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This petition raises the sole issue of whether or not the owner of a

private vehicle which figured in an accident can be held liable under Article
THIRD DIVISION 2180 of the Civil Code when the said vehicle was neither driven by an
employee of the owner nor taken with the consent of the latter.
[G.R. No. 82318. May 18, 1989.] The facts are summarized in the contested decision, as follows:
"From the evidence adduced by the plaintiffs, consisting
GILBERTO M. DUAVIT, petitioner, vs. THE HON. of the testimonies of witnesses Virgilio Catuar, Antonio
COURT OF APPEALS, Acting through the Third Sarmiento, Jr., Ruperto Catuar, Jr. and Norberto Bernarte
Division, as Public Respondent, and ANTONIO it appears that on July 28, 1971 plaintiffs Antonio
SARMIENTO, SR. & VIRGILIO CATUAR, respondents. Sarmiento, Sr. and Virgilio Catuar were aboard a jeep with
plate number 77-99-F-1-Manila, 1971, owned by plaintiff,
Ruperto Catuar was driving the said jeep on Ortigas
Rodolfo d. Dela Cruz for petitioner. Avenue, San Juan, Rizal; that plaintiff's jeep, at the time,
was running moderately at 20 to 35 kilometers per hour —
Bito, Lozada, Ortega & Castillo for respondents. and while approaching Roosevelt Avenue, Virgilio Catuar
slowed down; that suddenly, another jeep with plate
number 99-97-F-J, Manila 1971 driven by defendant
SYLLABUS Oscar Sabiniano hit and bumped plaintiff's jeep on the
portion near the left rear wheel, and as a result of the
1. TORTS AND DAMAGES; OWNER OF A VEHICLE IS NOT LIABLE FOR AN impact plaintiff's jeep fell on its right and skidded by about
ACCIDENT INVOLVING THE VEHICLE IF DRIVEN WITHOUT THE OWNER'S 30 yards; that as a result plaintiff's jeep was damaged,
CONSENT BY ONE NOT EMPLOYED BY HIM. — The Supreme Court ruled particularly the windshield, the differential, the part near
in Duquilleo v. Bayot (67 Phil. 131-133-134) [1939] that an owner of a vehicle the left rear wheel and the top cover the jeep; that plaintiff
cannot be held liable for an accident involving the said vehicle if the same Virgilio Catuar was shown to the middle of the road; his
was driven without his consent or knowledge and by a person not employed wrist was broken and he sustained contusions on the
by him. head; that likewise plaintiff Antonio Sarmiento, Sr. was
trapped inside the fallen jeep, and one of his legs was
2. CIVIL PROCEDURE; ABSOLUTE RULES NOT APPLIED UNQUALIFIEDLY fractured.
UNLESS THEY FIT FOUR SQUARE WITH PENDING CASES. — The Court
cannot blindly apply absolute rules based on precedents whose facts do not "Evidence also shows that the plaintiff Virgilio Catuar
jibe four square with pending cases. Every case must be determined on its spent a total of P2,464.00 for repairs of the jeep, as
own peculiar factual circumstances. Where, as in this case, the records of shown by the receipts of payment of labor and spare
the petition fail to indicate the slightest indicia of an employer-employee parts (Exhs. H to H-7). Plaintiffs likewise tried to prove that
relationship between the owner and the erring driver or any consent given by plaintiff Virgilio Catuar, immediately after the accident was
the owner for the vehicle's use, we cannot hold the owner liable. taken to Immaculate Concepcion Hospital, and then was
transferred to the National Orthopedic Hospital; that while
plaintiff Catuar was not confined in the hospital, his wrist
was in a plaster cast for a period of one month, and the
DECISION contusions on his head were under treatment for about
two (2) weeks; that for hospitalization, medicine and allied
expenses, plaintiff Catuar spent P5,000.00.
GUTIERREZ, JR., J p: "Evidence also shows that as a result of the incident,
plaintiff Antonio Sarmiento, Sr. sustained injuries on his
leg; that at first, he was taken to the National Orthopedic
Hospital (Exh. K), but later he was confined at the Makati that he was taking all necessary precaution while driving
Medical Center from July 29, to August 29, 1971 and then and the accident occurred due to the negligence of Virgilio
from September 15 to 25, 1971; that his leg was in a Catuar. Sabiniano claims that it was plaintiff's vehicle
plaster cast for a period of eight (8) months; and that for which hit and bumped their jeep." (Rollo, pp. 21-23)
hospitalization and medical attendance, plaintiff Antonio
Sarmiento, Sr. spent no less than P13,785.25 as The trial court found Oscar Sabiniano negligent in driving the
evidenced by receipts in his possession. (Exhs. N to N-1). vehicle but found no employer-employee relationship between him and
the petitioner because the latter was then a government employee and he
"Proofs were adduced also to show that plaintiff Antonio took the vehicle without the authority and consent of the owner. The
Sarmiento, Sr. is employed as Assistant Accountant of the petitioner was, thus, absolved from liability under Article 2180 of the Civil
Canlubang Sugar Estate with a salary of P1,200.00 a Code.
month; that as sideline, he also works as accountant of
The private respondents appealed the case.
United Haulers, Inc. with a salary of P500.00 a month; and
that as a result of this incident, plaintiff Sarmiento was On January 7, 1988, the Court of Appeals rendered the
unable to perform his normal work for a period of at least questioned decision holding the petitioner jointly and severally liable with
8 months. On the other hand, evidence shows that the Sabiniano. The appellate court in part ruled:
other plaintiff Virgilio Catuar is a Chief Clerk in Canlubang "We cannot go along with appellee's argument. It will be
Sugar Estate with a salary of P500.00 a month, and as a seen that in Vargas v. Langcay, supra, it was held that it is
result of the incident, he was incapacitated to work for a immaterial whether or not the driver was actually
period of one (1) month. employed by the operator of record or registered owner,
"The plaintiffs have filed this case both against Oscar and it is even not necessary to prove who the actual
Sabiniano as driver, and against Gualberto Duavit as owner of the vehicle and who the employer of the driver
owner of the jeep. is. When the Supreme Court ruled, thus: `We must hold
and consider such owner-operator of record (registered
"Defendant Gualberto Duavit, while admitting ownership owner) as the employer in contemplation of law, of the
of the other jeep (Plate No. 99-07-F-J Manila, 1971), driver,' it cannot be construed other than that the
denied that the other defendant (Oscar Sabiniano) was his registered owner is the employer of the driver in
employee. Duavit claimed that he has not been an contemplation of law. It is a conclusive presumption of
employer of defendant Oscar Sabiniano at anytime up to fact and law, and is not subject to rebuttal of proof to the
the present. contrary. Otherwise, as stated in the decision, we quote:
"On the other hand documentary and testimonial evidence " 'The purpose of the principles evolved
show that defendant Oscar Sabiniano was an employee of by the decisions in these matters will be defeated
the Board of Liquidators from November 14, 1966 up to and thwarted if we entertain the argument of
January 4, 1973 (Annex A of Answer). petitioner that she is not liable because the actual
owner and employer was established by the
"Defendant Sabiniano, in his testimony, categorically evidence. . . . .' "
admitted that he took the jeep from the garage of
defendant Duavit without the consent or authority of the Along the same vein, the defendant-appellee Gualberto
latter (TSN, September 7, 1978, p. 8). He testified further, Duavit cannot be allowed to prove that the driver
that Duavit even filed charges against him for theft of the Sabiniano was not his employee at the time of the
jeep, but which Duavit did not push through as his vehicular accident.
(Sabiniano's) parents apologized to Duavit on his behalf.
"The ruling laid down in Amar V. Soberano (1966), 63 O.G.
"Defendant Oscar Sabiniano, on the other hand in an 6850, by this Court to the effect that the burden of proving
attempt to exculpate himself from liability, makes it appear the non-existence of an employer-employee relationship
is upon the defendant and this he must do by a The respondent court's misplaced reliance on the cases of Erezo
satisfactory preponderance of evidence, has to defer to v. Jepte (102 Phil. 103 [1957] and Vargas v. Langcay (6 SCRA 174 [1962])
the doctrines evolved by the Supreme Court in cases of cannot be sustained. In the Erezo case, Jepte, the registered owner of the
damages arising from vehicular mishaps involving truck which collided with a taxicab, and which resulted in the killing of
registered motor vehicle. (See Tugade v. Court of Erezo, claimed that at the time of the accident, the truck belonged to the
Appeals, 85 SCRA 226, 230). (Rollo, pp. 26-27). Port Brokerage in an arrangement with the corporation but the same was
not known to the Motor Vehicles Office. This Court sustained the trial
The appellate court also denied the petitioner's motion for court's ruling that since Jepte represented himself to be the owner of the
reconsideration. Hence, this petition. truck and the Motor Vehicles Office, relying on his representation,
The petitioner contends that the respondent appellate court registered the vehicle in his name, the Government and all persons
committed grave abuse of discretion in holding him jointly and severally affected by the representation had the right to rely on his declaration of
liable with Sabiniano in spite of the absence of an employer-employee ownership and registration. Thus, even if Jepte were not the owner of the
relationship between them and despite the fact that the petitioner's jeep truck at the time of the accident, he was still held liable for the death of
was taken out of his garage and was driven by Sabiniano without his Erezo. Significantly, the driver of the truck was fully authorized to drive it.
consent. Likewise, in the Vargas case, just before the accident occurred,
As early as in 1939, we have ruled that an owner of a vehicle Vargas had sold her jeepney to a third person, so that at the time of the
cannot be held liable for an accident involving the said vehicle if the same accident she was no longer the owner of the jeepney. This court,
was driven without his consent or knowledge and by a person not nevertheless, affirmed Vargas' liability since she failed to surrender to the
employed by him. Thus, in Duquillo v. Bayot (67 Phil. 131-133-134) [1939] Motor Vehicles Office the corresponding AC plates in violation of the
we said: Revised Motor Vehicle Law and Commonwealth Act No. 146. We further
ruled that the operator of record continues to be the operator of the
"Under the facts established, the defendant cannot be
vehicle in contemplation of law, as regards the public and third persons,
held liable for anything. At the time of the accident, James
and as such is responsible for the consequences incident to its operator.
McGurk was driving the truck, and he was not an
The vehicle involved was a public utility jeepney for hire. In such cases,
employee of the defendant, nor did he have anything to
the law does not only require the surrender of the AC plates but orders the
do with the latter's business; neither the defendant nor
vendor operator to stop the operation of the jeepney as a form of public
Father Ayson, who was in charge of her business,
transportation until the matter is reported to the authorities.
consented to have any of her trucks driven on the day of
the accident, as it was a holy day, and much less by a As can be seen, the circumstances of the above cases are entirely
chauffeur who was not in charge of driving it; the use of different from those in the present case. Herein petitioner does not deny
the defendant's truck in the circumstances indicated was ownership of the vehicle involved in the mishap but completely denies
done without her consent or knowledge; it may, therefore, having employed the driver Sabiniano or even having authorized the latter
be said, that there was not the remotest contractual to drive his jeep. The jeep was virtually stolen from the petitioner's garage.
relation between the deceased Pio Duquillo and the To hold, therefore, the petitioner liable for the accident caused by the
defendant. It necessarily follows from all this that articles negligence of Sabiniano who was neither his driver nor employee would
1101 and following of the Civil Code, cited by the be absurd as it would be like holding liable the owner of a stolen vehicle
appellant, have no application in this case, and, therefore, for an accident caused by the person who stole such vehicle. In this
the errors attributed to the inferior court are without regard, we cannot ignore the many cases of vehicles forcibly taken from
basis." their owners at gunpoint or stolen from garages and parking areas and the
instances of service station attendants or mechanics of auto repair shops
using, without the owner's consent, vehicles entrusted to them for
The Court upholds the above ruling as still relevant and better servicing or repair. LLpr
applicable to present day circumstances. We cannot blindly apply absolute rules based on precedents
whose facts do not jibe four square with pending cases. Every case must
be determined on its own peculiar factual circumstances. Where, as in this Eyewitness Rosalinda Palero testified that on July 19, 1994, at
case, the records of the petition fail to indicate the slightest indicia of an about 4:00 p.m., at the intersection of Buhangin and San Vicente Streets
employer-employee relationship between the owner and the erring driver in Davao City, 15-year old high school student Bithuel Macas, herein
or any consent given by the owner for the vehicle's use, we cannot hold respondent, was standing on the shoulder of the road. She was about
the owner liable. two and a half meters away from the respondent when he was bumped
We, therefore, find that the respondent appellate court committed and run over by a Ford Fiera, driven by Chona C. Cimafranca. Rosalinda
and another unidentified person immediately came to the respondent's
reversible error in holding the petitioner jointly and severally liable with
rescue and told Cimafranca to take the victim to the hospital.
Sabiniano to the private respondent.
Cimafranca rushed the respondent to the Davao Medical Center.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED and the decision and
resolution appealed from are hereby ANNULLED and SET ASIDE. The Dr. Hilario Diaz, the orthopedic surgeon who attended to the
decision of the then Court of First Instance (now Regional Trial Court) of respondent, testified that the respondent suffered severe muscular and
Laguna, 8th Judicial District, Branch 6, dated July 30, 1981 is major vessel injuries, as well as open bone fractures in both thighs and
REINSTATED. other parts of his legs. In order to save his life, the surgeon had to
amputate both legs up to the groins. 4
SO ORDERED.
Cimafranca had since absconded and disappeared. Records
Fernan (C.J., Chairman), Feliciano, Bidin and Cortes, JJ., concur. showed that the Ford Fiera was registered in the name of herein
||| (Duavit v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 82318, [May 18, 1989], 255 PHIL petitioner, Atty. Medardo Ag. Cadiente. However, Cadiente claimed that
470-476) when the accident happened, he was no longer the owner of the Ford
Fiera. He alleged that he sold the vehicle to Engr. Rogelio Jalipa on
March 28, 1994, 5 and turned over the Certificate of Registration and
Official Receipt to Jalipa, with the understanding that the latter would be
SECOND DIVISION the one to cause the transfer of the registration.
The victim's father, Samuel Macas, filed a complaint 6 for torts
[G.R. No. 161946. November 14, 2008.] and damages against Cimafranca and Cadiente before the RTC of
Davao City, Branch 10. Cadiente later filed a third-party
complaint 7 against Jalipa.
MEDARDO AG. CADIENTE, petitioner, vs. BITHUEL
MACAS, respondent. In answer, Jalipa claimed that he was no longer the owner of the
Ford Fiera at the time of the accident. He alleged that he sold the
vehicle to Abraham Abubakar on June 20, 1994. 8 He thus filed a fourth-
party complaint 9 against Abubakar.
DECISION
After trial, the court ruled:
WHEREFORE, judgment is rendered in favor of
the plaintiff declaring Atty. Medardo Ag. Cadiente and
QUISUMBING, Acting C.J p:
Engr. Rogelio Jalipa jointly and severally liable for
For review on certiorari are the Decision 1 dated September 16, damages to the plaintiff for their own negligence as
2002 and the Resolution 2 dated December 18, 2003 of the Court of stated above, and ordering them to indemnify the
Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 64103, which affirmed the Decision 3 of the plaintiff jointly and severally as follows: TcDIaA
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Davao City, Branch 10, in Civil Case No. (a) P300,000.00 as compensatory damages for
23,723-95. aETDIc the permanent and almost total disability being suffered
The facts are undisputed. by him;
(b) P150,000.00 for moral damages;
(c) P18,982.85 as reimbursement of medical The petitioner contends that the victim's negligence contributed
expenses; to his own mishap. The petitioner theorizes that if witness Rosalinda
Palero, who was only two and a half meters away from the victim, was
(d) P30,000.00 for attorney's fees; and
not hit by the Ford Fiera, then the victim must have been so negligent as
(e) costs of suit. to be bumped and run over by the said vehicle. 13 DHAcET
SO ORDERED. 10 The petitioner further argues that having filed a third-party
complaint against Jalipa, to whom he had sold the Ford Fiera, the Court
On appeal, the Court of Appeals held that the findings of the trial
of Appeals should have ordered the latter to reimburse him for any
court were in accordance with the established facts and was supported
amount he would be made to pay the victim, instead of ordering him
by the evidence on record. Thus, it decreed as follows:
solidarily liable for damages. 14
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant
The respondent, for his part, counters that the immediate and
appeal is DENIED and the decision of the Regional Trial
proximate cause of the injuries he suffered was the recklessly driven
Court of Davao City in Civil Case No. 23723-95 is
Ford Fiera, which was registered in the petitioner's name. He insists that
hereby AFFIRMED.
when he was hit by the vehicle, he was standing on the uncemented
SO ORDERED. 11 portion of the highway, which was exactly where pedestrians were
supposed to be. 15
From the aforequoted decision of the Court of Appeals and the
subsequent denial of the motion for reconsideration, only Cadiente The respondent stresses that as the registered owner of the
appealed to this Court. Ford Fiera which figured in the accident, the petitioner is primarily liable
for the injury caused by the said vehicle. He maintains that the alleged
The instant petition alleges that the Court of Appeals committed
sale of the vehicle to Jalipa was tainted with irregularity, which indicated
serious errors of law in affirming the decision of the trial court. Petitioner
collusion between the petitioner and Jalipa. 16
Cadiente raises the following as issues:
After a careful consideration of the parties' submissions, we find
I.
the petition without merit.
WAS THERE . . . CONTRIBUTORY Article 2179 of the Civil Code provides:
NEGLIGENCE ON THE PART OF THE INJURED
PARTY? When the plaintiff's own negligence was the
immediate and proximate cause of his injury, he cannot
II. recover damages. But if his negligence was only
ARE BOTH DEFENDANT CADIENTE AND contributory, the immediate and proximate cause of the
THIRD-PARTY DEFENDANT JOINTLY AND SEVERALLY injury being the defendant's lack of due care, the
LIABLE TO THE INJURED PARTY? plaintiff may recover damages, but the courts shall
mitigate the damages to be awarded.
III.
The underlying precept on contributory negligence is that a
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEAL[S] plaintiff who is partly responsible for his own injury should not be
COMMIT[T]ED GRAVE LEGAL ERROR IN ORDERING entitled to recover damages in full, but must proportionately bear the
DEFENDANT CADIENTE AND THIRD-PARTY consequences of his own negligence. The defendant is thus held liable
DEFENDANT JALIPA JOINTLY AND SEVERALLY only for the damages actually caused by his negligence. 17
LIABLE. 12
In this case, records show that when the accident happened,
Essentially, the issues to be resolved are: (1) Whether there was the victim was standing on the shoulder, which was the uncemented
contributory negligence on the part of the victim; and (2) whether the portion of the highway. As noted by the trial court, the shoulder was
petitioner and third-party defendant Jalipa are jointly and severally liable intended for pedestrian use alone. Only stationary vehicles, such as
to the victim. those loading or unloading passengers may use the shoulder. Running
vehicles are not supposed to pass through the said uncemented portion respondent, who had since stopped schooling and is now forced to face
of the highway. However, the Ford Fiera in this case, without so much life with nary but two remaining limbs.
as slowing down, took off from the cemented part of the highway,
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit. The
inexplicably swerved to the shoulder, and recklessly bumped and ran
assailed Decision dated September 16, 2002 and Resolution dated
over an innocent victim. The victim was just where he should be when
December 18, 2003 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 64103
the unfortunate event transpired. cAHIaE
are hereby AFFIRMED. Costs against the petitioner. ADCTac
Cimafranca, on the other hand, had no rightful business driving
SO ORDERED.
as recklessly as she did. The respondent cannot be expected to have
foreseen that the Ford Fiera, erstwhile speeding along the cemented Carpio-Morales, Tinga, Velasco, Jr. and Brion, JJ., concur.
part of the highway would suddenly swerve to the shoulder, then bump
||| (Cadiente v. Macas, G.R. No. 161946, [November 14, 2008], 591 PHIL
and run him over. Thus, we are unable to accept the petitioner's
719-726)
contention that the respondent was negligent.

