverse for us to imprison them in a formula
is present no indemnity can be awarded unless arising from some person’s fault or sufficient of itself to yield the correct answer to the multi-faceted problems the
negligence'." question of negligence poses. Every case must be dependent on its facts. The
circumstances indicative of lack of due care must be judged in the light of what
Negligence was defined by us in two 1912 decisions, United States v. Juanillo 12 could reasonably be expected of the parties. If the objective standard of prudence
and United States v. Barias.13 Cooley’ formulation was quoted with approval in be met, then negligence is ruled out.
both the Juanillo and Barias decisions. Thus: “Judge Cooley, in his work on Torts
(3d ed.), Sec. 1324, defines negligence to be: “The failure to observe for the In this particular case, it would be to show less than fidelity to the controlling
protection of the interests of another person that degree of care, precaution, and facts to impute negligence to defendant-appellee. The first three errors assigned
vigilance which the circumstances justly demand, whereby such other person certainly do not call for that conclusion.
suffers injury.” There was likewise a reliance on Ahern v. Oregon Telephone Co. 14
4. The fourth assigned error is deserving of a more extended treatment.
Thus: “Negligence is want of the care required by the circumstances. It is a Plaintiff-appellant apparently had in mind this portion of the opinion of the lower
relative or comparative, not an absolute, term and its application depends upon court: “The weight of authorities is to the effect that a railroad track is in itself a
the situation of the parties and the degree of care and vigilance which the warning or a signal of danger to those who go upon it, and that those who, for
circumstances reasonably require. Where the danger is great, a high degree of reasons of their own, ignore such warning, do so at their own risk and
care is necessary, and the failure to observe it is a want of ordinary care under responsibility. Corliss, Jr., who undoubtedly had crossed the checkpoint
the circumstances.” frequently, if not daily, must have known that locomotive engines and trains
usually pass at that particular crossing where the accident had taken place."15
To repeat, by such a test, no negligence could be imputed to defendant-appellee,
and the action of plaintiff-appellant must necessary fail. The facts, being what Her assignment of error, however, would single out not the above excerpt from
they are, compel the conclusion that the liability sought to be fastened on the decision appealed from but what to her is the apparent reliance of the lower
defendant-appellee had not arisen. court on Mestres v. Manila Electric Railroad & Light Co.16 and United States v.
Manabat & Pasibi.17 In the Manabat case, the doctrine announced by this Court
3. Plaintiff-appellant, in her brief, however, would seek a reversal of the follows: “A person in control of an automobile who crosses a railroad, even at a
judgment appealed from on the ground that there was a failure to appreciate the regular road crossing, and who does not exercise that precaution and that control
true situation. Thus the first three assigned errors are factual in character. The over it as to be able to stop the same almost immediately upon the appearance of
third assigned error could be summarily disposed of. It would go against the a train, is guilty of criminal negligence, providing a collision occurs and injury
evidence to maintain the view that the whistle was not sounded and the brakes results. Considering the purposes and the general methods adopted f or the
not applied at a distance of 300 meters before reaching the crossing. management of railroads and railroad trains, we think it is incumbent upon one
approaching a railroad crossing to use all of his faculties of seeing and hearing.
He should approach a railroad crossing cautiously and carefully. He should look
The first two assigned errors would make much of the failure of the lower court to
and listen and do everything that a reasonably prudent man would do before he
hold that the crossing bars not having been put down and there being no guard at attempts to cross the track.” The Mestres doctrine in a suit arising from a
the gate-house, there still was a duty on the part of Corliss to stop his jeep to collision between an automobile and a street car is substantially similar. Thus: “It
avoid a collision and that Teodorico Capili, who drove the engine, was not may be said, however, that, where a person is nearing a street crossing toward
qualified to do so at the time of the accident. For one cannot just single out a which a car is approaching, the duty is on the party to stop and avoid a collision
circumstance and then confidently assign to it decisive weight and significance. who can most readily adjust himself to the exigencies of the case, and where such
Considered separately, neither of the two above errors assigned would call for a
person can do so more readily, the motorman has a right to presume that such
judgment different in character. Nor would a combination of acts allegedly duty will be performed.”
impressed with negligence suffice to alter the result. The quantum of proof
required still had not been met The alleged errors fail of their desired effect. The
case for plaintiff-appellant, such as it was, had not been improved. There is no It is true, as plaintiff-appellant would now allege, that there has been a drift
justification for reversing the judgment of the lower court. away from the apparent rigid and inflexible doctrine thus set forth in the two
above cases as evidenced by Lilius v. Manila Railroad Co.,18 the controlling facts
of which, however, are easily distinguishable from what had been correctly
It cannot be stressed too much that the decisive considerations are too variable,
ascertained in the present case. Such a deviation from the earlier principle
too dependent in the last analysis upon a common sense estimate of the situation announced is not only true of this jurisdiction but also of the United States,
as it presented itself to the parties for us to be able to say that this or that
element having been isolated, negligence is shown. The factors that enter the
This is made clear by Prosser. Speaking of a 1927 decision by Justice Holmes, he © Copyright 2018 Central Book Supply, Inc. All rights reserved.
had the following to say: “Especially noteworthy in this respect is the attempt of
Mr. Justice Holmes, in Baltimore & Ohio Railway v. Goodman, to ‘lay down a
standard once for all,’ which would require an automobile driver approaching a
railroad crossing with an obstructed view to stop, look and listen, and if he cannot
be sure otherwise that no train is coming, to get out of the car. The basic idea
behind this is sound enough: it is by no means proper care to cross a railroad
track without taking reasonable precautions against a train, and normally such
precautions will require looking, hearing, and a stop, or at least slow speed, where
the view is obstructed."19

