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TORTS OUTLINE

A. Plaintiff’s Negligence
ART 2179 When the Plaintiff’s Negligence is the immediate and proximate cause of the
injury, he cannot recover damages. But if his negligence is merely contributory, the
immediate and proximate cause of the injury being the defendant’s lack of due care, the
plaintiff may recover damages, but the courts shall mitigate the damages to be awarded.

COMPARATIVE NEGLIGENCE RULE – the relative degree of negligence of the parties is


considered in determining whether and to what degree either should be responsible for his
negligence. The rule involves apportionment of damages.
PURE TYPE OF COMPARATIVE NEGLIGENCE – the plaintiff’s contributory negligence does
not operate to bar his recovery but does serve to mitigate his damages in proportion to his
fault.
CONTRIBUTORY NEGLIGENCE – negligence on the party of the defendant, which contributes to
the injury, completely bars his recovery.

CONTRIBUTORY NEGLIGENCE – conduct on the part of the injured party, contributing as a legal
cause to the harm he has suffered, which falls below the standard to which he is required to
conform for his own protection.

IMPUTED CONTRIBUTORY NEGLIGENCE – it is the negligence which is imputed if the actor is


different from the person who is being made liable. The defendant will still be subjected to
mitigated liability even if the plaintiff was not himself personally negligent but because of the
negligence of another which is being imputed to him.

CASE: Ramos v COL – if the master is injured by the concurring negligence of his employee and
a third person, the former’s negligence is imputed to him and shall defeat his claim against such
person.

ANONUEVO v CA – violation of a statute is not sufficient to hold that the violation was the
proximate cause of the injury, unless the very injury that happened was precisely what was
intended to be prevented by the statute.

E. CAUSATION

1. Proximate Cause - is that cause which, in natural and continuous sequence, unbroken by any
efficient intervening cause produces the injury and without which the result would not have
occurred. It should have foreseen or reasonably anticipated by a person of ordinary care that the
injury complained of or some similar injury would result therefrom as a natural and probable
consequence.
- the proximate cause is not necessarily the nearest cause. It is not necessarily the last link in the
chain of events but that which procuring efficient or predominant cause.

- it is what sets others in motion. It must be adequate to produce resultant damage without the
intervention of any independent cause.

2. Remote Cause – the cause which some independent force merely took advantage of to
accomplish something not the natural effect thereof.

3. Concurrent Causes

- There may be cases when the defendant’s negligence is not the sole cause of the injury. The
defendant may still be held liable in case there are concurrent causes brought about by third
persons. He is not protected even though the act of a third person is a substantial factor in bringing
about the harm as long as the negligent act actively and continuously operate to bring harm to
another.

- the primary cause remains the proximate cause even if there is an intervening cause which
merely cooperated with the primary cause and which did not break the chain of causation.

- No actor’s negligence ceases to be the proximate cause merely because it does not exceed the
negligence of other actors. Each wrongdoer is responsible for the entire result and is liable as
though his acts were the sole cause of the injury.

-there is no contribution between joint tortfeasors whose liability is solidary since both them are
liable for total damages.

- where there are concurrent or successive negligent acts or omissions of two or more persons,
although acting independently, are in combination the direct and proximate cause of a single injury
to a third person, and it is impossible to determine in what proportion each is liable, either of them
is responsible for the whole injury.

EXCEPTION TO THE RULE: If the plaintiff’s negligence concurred with the defendant’s and
became concurrent proximate causes of the injury.

TESTS:

1. Cause in fact – necessary to determine if defendant’s negligence was the cause-in-fact of the
damage to the plaintiff.
a. Sine Qua Non Test – If the first object had not been, the second had never existed. (BUT FOR
TEST) – if the damage had resulted had there been negligence on the part of the defendant.
b. Substantial Factor Test – makes the negligent conduct the cause in fact of the damage if it
was a substantial factor in producing the injuries. The causes set in motion by the
defendant must continue until the moment of damage. This test applies when there are
concurrent causes.
c. Necessary Element of Sufficient Set (NESS) Test – modified but-for test; the negligent act or
omission is a cause-in-fact of the damage if it is a necessary set of sufficient set.
2. Policy Test – determines the extent of liability
a. Foreseeability Test – the defendant is not liable for unforeseeable consequences of his act.
The liability is limited within the risk created by the negligent act.
b. Direct consequences – makes the defendant liable for damages that are beyond the risk. He
is liable for those acts which follow the sequence from the effect of defendant’s act upon
conditions existing and forces already in operation at the time, without any intervention of
any external forces.

CAUSE v CONDITION - a remote cause cannot be made a basis of an action if such cause did
nothing more than furnish the condition or give rise to the occasion by which the inury was
made possible. If no danger existed in the condition except because of the independent
cause, such condition cannot be held as the proximate cause.