Coming now to the second and third issues, this Court has
recently reiterated in PCI Leasing and Finance, Inc. v. UCPB General
Insurance Co., Inc., 18 that the registered owner of any vehicle, even if FIRST DIVISION
he had already sold it to someone else, is primarily responsible to the
public for whatever damage or injury the vehicle may cause. We [G.R. No. 11154. March 21, 1916.]
explained,
. . . Were a registered owner allowed to evade
E. MERRITT, plaintiff-appellant, vs. GOVERNMENT OF
responsibility by proving who the supposed transferee
THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, defendant-appellant.
or owner is, it would be easy for him, by collusion with
others or otherwise, to escape said responsibility and
transfer the same to an indefinite person, or to one who Crossfield & O'Brien for plaintiff.
possesses no property with which to respond financially
for the damage or injury done. A victim of recklessness Attorney-General Avanceña for defendant.
on the public highways is usually without means to
discover or identify the person actually causing the
injury or damage. He has no means other than by a SYLLABUS
recourse to the registration in the Motor Vehicles Office
to determine who is the owner. The protection that the
1. DAMAGES; MEASURE OF. — Where the evidence shows
law aims to extend to him would become illusory were
that the plaintiff was wholly incapacitated for six months it is an error to
the registered owner given the opportunity to escape
restrict the damages to a shorter period during which he was confined in
liability by disproving his ownership. 19
the hospital.
In the case of Villanueva v. Domingo, 20 we said that the policy 2. SPECIAL STATUTES; CONSENT OF THE STATE TO BE
behind vehicle registration is the easy identification of the owner who SUED; CONSTRUCTION. — The Government of the Philippine Islands
can be held responsible in case of accident, damage or injury caused by having been "modeled after the federal and state governments of the
the vehicle. This is so as not to inconvenience or prejudice a third party United States' the decisions of the high courts of that country may be
injured by one whose identity cannot be secured. 21 used in determining the scope and purpose of a special statute.
Therefore, since the Ford Fiera was still registered in the 3. ID.; ID.; ID. — The state not being liable to suit except by its
petitioner's name at the time when the misfortune took place, the express consent, an act abrogating that immunity will be strictly
petitioner cannot escape liability for the permanent injury it caused the construed.
4. ID.; ID.; ID. — An act permitting a suit against the state gives when he was ten feet from the southwestern intersection
rise to no liability not previously existing unless it is clearly expressed in of said streets, the General Hospital ambulance, upon
the act. reaching said avenue, instead of turning toward the south,
after passing the center thereof, so that it would be on the
5. GOVERNMENT OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS; LIABILITY
left side of said avenue, as is prescribed by the ordinance
FOR THE NEGLIGENT ACTS OF ITS OFFICERS, AGENTS, AND
EMPLOYEES. — The Government of the Philippine Islands in only liable and the Motor Vehicle Act, turned suddenly and
unexpectedly and long before reaching the center of the
for the negligent acts of its officers, agents, and employees when they
street, into the right side of Taft Avenue, without having
are acting as special agents within the meaning of paragraph 5 of article
1903 of the Civil code, and a chauffeur of the General Hospital is not sounded any whistle or horn, by which movement it struck
the plaintiff, who was already six feet from the
such a special agent.
southwestern point or from the post placed there.
"By reason of the resulting collision, the plaintiff
was so severely injured that, according to Dr. Saleeby,
DECISION who examined him on the very same day that he was
taken to the General Hospital, he was suffering from a
depression in the left parietal region, a wound in the same
TRENT, J p: place and in beck part of his head, while blood issued
from his nose and he was entirely unconscious.
This is an appeal by both partied from a judgment of the Court "The marks revealed that he had one or more
of First Instance of the city of Manila in favor of the plaintiff for the sum fractures of the skull and that the grey matter and brain
of P14,741, together with the costs of the cause. mass had suffered material injury. At ten o'clock of the
Counsel for the plaintiff insist that the trial court erred (1) "in night in question, which was the time set for performing
the operation, his pulse was so weak and so irregular that,
limiting the general damages which the plaintiff suffered to P5,000,
in his opinion, there was little hope that he would live. His
instead of P25,000 as claimed in the complaint," and (2) "in limiting the
time when plaintiff was entirely disabled to two months and twenty-one right leg was broken in such a way that the fracture
extended to the outer skin in such manner that it might be
days and fixing the damage accordingly in the sum of P2,666, instead of
regarded as double and the wound would be expose to
P6,000 as claimed by plaintiff in his complaint."
infection, for which reason it was of the most serious
The Attorney-General on behalf of the defendant urges that the nature.
trial court erred: (a) in finding that the collision between the plaintiff's
"At another examination six days before the day
motorcycle and the ambulance of the General Hospital was due to the
of the trial, Dr. Saleeby notice that the plaintiff's leg
negligence of the chauffeur; (b) in holding that the Government of the
showed a contraction of an inch and a half and a
Philippine Islands is liable for the damages sustained by the plaintiff as a
curvature that made his leg very weak and painful at the
result of the collision, even if it be true that collision was due to the
point of the fracture. Examination of his head revealed a
negligence of the chauffeur; and (c) in rendering judgment against the
notable re-adjustment of the functions of the brain and
defendant for the sum of P14,741.
nerves. The patient apparently was slightly deaf, had a
The trial court's findings of fact, which are fully supported by the slight weakness in his eyes and in his mental condition.
record, are as follows: This latter weakness was always noticed when the plaintiff
"It is a fact not disputed by counsel for the had to do any difficult mental labor, especially when he
defendant that when the plaintiff, riding on a motorcycle, attempted to use his memory for mathematical
was going toward the western part of Calle Padre Faura, calculations.
passing along the west side thereof at a speed of ten to "According to the various merchants who testified
twelve miles and hour, upon crossing Taft Avenue and as witnesses, the plaintiff's mental and physical condition
prior to the accident was excellent, and that after having whether the Government is legally liable for the damages resulting
received the injuries that have been discussed, his therefrom.
physical condition had undergone a noticeable
Act No. 2457, effective February 3, 1915, reads:
depreciation, for he had lost the agility, energy, and ability
that he had constantly displayed before the accident as "An act authorizing E. Merritt to bring suit against
one of the best constructors of wooden buildings and he the Government of the Philippine Islands and authorizing
could not now earn even a half of the income that he had the Attorney-General of said Islands to appear in said suit.
secured for his work because he had lost 50 per cent of "Whereas a claim has been filed against the
his efficiency. As a contractor, he could no longer, as he Government of the Philippine Islands by Mr. E. Merritt, of
had before done, climb up ladders and scaffoldings to Manila, for damages resulting from a collision between his
reach the highest parts of the building. motorcycle and the ambulance of the General Hospital on
"As a consequence of the loss the plaintiff March twenty-fifth, nineteen hundred and thirteen;
suffered in the efficiency of his work as a contractor, he "Whereas it is not known who is responsible for
had to dissolve the partnership he had formed with the the accident nor is it possible to determine the amount of
engineer, Wilson, because he was incapacitated from damages, if any , to which the claimant is entitled; and
making mathematical calculations on account of the
condition of his leg and of his mental faculties, and he had "Whereas the Director of Public Works and the
to give up a contract he had for the construction of the Uy Attorney-General recommend that an act be passed by
Chaco building." the Legislature authorizing Mr. E. Merritt to bring suit in
the courts against the Government, in order that said
We may say at the outset that we are in full accord with the trial questions may be decided: Now, therefore,
court to the effect that the collision between the plaintiff's motorcycle
and the ambulance of the General Hospital was due solely to the "By authority of the United States, be it enacted
negligence of the chauffeur. by the Philippine Legislature, that:

The two items which constitute a part of the P14,741 and which "SECTION 1. E. Merritt is hereby authorized to
are drawn in question by the plaintiff are (a) P5,000, the amount bring suit in the Court of First Instance of the city of
awarded for permanent injuries, and (b) the P2,666, the amount allowed Manila against the Government of the Philippine Islands in
for the loss of wages during the time the plaintiff was incapacitated from order to fix the responsibility for the collision between his
pursuing his occupation. We fund nothing in the record which would motorcycle and the ambulance of the General Hospital,
justify us in increasing the amount of the first. as to the second, the and to determine the amount of the damages, if any, to
record shows, and the trial court so found, that the plaintiff's services as which Mr. E. Merritt is entitled on account of said collision,
a contractor were worth P1,000 per month. The court, however, limited and the attorney-General of the Philippine Islands is
the time to two months and twenty-one days, which the plaintiff was hereby authorized and directed to appear at the trial on
actually confined in the hospital. In this we think there was error, the behalf of the Government of said Islands, to defend
because it was clearly established that the plaintiff was wholly said Government at the same.
incapacitated for a period of sex months. The mere fact that he "SEC. 2. This Act shall take effect on its passage.
remained in the hospital only two months and twenty-one days while the
"Enacted, February 3, 1915."
remainder of the six months was spent in his home, would not prevent
recovery for the whole time. We, therefore, find that the amount of Did the defendant, in enacting the above quoted act, simply
damages sustained by the plaintiff, without any fault on his part, is waive its immunity from suit or did it also concede its liability to the
P18,075. plaintiff? If only the former, then it cannot be held that the Act created
any new cause of action in favor of the plaintiff or extended the
As the negligence which caused the collision is a tort committed
defendant's liability to any case not previously recognized.
by an agent or employee of the Government, the inquiry at once arises
All admit that the Insular Government (the defendant) cannot be state's liability for the negligent acts of its officers or agents, the court
sued by an individual without its consent. It is also admitted that the said:
instant case is one against the Government. As the consent of the
"No claim arises against any government in favor
Government to be sued by the plaintiff was entirely voluntary on its part,
of an individual, by reason of the misfeasance, laces, or
it is our duty to look carefully into the terms of the consent, and render
unauthorized exercise of powers by its officers or agents."
judgment accordingly. (Citing Gibbons vs. U.S., 8 Wall., 269; Clodfelter vs. State,
86 N.C., 51, 53; 41 Am. Rep., 440; Chapman vs. State,
104 Cal., 690; 43 Am. St. Rep., 158; Green vs. State, 73
The plaintiff was authorized to bring this action against the
Government "in order to fix the responsibility for the collision between Cal., 29; Bourn vs. Hart, 93 Cal., 321; 27 Am. St. Rep.,
his motorcycle and the ambulance of the General Hospital and to 203; Story on Agency, sec. 319.)
determine the amount of the damages, if any, to which Mr. E. Merritt is As to the scope of legislative enactments permitting individuals
entitled on account of said collision, . . . ." These were the two questions to sue the state where the cause of action arises out of either tort or
submitted to the court for determination. The Act was passed "in order contract, the rule is stated in 36 Cyc., 915, thus:
that said questions may be decided." We have "decided" that the
"By consenting to be sued a state simply waives
accident was due solely to the negligence of the chauffeur, who was at
its immunity from suit. It does not thereby concede its
the time an employee of the defendant, and we have also fixed the
liability to plaintiff, or create any cause of action in his
amount of damages sustained by the plaintiff as a result of the collision.
favor, or extend its liability to any cause not previously
Does the Act authorize us to hold that the Government is legally liable
recognized. It merely gives a remedy to enforce a
for that amount? If not, we must look elsewhere for such authority, if it
preexisting liability and submits itself to the jurisdiction of
exists.
the court, subject to its right to interpose any lawful
The Government of the Philippine Islands having been "modeled defense."
after the Federal and state Governments in the United States," we may
In Apfelbacher vs. State (152 N. W., 144, advanced sheets),
look to the decisions of the high courts of that country for aid in
decided April 16, 1915, the Act of 1913, which authorized the bringing of
determining the purpose and scope of Act No. 2457.
this suit, read:
In the United States the rule that the state is not liable for the
"SECTION 1. Authority is hereby given to George
torts committed by its officers or agents whom it employs, except when
Apfelbacher, of the town of Summit, Waukesha County,
expressly made so by legislative enactment, is well settled. "The
Wisconsin, to bring suit in such court or courts and in
Government," says Justice Story, "does not undertake to guarantee to
such form or forms as he may be advised for the purpose
any person the fidelity of the officers or agents whom it employs, since
of settling and determining all controversies which he may
that would involve it in all its operations in endless embarrassments,
now have with the State of Wisconsin, or its duly
difficulties and losses, which would be subversive of the public interest."
authorizes officers and agents, relative to the mill property
(Claussen vs. City of Luverne, 103 Minn., 491, citing U.S. vs. Kirkpatrick,
of said George Apfelbacher, the fish hatchery of the State
9 Wheat, 720; 6 L. Ed., 199; and Beers vs.State, 20 How., 527; 15 L.
Wisconsin on the Bark River, and the mill property of Evan
Ed., 991.)
Humphrey at the lower end of Nagawicka Lake, and
In the case of Melvin vs. State ( 121 Cal., 16), the plaintiff sought relative to the use of the waters of said Bark River and
to recover damages from the state for personal injuries received on Nagawicka Lake, all in the county of Waukesha,
account of the negligence of the state officers at the state fair, a state Wisconsin."
institution created by the legislature for the purpose of improving
In determining the scope of this act, the court said;
agricultural and kindred industries; to disseminate information
calculated to educate and benefit the industrial classes; and to advance "Plaintiff claims that by the enactment of this law
to educate and benefit the industrial classes; and to advance by such the legislature admitted liability on the part of the state for
means the material interests of the state, being objects similar to those the acts of its officers, and that the suit now stands just as
sought by the public school system. In passing upon the question of the it would stand between private parties. It is difficult to see
how the act does, or was intended to do, more than "The statute we are discussing discloses no
remove the state's immunity from suit. It simply gives intention to create against the state a new and heretofore
authority commence suit for the purpose of settling unrecognized class of liabilities, but only an intention to
plaintiff's controversies with the state. Nowhere in the act provide a judicial tribunal where well recognized existing
is there a whisper or suggestion that the court or courts in liabilities can be adjudicated."
the disposition of the suit shall depart from well In Sipple vs. State (99 N. Y., 284), where the board of the canal
established principles of law, or that the amount of
claims had, by the terms of the statute of New York, jurisdiction of
damages is the only question to be settled. The act
claims for damages for injuries in the management of the canals such as
opened the door of the court to the plaintiff. It did not
the plaintiff had sustained, Chief Justice Ruger remarks; "It must be
pass upon the question of liability, but left the suit just
conceded
where it would be in the absence of the state's immunity
from suit. If the Legislature had intended to change the that the state can be made liable for injuries arising from the
rule that obtained in this state so long and to declare negligence of its agents or servants, only by force of some positive
liability on the part of the state, it would not have left so statute assuming such liability."
important a matter to mere inference but would have done It being quite clear that Act No. 2457 does not operate to extend
so in express terms. (Murdoc Grate the Government's liability to any cause not previously recognized, we
Co. vs. Commonwealth, 152 Mass., 28; 24 N. E., 854; 8 L. will now examine the substantive law touching the defendant's liability
R.A., 399)" for the negligent acts of its officers, agents, and employees. Paragraph
In Denning vs. state (123 Cal., 316), the provisions of the Act of 5 of article 1903 of the civil Code reads:
1893, relied upon and considered, are as follows: "The state is liable in this sense when it acts
"All persons who have, or shall hereafter have through a special agent, but not when the damage should
claims on contract or for negligence against the state not have been caused by the official to whom properly it
allowed by the state board of examiners, are hereby pertained to do the act performed, in which case the
authorized, on the terms and conditions herein contained, provisions of the preceding article shall be applicable."
to bring suit thereon against the state in any of the courts The supreme court of Spain in defining the scope of this
of this state of competent jurisdiction, and prosecute the paragraph said:
same to final judgment. The rules of practice in civil cases
shall apply to such suits, except as herein otherwise "That the obligation to indemnify for damages
provided." which a third person causes another by his fault or
negligence is based, as is evidenced by the same Law 3,
And the court said: Title 15, Partida 7, on that the person obligated, by his
"This statute has been considered by this court in own fault or negligence, takes part in the act or omission
at least two cases, arising under different facts, and in of the third party who caused the damage. It follows
both it was held that said statute did not create any therefrom that the state by virtue of such provision of law,
liability or cause of action against the state where none is not responsible for the damages suffered by private
existed before, but merely gave an additional remedy to individuals in consequence of acts performed by its
enforce such liability as would have existed if the statute employees in the discharge of the functions pertaining to
had not been enacted. (Chapman vs. State, 104 Cal., 690; their office, because neither fault nor even negligence can
43 Am. St. Rep., 158; Melvin vs. State, 121 Cal., 16.)" be presumed on the part of the state in the organization of
branches of the public service and in the appointment of
A statute of Massachusetts enacted in 1887 gave to the its agents; on the contrary, we must presuppose all
superior court "jurisdiction of all claims against the commonwealth, foresight humanly possible on its part in order that each
whether at law or in equity," with an exception not necessary to be here
branch of service serves the general weal and that of
mentioned. In construing this statute the court, in Murdock Grate private persons interested in its operation. Between these
Co. vs. Commonwealth (152 Mass., 28), said:
latter and the state therefore, no relations of a private an executive official, acting in the exercise of his powers,
nature governed by the civil law can arise except in a case in proceedings to enforce the collections of certain
where the state acts as a judicial person capable of property taxes owing by the owner of the property which
acquiring rights and contracting obligations." (Supreme they hold in sublease.
Court of Spain, January 7, 1898; 83 Jur. Civ., 24.)
"That the responsibility of the state is limited by article 1903 to
"That the Civil Code in chapter 2, title 16, book 4, the case wherein it acts through a special agent (and a special agent, in
regulates the obligations which arise out of fault or the sense in which these words are employed, is one who receives a
negligence; and whereas in the first articles thereof, No. definite and fixed order or commission, foreign to the exercise of the
1902, where the general principle is laid down that where duties of his office if he is a special official) so that in representation of
a person who by an act or omission causes damage to the state and being bound to act as an agent thereof he executed the
another through fault or negligence, shall be obliged to trust confided to him. this concept does not apply to any executive
repair the damage so done, reference is made to acts or agent who is an employee of the active administration and who in his
omissions of the persons who directly or indirectly cause own responsibility performs the functions which are inherent in and
the damage, the following article refers to third persons naturally pertain to his office and which are regulated by law and the
and imposes an identical obligation upon those who regulations." (Supreme Court of Spain, May 18, 1904; 98 Jur. Civ., 389,
maintain fixed relations of authority and superiority over 390.)
the authors of the damage, because the law presumes
"That according to paragraph 5 of article 1903 of
that in consequence of such relations the evil caused by
the Civil Code and the principle laid down in a decision,
their own fault or negligence is imputable to them. This
among others, of the 18th of May, 1904, in a damage
legal presumption gives way to proof, however, because,
case, the responsibility of the state is limited to that which
as held in the last paragraph of article 1903, responsibility
it contracts through a special agent, duly empowered by
for acts of third persons ceases when the persons
a definite order or commission to perform some act or
mentioned in said article prove that they employed all the
charged with some definite purpose which gives rise to
diligence of a good father of a family to avoid the damage,
the claim, and not where the claim is based on acts or
and among these persons, called up[on to answer in a
omissions imputable to a public official charge with some
direct and not a subsidiary manner, are found, in addition
administrative or technical office who can be held to the
to the mother or the father in a proper case, guardians
proper responsibility in the manner laid down by the law
and owners or director of an establishment or enterprise,
of civil responsibility. Consequently, the trial court in not
the state, but not always, except when it acts through the
so deciding and in sentencing the said entity to the
agency of a special agent, doubtless because and only in
payment of damages, caused by an official of the second
this case, the fault or negligence, which is the original
class referred to, has by erroneous interpretation infringed
basis of this kind of objections, must be presumed to lie
the provisions of articles 1902 and 1903 of the Civil
with the state.
Code." (Supreme Court of Spain, July 30, 1911; 122 Jur.
Civ., 146)
"That although in some cases the state might by It is, therefore, evident that the State (the Government of the
virtue of the general principle set forth in article 1902 Philippine Islands) is only liable, according to the above quoted
respond for all the damage that is occasioned to private decisions of the Supreme Court of Spain, for the acts of its agents,
parties by orders or resolutions which by fault or officers and employees when they act as special agents within the
negligence are made by branches of the central meaning of paragraph 5 of article 1903, supra, and that the chauffeur of
administration acting in the name and representation of the ambulance of the General Hospital was not such an agent.
the state itself and as an external expression of its
For the foregoing reasons, the judgment appealed from must be
sovereignty in the exercise of its executive powers, yet
reversed, without costs in this instance. Whether the Government
said article is not applicable in the case of damages said
intends to make itself legally liable for the amount of damages above set
to have been occasioned to the petitioners by
forth, which the plaintiff has sustained by reason of the negligent acts of actual damages consisting of the loss of earning capacity of the deceased,
one of its employees, by legislative enactment and by appropriating attorney's fees and costs of suit and dismissing the complaint against the
sufficient funds therefor, we are not called upon to determine. This Estate of Macario Nieveras and Bernardo Balagot.
matter rests solely with the Legislature and not with the courts.
The antecedent facts are as follows:
Arellano, C.J., Torres, Johnson and Moreland, JJ., concur.
Petitioner Municipality of San Fernando, La Union is a municipal corporation
||| (Merritt v. Government of the Philippine Islands, G.R. No. 11154, [March
existing under and in accordance with the laws of the Republic of the
21, 1916], 34 PHIL 311-323)
Philippines. Respondent Honorable Judge Romeo N. Firme is impleaded in

his official capacity as the presiding judge of the Court of First Instance of
La Union, Branch IV, Bauang, La Union. While private respondents Juana
Rimando-Baniña, Laureano Baniña, Jr., Sor Marietta Baniña, Montano
FIRST DIVISION
Baniña, Orja Baniña and Lydia R. Baniña are heirs of the deceased Laureano
Baniña Sr. and plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 107-Bg before the aforesaid court.
[G.R. No. 52179. April 8, 1991.]
At about 7 o'clock in the morning of December 16, 1965, a collision
occurred involving a passenger jeepney driven by Bernardo Balagot and
MUNICIPALITY OF SAN FERNANDO, LA owned by the Estate of Macario Nieveras, a gravel and sand truck driven by
UNION, petitioner, vs. HON. JUDGE ROMEO N. FIRME, Jose Manandeg and owned by Tanquilino Velasquez and a dump truck of
JUANA RIMANDO-BANIÑA, LAUREANO BANIÑA, JR., the Municipality of San Fernando, La Union and driven by Alfredo Bislig. Due
SOR MARIETA BANIÑA, MONTANO BANIÑA ORJA to the impact, several passengers of the jeepney including Laureano Baniña
BANIÑA AND LYDIA R. BANIÑA, respondents. Sr. died as a result of the injuries they sustained and four (4) others suffered
varying degrees of physical injuries.