Then, barely seven years later, in 1934, came Pakora v. Wabash Railway, 20
where, according to Prosser, it being shown that “the only effective stop must be
made upon the railway tracks themselves, in a position of obvious danger, the
court disregarded any such uniform rule, rejecting the ‘get out of the car’
requirement as ‘an uncommon precaution, likely to be futile and sometimes even
dangerous/ and saying that the driver need not always stop. ‘lllustrations such as
these/ said Mr. Justice Cardozo, ‘bear witness to the need for caution in framing
standards of behavior that amount to rules of law. x x x Extraordinary situations
may not wisely or fairly be subjected to tests or regulations that are fitting for the
commonplace or normal."21

What Justice Cardozo announced would merely emphasize what was set forth
earlier that each and every case on questions of negligence is to be decided in
accordance with the peculiar circumstances that present themselves. There can
be no hard and fast rule. There must be that observance of that degree of care,
precaution, and vigilance which the situation demands. Thus defendant-appellee
acted. It is undeniable then that no negligence can rightfully be imputed to it.

What commends itself for acceptance is this conclusion arrived at by the lower
court: “Predicated on the testimonies of the plaintiff’s witnesses, on the
knowledge of the deceased and his familiarity with the setup of the checkpoint,
the existence of the tracks; and on the further f act that the locomotive had blown
its siren or whistle, which was heard by said witnesses, it is clear that Corliss, Jr.
was so sufficiently warned in advance of the oncoming train that it was
incumbent upon him to avoid a possible accident—and this consisted simply in
stopping his vehicle before the crossing and allowing the train to move on. A
prudent man under similar circumstances would have acted in this manner. This,
unfortunately, Corliss, Jr. failed to do."22

WHEREFORE, the decision of the lower court of November 29, 1962


dismissing the complaint, is affirmed. Without pronouncement as to costs.

Concepcion, C.J., Reyes, J.B.L., Dizon, Makalintal, Zaldivar, Sanchez, Castro,


Capistrano, Teehankee and Barredo, JJ., concur.