EGG SKULL RULE – the tortfeasor is liable even though the negligent act caused an injury
that is greater than what is usually experienced by a normal person because of a prior
condition of the plaintiff.

3. Efficient Intervening Cause – one that destroys the causal connection between the negligent act
and injury and thereby negatives liability. It is regarded as the proximate cause where the
chain of events is so broken that they become independent and the result cannot be said to be
the consequence of the primary cause.
- the test of sufficiency of an intervening cause to defeat recovery for damages is not to be
found on the mere fact of its existence, but rather in the nature and manner in which it affects
the continuity of operation of the primary cause or the connection between it and the injury. It
should be new and independent, not under the control of the original wrongdoer.
Foreseable Intervening Cause – if it is one which in ordinary human experience is reasonably
anticipated, or one which the defendant has reason to anticipate under the particular
circumstances, the defendant may be negligent.
MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE: Tortfeasor is still liable because the harm is either: a) a part of the
original injury; b) natural and probable consequences of the original tortfeasor’s negligence; or
3) the normal incidence of medical care necessitated by the tortfeasor’s original negligence.

4. Last Clear Chance


The antecedent negligence of the plaintiff does not bar recovery if the defendant, by exercising
reasonable care and prudence, might have avoided injurious consequence to the plaintiff
notwithstanding the plaintiff’s negligence.
PHOENIX CASE: The defendant invoked the doctrine of last clear chance to escape liability. The
court said that to accept the proposition is to come too close to wiping out the fundamental
principle of the law that a man must respond to the foreseeable consequences of his own
negligence or omission. Our law on quasi-delicts seeks to reduce the risk of living in society and
to allocate them among the members of the society.
- but the doctrine of last clear chance should not be applied if the plaintiff’s negligence
continued to operate until the injury. In such case, the comparative negligence is applicable.
It does not apply when:
a. Only one party is negligent;
b. When the accident occurred in an instant and there was no appreciable time had elapsed
that could have afforded the victim a last clear opportunity to avoid the collision;
c. Actions arising out of contract (because only a fact of the breach thereof presupposes
negligence)

F. Persons Liable

1. The Tortfeasors

ART 2194 – The responsibility of two or more persons who are liable for quasi-delicts is solidary.

Where several causes producing an injury are concurrent and each is an efficient intervening cause
without which the injury would not have happened, the injury may be attributed to any of the
causes and recovery may be had against any or all of the responsible persons, ALTHOUGH IT MAY
APPEAR THAT ONE OF THEM WAS MORE CULPABLE and that the duty owed by them to the
injured person was not the same.

- No actor’s negligence ceases to be a proximate cause merely because it does not exceed the
negligence of other actors. Each person is responsible for the entire result and is liable as though
his acts were the sole cause of his injury.

-Where their concurring negligence resulted in injury or damage to a third person, they become
joint tortfeasors and are solidarily liable for the resulting damage. There is no contribution
between joint tortfeasors since both of them are liable for the total damage.

- the provision applies when two or more acts or omissions of different persons are the proximate
cause of the injury.

LIABILITY: Joint tortfeasors are not liable pro rata. The damages cannot be apportioned among
them, except among themselves.

2. Vicarious Liability - a person is not only liable for the torts committed by himself, but also for
torts committed by others with whom he has a certain relationship and for whom he is responsible.

a. Parents

Basis: Parents exercise parental authority over their children, and their liability is the necessary
consequence of such authority.

-parents and other persons exercising parental authority shall be civilly liable for injuries and
damages caused by the acts and omissions of their unemancipated children living under their
company and under their parental authority.

-extends to both negligent acts and intentional acts.


-the liability of parents under 2180 is primary and not subsidiary, hence, the defense of a good
father of a family is applicable to them.

DEEP POCKET RULE – parents are still liable for negligent acts of their children beyond the age of
18 but below 21 on the premise that they are financially capable of satisfying the judgment award.
This is also supported under ART 236 of the FC, where it states that “Nothing in this code shall be
construed to derogate from the duty or responsibility of parents and guardians for children and
wards below twenty-one years of age mentioned under 2180 of the NCC.

b.Teachers and Heads of Institutions

ART 218 - the school, its administrators (includes principal) and teachers, or the individual, entity
or institution engaged in child care shall have the special parental authority and responsibility over
the minor child under their supervision, instruction or custody.

- The code does not make a distinction as to whether it is an academic or non-academic


institution.
- If the school is being sued together with administrators and teachers, the liability is joint and
solidary.