Mauro C . Cabading, Jr. for petitioner. On December 11, 1966, the private respondents instituted a complaint for
damages against the Estate of Macario Nieveras and Bernardo Balagot,
Simeon G. Hipol for private respondent. owner and driver, respectively, of the passenger jeepney, which was
docketed Civil Case No. 2183 in the Court of First Instance of La Union,
Branch I, San Fernando, La Union. However, the aforesaid defendants filed
a Third Party Complaint against the petitioner and the driver of a dump truck
DECISION of petitioner. llcd
Thereafter, the case was subsequently transferred to Branch IV, presided
over by respondent judge and was subsequently docketed as Civil Case No.
MEDIALDEA, J p: 107-Bg. By virtue of a court order dated May 7, 1975, the private
respondents amended the complaint wherein the petitioner and its regular
This is a petition for certiorari with prayer for the issuance of a writ of employee, Alfredo Bislig were impleaded for the first time as defendants.
preliminary mandatory injunction seeking the nullification or modification of Petitioner filed its answer and raised affirmative defenses such as lack of
the proceedings and the orders issued by the respondent Judge Romeo N. cause of action, non-suability of the State, prescription of cause of action
Firme, in his capacity as the presiding judge of the Court of First Instance of and the negligence of the owner and driver of the passenger jeepney as the
La Union, Second Judicial District, Branch IV, Bauang, La Union in Civil proximate cause of the collision. cdll
Case No. 107-BG, entitled "Juana Rimando Baniña, et al. vs. Macario
Nieveras, et al." dated November 4, 1975; July 13, 1976; August 23, 1976; In the course of the proceedings, the respondent judge issued the following
February 23, 1977; March 16, 1977; July 26, 1979; September 7, 1979; questioned orders, to wit:
November 7, 1979 and December 3, 1979 and the decision dated October
(1) Order dated November 4, 1975 dismissing the cross-
10, 1979 ordering defendants Municipality of San Fernando, La Union and
claim against Bernardo Balagot;
Alfredo Bislig to pay, jointly and severally, the plaintiffs for funeral expenses,
(2) Order dated July 13, 1976 admitting the Amended Finally, the respondent judge issued an order dated December 3, 1979
Answer of the Municipality of San Fernando, La Union and providing that if defendants municipality and Bislig further wish to pursue
Bislig and setting the hearing on the affirmative defenses the matter disposed of in the order of July 26, 1979, such should be
only with respect to the supposed lack of jurisdiction; elevated to a higher court in accordance with the Rules of Court. Hence, this
petition.
(3) Order dated August 23, 1976 deferring the resolution of
the grounds for the Motion to Dismiss until the trial; Petitioner maintains that the respondent judge committed grave abuse of
(4) Order dated February 23, 1977 denying the motion for discretion amounting to excess of jurisdiction in issuing the aforesaid orders
reconsideration of the order of July 13, 1976 filed by the and in rendering a decision. Furthermore, petitioner asserts that while
Municipality and Bislig for having been filed out of time; appeal of the decision may be available, the same is not the speedy and
adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law.
(5) Order dated March 16, 1977 reiterating the denial of
the motion for reconsideration of the order of July 13, On the other hand, private respondents controvert the position of the
1976; petitioner and allege that the petition is devoid of merit, utterly lacking the
good faith which is indispensable in a petition for certiorari and prohibition.
(6) Order dated July 26, 1979 declaring the case deemed
(Rollo, p. 42.) In addition, the private respondents stress that petitioner has
submitted for decision it appearing that parties have not
not considered that every court, including respondent court, has the
yet submitted their respective memoranda despite the
inherent power to amend and control its process and orders so as to make
court's direction; and
them conformable to law and justice. (Rollo, p. 43.)
(7) Order dated September 7, 1979 denying the
petitioner's motion for reconsideration and or order to The controversy boils down to the main issue of whether or not the
recall prosecution witnesses for cross examination. respondent court committed grave abuse of discretion when it deferred and
failed to resolve the defense of non-suability of the State amounting to lack
On October 10, 1979 the trial court rendered a decision, the dispositive of jurisdiction in a motion to dismiss.
portion is hereunder quoted as follows:
In the case at bar, the respondent judge deferred the resolution of the
"IN VIEW OF ALL OF (sic) THE FOREGOING, judgment is defense of non-suability of the State amounting to lack of jurisdiction until
hereby rendered for the plaintiffs, and defendants trial. However, said respondent judge failed to resolve such defense,
Municipality of San Fernando, La Union and Alfredo Bislig proceeded with the trial and thereafter rendered a decision against the
are ordered to pay jointly and severally, plaintiffs Juana municipality and its driver.
Rimando-Baniña, Mrs. Priscilla B. Surell, Laureano
Baniña, Jr., Sor Marietta Baniña, Mrs. Fe B. Soriano, The respondent judge did not commit grave abuse of discretion when in the
Montano Baniña, Orja Baniña and Lydia B. Baniña the exercise of its judgment it arbitrarily failed to resolve the vital issue of non-
sums of P1,500.00 as funeral expenses and P24,744.24 suability of the State in the guise of the municipality. However, said judge
as the lost expected earnings of the late Laureano Baniña acted in excess of his jurisdiction when in his decision dated October 10,
Sr., P30,000.00 as moral damages, and P2,500.00 as 1979 he held the municipality liable for the quasi-delict committed by its
attorney's fees. Costs against said defendants. cdasia regular employee. cdll
"The Complaint is dismissed as to defendants Estate of The doctrine of non-suability of the State is expressly provided for in Article
Macario Nieveras and Bernardo Balagot. XVI, Section 3 of the Constitution, to wit: "the State may not be sued without
its consent."
"SO ORDERED." (Rollo, p. 30)
Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration and for a new trial without Stated in simple parlance, the general rule is that the State may not be sued
except when it gives consent to be sued. Consent takes the form of express
prejudice to another motion which was then pending. However, respondent
or implied consent.
judge issued another order dated November 7, 1979 denying the motion for
reconsideration of the order of September 7, 1979 for having been filed out Express consent may be embodied in a general law or a special law. The
of time. standing consent of the State to be sued in case of money claims involving
liability arising from contracts is found in Act No. 3083. A special law may be public functionaries performing a public service, and as
passed to enable a person to sue the government for an alleged quasi- such they are officers, agents, and servants of the state.
delict, as in Merritt v. Government of the Philippine Islands (34 Phil 311). In the other capacity the municipalities exercise a private,
(see United States of America v. Guinto, G.R. No. 76607, February 26, 1990, proprietary or corporate right, arising from their existence
182 SCRA 644, 654.) as legal persons and not as public agencies. Their officers
and agents in the performance of such functions act in
Consent is implied when the government enters into business contracts, behalf of the municipalities in their corporate or individual
thereby descending to the level of the other contracting party, and also capacity, and not for the state or sovereign power." (112
when the State files a complaint, thus opening itself to a counterclaim. (Ibid) N.E., 994-995) (Ibid, pp. 605-606.)
Municipal corporations, for example, like provinces and cities, are agencies It has already been remarked that municipal corporations are suable
of the State when they are engaged in governmental functions and therefore because their charters grant them the competence to sue and be sued.
should enjoy the sovereign immunity from suit. Nevertheless, they are Nevertheless, they are generally not liable for torts committed by them in the
subject to suit even in the performance of such functions because their discharge of governmental functions and can be held answerable only if it
charter provided that they can sue and be sued. (Cruz, Philippine Political can be shown that they were acting in a proprietary capacity. In permitting
Law, 1987 Edition, p. 39) such entities to be sued, the State merely gives the claimant the right to
A distinction should first be made between suability and liability. "Suability show that the defendant was not acting in its governmental capacity when
depends on the consent of the state to be sued, liability on the applicable the injury was committed or that the case comes under the exceptions
law and the established facts. The circumstance that a state is suable does recognized by law. Failing this, the claimant cannot recover. (Cruz, supra, p.
not necessarily mean that it is liable; on the other hand, it can never be held 44.)
liable if it does not first consent to be sued. Liability is not conceded by the In the case at bar, the driver of the dump truck of the municipality insists
mere fact that the state has allowed itself to be sued. When the state does that "he was on his way to the Naguilian river to get a load of sand and
waive its sovereign immunity, it is only giving the plaintiff the chance to gravel for the repair of San Fernando's municipal streets." (Rollo, p. 29.)
prove, if it can, that the defendant is liable." (United States of America v.
Guinto, supra, p. 659-660). In the absence of any evidence to the contrary, the regularity of the
performance of official duty is presumed pursuant to Section 3(m) of Rule
131 of the Revised Rules of Court. Hence, We rule that the driver of the
Anent the issue of whether or not the municipality is liable for the torts dump truck was performing duties or tasks pertaining to his office. LexLib
committed by its employee, the test of liability of the municipality depends We already stressed in the case of Palafox, et al. v. Province of Ilocos Norte,
on whether or not the driver, acting in behalf of the municipality, is the District Engineer, and the Provincial Treasurer (102 Phil 1186) that "the
performing governmental or proprietary functions. As emphasized in the construction or maintenance of roads in which the truck and the driver
case of Torio v. Fontanilla (G.R. No. L-29993, October 23, 1978. 85 SCRA worked at the time of the accident are admittedly governmental activities."
599, 606), the distinction of powers becomes important for purposes of
determining the liability of the municipality for the acts of its agents which After a careful examination of existing laws and jurisprudence, We arrive at
result in an injury to third persons. the conclusion that the municipality cannot be held liable for the torts
committed by its regular employee, who was then engaged in the discharge
Another statement of the test is given in City of Kokomo v. Loy, decided by of governmental functions. Hence, the death of the passenger — tragic and
the Supreme Court of Indiana in 1916, thus: deplorable though it may be imposed on the municipality no duty to pay
"Municipal corporations exist in a dual capacity, and their monetary compensation.
functions are twofold. In one they exercise the right All premises considered, the Court is convinced that the respondent judge's
springing from sovereignty, and while in the performance dereliction in failing to resolve the issue of non-suability did not amount to
of the duties pertaining thereto, their acts are political and grave abuse of discretion. But said judge exceeded his jurisdiction when it
governmental. Their officers and agents in such capacity, ruled on the issue of liability.
though elected or appointed by them, are nevertheless
ACCORDINGLY, the petition is GRANTED and the decision of the substituted for that of the parents, and hence, it becomes their obligation as
respondent court is hereby modified, absolving the petitioner municipality of well as that of the school itself to provide proper supervision of the students'
any liability in favor of private respondents. activities during the whole time that they are at attendance in the school,
including recess time, as well as to take the necessary precautions to
SO ORDERED. protect the students in their custody from dangers and hazards that would
Narvasa, Cruz, Gancayco and Griño-Aquino, JJ., concur. reasonably be anticipated, including injuries that some students themselves
may inflict willfully or through negligence on their fellow students.
2. ID.; ID.; ID.; PRESUMPTION OF NEGLIGENCE; BASIS. — The basis of
||| (Municipality of San Fernando, La Union v. Firme, G.R. No. 52179, [April 8, the presumption of negligence of Art. 1903 (now 2180)is some culpa in
1991], 273 PHIL 56-65) vigilando that the parents, teachers, etc., are supposed to have incurred in
the exercise of their authority and where the parent places the child under
the effective authority of the teacher, the latter, and not the parent, should
be the one answerable for the torts committed while under his custody, for
EN BANC the reason that the parent is not supposed to interfere with the discipline of
the school nor with the authority and supervision of the teacher while the
[G.R. No. L-29025. October 4, 1971.] child is under instruction. The school itself, likewise, has to respond for the
fault or negligence of its school head and teachers under the same cited
article.
Spouses MOISES P. PALISOC and BRIGIDA P.
PALISOC, plaintiffs-appellants, vs. ANTONIO C, 3. ID.; ID.; ID.; PHRASE "SO LONG AS STUDENTS REMAIN IN THEIR
BRILLANTES and TEODOSIO V. VALENTON, owner CUSTODY," CONSTRUED. — The lower court therefore erred in law in
and President, respectively, of a school of arts and absolving defendants-school officials on the ground that they could be held
trades, known under the name and style of "Manila liable under Article 2180, Civil Code, only if the student who inflicted the
Technical Institute" (M.I.T.), VIRGILIO L. DAFFON and fatal fistblows on his classmate and victim "lived and boarded with his
SANTIAGO M. QUIBULUE, defendants-appellees. teacher or the other defendants officials of the school." As stated above, the
phrase used in the cited article — "so long as (the students) remain in their
custody" means the protective and supervisory custody that the school and
Leovollo C . Agustin for plaintiffs-appellants. its head and teachers exercise over the pupils and students for as long as
they are at attendance in the school, including recess time. There is nothing
Honorato S. Reyes for appellee Brillantes, et al., Villareal, Almacen, Navarra, in the law that requires that for such liability to attach, the pupil or student
and Amares for appellee Daffon. who commits the tortious act must live an board in the school, as
erroneously held by the lower court, and the dicta in Mercado (as well as
in Exconde) on which it relied, must now be deemed to have been set aside
SYLLABUS by the present decision.
4. ID.; ID.; ID.; OBSERVANCE OF DILIGENCE OF A GOOD FATHER OF A
1. CIVIL LAW; QUASI-DELICT; LIABILITY OF SCHOOL HEADS AND FAMILY, VALID DEFENSE. — The unfortunate death resulting from the fight
TEACHERS FOR TORTIOUS ACTS OF STUDENTS; RATIONALE. — The between the protagonists-students could have been avoided, had said
rationale of such liability of school heads and teachers for the tortious acts defendants but complied with their duty of providing adequate supervision
of their pupils and students, so long as they remain in their custody, is that over the activities of the students in the school premises to protect their
they stand, to a certain extent, as to their pupils and students, in loco students from harm, whether at the hands of fellow students or other
parentis and are called upon to "exercise reasonable supervision over the parties. At any rate, the law holds them liable unless they relieve themselves
conduct of the child" This is expressly provided for in Articles 349, 350 and of such liability, in compliance with the last paragraph of Article 2180, Civil
352 of the Civil Code. In the law of torts, the governing principle is that the Code, by "(proving) that they observed all the diligence of a good father of a
protective custody of the school heads and teachers is mandatorily family to prevent damage." In the light of the factual findings of the lower
court's decision said defendants failed to prove such exemption from 1. CIVIL LAW; QUASI-DELICT; TEACHERS ARE LIABLE FOR TORTIOUS
liability. ACTS OF STUDENTS LIVING AND BOARDING WITH THEM. — I see no
reason to depart from the doctrine laid down by this Court in Mercado vs.
5. ID.; DAMAGES, COMPENSATORY DAMAGES FOR DEATH CAUSED BY Court of Appeals, 108 Phil. 414, where the clause, "so long as they remain in
CRIME OR QUASI DELICT, P12,000.00 AS SET BY PEOPLE VS. PANTOJA. their custody" used in Article 2180 of the Civil Code was construed as
— Plaintiffs-appellees' contention that the award of P6,000.00 as indemnity referring to a " situation where the pupil lives and boards with the teacher,
for the death of their son should be increased to P12,000.00 as set by the such that the (latter's) control, direction and influence on the pupil
Court in People vs. Pantoja (25 SCRA 468), and observed in all death supersedes those of the parents." I think it is highly unrealistic and
indemnity cases thereafter is well taken. The Court, in Pantoja, after noting conducive to unjust results, considering the size of the enrollment in many of
the decline in the purchasing power of the Philippine peso, had expressed our educational institutions, academic and non-academic, as well as the
its "considered opinion that the amount of award of compensatory damages temper, attitudes and often destructive activism of the students, to hold their
for death caused by a crime or quasi-delict should now be P12,000.00." The teachers and/or the administrative heads of the schools directly liable for
Court thereby adjusted the minimum amount of "compensatory damages for torts committed by them.
death caused by a crime or quasi-delict" as per Article 2206, Civil Code,
from the old stated minimum of P3,000.00 to P12,000.00, which amount is 2. ID.; ID.; TORTIOUS ACTS OF CHILDREN; PARENTS LIABLE THEREFOR
to be awarded "even though there may have been mitigating ONLY AS TO MINORS LIVING IN THEIR COMPANY. — For parental
circumstances" pursuant to the express provisions of said codal article. responsibility to arise the children must be minors who live in their company.
If, as stated also in the opinion of the majority, "the rationale of (the) liability
6. ID.; ID.; EXEMPLARY DAMAGES; NOT GRANTED IN ABSENCE of school heads and teachers for the tortious acts of their pupils and
OF GROSS NEGLIGENCE. — Decisive here is the touchstone provision of students, so long as they remain in their custody, is that they stand, to a
Article 2231, Civil Code, that "In quasi-delicts, exemplary damages may be certain extent, as to their pupils and students, in loco parentis and are called
granted if the defendant acted with gross negligence." No gross negligence upon to exercise reasonable supervision over the conduct of the child," then
on the part of defendants was found by the trial court to warrant the it stands to reason that (1) the clause "so long as they remain in their
imposition of exemplary damages, as well as of interest and increased custody" as used in reference to teachers and school heads should be
attorney's fees, and the Court has not been shown in this appeal any equated with the phrase "who live in their company" as used in reference to
compelling reason to disturb such finding. parents; and (2) that just as parents are not responsible for damages caused
REYES, J.B.L., J., concurring: by their children who are no longer minors, so should teachers and school
heads be exempt from liability for the tortious acts of their students in the
CIVIL LAW; QUASI-DELICT; CUSTODIAL SUPERVISION OF SCHOOLS same age category. I find no justification, either in the law itself or in justice
OVER PUPILS; AUTHORITY EXISTS REGARDLESS OF STUDENT'S AGE. and equity, to make a substitute parent liable where the real parent would
— While in the case of parents and guardians, their authority and be free from liability.
supervision over the children and wards end by law upon the latter reaching
majority age, the authority and custodial supervision over pupils exist
regardless of the age of the latter. A student over twenty-one, by enrolling
and attending a school, places himself under the custodial supervision and DECISION
disciplinary authority of the school authorities, which is the basis of the
latter's correlative responsibility for his torts, committed while under such
authority. Of course, the teachers' control is not a plenary as when the
TEEHANKEE, J p:
student is a minor; but that circumstance can only affect the degree of the
responsibility but cannot negate the existence thereof. It is only a factor to
An appeal in forma pauperis on pure questions of law from a decision of the
be appreciated in determining whether or not the defendant has exercised
Court of First Instance of Manila.
due diligence in endeavoring to prevent the injury, as prescribed in the last
paragraph of Article 2180. Plaintiffs-appellants as parents of their sixteen-year old son, Dominador
Palisoc, and a student in automotive mechanics at the Manila Technical
MAKALINTAL, J., dissenting:
Institute, Quezon Boulevard, Manila, had filed on May 19, 1966, the action
below for damages arising from the death on March 10, 1966 of their son at found defendant Daffon liable for the quasi delict under Article 2176 of the
the hands of a fellow student, defendant Virgilio L. Daffon, at the laboratory Civil Code. 3 It held that "(T)he act, therefore, of the accused Daffon in
room of the said Institute. giving the deceased strong fistblows in the stomach which ruptured his
internal organs and caused his death falls within the purview of this article of
Defendants, per the trial court's decisions are: "(T)he defendant Antonio C.
the Code." 4
Brillantes, at the time when the incident which gave rise to his action
occurred was a member of the Board of Directors of the institute; 1 the The trial court, however, absolved from liability the three other defendants-
defendant Teodosio Valenton, the president thereof; the defendant Santiago officials of the Manila Technical Institute, in this wise:
M. Quibulue, instructor of the class to which the deceased belonged; and
the defendant Virgilio L. Daffon, a fellow student of the deceased. At the ". . . Their liabilities are based on the provisions of Article
beginning the Manila Technical Institute was a single proprietorship, but 2180 of the New Civil Code which reads:
lately on August 2, 1962, it was duly incorporated." 'Art. 2180. . . .
'Lastly, teachers or heads of establishments of arts and
The facts that led to the tragic death of plaintiffs' son were thus narrated by trades shall be liable for damages caused by their pupils
the trial court: "(T)he deceased Dominador Palisoc and the defendant Virgilio and students and apprentices, so long as they remain in
L. Daffon were classmates, and on the afternoon of March 10, 1966, their custody.'
between two and three o'clock, they, together with another classmate "In the opinion of the Court, this article of the Code is not
Desiderio Cruz were in the laboratory room located on the ground floor. At applicable to the case at bar, since this contemplates the
that time the classes were in recess. Desiderio Cruz and Virgilio L. Daffon situation where the control or influence of the teachers
were working on a machine while Dominador Palisoc was merely looking on and heads of school establishments over the conduct and
at them. Daffon made a remark to the effect that Palisoc was acting like a actions by the pupil supersedes those of the parents.
foreman. Because of this remark Palisoc slapped slightly Daffon on the face.
Daffon, in retaliation, gave Palisoc a strong flat blow on the face, which was 'CIVIL LAW: DAMAGES ART 2180. NEW CIVIL CODE
followed by other fist blows on the stomach. Palisoc retreated apparently to CONSTRUED: — The clause 'so long as they remain in
avoid the fist blows, but Daffon followed him and both exchanged blows their custody' contained in Article 2180 of the new civil
until Palisoc stumbled on an engine block which caused him to fall face code contemplated a situation where the pupil lives and
downward. Palisoc became pale and fainted. First aid was administered to boards with the teacher, such that the control or influence
him but he was not revived, so he was immediately taken to a hospital. He on the pupil supersedes those of the parents. In those
never regained consciousness; finally he died. The foregoing is the circumstances the control or influence over the conduct
substance of the testimony of Desiderio Cruz, the lone witness to the and actions of the pupil as well as the responsibilities for
incident." their sort would pass from the father and mother to the
teachers. (Ciriaco L. Mercado, Petitioner, vs. the Court of
The trial court expressly gave credence to this version of the incident, as Appeals, Manuel Quisumbing, Jr., et al., respondents,
testified to by the lone eyewitness, Desiderio Cruz, a classmate of the G.R. No. L-14862, May 30, 1960).' 5
protagonists, as that of a disinterested witness who "has no motive or
reason to testify one way or another in favor of any party" and rejected the "There is no evidence that the accused Daffon lived and
self-exculpatory version of defendant Daffon denying that he had inflicted boarded with his teacher or the other defendant officials
any fist blows on the deceased. of the school. These defendants cannot therefore be
made responsible for the tort of the defendant Daffon."
With the postmortem findings of Dr. Angelo Singian of the Manila Police
Department who performed the autopsy re "Cause of death: shock due to Judgment was therefore rendered by the trial court as follows:
traumatic fracture of the ribs (6th and 7th, left, contusion of the pancreas
"1. Sentencing the defendant Virgilio L. Daffon to pay the
and stomach with intra-gastric hemorrhage and slight subarachnoid
plaintiffs as heirs of the deceased Dominador Palisoc (a)
hemorrhage on the brain," and his testimony that these internal injuries of
P6,000.00 for the death of Dominador Palisoc; (b)
the deceased were caused "probably by strong fist blows," 2 the trial court
P3,375.00 for actual and compensatory expenses; (c) of the specific cases provided in Article 2219, Civil Code, for awarding moral
P5,000.00 for moral damages; (d) P10,000.00 for loss of damages had been established, petitioner's son being only nine years old
earning power, considering that the deceased was only and not having been shown to have "acted with discernment" in inflicting
between sixteen and seventeen years, and in good health the injuries on his classmate.
when he died, and (e) P2,000.00 for attorney's fee, plus
the costs of this action. The dictum in Mercado was based in turn on another dictum in the earlier
case of Exconde vs. Capuno, 8 where the only issue involved as expressly
"2. Absolving the other defendants. stated in the decision, was whether the therein defendant-father could be
held civilly liable for damages resulting from a death caused in a motor
"3. Dismissing the defendants' counterclaim for lack of vehicle accident driven unauthorizedly and negligently by his minor son,
merit." (which issue was resolved adversely against the father). Nevertheless, the
Plaintiffs' appeal raises the principal legal question that under the factual dictum in such earlier case that "It is true that under the law above-quoted,
findings of the trial court, which are now beyond review, the trial court erred 'teachers or directors of arts and trades are liable for any damage caused by
in absolving the defendants-school officials instead of holding them jointly their pupils or apprentices while they are under their custody, but this
and severally liable as tortfeasors, with defendant Daffon, for the damages provision only all applies to an institution of arts and trades and not to any
awarded them as a result of their son's death. The Court finds the appeal, in academic educational institution" was expressly cited and quoted
the main, to be meritorious. in Mercado.