Decision affirmed.
[No. 32611. November 3, 1930] repaired to the office of the Philippine Motors Corporation and had a conference
with C. E. Quest, its manager, who agreed to do the job, with the understanding
CULION ICE, FISH & ELECTRIC Co., INC., plaintiff and appellee, vs. that payment should be made ,upon completion of the
PHILIPPINE MOTORS CORPORATION, defendant and appellant.
The Philippine Motors Corporation was at this time engaged in business as an
1 1.
NEGLIGENCE; SKILL REQUIRED OF PERSON WHO UNDERTAKES automobile agency, but, under its charter, it had authority to deal In all sorts of
PARTICULAR WORK.—A person who holds himself out as being machinery engines and motors, as well as to build, operate, buy and sell the same
competent to do work requiring special skill is guilty of negligence if he and the equipment thereof. Quest, as general manager, had full charge of the
fails to exhibit the care a prudent person would exhibit who is reasonably corporation in all its
well skilled in the particular work undertaken.
As a result of the aforesaid interview, Quest, in company with Cranston, visited
1 2.
ID.; ID.; CASE AT BAR.—The manager of the defendant corporation, which the Gwendoline while it lay at anchor in the Pasig River, and the work of effecting
was engaged chief ly in selling and repairing automobiles, but which had the change in the engine was begun and conducted under the supervision of
authority, under its charter, to deal in all sorts of machinery engines, Quest, chiefly by a mechanic whom Quest took with him to the boat. In this work
and motors, and their equipment, undertook to change the gasoline Quest had the assistance of the members of the crew of the Gwendoline, who had
engine on plaintiff's boat, with a view to enabling it to use a fuel of lower been directed by Cranston to place themselves under Quest's directions.
grade. After a new carburetor had been introduced and a new fuel tank
installed, the boat was taken out for a trial, in the course of which a back Upon preliminary inspection of the engine, Quest came to the conclusion that the
fire took place in the cylinder of the engine, and flames were principal thing necessary to accomplish the end in view was to install a new
communicated; through the carburetor, to the outside, with the result carburetor, and a Zenith carburetor was chosen as the one most adapted to the
that the boat was destroyed. Held, upon the facts stated in the opinion, purpose. After this appliance had been installed, the engine was tried with
that the loss of the boat was attributable to the negligence or lack of skill gasoline as a fuel, supplied from the tank already in use. The result of this
on the part of the manager of the defendant corporation. experiment was satisfactory. The next problem was to introduce into the
APPEAL from a judgment of the Court of First Instance of Manila. Block, J.
carburetor the baser fuel, consisting o£ a low grade of oil mixed with distillate,
For this purpose a temporary tank to contain the mixture was placed on deck
The facts are stated in the opinion of the court above and at a short distance from the compartment covering the engine. This
Gibbs & McDonough for appellant. tank was connected with the carburetor by a piece of tubing, which was
Benj. S. Ohnick for appellee. apparently not well fitted at the point where it was connected with the tank.
STREET, J.: Owing to this fact the fuel mixture leaked from the tank and dripped down into
the engine compartment. The new f uel line and that already in use between the
This action was instituted In the Court of First Instance of Manila by the Culion gasoline tank and the carburetor were so fixed that it was possible to change from
Ice, Fish & Electric Co., Inc., for the purpose of recovering from the Philippine the gasoline fuel' to the mixed fuel. The purpose of this arrangement was to
Motors Corporation the sum of P1 1,350, with interest and costs. Upon hearing enable the operator to start the engine on gasoline and then, after the engine had
the cause the trial court gave judgment in favor of the plaintiff to recover of the been operating for a few moments, to switch to the new fuel supply.
defendant the sum of P9,850, with interest at 6 per centum per annum from
March 24, 1927, the date of the filing of the complaint, until satisfaction of the In the course of the preliminary work upon the carburetor and its connections, it
judgment, with costs. From this judgment the defendant appealed. was observed that the carburetor was flooding, and that the gasoline, or other
fuel, was trickling freely from the lower part of the carburetor to the floor. This
The plaintiff and defendant are domestic corporations; and at the time of the fact was called to Quest's attention, but he appeared to think lightly of the matter
incident with which we are here concerned, H. D. Cranston was the and said that, when the engine had gotten to running well, the flooding would
representative of the plaintiff in the City of Manila. At the same time the plaintiff disappear.
was the registered owner of the motor schooner Gwendoline, which was used in
the fishing trade in the Philippine Islands. In January, 1925, Cranston decided, if After preliminary experiments and adjustments had been made, the boat was
practicable, to have the engine on the Gwendoline changing thereby to effect taken out into the bay f or a trial run at about 5 p. m., or a little later, on the
economy in the cost of running the boat. He therefore made known his desire to evening of January 30, 1925. The first part of the course was covered without any
McLeod & Co., a firm dealing in tractors, and was told by McKellar, of said untoward development, other than the fact that the engine stopped a few times,
company, that he might make enquiries of the Philippine Motors' Corporation, owing no doubt to the use of an improper mixture of fuel. In the course of the trial
which had its office on Ongpin Street, in the City of Manila. Cranston accordingly Quest remained outside of the engine compartment and occupied himself with
making experiments in the matter of mixing the crude oil with distillate, with a liability is not whether the injury was accidental in a sense, but whether Quest
