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G.R. No. L-12191

Date of Promulgation: October 14, 1918

Ponente: Fisher, J.
Plaintiff: Jose Cangco
Defendant: Manila Railroad Co.

Plaintiff Jose Cangco, an employee of Manila Railroad Co., was taking his daily train ride to the
company’s office in Manila on January 20, 1915. As the train slowed down, Cangco stepped off
but one or both his feet slipped on a sack of watermelons on the station’s platform. Cangco’s
body rolled from the platform and was drawn under the moving car, where his right arm was
crushed. The accident occurred between 7 and 8 pm, and since the station was dimly lit by a
single light, objects on the platform were difficult to see. On the other hand, the sack was placed,
along with others, on the platform as a shipment to the market.

Cangco then instituted a proceeding to recover damages in the Court of First Instance of Manila,
founding his action on the negligence of Manila Railroad’s employees in placing the sacks on the
platform. However, the judge ruled that Cangco failed to use due caution in alighting from the

1. WON defendant Manila Railroad Co. is liable for damages – YES
2. WON plaintiff Cangco is liable of contributory negligence – NO

1. Art. 2176, CC. Whoever by act or omission causes damage to another, there being fault
or negligence, is obliged to pay for the damage done. Such fault or negligence, if there is
no pre-existing contractual relation between the parties, is called a quasi-delict and is
governed by the provisions of this Chapter. (1902a)

2. Art. 2180(1), (5), (8), CC. The obligation imposed by article 2176 is demandable not only
for one's own acts or omissions, but also for those of persons for whom one is

Employers shall be liable for the damages caused by their employees and household
helpers acting within the scope of their assigned tasks, even though the former are not
engaged in any business or industry.

The responsibility treated of in this article shall cease when the persons herein mentioned
prove that they observed all the diligence of a good father of a family to prevent damage.
1. On the distinction between culpa contractual and culpa aquiliana (ex-contractual)

In his commentary on Art. 1903 of the old Civil Code, Manresa says that the liability
arising from extra-contractual culpa is always based on a voluntary act or omission which
causes damage not through willful intent, but through mere negligence or inattention.
Therefore, an act or omission may be voluntary but not willful, that is, with intent to

Culpa aquiliana can be further distinguished from culpa contractual in the following

a. Source. Extra-contractual obligations have their source in those mutual duties

which civilized society imposes upon its members, the breach of which give rise
to an obligation to indemnify the injured party. As such, in cases of culpa
aquiliana it is the wrongful or negligent act or omission that creates the vinculum
juris, whereas in contractual relations the vinculum exists independently of the

b. Burden of proof. In culpa aquiliana, where the plaintiff’s cause of action

depends on a negligent act or omission, the burden of proof rests upon the
plaintiff to prove negligence. On the other hand, since an obligation already exists
in culpa contractual, mere proof of the contract and of its nonperformance are
sufficient prima facie for a recovery.

c. Defense of employer for negligence of employee. The presumption of

negligence in Art. 1903 is rebuttable, and the employer is relieved of liability
upon proof that he has exercised due diligence in the selection and supervision of
employees. However, the same does not apply in culpa contractual.

The Court also describes the fields of contractual and non-contractual obligations as
“concentric”. That is to say, the fact that a person is bound to another by contract does
not relieve him from extra-contractual liability to the latter.

2. On the liability of defendant Manila Railroad Co. to plaintiff Cangco

The foundation of defendant’s liability is its contract of carriage with plaintiff, which carries
by implication the duty to carry him safely and provide safe means of entering and leaving its
trains. Thus, non-performance of the contract could not be excused by proof that the fault
was imputable to defendant’s employees.

3. On plaintiff’s lack of contributory negligence

Thompson defines the test to determine whether a passenger alighting from a moving train is
guilty of negligence as that of ordinary or reasonable care. In the instant case, not only was
the station dimly lit and the train barely moving, but plaintiff is a fit young man for whom
alighting a moving train would not be risky.

Decision is reversed.