1. The lower court absolved defendants-school officials on the ground that 2. The case at bar was instituted directly against the school officials and
the provisions of Article 2180, Civil Code, which expressly hold "teachers or squarely raises the issue of liability of teachers and heads of schools under
heads of establishments of arts and trades . . . liable for damages caused by Article 2180, Civil Code, for damages caused by their pupils and students
their pupils and students and apprentices, so long as they remain in their against fellow students on the school premises. Here, the parents of the
custody," are not applicable to the case at bar, since "there is no evidence student at fault, defendant Daffon, are not involved, since Daffon was
that the accused Daffon [who inflicted the fatal fistblows] 6 lived and already of age at the time of the tragic incident. There is no question, either,
boarded with his teacher or the other defendants-officials of the school. that the school involved is a non-academic school, 9 the Manila Technical
These defendants cannot therefore be made responsible for the tort of the Institute being admittedly a technical vocational and industrial school.
defendant Daffon." The Court holds that under the cited codal article, defendants head and
The lower court based its legal conclusion expressly on the Court's dictum teacher of the Manila Technical Institute (defendants Valenton and Quibulue,
in Mercado vs. Court of Appeals, 7 that " (I) t would seem that the clause 'so respectively) are liable jointly and severally for damages to plaintiffs-parents
long as they remain in their custody,' contemplates a situation where the for the death of the latter's minor son at the hands of defendant Daffon at
pupil lives and boards with the teacher, such that the control, direction and the school's laboratory room. No liability attaches to defendant Brillantes as
influence on the pupil supersedes those of the parents. In these a mere member of the school's board of directors. The school itself cannot
circumstances the control or influence over the conduct and actions of the be held similarly liable, since it has not been properly impleaded as party
pupil would pass from the father and mother to the teacher; and so would defendant. While plaintiffs sought to so implead it, by impleading improperly
the responsibility for the torts of the pupil. Such a situation does not appear defendant Brillantes, its former single proprietor, the lower court found that it
in the case at bar; the pupils appear to go to school during school hours and had been incorporated since August 2, 1962, and therefore the school itself,
go back to their homes with their parents after school is over." This dictum as thus incorporated, should have been brought in as party defendant.
had been made in rejecting therein petitioner-father's contention that his Plaintiffs failed to do so, notwithstanding that Brillantes and his co-
minor son's school, Lourdes Catholic School at Kanlaon, Quezon City defendants in their reply to plaintiffs' request for admission had expressly
[which was not a party to the case] should be held responsible, rather than manifested and made of record that "defendant Antonio C. Brillantes is not
him as father, for the moral damages of P2,000.00 adjudged against him for the registered owner/head of the 'Manila Technical Institute' which is now a
the physical injury inflicted by his son on a classmate. [A cut on the right corporation and is not owned by any individual person." 10
cheek with a piece of razor which cost only P50.00 by way of medical 3. The rationale of such liability of school heads and teachers for the tortious
expenses to treat and cure, since the wound left no scar.] The moral acts of their pupils and students, so long as they remain in their custody, is
damages award was after all set aside by the Court on the ground that none
that they stand, to a certain extent, as to their pupils and students, in loco avoided, had said defendants but complied with their duty of providing
parentis and are called upon to "exercise reasonable supervision over the adequate supervision over the activities of the students in the school
conduct of the child." 11 This is expressly provided for in Articles 349, 350 premises to protect their students from harm, whether at the hands of fellow
and 352 of the Civil Code. 12 In the law of torts, the governing principle is students or other parties. At any rate, the law holds them liable unless they
that the protective custody of the school heads and teachers is mandatorily relieve themselves of such liability, in compliance with the last paragraph of
substituted for that of the parents, and hence, it becomes their obligation as Article 2180, Civil Code, by "(proving) that they observed all the diligence of
well as that of the school itself to provide proper supervision of the students' a good father of a family to prevent damage." In the light of the factual
activities during the whole time that they are at attendance in the school, findings of the lower court's decision, said defendants failed to prove such
including recess time, as well as to take the necessary precautions to exemption from liability.
protect the students in their custody from dangers and hazards that would
7. Plaintiffs-appellees' contention that the award of P6,000.00 as indemnity
reasonably be anticipated, including injuries that some student themselves
for the death of their son should be increased to P12,000.00 as set by the
may inflict willfully or through negligence on their fellow students.
Court in People vs. Pantoja, 15 and observed in all death indemnity cases
thereafter is well taken. The Court, in Pantoja, after noting the decline in the
purchasing power of the Philippine peso, had expressed its "considered
4. As tersely summarized by Mr. Justice J.B.L. Reyes in his dissenting opinion that the amount of award of compensatory damages for death
opinion in Exconde, "the basis of the presumption of negligence of Art. 1903 caused by a crime or quasi-delict should now be P12,000.00." The Court
[now 2180] is some culpa in vigilando that the parents, teachers, etc. are thereby adjusted the minimum amount of "compensatory damages for death
supposed to have incurred in the exercise of their authority" 13 and "where caused by a crime or quasi-delict" as per Article 2206, Civil Code, from the
the parent places the child under the effective authority of the teacher, the old stated minimum of P3,000.00 to P12,000.00, which amount is to be
latter, and not the parent, should be the one answerable for the torts awarded "even though there may have been mitigating circumstances"
committed while under his custody, for the very reason that the parent is not pursuant to the express provisions of said codal article.
supposed to interfere with the discipline of the school nor with the authority
and supervision of the teacher while the child is under instruction " The 8. Plaintiffs-appellees' other claims on appeal that the lower court should
school itself, likewise, has to respond for the fault or negligence of its school have awarded exemplary damages and imposed legal interest on the total
head and teachers under the same cited article. 14 damages awarded, besides increasing the award of attorney's fees all
concern matters that are left by law to the discretion of the trial court and
5. The lower court therefore erred in law in absolving defendants-school the Court has not been shown any error or abuse in the exercise of such
officials on the ground that they could be held liable under Article 2180, Civil discretion on the part of the trial court 16 Decisive here is the touchstone
Code, only if the student who inflicted the fatal fistblows on his classmate provision of Article 2231, Civil Code, that "In quasi-delicts, exemplary
and victim "lived and boarded with his teacher or the other defendants damages may be granted if the defendant acted with gross negligence." No
officials of the school." As stated above, the phrase used in the cited article gross negligence on the part of defendants was found by the trial court to
— "so long as (the students) remain in their custody" means the protective warrant the imposition of exemplary damages, as well as of interest and
and supervisory custody that the school and its heads and teachers increased attorney's fees, and the Court has not been shown in this appeal
exercise over the pupils and students for as long as they are at attendance any compelling reason to disturb such finding.
in the school, including recess time. There is nothing in the law that requires
that for such liability to attach, the pupil or student who commits the tortious ACCORDINGLY, the judgment appealed from is modified so as to provide
act must live and board in the school, as erroneously held by the lower as follows:
court, and the dicta in Mercado (as well as in Exconde) on which it relied,
1. Sentencing the defendants Virgilio L. Daffon, Teodosio V. Valenton and
must now be deemed to have been set aside by the present decision.
Santiago M. Quibulue jointly and severally to pay plaintiffs as heirs of the
6. Defendants Valenton and Quibulue as president and teacher-in-charge of deceased Dominador Palisoc (a) P12,000.00 for the death of Dominador
the school must therefore be held jointly and severally liable for the quasi- Palisoc; (b) P3,375.00 for actual and compensatory expenses; (c) P5,000.00
delict of their co-defendant Daffon in the latter's having caused the death of for moral damages; (d) P10,000.00 for less of earning power and (e) P2,000
his classmate, the deceased Dominador Palisoc. The unfortunate death 00 for attorney's fee, plus the costs of this action in both instances; 2.
resulting from the fight between the protagonists-students could have been
absolving defendant Antonio C. Brillantes from the complaint; and 3. "Last, teachers or heads of establishments of arts and
dismissing defendants' counterclaims. trades shall be liable for damages caused by their pupils
and students or apprentices, so long as they remain in
Concepcion, C .J ., Villamor and Makasiar, JJ ., concur. their custody.
Dizon, J ., took no part. "The responsibility treated of in this article shall cease
when the persons herein mentioned prove that they
observe all the diligence of a good father of a family to
Separate Opinions prevent damages.
Examination of the article shows that where the responsibility prescribed
REYES, J.B.L., J ., concurring:
therein is limited to illegal acts during minority, the article expressly so
provides, as in the case of the parents and of the guardians. It is natural to
I concur with the opinion of Mr. Justice Teehankee but would like to clarify
expect that if the law had intended to similarly restrict the civil responsibility
that the judgment of the dissenting opinion to the effect that the
of the other categories of persons enumerated in the article, it would have
responsibility of teachers and school officers under Article 2180 should be
expressly so stated. The fact that it has not done so indicates an intent that
limited to pupils who are minors (below the age of majority) is not in accord
the liability be not restricted to the case of persons under age. Further, it is
with the plain text of the law. Article 2180 of the Civil Code of the Philippines
not without significance that the teachers and heads of scholarly
is to the following effect:
establishments are not grouped with parents and guardians but ranged with
"The obligation imposed by article 2176 is demandable owners and managers of enterprises, employers and the state, as to whom
not only for one's own acts or omissions, but also for no reason is discernible to imply that they should answer only for minors.
those of persons for whom one is responsible.
Giorgi, in his well-known "Teoria de las Obligaciones en el Derecho
"The father and, in case of his death or incapacity the Moderno", Volume 5, page 404, No. 272 (Sp. Ed.), after noting the split
mother, are responsible for the damages caused by the among commentators on the point at issue, observes with considerable
minor children who live in their company. cogency that —

"Guardians are liable for damages caused by the minors "272. Ante esta variedad de opiniones, ninguna de las
or incapacitated persons who are under their authority cuales se funda en argumentos merecedores de seria
and live in their company. ponderacion, no es f cil tomar un partido. Esto no
obstante, debiendo manifestar nuestra opinion, nos
"The owners and managers of an establishment or acercamos la de los que no estiman necesaria la menor
enterprise are likewise responsible for damages caused edad del discipulo o del aprendiz; porque si el
by their employees in the service of the branches in which aforismo ubi voluit dixit, ubi noluit tacuity, no es siempre
the latter are employed or on the occasion of their argumento seguro para interpretar la le, es infalible cuanto
functions. se refiere una misma disposicion relativa varios casos. Y
"Employers shall be liable for the damages caused by tal es el art. 1.153. Lo que haya establecido importa poco
their employees and household helpers acting within the si, elev ndones los principios de razon, puede dudarse de
scope of their assigned tasks, even though the former are la oportunidad de semajante diferencia; porque la
not engaged in any business or industry. voluntad cierta del legislador prevalece in iure
condito cualquier otra consideracion. Por otra parte, si
"The State is responsible in like manner when it acts bien se considera, no puede parecer extraño o absurdo el
through a special agent; but not when the damage has suponer que un discipulo y un aprendiz, aunque mayores
been caused by the official to whom the task done de edad, acepten voluntariamente la entera vigilancia de
properly pertains, in which case what is provided in article su preceptor mientras dura la educacion. Ni parece
2176 shall be applicable. dudoso desde el momento que los artesanos y los
preceptores deben, al par de los padres, responder the administrative heads of the schools directly liable for torts committed by
civilmente de los daños comitidos por sus discipulos, aun them. When even the school authorities find themselves besieged,
cuando estos estn faltos de discernimiento." beleaguered and attacked, and unable to impose the traditional disciplinary
measures formerly recognized as available to them, such as suspension or
Similarly, Planiol-Ripert, in their "Droit Civil Pratique," Volume VI, No. 635 outright expulsion of the offending students, it flies in the face of logic and
(Spanish version), say that — reality to consider such students, merely from the fact of enrollment and
"635. Personas de quin responde. — Si bien la class attendance, as "in the custody" of the teachers or school heads within
responsibilidad del maestro es originalmente una the meaning of the statute, and to hold the latter liable unless they can
estensi"n de la de los padres (1), el art. 1384 no especifica prove that they have exercised "all the diligence of a good father of the
que los alumnos y aprendices han de ser menores de family to prevent damage." Article 2180, if applied as appellants construe it,
edad, por lo que la presuncion de culpa funcionar aun would be bad law. It would demand responsibility without commensurate
cuando sean mayores (2); pero, la vigilancia no tendra que authority, rendering teachers and school heads open to damage suits for
ser ejercida en iguales terminos. Aun respecto a los causes beyond their power to control. Present conditions being what they
menores variar segun la edad, extremo que tendr que are, I believe the restrictive interpretation of the aforesaid provision
tenerse en cuenta a los fines de apreciar si el maestro ha enunciated in Mercado should be maintained.
podido impedir el acto nocivo o no. With particular reference to the case at bar, one other factor constrains me
to dissent. The opinion of the majority states: "Here, the parents of the
student at fault, defendant Daffon, are not involved, since Daffon was
I submit, finally, that while in the case of parents and guardians, their already of age at the time of the tragic incident." This statement is of course
authority and supervision over the children and wards end by law upon the in accordance with Article 2180, which says that "the father and, in case of
latter reaching majority age, the authority and custodial supervision over his death or incapacity, the mother, are responsible for the damages caused
pupils exist regardless of the age of the latter. A student over twenty-one, by by the minor children who live in their company." Note that for parental
enrolling and attending a school, places himself under the custodial responsibility to arise the children must be minors who live in their company.
supervision and disciplinary authority of the school authorities, which is the If, as stated also in the opinion of the majority, "the rationale of (the) liability
basis of the latter's correlative responsibility for his torts, committed while of school heads and teachers for the tortious acts of their pupils and
under such authority. Of course, the teachers' control is not as plenary as students, so long as they remain in their custody, is that they stand, to a
when the student is a minor; but that circumstance can only affect the certain extent, as to their pupils and students, in loco parentis and are called
degree of the responsibility but cannot negate the existence thereof. It is upon to exercise reasonable supervision over the conduct of the child," then
only a factor to be appreciated in determining whether or not the defendant it stands to reason that (1) the clause "so long as they remain in their
has exercised due diligence in endeavoring to prevent the injury, as custody" as used in reference to teachers and school heads should be
prescribed in the last paragraph of Article 2180. equated with the phrase "who live in their company" as used in reference to
parents; and (2) that just as parents are not responsible for damages caused
MAKALINTAL, J ., dissenting: by their children who are no longer minors, so should teachers and school
heads be exempt from liability for the tortious acts of their students in the
I vote to affirm the decision appealed from. I see no reason to depart from same age category. I find no justification, either in the law itself or in justice
the doctrine laid down by this Court in Mercado v. Court of Appeals, 108 and equity, to make a substitute parent liable where the real parent would
Phil. 414, where the clause "so long as they remain in their custody" used in be free from liability.
Article 2180 of the Civil Code was construed as referring to a "situation
where the pupil lives and boards with the teacher, such that the (latter's) Zaldivar, Castro and Fernando, JJ ., concur.
control, direction and influence on the pupil supersedes those of the ||| (Palisoc v. Brillantes, G.R. No. L-29025, [October 4, 1971], 148-B PHIL
parents." I think it is highly unrealistic and conducive to unjust results, 1029-1046)
considering the size of the enrollment in many of our educational
institutions, academic and non-academic, as well as the temper, attitudes
and often destructive activism of the students, to hold their teachers and/or
FIRST DIVISION 1. CIVIL LAW; FAMILY CODE; SPECIAL PARENTAL AUTHORITY OVER A
MINOR CHILD. — Under Article 218 of the Family Code, the following shall
have special parental authority over a minor child while under their
[G.R. No. 143363. February 6, 2002.]
supervision, instruction or custody: (1) the school, its administrators and
teachers; or (2) the individual, entity or institution engaged in child care. This
ST. MARY'S ACADEMY, petitioner, vs. WILLIAM special parental authority and responsibility applies to all authorized
CARPITANOS and LUCIA S. CARPITANOS, GUADA activities, whether inside or outside the premises of the school, entity or
DANIEL, JAMES DANIEL II, JAMES DANIEL, SR., and institution. Thus, such authority and responsibility applies to field trips,
VIVENCIO VILLANUEVA, respondents. excursions and other affairs of the pupils and students outside the school
premises whenever authorized by the school or its teachers.
2. ID.; ID.; ID.; PRINCIPAL AND SOLIDARY LIABILITY OF PERSONS
Padilla Law Office for petitioner.
EXERCISING PARENTAL AUTHORITY. — Under Article 219 of the Family
Peter Y. Co for respondents Daniel and Villanueva. Code, if the person under custody is a minor, those exercising special
parental authority are principally and solidarily liable for damages caused by
Feliciano M. Maraon for respondent Carpitanos. the acts or omissions of the unemancipated minor while under their
supervision, instruction, or custody.
SYNOPSIS 3. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; REQUISITE. — However, for petitioner to be liable, there
must be a finding that the act or omission considered as negligent was the
proximate cause of the injury caused because the negligence must have a
Sherwin Carpitanos, son of respondents Carpitanos, died in an accident
causal connection to the accident.
caused by the detachment of the steering wheel guide of the jeep owned by
respondent Villanueva. The vehicle was then driven by James Daniel II, a 4. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; CASE AT BAR. — In this case, the respondents failed
minor. The incident occurred during an enrollment drive conducted by to show that the negligence of petitioner was the proximate cause of the
petitioner academy where Sherwin was a student. Sherwin's parents filed an death of the victim. Respondents Daniel spouses and Villanueva admitted
action for damages against petitioner and the other respondents. The trial that the immediate cause of the accident was not the negligence of
court ruled in favor of Sherwin's parents ordering petitioner to pay civil petitioner or the reckless driving of James Daniel II, but the detachment of
indemnity for the loss of life of Sherwin, actual and moral damages, and the steering wheel guide of the jeep. Further, there was no evidence that
attorney's fees under Articles 218 and 219 of the Family Code, and declared petitioner school allowed the minor James Daniel II to drive the jeep of
respondents Daniel subsidiarily liable. Respondent Villanueva was absolved respondent Vivencio Villanueva. It was Ched Villanueva, grandson of
from any liability. respondent Vivencio Villanueva, who had possession and control of the
jeep. He was driving the vehicle and he allowed James Daniel II, a minor, to
Under Articles 218 and 219 of the Family Code, for the school to be
drive the jeep at the time of the accident. Considering that the negligence of
principally and solidarily liable for the acts of its students, the latter's
the minor driver or the detachment of the steering wheel guide of the jeep
negligence must be the proximate cause of the injury. In this case, there was
owned by respondent Villanueva was an event over which petitioner St.
no evidence that petitioner allowed the minor to drive the jeep and that the
Mary's Academy had no control, and which was the proximate cause of the
proximate cause of the accident was a mechanical defect in the vehicle,
accident, petitioner may not be held liable for the death resulting from such
thus, petitioner may not be held liable for the death of Sherwin. However, as
accident. Consequently, we find that petitioner likewise cannot be held liable
the registered owner of the vehicle, Villanueva was held primarily liable for
for moral damages in the amount of P500,000.00 awarded by the trial court
the death of Sherwin.
and affirmed by the Court of Appeals. Though incapable of pecuniary
computation, moral damages may be recovered if they are the proximate
result of the defendant's wrongful act or omission. In this case, the
SYLLABUS
proximate cause of the accident was not attributable to petitioner. For the
reason that petitioner was not directly liable for the accident, the decision of
the Court of Appeals ordering petitioner to pay death indemnity to
respondent Carpitanos must be deleted. Moreover, the grant of attorney's "On 20 February 1997, Branch 6 of the Regional Trial
fees as part of damages is the exception rather than the rule. The power of Court of Dipolog City rendered its decision the dispositive
the court to award attorney's fees under Article 2208 of the Civil Code portion of which reads as follows:
demands factual, legal and equitable justification. Thus, the grant of
attorney's fees against the petitioner is likewise deleted. aESICD "'WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED, judgment is
hereby rendered in the following manner:
5. ID.; DAMAGES; REGISTERED OWNER OF VEHICLE PRIMARILY
RESPONSIBLE FOR INJURIES CAUSED TO THE PUBLIC OR TO THIRD 1. Defendant St. Mary's Academy of Dipolog City,
PERSONS WHILE VEHICLE WAS BEING DRIVEN ON THE HIGHWAYS OR is hereby ordered to pay plaintiffs William
STREETS. — We have held that the registered owner of any vehicle, even if Carpitanos and Luisa Carpitanos, the
not used for public service, would primarily be responsible to the public or following sums of money:
to third persons for injuries caused the latter while the vehicle was being a. FIFTY THOUSAND PESOS
driven on the highways or streets. Hence, with the overwhelming evidence (P50,000.00) indemnity for the
presented by petitioner and the respondent Daniel spouses that the loss of life of Sherwin S.
accident occurred because of the detachment of the steering wheel guide of Carpitanos;
the jeep, it is not the school, but the registered owner of the vehicle who
shall be held responsible for damages for the death of Sherwin Carpitanos. b. FORTY THOUSAND PESOS
(P40,000.00) actual damages
incurred by plaintiffs for burial and
related expenses;
DECISION
c. TEN THOUSAND PESOS (P10,000.00)
for attorney's fees;

PARDO, J p: d. FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS


(P500,000.00) for moral damages;
The Case and to pay costs.