SUBSIDIARY LIABILITY OF PARENTS: Whenever the school or teacher is being made liable, the
parents and those exercising substitute parental authority are not free from liability because the FC
expressly provides that they are subsidiarily liable. The parents are only subsidiarily liable because
persons exercising SPA replace their primary authority when the minor is in their custody.
(dissenting opinion of JBL Reyes in Amadora)

AMADORA: Teachers in charge are still liable for the acts of their students who are no longer
minors. In other words, the liability of teachers-in-charge does not cease even if the minor student
reaches the age of majority.

- a student is in the custody of the school as long as he is under the control and influence of the
school and within its premises, whether the semester had not yet begun or had already ended.

- Art 2180 is not limited to pupils, students and apprentices who are minors. Its force extends to
acts or omissions of students who are already beyond the majority age. The teacher will be held
liable not only when he is acting in loco parentis for the law does not require that the offending
student be of minority age. A student over twenty one, by enrolling or attending the school, places
himself under the custodial supervision and disciplinary authority of the school authorities.

c. Owners and Managers of Establishments

“Managers” are used in the sense of an employer.

CASE: SPS JAYME v APOSTOL: In the absence of an er-ee relationship, the driver’s negligence
should not be attributed to a fellow employee who only happens to be an occupant of the vehicle.
Whatever right of control the occupant may have over the driver is not sufficient by itself to justify
an application of the doctrine of vicarious liability.
- an intermediate and superior employee or agent is not a manager or employer within the
contemplation of ART 2180.

INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR – Contractor is not liable.

BORROWED EMPLOYEE RULE – employer-employee relationship still exists even if the employer
loaned the employee to another person or entity. The temporary assignment does not sever the
relationship because control over the employee subsists.

d. Employers

Enterprise Theory – the losses caused by the torts of employees, which is a particular matter are
sure to occur in the conduct of the employer’s enterprise, are placed upon the enterprise itself, as a
required cost of doing business.

ART 2180 – owners and managers of establishments or enterprises are responsible for damages
caused by their employees in the service of their branches in which the latter are employed or on
occasion of their functions. Employers shall be liable for 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.

REQS:

a. that the employee was chosen by the employer personally or through another;
b. that the service to be rendered in accordance with orders which the employer has authority to
give at all times; and
c. the ilicit act of the employee was on the occasion or by reason of the functions entrusted to
him.

REQUISITES for vicarious liability to attach:

A. ER-EE relationship;
B. Liability for quasi-delict by the employee; and
C. Performance by the employee of the task assigned by the employer or the latter’s authorized
representative or employee when the damage or injury was inflicted through fault or
negligence was committed.

ART 2180 (5) – encompasses negligent acts of employees acting within the scope of their assigned
task. Negligent acts of employees, whether or not the employer is engaged in business or industry,
are covered as long as they are acting within the scope of their assigned task, even though
committed neither in the service of their branches or on occasion of their functions.

The vicarious liability attaches only when the tortuous conduct of the employee relates to, or is in
the course of employment. It is not necessary that the task was expressly given to him or that it
forms part of his regular duties. It is sufficient that the task is indispensible to the business or
beneficial to the employer.
DEFENSES OF EMPLOYER:

a. Diligence in Selection
-requires the examination of the applicants as to their qualifications, experience and service
records. This may include requirements such as licenses or clearances, tests or trainings.
b. Diligence in Supervision
- includes proper promulgation of rules and regulations, and formulation and publication of
proper instructions for the employees’ guidance. Employers must formulate standard
operating procedures, monitor their implementation and impose discipline for breaches
thereof.

SOLIDARY LIABILITY: The aggrieved party may sue either of them. If the employer is sued, he may
recover from the negligent employee. If the plaintiff sues the employee, no right of reimbursement
accrues.

REQS OF SUBSIDIARY LIABILITY OF EMPLOYERS UNDER THE RPC:

a. the person sought to be made liable is indeed the employer of the convicted accused;
b. that the employer is engaged in any kind of industry;
c. the employee was convicted of the offense committed in the discharge of his duties; and
d. the employee is insolvent

D. STATE
It is a general rule that the state cannot be sued without its consent. AN exception would be if
there is a special law that manifests the consent of the state to be sued, one of which is ART
2180.

The liability of the state is limited to acts of special agents. A special agent is one who receives a
definite and fixed order or commission, foreign to the exercise of the duties of his office if he is
a special official.
- The concept does not apply to any executive agent who is an employee of the active
administration and who on his own responsibility performs the functions which are inherent in
and naturally pertain to his function.
- IN THE CASE OF PUBLIC OFFICERS: Public officers who are guilty of tortious acts are
personally liable for their actions. They cannot raise the defense that the state is immune from
suits. A public official may be held liable in his personal private capacity for whatever damage
he may have caused by his act done with malice, bad faith or gross negligence, or beyond the
scope of his authority or jurisdiction.

