You are on page 1of 5

TEODORO C. UMALI, petitioner, vs.HON.

ANGEL done pending inspection of the wires to see if they had been
BACANI, in his capacity as Presiding Judge of Branch cut. Third, employee Cipriano Baldomero was negligent on
IX of the Court of First Instance of Pangasinan and the morning of the incident because even if he was already
FIDEL H. SAYNES, respondents. made aware of the live cut wire, he did not have the foresight
to realize that the same posed a danger to life and property,
Civil law; Torts; Quasi-delicts; An electric plant and that he should have taken the necessary precaution to
company which fails to use ordinary foresight in taking prevent anybody from approaching the live wire; instead
necessary precaution to eliminate tall banana plants which Baldomero left the promises because what was foremost in
when blown by a moderate wind could trigger danger, vis-a- his mind was the repair of the line, obviously forgetting that
vis, its electric lines; which after a storm and foresecable if left unattended to it could endanger life and property.
damage to its lines that could endanger life and limb did not ______________
cut off electric power from its plant; and which, after being
FIRST DIVISION.
made aware, thru one of its employees, that a live wire had
*

been cut by the action of the storm, did not take precaution to 264
prevent anybody from approaching the live wire, is negligent
and liable for damages for death of 3½ year old boy who went 264 SUPREME COURT
to the place where live wire is located and got into contact REPORTS ANNOTATED
with it.—A careful examination of the record convince Us Umali vs. Bacani
that a series of negligence on the part of defendants’ Same; Same; Same; Where negligence of electric utility
employees in the Alcala Electric Plant resulted in the death plant was proximate cause of death of child, parental
of the victim by electrocution. First, by the very evidence of negligence in allowing the child to go to place where fallen
the defendant, there were tall and big banana plants at the live wire was located is merely contributory.—It may be true,
place of the incident standing on an elevated ground which as the lower Court found out, that the contributory
were about 30 feet high and which were higher than the negligence of the victim’s parents in not properly taking care
electric post supporting the electric line, and yet the of the child, which enabled him to leave the house alone on
employees of the defendant, who, with ordinary foresight, the morning of the incident and to go a nearby place (cut wire
could have easily seen that even in case of moderate winds was very near the house where victim was living) where the
the electric line would be in angered by banana plants being fatal fallen wire electrocuted him, might mitigate
blown down did not even take the necessary precaution to respondent’s liability, but We cannot agree with petitioner’s
eliminate that source of danger to the electric line. Second, theory that the parents’ negligence constituted the
even after the employees of the Plant were already aware of proximate cause of the victim’s death because the real
the possible damage the storm of May 11, 1972, could have proximate cause was the fallen live wire which posed a threat
caused their electric lines, thus becoming a possible threat lo to life and property that morning due to the series of
life and property, they did not cut off from the plant the flow negligence adverted to above committed by defendants’
of electricity along the lines, an act they could have easily employees and which could have killed any other person who
might by accident get into contact with it. Stated otherwise, appellee versus Teodoro C. Umali, defendant-
even if the child was allowed to leave the house unattended appellant”, which found the death
due to the parents’ negligence, he would not have died that 265
morning were it not for the cut live wire he accidentally VOL. 69, JANUARY 30, 1976 265
touched. Umali vs. Bacani
Same; Same; Negligence of employee is presumed to be
by electrocution of Manuel Saynes, a boy of 3 years and
negligence of his employer who may escape liability only by
proof that it exercised diligence of good father of family to 8 months, as “due to the fault or negligence of the
prevent damage not only in selection of employees but in defendant (Umali) as owner and manager of the AlcaIa
adequately supervising their work.—The negligence of the Electric Plant”, although the liability of defendant is
employee is presumed to be the negligence of the employer x mitigated by the contributory negligence of the parents
x x. This liability of the employer is primary and direct. In of the boy “in not providing for the proper and delegate
fact, the proper defense for the employer to raise so that he supervision and control over their son.” The dispositive
may escape liability is to prove that he exercised the part of the decision reads as follows:
diligence of the good father of the family to prevent damage “Wherefore, the Court hereby renders judgment in favor of
not only in the selection of his employees but also in the plaintiff by ordering the defendant to pay to the plaintiff
adequately supervising them over their work. This defense the sum of Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00) for the death of
was not adequately proven as found by the trial Court, and his son, Manuel Saynes; the sum of One Thousand. Two
We do not find any sufficient reason to deviate from its Hundred Pesos (Pl,200.00) for actual expenses for and in
finding. connection with the burial of said deceased child, and the
further sum of Three Thousand Pesos (P3,000.00) for moral
PETITION for certioari to review the decision of the damages and Five Hundred (P500.00) Pesos as reasonable
Court of First Instance of Pangasinan. Bacani. J. attorney’s fee, or a total of Nine Thousand Seven Hundred
(P9,700.00) Pesos, and to pay the cost of this suit, it Is So
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court. Ordered.”