view to ascertaining what proportion of the two elements would give best results was free from blame.
in the engine.
We therefore see no escape from the conclusion that this accident is chargeable to
As the boat was coming in from this run, at about 7.30 p. m., and when passing lack of skill or negligence in effecting the changes which Quest" undertook to
near Cavite, the engine stopped, and connection again had to be made with the accomplish; and even supposing that our theory as to the exact manner in which
gasoline line to get a new start. After this had been done the mechanic, or the accident occurred might appear to be in some respects incorrect, yet the origin
engineer, switched to the tube connecting with the new mixture. A moment later of the fire is not so inscrutable as to enable us to say that it was casus fortuitus.
a back fire occurred in the cylinder chamber. This caused a flame to shoot back
into the carburetor, and Instantly the carburetor and adjacent parts were covered The trial judge seems to have proceeded on the idea that, inasmuch as Quest had
with a mass of flames, which the members of the crew were unable to subdue, control of the Gwendoline during the experimental run, the defendant corporation
They were therefore compelled, as the fire spread, to take to a boat, and their was in the position of a bailee and that, as a consequence, the burden of proof was
escape was safely effected, but the Gwendoline was reduced to a mere hulk. The on the defendant to exculpate itself from responsibility by proving that the
salvage from the wreck, when sold, brought only the sum of P150. The value of accident was not due to the fault of Quest. We are unable to accede to this point of
the boat, before the accident occurred, as the court found, was P10,000. view. Certainly, Quest was not in charge of the navigation of the boat on this trial
run. His employment contemplated the installation of new parts in the engine
A study of the testimony leads us to the conclusion that the loss of this boat was only, and it seems rather strained to hold that the defendant corporation had
chargeable to the negligence and lack of skill of Quest. The temporary tank in thereby become bailee of the boat. As a rule workmen who make repairs on a ship
which the mixture was prepared was apparently at too great an elevation from in its owner's yard, or a mechanic who repairs a coach. without taking it to his
the carburetor, with the result that when the fuel line was opened, the shop, are not bailees, and their rights and liabilities are determined by the
hydrostatic pressure in the carburetor was greater than the delicate parts of the general rules of law, under their contract. The true bailee acquires possession and
carburetor could sustain. This was no doubt the cause of the flooding of the what is usually spoken of as special property in the chattel bailed. As a
carburetor; and the result was that, when the back fire occurred, the external consequence of such possession and special property, the bailee is given a lien for
parts of the carburetor, already saturated with gasoline, burst into flames, his compensation. These ideas seem to be incompatible with the situation now
whence the fire was quickly communicated to the highly inflammable material under consideration. But though defendant cannot be held liable on the
near-by. Ordinarily a back fire from an engine would not be followed by any supposition that the burden of proof has not been sustained by it in disproving the
disaster, but in this case the leak along the pipe line and the flooding of the negligence of its manager, we are nevertheless of the opinion that the proof shows
carburetor had created a dangerous situation, which a prudent mechanic, versed by a clear preponderance that the accident to the Gwendoline and the damages
in repairs of this nature, would have taken precautions to avoid. The back fire resulting therefrom are chargeable to the negligence or lack of skill of Quest.
may have been due either to the fact that the spark was too advanced or the fuel
improperly mixed. This action was instituted about two years after the accident in question had
occurred, and after Quest had ceased to be manager of the defendant corporation
In this connection it must be remembered that when a person holds himself out as and had gone back to the United States. Upon these facts, the defendant bases
being competent to do things requiring professional skill, he will be held liable for the contention that the action should be considered stale. It is sufficient reply to
negligence if he fails to exhibit the care and skill of one ordinarily skilled in the say that the action was brought within the period limited by the statute of
particular work which he attempts to do. The proof shows that Quest had had limitations and the situation is not one where the def ense of laches can be
ample experience in fixing the engines of automobiles and tractors, but it does not properly invoked. It results that the judgment appealed from, awarding damages
appear that he was experienced in the doing of similar work on boats. For this to the plaintiff in the amount of P9,850, with interest, must be affirmed; and it is
reason, possibly, the dripping of the mixture from the tank on deck and the so ordered, with costs against the appellant.
flooding of the carburetor did not convey to his mind an adequate impression of
the danger of fire. But a person skilled in that particular sort of work would, we Avanceña, C. J., Malcolm, Villamor, Ostrand, Romualdez, and Villa-Real, JJ.,
think, have been sufficiently warned from those circumstances to cause him to concur.
take greater and adequate precautions against the danger. In other words Quest
did not use the skill that would have been exhibited by one ordinarily expert in
Judgment affirmed.
repairing gasoline engines on boats. There was here, in our opinion, on the part of
Quest, a blameworthy antecedent inadvertence to possible harm, and this
constitutes negligence. The burning of the Gwendoline may be said to have
resulted from accident, but this accident was in no sense an unavoidable accident.
It would not have occurred but for Quest's carelessness or lack of skill. The -test of