The case is an appeal via certiorari from the decision 1 of the Court of 2. Their liability being only subsidiary, defendants
Appeals as well as the resolution denying reconsideration, holding petitioner James Daniel, Sr. and Guada Daniel are
liable for damages arising from an accident that resulted in the death of a hereby ordered to pay herein plaintiffs the
student who had joined a campaign to visit the public schools in Dipolog amount of damages above-stated in the
City to solicit enrollment. event of insolvency of principal obligor St.
Mary's Academy of Dipolog City;
The Facts
3. Defendant James Daniel II, being a minor at the
The facts, as found by the Court of Appeals, are as follows:
time of the commission of the tort and
"Claiming damages for the death of their only son, who was under special parental authority
Sherwin Carpitanos, spouses William Carpitanos and of defendant St. Mary's Academy, is
Lucia Carpitanos filed on June 9, 1995 a case against ABSOLVED from paying the above-stated
James Daniel II and his parents, James Daniel Sr. and damages, same being adjudged against
Guada Daniel, the vehicle owner, Vivencio Villanueva and defendants St. Mary's Academy, and
St. Mary's Academy before the Regional Trial Court of subsidiarily, against his parents;
Dipolog City.
4. Defendant Vivencio Villanueva is hereby
ABSOLVED of any liability. His
counterclaim not being in order as earlier
discussed in this decision, is hereby The Court of Appeals held petitioner St. Mary's Academy liable for the death
DISMISSED. of Sherwin Carpitanos under Articles 218 7 and 219 8 of the Family Code,
pointing out that petitioner was negligent in allowing a minor to drive and in
IT IS SO ORDERED."' (Decision, pp. 32-33; Records, pp. not having a teacher accompany the minor students in the jeep.
205-206)."
"From the records it appears that from 13 to 20 February
1995, defendant-appellant St. Mary's Academy of Dipolog Under Article 218 of the Family Code, the following shall have special
City conducted an enrollment drive for the school year parental authority over a minor child while under their supervision,
1995-1996. A facet of the enrollment campaign was the instruction or custody: (1) the school, its administrators and teachers; or (2)
visitation of schools from where prospective enrollees the individual, entity or institution engaged in child care. This special
were studying. As a student of St. Mary's Academy, parental authority and responsibility applies to all authorized activities,
Sherwin Carpitanos was part of the campaigning group. whether inside or outside the premises of the school, entity or institution.
Accordingly, on the fateful day, Sherwin, along with other Thus, such authority and responsibility applies to field trips, excursions and
high school students were riding in a Mitsubishi jeep other affairs of the pupils and students outside the school premises
owned by defendant Vivencio Villanueva on their way to whenever authorized by the school or its teachers. 9
Larayan Elementary School, Larayan, Dapitan City. The
jeep was driven by James Daniel II then 15 years old and Under Article 219 of the Family Code, if the person under custody is a
a student of the same school. Allegedly, the latter drove minor, those exercising special parental authority are principally and
the jeep in a reckless manner and as a result the jeep solidarily liable for damages caused by the acts or omissions of the
turned turtle. unemancipated minor while under their supervision, instruction, or
custody. 10
"Sherwin Carpitanos died as a result of the injuries he
sustained from the accident." 2 However, for petitioner to be liable, there must be a finding that the act or
omission considered as negligent was the proximate cause of the injury
In due time, petitioner St. Mary's Academy appealed the decision to the caused because the negligence, must have a causal connection to the
Court of Appeals. 3 accident. 11
On February 29, 2000, the Court of Appeals promulgated a decision “In order that there may be a recovery for an injury,
reducing the actual damages to P25,000.00 but otherwise affirming the however, it must be shown that the ‘injury for which
decision a quo, in toto. 4 recovery is sought must be the legitimate consequence of
the wrong done; the connection between the negligence
On February 29, 2000, petitioner St. Mary's Academy filed a motion for and the injury must be a direct and natural sequence of
reconsideration of the decision. However, on May 22, 2000, the Court of events, unbroken by intervening efficient causes.’ In other
Appeals denied the motion. 5 words, the negligence must be the proximate cause of the
Hence, this appeal. 6 injury. For, ‘negligence, no matter in what it consists,
cannot create a right of action unless it is the proximate
The Issues cause of the injury complained of.’ And ‘the proximate
1) Whether the Court of Appeals erred in holding the cause of an injury is that cause, which, in natural and
petitioner liable for damages for the death of continuous sequence, unbroken by any efficient
Sherwin Carpitanos. intervening cause, produces the injury, and without which
the result would not have occurred.”’ 12
2) Whether the Court of Appeals erred in affirming the
award of moral damages against the petitioner. In this case, the respondents failed to show that the negligence of petitioner
was the proximate cause of the death of the victim.
The Court's Ruling
We reverse the decision of the Court of Appeals.
Respondents Daniel spouses and Villanueva admitted that the immediate was the proximate cause of the accident, petitioner may not be held liable
cause of the accident was not the negligence of petitioner or the reckless for the death resulting from such accident.
driving of James Daniel II, but the detachment of the steering wheel guide of
the jeep. Consequently, we find that petitioner likewise cannot be held liable for moral
damages in the amount of P500,000.00 awarded by the trial court and
In their comment to the petition, respondents Daniel spouses and Villanueva affirmed by the Court of Appeals.
admitted the documentary exhibits, establishing that the cause of the
accident was the detachment of the steering wheel guide of the jeep. Though incapable of pecuniary computation, moral damages may be
Hence, the cause of the accident was not the recklessness of James Daniel recovered if they are the proximate result of the defendant's wrongful act or
II but the mechanical defect in the jeep of Vivencio Villanueva. Respondents, omission. 14 In this case, the proximate cause of the accident was not
including the spouses Carpitanos, parents of the deceased Sherwin attributable to petitioner.
Carpitanos, did not dispute the report and testimony of the traffic For the reason that petitioner was not directly liable for the accident, the
investigator who stated that the cause of the accident was the detachment decision of the Court of Appeals ordering petitioner to pay death indemnity
of the steering wheel guide that caused the jeep to turn turtle. to respondent Carpitanos must be deleted. Moreover, the grant of attorney's
Significantly, respondents did not present any evidence to show that the fees as part of damages is the exception rather than the rule. 15 The power
proximate cause of the accident was the negligence of the school of the court to award attorney's fees under Article 2208 of the Civil Code
authorities, or the reckless driving of James Daniel II. Hence, the demands factual, legal and equitable justification. 16 Thus, the grant of
respondents’ reliance on Article 219 of the Family Code that “those given attorney's fees against the petitioner is likewise deleted.
the authority and responsibility under the preceding Article shall be Incidentally, there was no question that the registered owner of the vehicle
principally and solidarily liable for damages caused by acts or omissions of was respondent Villanueva. He never denied and in fact admitted this fact.
the unemancipated minor” was unfounded. We have held that the registered owner of any vehicle, even if not used for
Further, there was no evidence that petitioner school allowed the minor public service, would primarily be responsible to the public or to third
James Daniel II to drive the jeep of respondent Vivencio Villanueva. It was persons for injuries caused the latter while the vehicle was being driven on
Ched Villanueva, grandson of respondent Vivencio Villanueva, who had the highways or streets." 17 Hence, with the overwhelming evidence
possession and control of the jeep. He was driving the vehicle and he presented by petitioner and the respondent Daniel spouses that the
allowed James Daniel II, a minor, to drive the jeep at the time of the accident occurred because of the detachment of the steering wheel guide of
accident. the jeep, it is not the school, but the registered owner of the vehicle who
shall be held responsible for damages for the death of Sherwin Carpitanos.
Hence, liability for the accident, whether caused by the negligence of the
minor driver or mechanical detachment of the steering wheel guide of the The Fallo
jeep, must be pinned on the minor's parents primarily. The negligence of WHEREFORE, the Court REVERSES and SETS ASIDE the decision of the
petitioner St. Mary's Academy was only a remote cause of the accident. Court of Appeals 18 and that of the trial court. 19 The Court remands the
Between the remote cause and the injury, there intervened the negligence of case to the trial court for determination of the liability of defendants,
the minor's parents or the detachment of the steering wheel guide of the excluding petitioner St. Mary's Academy, Dipolog City. DaTHAc
jeep.
No costs.
"The proximate cause of an injury is that cause, which, in
natural and continuous sequence, unbroken by any SO ORDERED.
efficient intervening cause, produces the injury, and
Davide, Jr., C.J., Kapunan and Ynares-Santiago, JJ., concur.
without which the result would not have occurred." 13
||| (St. Mary's Academy v. Carpitanos, G.R. No. 143363, [February 6, 2002],
Considering that the negligence of the minor driver or the detachment of the 426 PHIL 878-887)
steering wheel guide of the jeep owned by respondent Villanueva was an
event over which petitioner St. Mary's Academy had no control, and which
THIRD DIVISION second Resolution dated 27 October 1987 denied petitioners' motion for
reconsideration for having been filed out of time.
[G.R. No. 80718. January 29, 1988.] At the outset, this Court could have denied the petition outright for not being
verified as required by Rule 65 section 1 of the Rules of Court. However,
even if the instant petition did not suffer from this defect, this Court, on
FELISA P. DE ROY and VIRGILIO
procedural and substantive grounds, would still resolve to deny it.
RAMOS, petitioners, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and LUIS
BERNAL, SR., GLENIA BERNAL, LUIS BERNAL, JR., The facts of the case are undisputed. The firewall of a burned out building
HEIRS OF MARISSA BERNAL, namely, GLICERIA owned by petitioners collapsed and destroyed the tailoring shop occupied
DELA CRUZ BERNAL and LUIS BERNAL, by the family of private respondents, resulting in injuries to private
SR., respondents. respondents and the death of Marissa Bernal, a daughter. Private
respondents had been warned by petitioners to vacate their shop in view of
its proximity to the weakened wall but the former failed to do so. On the
SYLLABUS basis of the foregoing facts, the Regional Trial Court. First Judicial Region,
Branch XXXVIII, presided by the Hon. Antonio M. Belen, rendered judgment
1. REMEDIAL LAW; CIVIL PROCEDURE; APPEAL; PERIOD FOR finding petitioners guilty of gross negligence and awarding damages to
APPEALING OR FOR FILING A MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION, NON- private respondents. On appeal, the decision of the trial court was
EXTENDIBLE. — The rule laid down in Habaluyas Enterprises, Inc. v. Japzon, affirmed in toto by the Court of Appeals in a decision promulgated on
[G.R. No. 70895, August 5, 1985, 138 SCRA 46], that the fifteen-day period August 17, 1987, a copy of which was received by petitioners on August 25,
for appealing or for filing a motion for reconsideration cannot be extended. 1987. On September 9, 1987, the last day of the fifteen-day period to file an
appeal, petitioners filed a motion for extension of time to file a motion for
2. ID.; ID.; ID.; GRACE PERIOD IN BOCAVA CASE, INAPPLICABLE TO THE reconsideration, which was eventually denied by the appellate court in the
CASE AT BAR. — The one-month grace period from the promulgation on Resolution of September 30, 1987. Petitioners filed their motion for
May 30, 1986 of the Court's Resolution in the clarificatory Habaluyas case, reconsideration on September 24, 1987 but this was denied in the
or up to June 30, 1986, within which the rule barring extensions of time to Resolution of October 27, 1987.
file motions for new trial or reconsideration may still be allowed cannot be
invoked by the petitioners as their motion for extension of time was filed on This Court finds that the Court of Appeals did not commit a grave abuse of
September 9, 1987, more than a year after the grace period on June 30, discretion when it denied petitioners' motion for extension of time to file a
1986. motion for reconsideration, directed entry of judgment and denied their
motion for reconsideration. It correctly applied the rule laid down
in Habaluyas Enterprises, Inc. v. Japzon, [G.R. No. 70895, August 5, 1985,
138 SCRA 46], that the fifteen-day period for appealing or for filing a motion
RESOLUTION for reconsideration cannot be extended. In its Resolution denying the motion
for reconsideration, promulgated on May 30, 1986 (142 SCRA 208), this
Court en banc restated and clarified the rule, to wit:

CORTES, J p: Beginning one month after the promulgation of this


Resolution, the rule shall be strictly enforced that no
This special civil action for certiorari seeks to declare null and void two (2) motion for extension of time to file a motion for
resolutions of the Special Division of the Court of Appeals in the Luis Bernal, reconsideration may be filed with the Metropolitan or
Sr., et al. v. Felisa Perdosa De Roy, et al., CA-G.R. CV No. 07286. The first Municipal Trial Courts, the Regional Trial Courts, and the
resolution promulgated on 30 September 1987 denied petitioner's motion Intermediate Appellate Court. Such a motion may be filed
for extension of time to file a motion for reconsideration and directed entry only in cases pending with the Supreme Court as the
of judgment since the decision in said case had become final; and the court of last resort, which may in its sound discretion
either grant or deny the extension requested. (at p. 212)
Lacsamana v. Second Special Cases Division of the Intermediate Appellate from its total or partial collapse, if it should be due to the lack of necessary
Court, [G.R. No. 73146-53, August 26, 1986, 143 SCRA 643], reiterated the repairs."
rule and went further to restate and clarify the modes and periods of appeal.
Nor was there error in rejecting petitioners argument that private
Bacaya v. Intermediate Appellate Court, [G.R. No. 74824, Sept. 16, 1985, respondents had the "last clear chance" to avoid the accident if only they
144 SCRA 161], stressed the prospective application of said rule, and heeded the warning to vacate the tailoring shop and, therefore, petitioners
explained the operation of the grace period, to wit: LibLex prior negligence should be disregarded, since the doctrine of "last clear
chance," which has been applied to vehicular accidents, is inapplicable to
In other words, there is one-month grace period from the this case.
promulgation on May 30, 1986 of the Court's Resolution
in the clarificatory Habaluyas case, or up to June 30, WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Court Resolved to DENY the
1986, within which the rule barring extensions of time to instant petition for lack of merit.
file motions for new trial or reconsideration is, as yet, not
strictly enforceable. Fernan, Gutierrez, Jr., Feliciano and Bidin, JJ., concur.

Since petitioners herein filed their motion for extension on ||| (De Roy v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 80718 (Resolution), [January 29,
February 27, 1986, it is still within the grace period, which 1988], 241 PHIL 804-808)
expired on June 30, 1986, and may still be allowed.
This grace period was also applied in Mission v. Intermediate Appellate
Court [G.R. No. 73669, October 28, 1986, 145 SCRA 306]. FIRST DIVISION
In the instant case, however, petitioners' motion for extension of time was
filed on September 9, 1987, more than a year after the expiration of the [G.R. No. 74431. November 6, 1989.]
grace period on June 30, 1986. Hence, it is no longer within the coverage of
the grace period. Considering the length of time from the expiration of the
PURITA MIRANDA VESTIL and AGUSTIN
grace period to the promulgation of the decision of the Court of Appeals on
VESTIL, petitioners, vs. INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE
August 25, 1987, petitioners cannot seek refuge in the ignorance of their
COURT, DAVID UY and TERESITA UY,respondents.
counsel regarding said rule for their failure to file a motion for
reconsideration within the reglementary period. prLL
Petitioners contend that the rule enunciated in the Habaluyas case should Pablo P. Garcia for petitioners.
not be made to apply to the case at bar owing to the non-publication of
Roberto R. Palmares for private respondents.
the Habaluyas decision in the Official Gazette as of the time the subject
decision of the Court of Appeals was promulgated. Contrary to petitioners'
view, there is no law requiring the publication of Supreme Court decisions in
SYLLABUS
the Official Gazette before they can be binding and as a condition to their
becoming effective. It is the bounden duty of counsel as lawyer in active law
practice to keep abreast of decisions of the Supreme Court particularly 1. REMEDIAL LAW; EVIDENCE; WEIGHT AND SUFFICIENCY; DEATH
where issues have been clarified, consistently reiterated, and published in CERTIFICATE NOT CONCLUSIVE PROOF OF CAUSE OF DEATH BUT
the advance reports of Supreme Court decisions (G.R.s) and in such ONLY OF FACT OF DEATH. — The Court finds that the link between the
publications as the Supreme Court Reports Annotated (SCRA) and law dog bites and the certified cause of death has been satisfactorily
journals. established. We also reiterate our ruling in Sison v. Sun Life Assurance
Company of Canada, that the death certificate is not conclusive proof of the
This Court likewise finds that the Court of Appeals committed no grave cause of death but only of the fact of death. Indeed, the evidence of the
abuse of discretion in affirming the trial court's decision holding petitioner child's hydrophobia is sufficient to convince us that she died because she
liable under Article 2190 of the Civil Code, which provides that "the
proprietor of a building or structure is responsible for the damage resulting
was bitten by the dog even if the death certificate stated a different cause of On July 29, 1975, Theness was bitten by a dog while she was playing with a
death. child of the petitioners in the house of the late Vicente Miranda, the father of
Purita Vestil, at F. Ramos Street in Cebu City. She was rushed to the Cebu
2. CIVIL LAW; QUASI-DELICTS; ARTICLE 2183 OF CIVIL CODE; General Hospital, where she was treated for "multiple lacerated wounds on
POSSESSOR LIABLE EVEN IF ANIMAL SHOULD "ESCAPE OR BE LOST" the forehead" 1 and administered an anti-rabies vaccine by Dr. Antonio
AND BE REMOVED FROM HIS CONTROL; THAT DOG WAS TAME AND Tautjo. She was discharged after nine days but was re-admitted one week
WAS MERELY PROVOKED BY CHILD INTO BITING HER, IMMATERIAL. — later due to "vomiting of saliva." 2 The following day, on August 15, 1975,
Article 2183 of the Civil Code holds the possessor liable even if the animal
the child died. The cause of death was certified as broncho-pneumonia. 3
should "escape or be lost" and so be removed from his control. And it does
not matter either that as the petitioners also contend, the dog was tame and Seven months later, the Uys sued for damages, alleging that the Vestils
was merely provoked by the child into biting her. The law does not speak were liable to them as the possessors of "Andoy," the dog that bit and
only of vicious animals but covers even tame ones as long as they cause eventually killed their daughter. The Vestils rejected the charge, insisting that
injury. As for the alleged provocation, the petitioners forget that Theness the dog belonged to the deceased Vicente Miranda, that it was a tame
was only three years old at the time she was attacked and can hardly be animal, and that in any case no one had witnessed it bite Theness. After
faulted for whatever she might have done to the animal. trial, Judge Jose R. Ramolete of the Court of First Instance of Cebu
sustained the defendants and dismissed the complaint. 4
3. ID.; ID.; ID.; BASIS THEREOF. — According to Manresa, the obligation
imposed by Article 2183 of the Civil Code is not based on the negligence or The respondent court arrived at a different conclusion when the case was
on the presumed lack of vigilance of the possessor or user of the animal appealed. 5 It found that the Vestils were in possession of the house and the
causing the damage. It is based on natural equity and on the principle of dog and so should be responsible under Article 2183 of the Civil Code for
social interest that he who possesses animals for his utility, pleasure or the injuries caused by the dog. It also held that the child had died as a result
service must answer for the damage which such animal may cause. of the dog bites and not for causes independent thereof as submitted by the
appellees. Accordingly, the Vestils were ordered to pay the Uys damages in
4. ID.; DAMAGES; ACTUAL DAMAGES; MEDICAL AND HOSPITALIZATION
the amount of P30,000.00 for the death of Theness, P12,000.00 for medical
EXPENSES, REDUCED. — We sustain the findings of the Court of Appeals
and hospitalization expenses, and P2,000.00 as attorney's fees.
and approve the monetary awards except only as to the medical and
hospitalization expenses, which are reduced to P2,026.69, as prayed for in In the proceedings now before us, Purita Vestil insists that she is not the
the complaint. While there is no recompense that can bring back to the owner of the house or of the dog left by her father as his estate has not yet
private respondents the child they have lost, their pain should at least be been partitioned and there are other heirs to the property. Pursuing the logic
assuaged by the civil damages to which they are entitled. of the Uys, she claims, even her sister living in Canada would be held
responsible for the acts of the dog simply because she is one of Miranda's
heirs. However, that is hardly the point. What must be determined is
the possession of the dog that admittedly was staying in the house in
DECISION question, regardless of the ownership of the dog or of the house.
Article 2183 reads as follows:

CRUZ, J p: The possessor of an animal or whoever may make use of


the same is responsible for the damage which it may
Little Theness Tan Uy was dead at the age of three. Her parents said she cause, although it may escape or be lost. This
died because she was bitten by a dog of the petitioners, but the latter responsibility shall cease only in case the damage should
denied this, claiming they had nothing to do with the dog. The Uys sued the come from force majeure or from the fault of the person
Vestils, who were sustained by the trial court. On appeal, the decision of the who has suffered damage.
court a quowas reversed in favor of the Uys. The Vestils are now before vs.
They ask us to set aside the judgment of the respondent court and to Thus, in Afialda v. Hisole, 6 a person hired as caretaker of a carabao gored
reinstate that of the trial court. prcd him to death and his heirs thereupon sued the owner of the animal for
damages. The complaint was dismissed on the ground that it was the
caretaker's duty to prevent the carabao from causing injury to any one, that she died of broncho-pneumonia, which had nothing to do with the dog
including himself. bites for which she had been previously hospitalized.
Purita Vestil's testimony that she was not in possession of Miranda's house The Court need not involve itself in an extended scientific discussion of the
is hardly credible. She said that the occupants of the house left by her father causal connection between the dog bites and the certified cause of death
were related to him ("one way or the other") and maintained themselves out except to note that, first, Theness developed hydrophobia, a symptom of
of a common fund or by some kind of arrangement (on which, however, she rabies, as a result of the dog bites, and second, that asphyxia broncho-
did not elaborate). 7 She mentioned as many as ten of such relatives who pneumonia, which ultimately caused her death, was a complication of
had stayed in the house at one time or another although they did not appear rabies.
to be close kin. 8 She at least implied that they did not pay any rent,
That Theness became afraid of water after she was bitten by the dog is
presumably because of their relation with Vicente Miranda notwithstanding
established by the following testimony of Dr. Tautjo: LLphil
that she herself did not seem to know them very well. Cdpr
COURT: I think there was mention of rabies in the report
There is contrary evidence that the occupants of the house were boarders
(or more of boarders than relatives) who paid the petitioners for providing in the second admission?
them with meals and accommodations. It also appears that Purita Vestil had A: Now, the child was continuously vomiting just before I
hired a maid, Dolores Jumao-as, who did the cooking and cleaning in the referred to Dr. Co earlier in the morning and then
said house for its occupants. 9 Her mother, Pacita, who was a nursemaid of the father, because the child was asking for water,
Purita herself, categorically declared that the petitioners were maintaining the father tried to give the child water and this
boarders in the house where Theness was bitten by a dog. 10 Another child went under the bed, she did not like to drink
witness, Marcial Lao, testified that he was indeed a boarder and that the the water and there was fright in her eyeballs. For
Vestils were maintaining the house for business purposes. 11 And although this reason, because I was in danger there was
Purita denied paying the water bills for the house, the private respondents rabies, I called Dr. Co.
submitted documentary evidence of her application for water connection
with the Cebu Water District, which strongly suggested that she was Q: In other words, the child had hydrophobia?
administering the house in question. 12
While it is true that she is not really the owner of the house, which was still A: Yes, sir. 18
part of Vicente Miranda's estate, there is no doubt that she and her husband
were its possessors at the time of the incident in question. She was the only As for the link between rabies and broncho-pneumonia, the doctor had the
heir residing in Cebu City and the most logical person to take care of the following to say under oath:
property, which was only six kilometers from her own house. 13 Moreover,
there is evidence showing that she and her family regularly went to the A: Now, as I said before, broncho-pneumonia can result
house, once or twice weekly, according to at least one witness, 14 and used from physical, chemical and bacterial means . . . It
it virtually as a second house. Interestingly, her own daughter was playing in can be the result of infection, now, so if you have
any other disease which can lower your resistance
the house with Theness when the little girl was bitten by the dog. 15 The
you can also get pneumonia.
dog itself remained in the house even after the death of Vicente Miranda in
1973 and until 1975, when the incident in question occurred. It is also xxx xxx xxx
noteworthy that the petitioners offered to assist the Uys with their
hospitalization expenses although Purita said she knew them only Q: Would you say that a person who has rabies may die of
casually. 16 complication which is broncho-pneumonia?