Julian M. Armas for petitioner.
Antonino de los Reyes for private respondent. Undisputed facts appearing of record are:
“On May 14, 1972, a storm with strong rain hit the
ESGUERRA, J.: Municipality of Alcala, Pangasinan, which started from 2:00
o’clock in the afternoon and lasted up to about midnight of
Petition for certiorari to review the decision of the Court the same day. During the storm, the banana plants standing
on an elevated ground along the barrio road in San Pedro Ili
of First Instance of Pangasinan, Branch IX, in Civil
of said municipality and near the transmission line of the
Case No. U-2412, entitled, “Fidel H. Saynes, plaintiff- Alcala Electric Plant were blown down and fell on the electric
wire. As a result, the live electric wire was cut, one end of
which was left hanging on the electric post and the other fell presence of negligence of the parents of the child in
to the ground under the fallen banana plants. allowing him to leave his house during that time.
“On the following morning, at about 9:00 o’clock barrio A careful examination of the record convinces Us
captain Luciano Bueno of San Pedro Ili who was passing by that a series of negligence on the part of defendants’
saw the broken electric wire and so he warned the people in
employees in the Alcala Electric Plant resulted in the
the place not to go near the wire for they might get hurt. He
death of the victim by electrocution. First, by the very
also saw Cipriano Baldomero, a laborer of the Alcala Electric
Plant near the place and notified him right then and there of evidence of the defendant, there were big and tall
the broken line and asked him to fix it, but the latter told the banana plants at the place of the incident standing on
barrio captain that he could not do it but that he was going an elevated ground which were about 30 feet high and
to look for the lineman to fix it. which were higher than the electric post supporting the
“Sometime after the barrio captain and Cipriano electric line, and yet the employees of the defendant
Baldomero had left the place, a small boy of 3 years and 8 who, with ordinary foresight, could have easily seen
months old by the name of Manuel P. Saynes, whose house that even in case of moderate winds the electric line
is just on the opposite side of the road, went to the place would be endangered by-banana plants being blown
where the broken line wire was and got in contact with it, down, did not even take the necessary precaution to
The boy was electrocuted and he subsequently died. It was
eliminate that source of danger to the electric line.
only after the electrocution of Manuel Saynes that the broken
Second, even after the employees of the Alcala Electric
wire was fixed at about 10:00 o’clock on the same morning by
the lineman of the electric plant.” Plant were already aware of the possible damage the
storm of May 14, 1972, could have caused their electric
266 lines, thus becoming a possible threat to life and
266 SUPREME COURT REPORTS property, they did not cut off from the plant the flow of
ANNOTATED electricity along the lines, an act they could have easily
Umali vs. Bacani done pending inspection of the wires to see if they had
Petitioner claims that he could not be liable under the been cut. Third, employee Cipriano Baldomero was
concept of quasi-delict or tort as owner and manager of negligent on the morning of the incident because even if
the Alcala Electric Plant because the proximate cause he was already made aware of the live cut wire, he did
of the boy’s death by electrocution could not be due to not have the foresight to realize that the same posed a
any negligence on his part, but rather to a fortuitous danger to life and property, and that he should have
event—the storm that caused the banana plants to fall taken the necessary precaution to prevent anybody
and cut the electric line—pointing out the absence of from approaching the live wire; instead Baldomero left
negligence on the part of his employee Cipriano the premises because what was foremost in his mind
Baldomero who tried to have the line repaired and the
was the repair of the line, obviously forgetting that if due to the parents’ negligence, he would not have died
left unattended to it could endanger life and property. that morning where it not for the cut live wire he
On defendants’ argument that the proximate cause accidentally touched.
