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REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee vs.

LUZON STEVEDORING
CORPORATION, defendant-applellant [1967]
 Aug. 17, 1960: barge L-1892 owned by Luzon Stevedoring Corp. (LSC) was being
towed down the Pasig River by said corporation’s tugboats, Bangus & Barbero. Barge
hit one of the wooden piles of the Nagtahan bailey bridge, smashing the posts &
causing the bridge to list/tilt. The river was swollen & had swift current then due to
the heavy downpour in Manila & surrounding provinces the previous days.
 RP sued LSC for actual & consequential damages caused by its employees amounting
to P200k.
 LSC denied liability claiming that:
1. it exercised due diligence in selecting its supervisors & employees
2. the damages were caused by force majeure
3. RP has no capacity to sue
4. the Nagtahan Bailey Bridge is an obstruction to navigation.
 CFI: LSC liable for damages caused by employees & ordered to pay actual cost of
repair amounting to P192,561.72 w/legal interest from date of filing complaint.
 On appeal to the SC, LSC raised some questions of fact w/c of course the SC can’t
decide since it’s limited to questions of law.

Issues & Ratio:


1. WON the collision was caused by a fortuitous event/force majeure. – NO.
 Note that the bridge is immovable & stationary w/adequate openings for the passage
of water craft such as LSC’s barge. It is undeniable that a barge exclusively
controlled by appellant rammed the bridge supports the presumption of negligence
on the part of the person manning the barge or the tugs that towed it since in the
ordinary course of events, such does not happen if proper care is used. Res ipsa
loquitur.
 LSC claims it took certain precautions on the day in question: 2 of its most powerful
tugboats were assigned to tow the barge, the more competent & experienced
patrons had the towlines, engines & equipment double-checked & inspected and
these patrons were instructed to take extra precautions & concludes that id had done
all that it was called to do. But these very precautions destroy their defense of force
majeure. Fortuitous events are defined as extraordinary events not foreseeable or
avoidable or events that could not be foreseen or w/c though foreseen were
inevitable (CC Art. 1174). Mere difficulty to foresee the happening is not equivalent
to an impossibility to foresee. By taking these precautions, LSC proved that the
possibility of danger was not only foreseeable but actually foreseen & was not caso
fortuito. They knew the perils posed by swollen stream & its swift current yet they
voluntarily entered into the situation involving obvious danger. It assumed the risk &
thus, it can’t shed responsibility merely because the precautions it adopted were
insufficient.
 Even if the bridge was improperly located, fact remains that it has been there for
many years and LSC can’t safely ignore the danger it poses, if any. These
circumstances merely emphasize the need of even higher degree of care on their
part.
2. WON the lower court abused its discretion in admitting RP’s additional
evidence after it rested its case. – NO.
 LSC is trying to insinuate that this was done deliberately to manipulate the evidence
to prejudice said corporation.
 Admission of additional evidence after resting the case lies w/in the sound discretion
of the trial judge & this can’t be reviewed except in clear case of abuse.
 No abuse of discretion was shown since additional evidence included vouchers &
papers to support an item of P1,558.00 spent for the reinforcement of the bailey
bridge which already appeared in a previous exhibit. Besides, LSC also did the same
– it presented additional evidence even after it has rested its case so there’s no
reason to charge the trial court of being unfair.
Holding: CFI decision affirmed.