The petitioners also argue that even assuming that they were the A: Yes.
possessors of the dog that bit Theness, there was no clear showing that she
Q: For the record, I am manifesting that this book shown
died as a result thereof. On the contrary, the death certificate 17 declared
the witness is known as CURRENT DIANOSIS &
TREATMENT, 1968 by Henry Brainerd, Sheldon
Margen and Milton Chaton. Now, I invite your According to Manresa, the obligation imposed by Article 2183 of the Civil
attention, doctor, to page 751 of this book under Code is not based on the negligence or on the presumed lack of vigilance of
the title "Rabies." There is on this page, the possessor or user of the animal causing the damage. It is based on
"Prognosis" as a result of rabies and it says: natural equity and on the principle of social interest that he who possesses
animals for his utility, pleasure or service must answer for the damage which
Once the symptoms have appeared death inevitably
such animal may cause. 21
occurs after 2-3 days as a result of cardiac or
respiratory failure or generalized paralysis. We sustain the findings of the Court of Appeals and approve the monetary
awards except only as to the medical and hospitalization expenses, which
After a positive diagnosis of rabies or after a bite by a are reduced to P2,026.69, as prayed for in the complaint. While there is no
suspected animal if the animal cannot be recompense that can bring back to the private respondents the child they
observed or if the bite is on the head, give rabies have lost, their pain should at least be assuaged by the civil damages to
vaccine (duck embryo). Do you believe in this which they are entitled.
statement?
WHEREFORE, the challenged decision is AFFIRMED as above modified.
A: Yes. The petition is DENIED, with costs against the petitioners. It is so ordered.
Q: Would you say therefore that persons who have rabies
Narvasa, Gancayco, Griño-Aquino and Medialdea, JJ., concur.
may die of respiratory failure which leave in the
form of broncho-pneumonia? ||| (Vestil v. Intermediate Appellate Court, G.R. No. 74431, [November 6,
1989], 258-A PHIL 612-619)
A: Broncho-pneumonia can be a complication of
rabies. 19
On the strength of the foregoing testimony, the Court finds that the link
between the dog bites and the certified cause of death has been SECOND DIVISION
satisfactorily established. We also reiterate our ruling in Sison v. Sun Life
Assurance Company of Canada, 20 that the death certificate is not [G.R. No. 137916. December 8, 2004.]
conclusive proof of the cause of death but only of the fact of death. Indeed,
the evidence of the child's hydrophobia is sufficient to convince us that she
died because she was bitten by the dog even if the death certificate stated a DEVELOPMENT BANK OF THE
different cause of death. PHILIPPINES, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS,
ELPIDIO O. CUCIO, SPOUSES JACINTO GOTANGCO
The petitioner's contention that they could not be expected to exercise and CHARITY BANTUG, 1 respondents.
remote control of the dog is not acceptable. In fact, Article 2183 of the Civil
Code holds the possessor liable even if the animal should "escape or be
lost" and so be removed from his control. And it does not matter either that
as the petitioners also contend, the dog was tame and was merely provoked DECISION
by the child into biting her. The law does not speak only of vicious animals
but covers even tame ones as long as they cause injury. As for the alleged
provocation, the petitioners forget that Theness was only three years old at
CALLEJO, SR., J p:
the time she was attacked and can hardly be faulted for whatever she might
have done to the animal. LexLib
This is a petition for review on certiorari of the Decision 2 of the Court of
It is worth observing that the above defenses of the petitioners are an Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 37873 which affirmed, with modification,
implied rejection of their original posture that there was no proof that it was the Decision 3 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Palayan City, Branch 40,
the dog in their father's house that bit Theness. in Civil Case No. 0061-P.
The Spouses Jacinto Gotangco and Charity Bantug were the owners of owner's copies of TCT Nos. NT-166092 to NT-166098 and TCT No. NT-
seven parcels of land located in Palayan City, with total area of 21,000 177647. SHIETa
square meters, covered by Transfer Certificates of Title (TCT) Nos. NT-
166092 to NT-166098. The Spouses Gotangco were also the awardees of a On July 23, 1983, Jacinto Gotangco remitted the total amount of P57,097.36
parcel of land, identified as Lot No. 168, NG-130 (Pls-378), located in to DBP in partial payment of his loan account for which DBP issued OR Nos.
Canaderia, Palayan City, per Order of the Director of the Bureau of Lands 324501 to 324504. 9 In 1984, Cucio paid the balance of the purchase price
dated February 22, 1961. The Spouses Gotangco declared Lot No. 168 for of the seven parcels of land to DBP.
taxation purposes under Tax Declaration (TD) No. 0502 in 1980. In the meantime, the Spouses Gotangco applied for a restructuring of their
On August 22, 1980, the Spouses Gotangco secured a loan for their poultry loan with the DBP which was, thereafter, approved. In a Letter dated
project in Palayan City from the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) October 14, 1983, the DBP informed Cucio of the approval of the
in the amount of P121,400.00. They then executed a real estate mortgage restructuring of the loan of the Spouses Gotangco and requested him to
over the parcels of land. 4 complete the downpayment of the purchase price of the seven (7) parcels of
land so that the appropriate substitution of the property covered by TCT No.
On December 16, 1981, the Spouses Gotangco executed a Deed of NT-177647, in lieu of the seven (7) other properties issued by the said
Undertaking 5 wherein they obliged themselves to secure a sales patent in Spouses as collateral for their loan, could be effected, and the appropriate
their favor from the Bureau of Lands over Lot No. 168 covered by TD No. deed of absolute sale over TCT Nos. NT-166092 to NT-166098 could then
0502 within two (2) years from the execution thereof. They also undertook to be executed by the said Spouses in favor of Cucio. 10 As such, Cucio paid
deliver to the DBP the owner's duplicate of the certificate of title over the the balance of the purchase price of the said lots to DBP on October 1,
property for the annotation of the real estate mortgage in favor of DBP at the 1984. 11
dorsal portion thereof. 6
On July 3, 1988, the poultry farm of the Spouses Gotangco and the
On July 17, 1982, the Spouses Gotangco, as vendors, executed in favor of improvements thereon were gutted by fire.
Elpidio O. Cucio a contract to sell over the seven parcels of land mortgaged
to DBP for P50,000.00, payable in two installments. The parties agreed that On December 6, 1988, the DBP Pool of Accredited Insurance Companies
the said amount shall be paid directly to DBP and applied to the mortgage informed the DBP that it had offered to settle the claim of the Spouses
indebtedness of the Spouses Gotangco and that, upon full payment of the Gotangco for the proceeds of the insurance on their poultry farm for
purchase price, the Spouses shall execute a deed of sale over the said P167,149.14. 12 The Spouses apparently did not respond.
parcels of land in favor of Cucio. 7 The contract to sell was known to DBP. On February 20, 1989, the DBP wrote the Spouses Gotangco demanding
Thereafter, Cucio made the following remittances to DBP in payment of the payment of the balance of their loan in the amount of P408,026.96 within ten
purchase price of the seven parcels of land: (a) P16,000.00 per Official (10) days from notice thereof. However, the Spouses failed to respond or
Receipt (OR) No. 2418258 dated January 13, 1983; and (b) P5,000.00. The pay their account with the DBP.
DBP considered the remittances as deposits and issued OR No. 2792644 By September 30, 1989, the outstanding account of the Spouses Gotangco
dated February 18, 1983 to Cucio for the total amount of P21,000.00. The on the DBP or the principal of their loan account amounted to
DBP informed Jacinto Gotangco, on February 18, 1983, of the said P246,183.74. 13The DBP then wrote the Spouses Gotangco reminding them
remittances made by Cucio. 8It also requested the Spouses Gotangco to that their loan would mature on June 30, 1991.
turn over the owner's copy of the title over the property covered by TD No.
0502 so that it could effect the substitution of the seven (7) parcels of land Cucio then filed a complaint against the Spouses Gotangco and the DBP
mortgaged by the Spouses Gotangco for the said lot. with the RTC of Palayan City for injunction and damages. Cucio
alleged, inter alia, that despite his payment of the full purchase price of the
Subsequently, the Spouses Gotangco were able to secure a sales patent seven (7) parcels of land covered by TCT Nos. NT-166092 to NT-166098
over the parcel of land covered by TD. No. 0502, on the basis of which TCT and his demands for the turnover of the owner's duplicates of the said title
No. NT-177647 was issued by the Register of Deeds on March 23, 1983. to the Spouses Gotangco, the DBP refused to do so. He further alleged that
Conformably to the request of DBP, the Spouses Gotangco turned over the the DBP even demanded the payment of the interest on the loan account of
owner's duplicate of TCT No. NT-177647, and the mortgage executed in the Spouses Gotangco. Furthermore, the Spouses Gotangco refused to
favor of DBP was duly annotated at the back of the said title. DBP kept the
execute a deed of absolute sale of the said parcels of land in his favor. WHEREFORE, facts and premises considered, it is most
Cucio prayed that, after due proceedings, judgment be rendered in his favor, respectfully prayed that JUDGMENT BE RENDERED:
thus:
1. DISMISSING THE COMPLAINT for lack of
WHEREFORE, it is respectfully prayed that a Writ of cause of action and other grounds stated
Preliminary Mandatory Injunction be issued ordering in the Special and Affirmative Defenses;
defendants Jacinto Gotangco and Charity Bantug to
execute the final Deed of Sale over TCT Nos. NT-166092, 2. ON COUNTERCLAIM, condemning the plaintiff
NT-166093, NT-166094, NT-166095, NT-166096, NT- to pay moral damages of P100,000.00,
166097 and NT-166098 and to submit additional attorney's fees of P25,000.00, more or
collaterals to the Development Bank of the Philippines less, and litigation expenses of
(DBP) and the DBP to release the owner's copies of said P10,000.00;
titles from its possession and deliver them to plaintiff. 3. By way of cross-claim, ordering the other
After hearing, making the preliminary injunction permanent defendant DBP to pay whatever amount
and ordering the defendants, jointly and severally, to pay the defendants Gotangcos may suffer in
plaintiff moral damages, the amount of which is left to the the event they may be adjudged liable to
sound discretion of the Honorable Court; actual damages the plaintiff. TEcCHD
of P50,000.00; attorney's fee of P30,000.00 and the cost GRANTING UNTO THE DEFENDANTS SPOUSES
of the suit. GOTANGCO reliefs and other remedies just and proper
Plaintiff prays for other remedies under the premises. 14 under the premises and the law. 17

The Spouses Gotangco filed their answer 15 with counterclaim, alleging that In its answer, 18 the DBP admitted that it charged Cucio interest on the
they could not be faulted for their failure to execute a deed of sale in favor of Spouses Gotangco's loan; however, it denied that it consented to the
Cucio over the said parcels of land because the latter did not notify them transaction between the Spouses Gotangco relative to the seven (7) parcels
that he had already made the complete payment of the P50,000.00 of land claimed by Cucio. In its answer to the cross-claim, 19 the DBP,
purchase price thereof to DBP. According to the Spouses Gotangco, likewise, admitted receiving the P50,000.00 purchase price of the seven
considering that the DBP had given its implied consent to the contract to parcels of land from Cucio but only as deposit, and agreeing verbally to the
sell over the subject parcels of land, it was the DBP's obligation to release release of the properties, but only after the Spouses Gotangco shall have
the titles after complete payment was made, following the submission to it fulfilled the conditions set forth in the real estate mortgage. It further alleged
of TCT No. NT-177647, the substitute collateral for their loan. that the Spouses Gotangco failed to comply with the said conditions, and
that their account remained dormant; hence, it refused to release the
In their cross-claim against the DBP, the Spouses Gotangco alleged the owner's duplicate copies of the titles of the properties to the Spouses
following: Gotangco.
24. That on account of non-approval of loan and non- While the case was pending, the DBP informed the Spouses Gotangco in a
release of collaterals/securities by the DBP, the Letter dated February 20, 1990 20 that it was going to have the mortgage
defendants Gotangcos were unnecessarily foreclosed for their failure to settle their account. Jacinto Gotangco arrived
dragged into litigation by the plaintiff where the at the Cabanatuan branch office of the DBP to ascertain the balance of his
DBP alone should have been sued in the first bank account but received no satisfactory answer. But the DBP sent a
place, for all these, the DBP alone should suffer if letter 21 to the Spouses Gotangco on May 24, 1990, warning them anew
ever the Spouses Gotangco will be adjudged that it would institute foreclosure proceedings for their failure to fulfill their
liable to the plaintiff; for all the damages. 16 loan obligations which already amounted to P737,474.33 as of April 30,
1990. On June 8, 1990, the Spouses Gotangco wrote the DBP requesting
The Spouses Gotangco prayed that, after due proceedings, judgment be
for an updated statement of their account and the application of their
rendered in their favor, thus:
payments, inclusive of the proceeds of their insurance claims. 22
(1) Ordering DBP to release the owner's duplicate
certificates of TCT Nos. NT-166092 to NT-166098 to the
On the same date, the DBP filed an application for the extrajudicial Gotangcos;
foreclosure of the real estate mortgage executed in its favor by the Spouses
Gotangco. 23 Appended to the application was a statement of account of (2) Declaring the owner's duplicate certificate TCT No. NT-
the Spouses. On June 7, 1990, Deputy Sheriff Rubentito Elonia issued a 177647 in the name of the Gotangcos as a replacement
Notice of Sale set on June 28, 1990 to satisfy the obligation of the Spouses thereof as their collateral to their restructured loan with
Gotangco to the DBP. 24 DBP;

The Spouses Gotangco wrote DBP anew, on June 14, 1990, protesting the (3) Ordering the Gotangcos to, thereafter, execute a deed
foreclosure, claiming that they owed DBP only the amount of P246,183.74 of absolute sale covering the properties described in TCT
as of October 31, 1988. 25 However, the DBP was undaunted. Nos. NT-166092 to NT-166098 in favor of Cucio;

The Spouses Gotangco forthwith filed a petition before the trial court for a (4) Declaring the writ of preliminary injunction issued on
writ of preliminary injunction 26 to enjoin the public auction, alleging that the November 12, 1990, enjoining DBP from foreclosing the
extrajudicial foreclosure of the real estate in favor of the DBP would render properties of the Gotangcos covered by TCT No. NT-
the decision of the court on the merits moot and academic. 27 166092 to NT-166098 and TCT No. NT-177647 and from
the scheduled auction sale thereof permanent;
The DBP opposed the motion, contending that the balance of the account of
the Spouses Gotangco as of April 30, 1990 was P737,474.33, exclusive of (5) Ordering DBP to pay the Gotangcos the sum of
interests and expenses. 28 P250,000.00 as moral damages; and