of the victim’s death could be attributed to the parents’ Art. 2179 of the Civil Code provides that if the
negligence in allowing a child of tender age to go out of negligence of the plaintiff (parents of the victim in this
the house alone, We could readily see that because of case) was only contributory, the immediate and
the aforementioned series of proximate cause of the injury being the defendants’ lack
267 of due care, the plaintiff may recover damages, but the
VOL. 69, JANUARY 30, 1976 267 courts shall mitigate the damages to be awarded. This
Umali vs. Bacani law may be availed of by the petitioner but does not
negligence on the part of defendants’ employees exempt him from liability.
resulting in a live wire lying on the premises without Petitioner’s liability for injury caused by his
any visible warning of its lethal character, anybody, employees negligence is well defined in par. 4, of Article
even a responsible grown up or not necessarily an 2180 of the Civil Code, which states:
innocent child, could have met the same fate that befell “The owner and manager of an establishment or enterprise
the victim. It may be true, as the lower Court found out, are likewise responsible for damages caused by their
that the contributory negligence of the victim’s parents employees in the service of the branches in which the latter
in not properly taking care of the child, which enabled are employed or on the occasion of their functions.”
him to leave the house alone on the morning of the The negligence of the employee is presumed to be the
incident and go to a nearby place (cut wire was very negligence of the employer because the employer is
near the house where victim was living) where the fatal supposed to exercise supervision over the work of the
fallen wire electrocuted him, might mitigate employees. This liability of the employer is primary and
respondent’s liability, but We cannot agree with direct (Standard Vacuum Oil Co. vs. Tan and Court of
petitioner’s theory that the parents’ negligence Appeals, 107 Phil. 109). In fact the proper defense for
constituted the proximate cause of the victim’s death the employer to raise so that he may escape liability is
because the real proximate cause was the fallen live to prove that he exercised, the diligence of the
wire which posed a threat to life and property on that 268
morning due to the series of negligence adverted to 268 SUPREME COURT REPORTS
above committed by defendants’ employees and which ANNOTATED
could have killed any other person who might by Umali vs. Bacani
accident get into contact with it. Stated otherwise, even good father of the family to prevent damage not only in
if the child was allowed to leave the house unattended the selection-of his employees but also in adequately
supervising them over their work. This defense was not Revised Penal Code and an action for recovery of
adequately proven as found by the trial Court, and We damages based on culpa aquiliana under article 2177 of
do not find any sufficient reason to deviate from its the Civil Code. The action for enforcement of civil
finding. liability based on culpa criminal section 1 of Rule 111 of
Notwithstanding diligent efforts, We fail to find any the Rules of Court deems simultaneously instituted
reversible error committed by the trial Court in this with the criminal action, unless expressly waived or
case, either in its appreciation of the evidence on reserved for a separate application by the offended
questions of facts or on the interpretation and party. Article 2177 of the Civil Code, however, precludes
application of laws governing quasi-delicts and recovery of damages twice for the same negligent act or
liabilities emanating therefrom. The inevitable omission. (Padua vs. Robles, 66 SCRA 489). Under
conclusion is that no error amounting to grave abuse of these principles, it has been held that where after
discretion was committed and the decision must be left convicting a driver in the criminal case for negligence,
untouched. the trial court stated in its judgment that “the civil
WHEREFORE, the decision of respondent Court liability of the accused has already been determined and
dated June 27, 1974 is affirmed. assessed in Civil Case No. 427-0”, the offended party
Costs against petitioner. who failed to obtain the damages
SO ORDERED. 269
Teehankee (Chairman), Makasiar, Muñoz VOL. 69, JANUARY 30, 1976 269
Palma and Martin, JJ., concur.
Security Services Unlimited, Inc. vs.
Decision affirmed. Workmen’s Compensation
Notes.—Under the provisions of Article 2180 of the Commission
new Civil Code, the president of a vocational school and awarded in the civil case may still run after the owner
the instructor of the student of the school who caused of the vehicle based on the latter’s subsidiary
the death of his classmate are jointly and severally responsibility under the provisions of article 103 of the
liable for damages to the parents of the deceased who Revised Penal Code. (Ibid.)
was fatally injured at the school’s laboratory room.
(Palisoc vs. Brillantes, 41 SCRA 548). ——o0o——
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