G. Interference with Contractual Relations


H. Torts with independent civil actions

1. Violations of Civil and Political Rights

- Although ART 32 normally involves intentional acts, the tort of violation of civil and political
rights can also be committed through negligence. In addition, the rule is that good faith on the part
of the defendant does not necessarily excuse such violation.

- to make malice or intent the sole requisite of liability under ART 32 is to defeat the main purpose
of ART 32 which is the effective protection of individual rights.

- state immunity is not a defense as such can be invoked only when the acts are done by officers in
the performance of official duties within the ambit of their powers. Obviously, officers do not act
within the ambit of their powers if they would violate the constitutional rights of other persons.

VINSONS CHATO CASE: There are two types of duties that a public officer owes:

1. Duty to the Public in General – one cannot sue the official unless he alleges a particular or
specific injury resulting to him from the act or omission complained of. An individual cannot
have a cause of action for damages against the public officer, even though he may have been
injured by the act ion or inaction of the officer. He must show a wrong which he specially
suffers, and damage alone does not constitute a wrong.

2. Duty to Individuals

3. Defamation, Fraud and Physical Injuries


Defamation means the offense of injuring a person’s character fame or reputation through false
or malicious statements. It is the publication of anything which is injurious to the good name or
reputation of another or tends to bring him into disrepute.
Defamation is an invasion of relational interest since it involves the opinion which others in the
community may have, or tend to have, of the plaintiff.
- the liability imposed for defamation is brought about by the desire to protect the reputation of
every individual.
- the constitutional guarantees states that a public official is prohibited from recovering
damages for a defamatory falsehood relating to his official conduct unless he proves that such
statement is made with actual malice, that is, with knowledge that it is false or with reckless
disregard of whether it was false or not.

REQUISITES OF LIABILITY:
a. there must be defamatory imputation;
Imputation is defamatory as a matter of law where the imputation is the commission of a crime.
If the statement is not defamatory as matter of law, the Court must then make a determination
on the defamatory capability of the statement.
In determining the defamatory character of the words used, the judge must consider the
allegedly libellous passages in the context of the entire article and evaluate the words as they
are commonly understood.
- The mere fact that the plaintiff’s feelings and sensibilities have been offended is not enough to
create a cause of action for defamation. Defamation requires that something be communicated
to a third person that may affect the opinion others may have of the plaintiff.
b. the imputation must be malicious;
- there is malice when the author is prompted by ill-will or spite and speaks not in response to a
duty but merely to injure the reputation of a person who claims to have been defamed.
a. Malice in Law – presumption of law. It dispenses with the proof of malice when words that
raise the presumption are shown to have been uttered. If the imputation is defamatory, the
plaintiff or the prosecution need not prove malice on the part of the defendant, for the law
already presumes that the defendant’s imputation is malicious.
b. Malice in Fact – positive desire and intention to annoy or injure.
c. the imputation must be given publicity; and
- communication of the defamatory information to third persons. Dissemination to a single
individual is sufficient. In civil action for damages, no liability will result if the defamatory
matter is not seen or heard by anyone except the defendant and the plaintiff.
-
d. the victim must be identifiable
In order to maintain a libel suit, it is essential that the victim be identifiable although it is
not necessary that he be named. It is sufficient if it be shown that the offended party is the
person meant or alluded to.
CASE: BORJAL v CA: It is also not sufficient that the offended party recognized himself as
the person attacked or defamed, but it must be shown that at least a third person could
identify him as the object of the libellous publication.

GROUP LIBEL: Declarations made about a large class of people cannot be interpreted to advert to an
identified or identifiable individual. Absent circumstances specifically pointing to or alluding to a
particular member of the class, no member of such class has a right of action without impairing the
constitutional right to freedom of the expression. An exception of this is when it can be shown that
he is the target of the defamatory matter.

JURISDICTION: Court where the libellous article is first printed or published or where any of the
offended parties actually resides at the time of the commission of the offense.

DEFENSE: The matter charged is libellous must be true and it was published for good and justifiable
ends.

a. Privileged statements
ABSOLUTE – the imputation is not actionable even if attended by actual malice.
QUALIFIED – still actionable if actual malice is proven. It merely prevents the presumption
of malice from attaching to a defamatory imputation.
Types:

a. a private communication made by any person to another in the performance of any legal,
moral or social duty;
b. a fair and true report, made in good faith, without any comment or remark, of any judicial,
legislative or other official proceedings which are not of confidential nature, or of any
statement, report or speech delivered in said proceedings, or of any other act performed by
public officials in the exercise of their functions
c. fair commentaries of public interest

3. Abuse of Rights

4. Acts Contrary to Law

K. Acts Contrary to Morals, Good Customs and Public Policy

L. Violation of Human Dignity

M. Unjustified Refusal or Neglect of a Public Servant to Perform Official Duties

N. Cyber Torts

O. Maritime Torts

P. toxic Torts