The trial court issued a Temporary Restraining Order dated June 26, 1990. (6) Ordering DBP to pay costs. 34
After due hearing, the trial court issued an Order on October 4, 1990,
The trial court declared that the DBP was legally bound to release the
granting the petition of the Spouses Gotangco for a writ of preliminary
Spouses Gotangco's owner's duplicate of the certificates of title over the
injunction on a bond of P50,000.00 pending the resolution of the matters
seven (7) parcels of land; the latter, in turn, could execute a deed of sale
raised in the main case. 29 A writ of preliminary injunction was issued by the
over the property covered by TCT No. NT-177647 in favor of Cucio. The trial
trial court after the Spouses Gotangco posted a bond of P50,000.00.
court further ruled that the DBP prematurely sought the extrajudicial
Consequently, the writ was issued on November 12, 1990. 30
foreclosure of the mortgaged properties considering that as of September
The trial court issued a subpoena duces tecum to the cashier of the DBP in 30, 1989, the outstanding loan balance of the Spouses Gotangco was
Cabanatuan City for the production of the Spouses Gotangco's bank P246,183.74 with maturity date set on June 30, 1991; and yet the DBP
records reflecting the balance of their account. However, the cashier failed foreclosed the mortgage extrajudicially for the amount of P737,474.33. It
to comply. 31 During the trial, Jacinto Gotangco testified that he suffered declared that the extrajudicial foreclosure of the mortgage was evidently
mental anguish and serious anxieties because of the threatened extrajudicial made in bad faith and meant to harass the Spouses Gotangco during the
foreclosure of the real estate mortgage in favor of DBP. Charity Gotangco pendency of the case. As such, according to the trial court, the DBP was
failed to testify. The Spouses also adduced in evidence the statement of liable for moral damages to the said Spouses.
their account from the DBP. 32 On appeal by the DBP, the CA affirmed the decision, but reduced the award
On February 8, 1992, Jacinto Gotangco died intestate and was survived by of moral damages to P50,000.00. The fallo of the decision of the CA reads:
his wife Charity Bantug Gotangco and their children, Jojina Ann Gotangco,
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the decision of the
Jaime Gotangco and Jacinto B. Gotangco, Jr. 33 Regional Trial Court of Palayan City, Nueva Ecija, Branch
On April 14, 1992, the RTC rendered judgment as follows: 40, in Civil Case No. 0061-P is AFFIRMED with
modifications. Appellant DBP is hereby ordered to release
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered: the owner's duplicate certificates of TCT Nos. NT-166092
to NT-166098 to the Gotangcos and the Gotangco
spouses to execute the Deed of Sale in favor of Elpidio O.
Cucio who shall cause the annotation of the mortgage in abuse is shown or such findings are contrary to the evidence on record or
favor of DBP at the back of the new certificates of title in are not supported by preponderant evidence. 38
his name. Appellant DBP is further ordered to pay the
amount of P50,000.00 as moral damages to the The petitioner asserts that it had the right to enforce its mortgage lien over
Gotangcos. No pronouncement as to costs. 35 the property notwithstanding the transfer of ownership over the same to a
third party. It contends that it had the right to institute foreclosure
The appellate court modified its decision on motion of the DBP, as follows: proceedings, considering that the respondents Spouses Gotangco failed to
comply with the terms of the real estate mortgage executed in favor of DBP.
WHEREFORE, premises considered; the decision of the The petitioner argues that, with the permanent writ of preliminary injunction
Regional Trial Court of Palayan City, Nueva Ecija, Branch issued by the trial court against the petitioner as affirmed by the respondent
40, in Civil Case No. 0061-P, is AFFIRMED with court, the petitioner, is forever barred from foreclosing the properties
modifications. Appellant DBP is hereby ordered to release mortgaged in the event the loan obligation is never paid, in contravention
the owner's duplicate certificates of TCT Nos. NT-166092 with the provisions of Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 385. 39 It posits that it
to 166098 to the Gotangcos and the Gotangco spouses to cannot be held liable for moral damages for exercising its right under the
execute the Deed of Sale in favor of Elpidio O. Cucio who real estate mortgage and the law. The petitioner further argues that, even if
shall cause the annotation of the mortgage in favor of the respondents Spouses Gotangco suffered mental anguish as a result of
DBP at the back of the new certificates of title in his the foreclosure, the same qualifies as damnum absque injuria. Besides, the
name. Thereafter, pursuant to the subsisting mortgage foreclosure did not push through because of the trial court's injunction
agreements, DBP shall be entitled to the possession of the order; hence, there was no damage done to the respondents Spouses
new certificates of title until the mortgage indebtedness is Gotangco.
fully satisfied. Appellant DBP is further ordered to pay the
amount of P50,000.00 as moral damages to the There is merit in petitioner's contention.
Gotangcos. No pronouncement as to costs. 36
The petitioner and the CA, however, misconstrued the width and breadth of
The Present Petition the permanent injunction issued by the RTC and affirmed by the CA, as well
as the purpose of the trial court in issuing the said writ.
The DBP, now the petitioner, filed the instant petition raising as errors the
following: It bears stressing that an injunction order must be as definite, clear and
precise as possible and, when practicable, it should inform the defendant of
1. THE PERMANENT INJUNCTION ISSUED BY THE
the act he is refrained from doing, without calling on him for inferences or
TRIAL COURT AND AFFIRMED BY THE RESPONDENT
conclusions about which persons might well differ. A permanent injunction
COURT OF APPEALS EFFECTIVELY NULLIFIES DBP'S
should not be more comprehensive or restrictive than justified by the
MORTGAGE LIEN OVER THE PROPERTIES AND WILL
pleadings, evidence and usages of equity. 40 Such must be tailored to each
CONTRAVENE THE MANDATORY PROVISIONS OF P.D.
case; they should not infringe upon a conduct that does not produce the
NO. 385. cEITCA
harm sought to be avoided. 41 An injunction should be limited to the
2. THERE IS NEITHER FACTUAL NOR LEGAL BASIS FOR requirements of the case. 42An injunctive order should never be broader
THE GRANT OF MORAL DAMAGES IN FAVOR OF THE than is necessary to secure [to] the injured party, without injustice to the
GOTANGCOS AS AGAINST PETITIONER DBP. 37 adversary, relief warranted by the circumstances of the particular case. The
order should be adequately particularized, especially where some activities
Prefatorily, the issue of whether or not the petitioner caused the extrajudicial may be permissible and proper. 43
foreclosure of the real estate mortgage to harass the respondents, the
Spouses Gotangco, despite the pendency of the case before the trial court, Obviously, the trial court issued a permanent injunction to enjoin the
is one of fact. Under Rule 45 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, only questions petitioner from pursuing its application for the extrajudicial foreclosure of the
of law may be raised in this Court on petition for review on certiorari. real estate mortgage on May 24, 1990 and the sale at public auction of the
However, the Court may delve into and resolve questions of facts if grave property covered by the said mortgage, on its finding that the petitioner
failed to prove how much was the balance of the account of the
respondents Spouses Gotangco to the petitioner as of said date during the exhibit speaks of Mayor Cucio's purchase of the
trial. The RTC did not perpetually foreclose the right of the petitioner to file, properties mortgaged by the Gotangcos with the DBP.
under any and all circumstances, another application for the extrajudicial This is precisely the cause of action of Mayor Cucio
foreclosure of the said mortgage for failure of the respondents spouses to against the Gotangcos who, in turn, filed a cross-claim
pay the correct balance of their account secured by the said mortgage. against the DBP.
Otherwise, it would have deprived the petitioner of its right to foreclose the
real estate mortgage, to cause the sale of the property at public auction and What actually is left for the determination of the Court now
collect the balance of the account of the respondents spouses as provided during the hearing on the merits of the main case is
for under the Real Estate Mortgage and the New Civil Code. 44 It would whether or not Mayor Cucio has completed the payment
have given the Spouses carte blanche not to pay the balance of their of the agreed price on the mortgaged properties of the
account to the petitioner without the mortgage being foreclosed by the Gotangcos with the DBP so that the DBP will finally be
latter. The trial court would have deprived the petitioner of its lien over the ordered to release the owner's duplicate certificates of
property without due process of law. TCT No. NT-166092 to NT-166098 and for the Gotangcos
to execute the final deed of sale thereon in the event that
DBP fails (1) to prove that it did not give its consent or
express conformity to the contract to sell executed
It must be noted that the petitioner had a mortgage lien over the parcels of between Mayor Cucio and the Gotangcos; and (2) to
land covered by the real estate mortgage. It is a right in rem, a lien on the prove that the Gotangcos failed to comply with the
property. 45 Like an attachment lien, it is a vested interest, an actual and alleged conditions for the release of the properties
substantial security, affording specific security for the satisfaction of the (record, pp. 39-40).
debt put in suit, which constitutes a cloud on the legal title. 46 The lien
subsists until the destruction thereof by sale of the property. 47 Pending resolution on the matters raised in the main case,
to allow foreclosure of the properties by the DBP at this
Patently, the trial court issued the writ of preliminary injunction not so much time would, indeed, render the main case nugatory and
because of the failure of the respondents Spouses Gotangco to pay at least ineffectual. 48
20% of their account as provided for in Section 1 of P.D. No. 385, but
because of the then still unresolved issue of whether the petitioner was Indeed, the trial court made it clear that it granted the petition of the
obliged to turn over the owner's duplicate copies of TCT Nos. NT-166092 to respondents Spouses Gotangco for the issuance of a writ of preliminary
NT-166098 to the respondents Spouses Gotangco even after the latter had injunction "pending resolution on the matters raised in the main
substituted the property covered by TCT No. NT-177647 as security for their case." 49 The Spouses Gotangco, in fact, declared in their motion for a writ
loan. This is indubitable from the Order of the trial court dated October 4, of preliminary injunction that they filed the said motion to prevent the issues
1990 granting the petition of the respondents Spouses Gotangco for the in the main case from becoming moot and academic. HAICET
issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction:
The trial court had already resolved the matter in its decision when it ruled
The right of the Gotangcos over the subject properties that the petitioner was obliged to turn over the owner's duplicate certificates
sought to be protected at this stage of the proceedings in of said titles over the seven parcels of land to the respondents Spouses
the case filed against them by Elpidio O. Cucio consists Gotangco to enable the latter to execute a deed of sale over the said
not so much against the lack of legal and factual basis on property in favor of Cucio. In a real sense, the writ of preliminary injunction
the part of the DBP in foreclosing their properties because issued by the RTC had become functus officio. There was no longer a valid
their arrearages on their account with it fall short of the justification for the issuance of a permanent injunction to perpetually enjoin
requirement under Sec. 1 of PD 385, but more on the the petitioner from foreclosing the real estate mortgage.
liability of the DBP to release the owner's duplicate
In affirming the decision of the RTC, permanently enjoining the petitioner
certificates of TCT Nos. NT-166092 to NT-166098 in view
from foreclosing the real estate mortgage in its favor, the CA ruled that since
of their having already substituted them with TCT No. NT-
the trial court failed to determine the exact amount of the balance of the
177647 covering the parcel of land under Tax Declaration
account of the respondents Spouses Gotangco due to the petitioner's
No. 0502 (Exh. 5, Injunction, record, p. 106). In fact, said
refusal to produce before the trial court the records showing the balance of
the account of the respondents spouses, it cannot be determined whether duty to prove the same. 53 Good faith refers to the state of the mind which
the latter failed to pay the twenty percent (20%) of their total outstanding is manifested by the acts of the individual concerned. It consists of the
obligation as envisaged in Section 1 of P.D. No. 385. 50 intention to abstain from taking an unconscionable and unscrupulous
advantage of another. Bad faith does not simply connote bad judgment or
We do not agree with the CA. For one thing, no less than the respondents simple negligence, dishonest purpose or some moral obliquity and
Spouses Gotangco adduced in evidence the statement of account issued by conscious doing of a wrong, a breach of known duty due to some motives
the petitioner showing the balance of their account. 51 or interest or ill-will that partakes of the nature of fraud. 54 Malice connotes
For another, the trial court itself decided that it issued its order granting the ill-will or spite and speaks not in response to duty. It implies an intention to
petition of the respondents Spouses Gotangco not so much because of the do ulterior and unjustifiable harm. Malice is bad faith or bad motive. 55
latter's failure to pay at least 20% of their total outstanding obligation to the The Spouses Gotangco failed to prove malice on the part of the petitioner.
DBP, but because the extrajudicial foreclosure of the real estate mortgage There was, for sure, a divergence of opinion between the petitioner, on the
would render moot and academic the issues raised by the parties in the one hand, and the Spouses Gotangco, on the other, relative to the issue of
case. One of these issues was whether the petitioner was obliged to turn whether Cucio's payments were mere deposits or partial payments for the
over the owner's duplicate copies of TCT Nos. NT-166092 to NT-166098 to lot covered by TCT No. NT-177647, and whether the respondents Spouses
the respondents spouses to enable them to execute a deed of absolute sale Gotangco had agreed to the offer of the pool of insurers to pay the amount
over the said lots covered by the said titles to the petitioner. The failure of of P167,149.14 as indemnity for the loss of their poultry farm. However, the
the cashier of the Cabanatuan branch of the DBP to produce the DBP bare fact that the petitioner filed its application of the extrajudicial
records showing the precise balance of the account of the respondents foreclosure of the mortgage, notwithstanding those differences, cannot
spouses is not and should not be a justification to perpetually deprive the thereby give rise to the conclusion that the petitioner did so with malice, to
petitioner of its right to foreclose the mortgage. harass the Spouses Gotangco. The records show that, time and again, the
On the issue of moral damages, we agree with the trial court and the CA that petitioner had sent notices to the respondents spouses and demanded the
the initiation of extrajudicial foreclosure by the petitioner of the real estate updating of their account and the payment of the balance thereof, but the
mortgage pendente lite was premature; hence, inappropriate. Although the respondents spouses failed to comply. In the meantime, interests and
Spouses Gotangco failed to heed the petitioner's repeated demands for the penalties on the loan considerably accrued. Under the terms of the real
updating of their account and the payment of the balance of the loan, it estate mortgage and its charter, the petitioner had the right to foreclose the
behooved the petitioner to tarry until the trial court had decided, with finality, said mortgage extrajudicially. Hence, the petitioner was constrained to file
the case on its merits. its application for the extrajudicial foreclosure of the mortgage for the
Spouses Gotangco's past due obligation. Instead of settling their account,
Nevertheless, we find no sufficient basis for the award of moral damages in the Spouses filed their petition for writ of preliminary injunction. Because of
favor of the respondents spouses based on Article 19 of the New Civil Code the preliminary injunction issued by the trial court, the foreclosure was
as a result of petitioner's application for foreclosure of real estate mortgage. aborted. Under the circumstances, it cannot be gainsaid that the petitioner
For one thing, Charity Bantug Gotangco did not testify. There is no factual acted in bad faith or with malice in seeking the extrajudicial foreclosure of
basis for the award of moral damages in her favor. the mortgage in its favor.
Abuse of right under Article 19 of the New Civil Code, on which the RTC IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is PARTIALLY GRANTED.
anchored its award for damages and attorney's fees, provides: The assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED WITH
MODIFICATION. The permanent injunction issued by the Regional Trial
Art. 19. Every person must, in the exercise of his rights
Court, as affirmed by the Court of Appeals; and the award for moral
and in the performance of his duties, act with justice, give
damages in favor of the Spouses Jacinto Gotangco and Charity Bantug are
everyone his due, and observe honesty and good faith.
DELETED. No costs. aCHDAE
The elements of abuse of rights are the following: (a) the existence of a legal
right or duty; (b) which is exercised in bad faith; and (c) for the sole intent of
prejudicing or injuring another. Malice or bad faith is at the core of said SO ORDERED.
provision. 52 Good faith is presumed and he who alleges bad faith has the
Puno, Tinga and Chico-Nazario, JJ ., concur.
Austria-Martinez, J ., took no part. of Bai Tonina Sepi to sell the property to him, thereby violating his leasehold
rights over it.
||| (Development Bank of the Phils. v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 137916,
[December 8, 2004], 487 PHIL 9-31) In his answer to the complaint, petitioner denied that he induced the heirs of
Bai Tonina to sell the property to him, contending that the heirs were in dire
need of money to pay off the obligations of the deceased. He also denied
interfering with private respondent's leasehold rights as there was no lease
THIRD DIVISION contract covering the property when he purchased it; that his personal
investigation and inquiry revealed no claims or encumbrances on the subject
lots.
[G.R. No. 119107. March 18, 2005.]
Petitioner claimed that before he bought the property, he went to Atty.
JOSE V. LAGON, petitioner, vs. HONORABLE COURT Benjamin Fajardo, the lawyer who allegedly notarized the lease contract
OF APPEALS and MENANDRO V. LAPUZ, respondents. between private respondent and Bai Tonina Sepi, to verify if the parties
indeed renewed the lease contract after it expired in 1974. Petitioner averred
that Atty. Fajardo showed him four copies of the lease renewal but these
were all unsigned. To refute the existence of a lease contract, petitioner
DECISION presented in court a certification from the Office of the Clerk of Court
confirming that no record of any lease contract notarized by Atty. Fajardo
had been entered into their files. Petitioner added that he only learned of the
alleged lease contract when he was informed that private respondent was
CORONA, J p: collecting rent from the tenants of the building.

On June 23, 1982, petitioner Jose Lagon purchased from the estate of Bai Finding the complaint for tortuous interference to be unwarranted, petitioner
Tonina Sepi, through an intestate court, 1 two parcels of land located at filed his counterclaim and prayed for the payment of actual and moral
Tacurong, Sultan Kudarat. A few months after the sale, private respondent damages.
Menandro Lapuz filed a complaint for torts and damages against petitioner
On July 29, 1986, the court a quo found for private respondent (plaintiff
before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Sultan Kudarat.
below):
In the complaint, private respondent, as then plaintiff, claimed that he
ACCORDINGLY, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of
entered into a contract of lease with the late Bai Tonina Sepi Mengelen
the plaintiff:
Guiabar over three parcels of land (the "property") in Sultan Kudarat,
Maguindanao beginning 1964. One of the provisions agreed upon was for 1. Declaring the "Contract of Lease" executed by Bai
private respondent to put up commercial buildings which would, in turn, be Tonina Sepi Mangelen Guiabar in favor of the
leased to new tenants. The rentals to be paid by those tenants would plaintiff on November 6, 1974 (Exh. "A" and "A-1")
answer for the rent private respondent was obligated to pay Bai Tonina Sepi over Lot No. 6395, Pls-73. Lot No. 6396. Pls.-73.
for the lease of the land. In 1974, the lease contract ended but since the Lot No. 6399. 3ls-73, and Lot No. 9777-A. CSD-
construction of the commercial buildings had yet to be completed, the lease 11-000076-D (Lot No. 3-A. 40124), all situated
contract was allegedly renewed. along Ledesma St., Tacurong, Sultan Kudarat,
which document was notarized by Atty. Benjamin
When Bai Tonina Sepi died, private respondent started remitting his rent to
S. Fajardo, Sr. and entered into his notarial
the court-appointed administrator of her estate. But when the administrator
register as Doc. No. 619. Page No. 24. Book No.
advised him to stop collecting rentals from the tenants of the buildings he
II. Series of 1974, to be authentic and genuine and
constructed, he discovered that petitioner, representing himself as the new
as such valid and binding for a period of ten (10)
owner of the property, had been collecting rentals from the tenants. He thus
years specified thereon from November 1, 1974
filed a complaint against the latter, accusing petitioner of inducing the heirs
up to October 31, 1984;
2. Declaring the plaintiff as the lawful owner of the h) Expenses of litigation in the amount of Sixty
commercial buildings found on the aforesaid lots Two Thousand Five Hundred Pesos,
and he is entitled to their possession and the (P62,500.00);
collection (of rentals) of the said commercial
buildings within the period covered by this i) Interest on the moral damages, actual or
"Contract of Lease" in his favor; compensatory damages temperate or
moderate damages, nominal damages,
3. Ordering the defendant to pay to the plaintiff the attorney's fees and expenses of litigation
following: in the amounts as specified hereinabove
from May 24, 1982 up to June 27, 1986,
a) Rentals of the commercial buildings on the lots in the total amount of Nine Hundred
covered by the "Contract of Lease" in Thousand Pesos (P900,000.00); all of
favor of the plaintiff for the period from which will continue to bear interests at a
October 1, 1978 up to October 31, 1984, legal rate of 12% per annum until the
including accrued interests in the total whole amounts are fully paid by the
amount of Five Hundred Six Thousand defendants to the plaintiffs;
Eight Hundred Five Pesos and Fifty Six
Centavos (P506, 850.56), the same to 4. For failure of the defendant to deposit with this Court all
continue to bear interest at the legal rate the rentals he had collected from the thirteen (13)
of 12% per annum until the whole amount tenants or occupants of the commercial buildings
is fully paid by the defendant to the in question, the plaintiff is hereby restored to the
plaintiff; jur2005cda possession of his commercial buildings for a
period of seventy-three (73) months which is the
b) Moral damages in the amount of One Million equivalent of the total period for which he was
Sixty Two Thousand Five Hundred Pesos prevented from collecting the rentals from the
(P1,062,500.00); tenants or occupants of his commercial buildings
c) Actual or compensatory damages in the from October 1, 1978 up to October 31, 1984, and
amount of Three Hundred Twelve for this purpose a Writ of Preliminary Injunction is
Thousand Five Hundred Pesos hereby issued, but the plaintiff is likewise ordered
(P312,500.00); to pay to the defendant the monthly rental of
Seven Hundred Pesos (P700.00) every end of the
d) Exemplary or corrective damages in the month for the entire period of seventy three (73)
amount of One Hundred Eighty Thousand months. This portion of the judgment should be
Five Hundred Pesos (P187,500.00) considered as a mere alternative should the
defendant fail to pay the amount of Five Hundred
e) Temperate or moderate damages in the amount
Five Pesos and Fifty Six Centavos (P506,805.56)
of Sixty Two Thousand Five Hundred
hereinabove specified;
Pesos (P62,500.00);
5. Dismissing the counterclaim interposed by the
f) Nominal damages in the amount of Sixty Two
defendant for lack of merit;
Thousand Five Hundred Pesos
(P62,500.00); 6. With costs against the defendant. 2
g) Attorney's fees in the amount of One Hundred Petitioner appealed the judgment to the Court of Appeals. 3 In a decision
Twenty Five Thousand Pesos dated January 31, 1995, 4 the appellate court modified the assailed
(P125,000.00); judgment of the trial court as follows:
a) The award for moral damages, compensatory damages, 3. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in holding
exemplary damages, temperate or moderate petitioner liable for actual damages and attorney's
damages, and nominal damages as well as fees, and;
expenses of litigation in the amount of P62,500.00
and interests under paragraph 3-a(a), (b), (c), (d), 4. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in dismissing
(e), (f), (g), (h), and (i) are deleted; petitioner's counterclaims. 6

b) The award for attorney's fees is reduced to P30,000.00; Article 1314 of the Civil Code provides that any third person who induces
another to violate his contract shall be liable for damages to the other
c) Paragraphs 1, 2, 5 and 6 are AFFIRMED; contracting party. The tort recognized in that provision is known as
interference with contractual relations. 7 The interference is penalized
d) Additionally, the defendant is hereby ordered to pay to
because it violates the property rights of a party in a contract to reap the
the plaintiff by way of actual damages the sum of
benefits that should result therefrom. 8
P178,425.00 representing the amount of rentals
he collected from the period of October 1978 to The core issue here is whether the purchase by petitioner of the subject
August 1983, and minus the amount of property, during the supposed existence of private respondent's lease
P42,700.00 representing rentals due the contract with the late Bai Tonina Sepi, constituted tortuous interference for
defendant computed at P700.00 per month for the which petitioner should be held liable for damages.
period from August 1978 to August 1983, with
interest thereon at the rate until the same is fully
paid; The Court, in the case of So Ping Bun v. Court of Appeals, 9 laid down the
e) Paragraph 4 is deleted. 5 elements of tortuous interference with contractual relations: (a) existence of
a valid contract; (b) knowledge on the part of the third person of the
Before the appellate court, petitioner disclaimed knowledge of any lease existence of the contract and (c) interference of the third person without
contract between the late Bai Tonina Sepi and private respondent. On the legal justification or excuse. In that case, petitioner So Ping Bun occupied
other hand, private respondent insisted that it was impossible for petitioner the premises which the corporation of his grandfather was leasing from
not to know about the contract since the latter was aware that he was private respondent, without the knowledge and permission of the
collecting rentals from the tenants of the building. While the appellate court corporation. The corporation, prevented from using the premises for its
disbelieved the contentions of both parties, it nevertheless held that, for business, sued So Ping Bun for tortuous interference.
petitioner to become liable for damages, he must have known of the lease
contract and must have also acted with malice or bad faith when he bought As regards the first element, the existence of a valid contract must be duly
the subject parcels of land. established. To prove this, private respondent presented in court a notarized
copy of the purported lease renewal. 10 While the contract appeared as duly
Via this petition for review, petitioner cites the following reasons why the notarized, the notarization thereof, however, only proved its due execution
Court should rule in his favor: and delivery but not the veracity of its contents. Nonetheless, after
undergoing the rigid scrutiny of petitioner's counsel and after the trial court
1. The Honorable Court of Appeals seriously erred in
declared it to be valid and subsisting, the notarized copy of the lease
holding that petitioner is liable for interference of
contract presented in court appeared to be incontestable proof that private
contractual relation under Article 1314 of the New
respondent and the late Bai Tonina Sepi actually renewed their lease
Civil Code;
contract. Settled is the rule that until overcome by clear, strong and
2. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in not holding convincing evidence, a notarized document continues to be prima
that private respondent is precluded from facie evidence of the facts that gave rise to its execution and delivery. 11
recovering, if at all, because of laches;
The second element, on the other hand, requires that there be knowledge
on the part of the interferer that the contract exists. Knowledge of the
subsistence of the contract is an essential element to state a cause of action
for tortuous interference. 12 A defendant in such a case cannot be made . . ., as a general rule, justification for interfering with the
liable for interfering with a contract he is unaware of. 13 While it is not business relations of another exists where the actor's
necessary to prove actual knowledge, he must nonetheless be aware of the motive is to benefit himself. Such justification does not
facts which, if followed by a reasonable inquiry, will lead to a complete exist where the actor's motive is to cause harm to the
disclosure of the contractual relations and rights of the parties in the other. Added to this, some authorities believe that it is not
contract. 14 necessary that the interferer's interest outweigh that of the
party whose rights are invaded, and that an individual acts
In this case, petitioner claims that he had no knowledge of the lease under an economic interest that is substantial, not
contract. His sellers (the heirs of Bai Tonina Sepi) likewise allegedly did not merely de minimis, such that wrongful and malicious
inform him of any existing lease contract. motives are negatived, for he acts in self-protection.
After a careful perusal of the records, we find the contention of petitioner Moreover, justification for protecting one's financial
meritorious. He conducted his own personal investigation and inquiry, and position should not be made to depend on a comparison
unearthed no suspicious circumstance that would have made a cautious of his economic interest in the subject matter with that of
man probe deeper and watch out for any conflicting claim over the property. the others. It is sufficient if the impetus of his conduct lies
An examination of the entire property's title bore no indication of the in a proper business interest rather than in wrongful
leasehold interest of private respondent. Even the registry of property had motives. 20
no record of the same. 15 The foregoing disquisition applies squarely to the case at bar. In our view,
Assuming ex gratia argumenti that petitioner knew of the contract, such petitioner's purchase of the subject property was merely an advancement of
knowledge alone was not sufficient to make him liable for tortuous his financial or economic interests, absent any proof that he was enthused
interference. Which brings us to the third element. According to our ruling by improper motives. In the very early case of Gilchrist v. Cuddy, 21 the
in So Ping Bun, petitioner may be held liable only when there was no legal Court declared that a person is not a malicious interferer if his conduct is
justification or excuse for his action 16 or when his conduct was stirred by a impelled by a proper business interest. In other words, a financial or profit
wrongful motive. To sustain a case for tortuous interference, the defendant motivation will not necessarily make a person an officious interferer liable for
must have acted with malice 17 or must have been driven by purely impious damages as long as there is no malice or bad faith involved.
reasons to injure the plaintiff. In other words, his act of interference cannot In sum, we rule that, inasmuch as not all three elements to hold petitioner
be justified. 18 liable for tortuous interference are present, petitioner cannot be made to
Furthermore, the records do not support the allegation of private respondent answer for private respondent's losses.
that petitioner induced the heirs of Bai Tonina Sepi to sell the property to This case is one of damnun absque injuria or damage without injury. "Injury"
him. The word "induce" refers to situations where a person causes another is the legal invasion of a legal right while "damage" is the hurt, loss or harm
to choose one course of conduct by persuasion or intimidation. 19 The which results from the injury. 22 In BPI Express Card Corporation v. Court of
records show that the decision of the heirs of the late Bai Tonina Sepi to sell Appeals, 23 the Court turned down the claim for damages of a cardholder
the property was completely of their own volition and that petitioner did whose credit card had been cancelled by petitioner corporation after several
absolutely nothing to influence their judgment. Private respondent himself defaults in payment. We held there that there can be damage without injury
did not proffer any evidence to support his claim. In short, even assuming where the loss or harm is not the result of a violation of a legal duty. In that
that private respondent was able to prove the renewal of his lease contract instance, the consequences must be borne by the injured person alone
with Bai Tonina Sepi, the fact was that he was unable to prove malice or bad since the law affords no remedy for damages resulting from an act which
faith on the part of petitioner in purchasing the property. Therefore, the claim does not amount to legal injury or wrong. 24 Indeed, lack of malice in the
of tortuous interference was never established. conduct complained of precludes recovery of damages. 25
In So Ping Bun, the Court discussed whether interference can be justified at With respect to the attorney's fees awarded by the appellate court to private
all if the interferer acts for the sole purpose of furthering a personal financial respondent, we rule that it cannot be recovered under the
interest, but without malice or bad faith. As the Court explained it: circumstances. According to Article 2208 of the Civil Code, attorney's fees
may be awarded only when it has been stipulated upon or under the
instances provided therein. 26 Likewise, being in the concept of actual Abbas Abundiente & Associates Law Offices for petitioner.
damages, the award for attorney's fees must have clear, factual and legal
Fernan Mercado Cordero Dela Torre & Bael for private respondent.
bases 27 which, in this case, do not exist.
Arsenio C. Pascual, Jr. for respondents Sisters of Mercy, Sis R. Palacio & Dr.
Regarding the dismissal of petitioner's counterclaim for actual and moral
damages, the appellate court affirmed the assailed order of the trial court M. Blanes.
because it found no basis to grant the amount of damages prayed for by
petitioner. We find no reason to reverse the trial court and the Court of
SYNOPSIS
Appeals. Actual damages are those awarded in satisfaction of, or in
recompense for, loss or injury sustained. To be recoverable, they must not
only be capable of proof but must actually be proved with a reasonable Petitioners, wife and children of the deceased patient, Jorge Reyes,
degree of certainty. 28 Petitioner was unable to prove that he suffered loss appealed from the decision of the Court of Appeals and the trial court which
or injury, hence, his claim for actual damages must fail. Moreover, dismissed their complaint for damages for medical practice filed against the
petitioner's prayer for moral damages was not warranted as moral damages doctors who attended Jorge Reyes.
should result from the wrongful act of a person. The worries and anxieties
suffered by a party hailed to court litigation are not compensable. 29 The trial court and the Court of Appeals required expert opinion on the
alleged breach by respondents of the standard of care required under the
With the foregoing discussion, we no longer deem it necessary to delve into circumstances. Expert witnesses, however, testified that due care had been
the issue of laches. exercised and the service or treatment rendered followed the usual
procedure of those skilled in that particular practice.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The
assailed decision of the Court of Appeals is hereby REVERSED and SET Petitioners claimed that expert testimony was not necessary, rather the
ASIDE. doctrine of res ipsa loquitur should have been applied in determining the
doctors' failure to observe due care which is immediately apparent to a
No costs. layman. Jorge Reyes was brought to the hospital merely experiencing fever
SO ORDERED. and chills for five days, but he was fully conscious, coherent and ambulant,
when he went to the hospital. Due to their acts of negligence in their
Panganiban, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio Morales and Garcia, JJ., concur. treatment of Jorge Reyes, the latter died after only ten hours from the time
of his admission.
||| (Lagon v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 119107, [March 18, 2005], 493 PHIL
739-751) The Supreme Court ruled that expert testimony was essential in determining
the reasonable level of care required under the circumstances in the present
case. According to expert testimony, there was no doctors' negligence in
the treatment of Jorge Reyes because the doctors who treated him
SECOND DIVISION observed the due care required under the circumstances. The Widal test is
normally used when a case of typhoid fever is suspected and chloromycetin
[G.R. No. 130547. October 3, 2000.] was the drug of choice. The burden of proving that Jorge Reyes was
suffering from any other illness rested with the petitioners, but they failed to
present expert opinion on this. Finally, the standard of care and degree of
LEAH ALESNA REYES, ROSE NAHDJA, JOHNNY, and diligence contemplated from physicians is simply the reasonable average
minors LLOYD and KRISTINE, all surnamed REYES, merit among the ordinarily good physicians.
represented by their mother, LEAH ALESNA
REYES, petitioners, vs. SISTERS OF MERCY
HOSPITAL, SISTER ROSE PALACIO, DR. MARVIE SYLLABUS
BLANES, and DR. MARLYN RICO,respondents.
1. CRIMINAL LAW; DAMAGES; NEGLIGENCE; MEDICAL MALPRACTICE, 4. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; STANDARD OF CARE AND DILIGENCE
WHEN ACTIONABLE; ELEMENTS THEREOF. — Petitioner's action is for CONTEMPLATED FOR DOCTORS. — The practice of medicine is a
medical malpractice. This is a particular form of negligence which consists profession engaged in only by qualified individuals. It is a right earned
in the failure of a physician or surgeon to apply to his practice of medicine through years of education, training, and by first obtaining a license from the
that degree of care and skill which is ordinarily employed by the profession state through professional board examinations. Such license may, at any
generally, under similar conditions, and in like surrounding circumstances. In time and for cause, be revoked by the government. In addition to state
order to successfully pursue such a claim, a patient must prove that the regulation, the conduct of doctors is also strictly governed by the
physician or surgeon either failed to do something which a reasonably Hippocratic Oath, an ancient code of discipline and ethical rules which
prudent physician or surgeon would have done, or that he or she did doctors have imposed upon themselves in recognition and acceptance of
something that a reasonably prudent physician or surgeon would not have their great responsibility to society. Given these safeguards, there is no need
done, and that the failure or action caused injury to the patient. There are to expressly require of doctors the observance of "extraordinary" diligence.
thus four elements involved in medical negligence cases, namely; duty, As it is now, the practice of medicine is already conditioned upon the
breach, injury, and proximate causation. CIcTAE highest degree of diligence. And, as we have already noted, the standard
contemplated for doctors is simply the reasonable average merit among
2. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; EXPERT TESTIMONY IS ESSENTIAL TO DETERMINE ordinarily good physicians. That is reasonable diligence for doctors or, as
CAUSE OF INJURIES; CASE AT BAR. — In the present case, there is no the Court of Appeals called it, the reasonable "skill and competence . . . that
doubt that a physician-patient relationship existed between respondent a physician in the same or similar locality . . . should apply."
doctors and Jorge Reyes. Respondents were thus duty-bound to use at
least the same level of care that any reasonably competent doctor would 5. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; CASE AT BAR. — Indeed, the standard contemplated
use to treat a condition under the same circumstances. It is breach of this is not what is actually the average merit among all known practitioners from
duty which constitutes actionable malpractice. As to this aspect of medical the best to the worst and from the most to the least experienced, but the
malpractice, the determination of the reasonable level of care and the reasonable average merit among the ordinarily good physicians. Here, Dr.
breach thereof, expert testimony is essential. Inasmuch as the causes of the Marlyn Rico did not depart from the reasonable standard recommended by
injuries involved in malpractice actions are determinable only in the light of the experts as she in fact observed the due care required under the
scientific knowledge, it has been recognized that expert testimony is usually circumstances. Though the Widal test is not conclusive, it remains a
necessary to support the conclusion as to causation. standard diagnostic test for typhoid fever and, in the present case, greater
accuracy through repeated testing was rendered unobtainable by the early
3. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; WHEN EXPERT TESTIMONY MAY BE DISPENSED death of the patient. The results of the Widal test and the patient's history of
WITH; CASE AT BAR. — There is a case when expert testimony may be fever with chills for five days, taken with the fact that typhoid fever was then
dispensed with, and that is under the doctrine of res ipsa prevalent as indicated by the fact that the clinic had been getting about 15
loquitur. Petitioners asserted in the Court of Appeals that the doctrine of res to 20 typhoid cases a month, were sufficient to give upon any doctor of
ipsa loquitur applies to the present case because Jorge Reyes was merely reasonable skill the impression that Jorge Reyes had typhoid fever. Dr. Rico
experiencing fever and chills for five days and was fully conscious, coherent, was also justified in recommending the administration of the drug
and ambulant when he went to the hospital. Yet he died after only ten hours chloromycetin, the drug of choice for typhoid fever. The burden of proving
from the time of his admission. . . . While it is true that the patient died just a that Jorge Reyes was suffering from any other illness rested with the
few hours after professional medical assistance was rendered, there is really petitioners. As they failed to present expert opinion on this, preponderant
nothing unusual or extraordinary about his death. Prior to his admission, the evidence to support their contention is clearly absent.
patient already had recurring fevers and chills for five days unrelieved by the
analgesic, antipyretic, and antibiotics given him by his wife. This shows that
he had been suffering from a serious illness and professional medical help
came too late for him. Respondents alleged failure to observe due care was DECISION
not immediately apparent to a layman so as to justify application of res ipsa
loquitur. The question required expert opinion on the alleged breach by
respondent of the standard of care required by the circumstances.
MENDOZA, J p:
This is a petition for review of the decision 1 of the Court of Appeals in CA- consciousness, the patient was asked by Dr. Blanes whether he had a
G.R. CV No. 36551 affirming the decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch previous heart ailment or had suffered from chest pains in the past. Jorge
IX, Cebu City which dismissed a complaint for damages filed by petitioners replied he did not. 5 After about 15 minutes, however, Jorge again started to
against respondents. vomit, showed restlessness, and his convulsions returned. Dr. Blanes re-
applied the emergency measures taken before and, in addition, valium was
The facts are as follows: administered. Jorge, however, did not respond to the treatment and slipped
Petitioner Leah Alesna Reyes is the wife of the late Jorge Reyes. The other into cyanosis, a bluish or purplish discoloration of the skin or mucous
petitioners, namely, Rose Nahdja, Johnny, Lloyd, and Kristine, all surnamed membrane due to deficient oxygenation of the blood. At around 2:00 a.m.,
Reyes, were their children. Five days before his death on January 8, 1987, Jorge died. He was forty years old. The cause of his death was "Ventricular
Jorge had been suffering from a recurring fever with chills. After he failed to Arrythemia Secondary to Hyperpyrexia and typhoid fever."
get relief from some home medication he was taking, which consisted of On June 3, 1987, petitioners filed before the Regional Trial Court of Cebu
analgesic, antipyretic, and antibiotics, he decided to see the doctor. City a complaint 6 for damages against respondents Sisters of Mercy, Sister
On January 8, 1987, he was taken to the Mercy Community Clinic by his Rose Palacio, Dr. Marvie Blanes, Dr. Marlyn Rico, and nurse Josephine
wife. He was attended to by respondent Dr. Marlyn Rico, resident physician Pagente. On September 24, 1987, petitioners amended their complaint to
and admitting physician on duty, who gave Jorge a physical examination implead respondent Mercy Community Clinic as additional defendant and to
and took his medical history. She noted that at the time of his admission, drop the name of Josephine Pagente as defendant since she was no longer
Jorge was conscious, ambulatory, oriented, coherent, and with respiratory connected with respondent hospital. Their principal contention was that
distress. 2 Typhoid fever was then prevalent in the locality, as the clinic had Jorge did not die of typhoid fever. 7 Instead, his death was due to the
been getting from 15 to 20 cases of typhoid per month. 3 Suspecting that wrongful administration of chloromycetin. They contended that had
Jorge could be suffering from this disease, Dr. Rico ordered a Widal Test, a respondent doctors exercised due care and diligence, they would not have
standard test for typhoid fever, to be performed on Jorge. Blood count, recommended and rushed the performance of the Widal Test, hastily
routine urinalysis, stool examination, and malarial smear were also concluded that Jorge was suffering from typhoid fever, and administered
made. 4 After about an hour, the medical technician submitted the results of chloromycetin without first conducting sufficient tests on the patient's
the test from which Dr. Rico concluded that Jorge was positive for typhoid compatibility with said drug. They charged respondent clinic and its
fever. As her shift was only up to 5:00 p.m., Dr. Rico indorsed Jorge to directress, Sister Rose Palacio, with negligence in failing to provide
respondent Dr. Marvie Blanes. adequate facilities and in hiring negligent doctors and nurses. 8

Dr. Marvie Blanes attended to Jorge at around six in the evening. She also Respondents denied the charges. During the pre-trial conference, the
took Jorge's history and gave him a physical examination. Like Dr. Rico, her parties agreed to limit the issues on the following: (1) whether the death of
impression was that Jorge had typhoid fever. Antibiotics being the accepted Jorge Reyes was due to or caused by the negligence, carelessness,
treatment for typhoid fever, she ordered that a compatibility test with the imprudence, and lack of skill or foresight on the part of defendants; (2)
antibiotic chloromycetin be done on Jorge. Said test was administered by whether respondent Mercy Community Clinic was negligent in the hiring of
nurse Josephine Pagente who also gave the patient a dose of triglobe. As its employees; and (3) whether either party was entitled to damages. The
she did not observe any adverse reaction by the patient to chloromycetin, case was then heard by the trial court during which, in addition to the
Dr. Blanes ordered the first five hundred milligrams of said antibiotic to be testimonies of the parties, the testimonies of doctors as expert witnesses
administered on Jorge at around 9:00 p.m. A second dose was administered were presented.
on Jorge about three hours later just before midnight. Petitioners offered the testimony of Dr. Apolinar Vacalares, Chief Pathologist
at the Northern Mindanao Training Hospital, Cagayan de Oro City. On
January 9, 1987, Dr. Vacalares performed an autopsy on Jorge Reyes to
At around 1:00 a.m. of January 9, 1987, Dr. Blanes was called as Jorge's determine the cause of his death. However, he did not open the skull to
temperature rose to 41°C. The patient also experienced chills and exhibited examine the brain. His findings 9 showed that the gastro-intestinal tract was
respiratory distress, nausea, vomiting, and convulsions. Dr. Blanes put him normal and without any ulceration or enlargement of the nodules. Dr.
under oxygen, used a suction machine, and administered hydrocortisone, Vacalares testified that Jorge did not die of typhoid fever. He also stated
temporarily easing the patient's convulsions. When he regained
that he had not seen a patient die of typhoid fever within five days from the II. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED
onset of the disease. REVERSIBLE ERROR WHEN IT MADE AN
UNFOUNDED ASSUMPTION THAT THE LEVEL
For their part, respondents offered the testimonies of Dr. Peter Gotiong and OF MEDICAL PRACTICE IS LOWER IN ILIGAN
Dr. Ibarra Panopio. Dr. Gotiong is a diplomate in internal medicine whose CITY.
expertise is microbiology and infectious diseases. He is also a consultant at
the Cebu City Medical Center and an associate professor of medicine at the III. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY
South Western University College of Medicine in Cebu City. He had treated ERRED WHEN IT RULED FOR A LESSER
over a thousand cases of typhoid patients. According to Dr. Gotiong, the STANDARD OF CARE AND DEGREE OF
patient's history and positive Widal Test results ratio of 1:320 would make DILIGENCE FOR MEDICAL PRACTICE IN ILIGAN
him suspect that the patient had typhoid fever. As to Dr. Vacalares' CITY WHEN IT APPRECIATE[D] NO DOCTOR'S
observation regarding the absence of ulceration in Jorge's gastro-intestinal NEGLIGENCE IN THE TREATMENT OF JORGE
tract, Dr. Gotiong said that such hyperplasia in the intestines of a typhoid REYES.
victim may be microscopic. He noted that since the toxic effect of typhoid
fever may lead to meningitis, Dr. Vacalares' autopsy should have included Petitioner's action is for medical malpractice. This is a particular form of
an examination of the brain. 10 negligence which consists in the failure of a physician or surgeon to apply to
his practice of medicine that degree of care and skill which is ordinarily
The other doctor presented was Dr. Ibarra Panopio, a member of the employed by the profession generally, under similar conditions, and in like
American Board of Pathology, examiner of the Philippine Board of Pathology surrounding circumstances. 12 In order to successfully pursue such a claim,
from 1978 to 1991, fellow of the Philippine Society of Pathologist, associate a patient must prove that the physician or surgeon either failed to do
professor of the Cebu Institute of Medicine, and chief pathologist of the something which a reasonably prudent physician or surgeon would have
Andres Soriano Jr. Memorial Hospital in Toledo City. Dr. Panopio stated that done, or that he or she did something that a reasonably prudent physician
although he was partial to the use of the culture test for its greater reliability or surgeon would not have done, and that the failure or action caused injury
in the diagnosis of typhoid fever, the Widal Test may also be used. Like Dr. to the patient. 13 There are thus four elements involved in medical
Gotiong, he agreed that the 1:320 ratio in Jorge's case was already the negligence cases, namely: duty, breach, injury, and proximate causation.
maximum by which a conclusion of typhoid fever may be made. No
additional information may be deduced from a higher dilution. 11 He said In the present case, there is no doubt that a physician-patient relationship
that Dr. Vacalares' autopsy on Jorge was incomplete and thus inconclusive. existed between respondent doctors and Jorge Reyes. Respondents were
thus duty-bound to use at least the same level of care that any reasonably
On September 12, 1991, the trial court rendered its decision absolving competent doctor would use to treat a condition under the same
respondents from the charges of negligence and dismissing petitioners' circumstances. It is breach of this duty which constitutes actionable
action for damages. The trial court likewise dismissed respondents' malpractice. 14 As to this aspect of medical malpractice, the determination
counterclaim, holding that, in seeking damages from respondents, of the reasonable level of care and the breach thereof, expert testimony is
petitioners were impelled by the honest belief that Jorge's death was due to essential. Inasmuch as the causes of the injuries involved in malpractice
the latter's negligence. actions are determinable only in the light of scientific knowledge, it has been
recognized that expert testimony is usually necessary to support the
Petitioners brought the matter to the Court of Appeals. On July 31, 1997, the
conclusion as to causation. 15
Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the trial court.
Res Ipsa Loquitur
Hence this petition.
There is a case when expert testimony may be dispensed with, and that is
Petitioners raise the following assignment of errors: under the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur. As held in Ramos v. Court of
I. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED Appeals: 16
A REVERSIBLE ERROR WHEN IT RULED THAT Although generally, expert medical testimony is relied
THE DOCTRINE OF RES IPSA LOQUITUR IS NOT upon in malpractice suits to prove that a physician has
APPLICABLE IN THE INSTANT CASE. done a negligent act or that he has deviated from the
standard medical procedure, when the doctrine of res ipsa knocking out a tooth while a patient's jaw was under
loquitur is availed by the plaintiff, the need for expert anesthetic for the removal of his tonsils, and loss of an
medical testimony is dispensed with because the injury eye while the patient was under the influence of
itself provides the proof of negligence. The reason is that anesthetic, during or following an operation for
the general rule on the necessity of expert testimony appendicitis, among others. 17
applies only to such matters clearly within the domain of
medical science, and not to matters that are within the Petitioners asserted in the Court of Appeals that the doctrine of res ipsa
common knowledge of mankind which may be testified to loquitur applies to the present case because Jorge Reyes was merely
by anyone familiar with the facts. Ordinarily, only experiencing fever and chills for five days and was fully conscious, coherent,
physicians and surgeons of skill and experience are and ambulant when he went to the hospital. Yet, he died after only ten hours
competent to testify as to whether a patient has been from the time of his admission.
treated or operated upon with a reasonable degree of skill This contention was rejected by the appellate court.
and care. However, testimony as to the statements and
acts of physicians and surgeons, external appearances, Petitioners now contend that all requisites for the application of res ipsa
and manifest conditions which are observable by any one loquitur were present, namely: (1) the accident was of a kind which does not
may be given by non-expert witnesses. Hence, in cases ordinarily occur unless someone is negligent; (2) the instrumentality or
where the res ipsa loquitur is applicable, the court is agency which caused the injury was under the exclusive control of the
permitted to find a physician negligent upon proper proof person in charge; and (3) the injury suffered must not have been due to any
of injury to the patient, without the aid of expert testimony, voluntary action or contribution of the person injured. 18
where the court from its fund of common knowledge can
The contention is without merit. We agree with the ruling of the Court of
determine the proper standard of care. Where common
Appeals. In the Ramos case, the question was whether a surgeon, an
knowledge and experience teach that a resulting injury
anesthesiologist, and a hospital should be made liable for the comatose
would not have occurred to the patient if due care had
condition of a patient scheduled for cholecystectomy. 19 In that case, the
been exercised, an inference of negligence may be drawn
patient was given anesthesia prior to her operation. Noting that the patient
giving rise to an application of the doctrine of res ipsa
was neurologically sound at the time of her operation, the Court applied the
loquitur without medical evidence, which is ordinarily
doctrine of res ipsa loquitur as mental brain damage does not normally
required to show not only what occurred but how and why
occur in a gallbladder operation in the absence of negligence of the
it occurred. When the doctrine is appropriate, all that the
anesthesiologist. Taking judicial notice that anesthesia procedures had
patient must do is prove a nexus between the particular
become so common that even an ordinary person could tell if it was
act or omission complained of and the injury sustained
administered properly, we allowed the testimony of a witness who was not
while under the custody and management of the
an expert. In this case, while it is true that the patient died just a few hours
defendant without need to produce expert medical
after professional medical assistance was rendered, there is really nothing
testimony to establish the standard of care. Resort to res
unusual or extraordinary about his death. Prior to his admission, the patient
ipsa loquitur is allowed because there is no other way,
already had recurring fevers and chills for five days unrelieved by the
under usual and ordinary conditions, by which the patient
analgesic, antipyretic, and antibiotics given him by his wife. This shows that
can obtain redress for injury suffered by him.
he had been suffering from a serious illness and professional medical help
came too late for him.

Thus, courts of other jurisdictions have applied the Respondents alleged failure to observe due care was not immediately
doctrine in the following situations: leaving of a foreign apparent to a layman so as to justify application of res ipsa loquitur. The
object in the body of the patient after an operation, question required expert opinion on the alleged breach by respondents of
injuries sustained on a healthy part of the body which was the standard of care required by the circumstances. Furthermore, on the
not under, or in the area, of treatment, removal of the issue of the correctness of her diagnosis, no presumption of negligence can
wrong part of the body when another part was intended, be applied to Dr. Marlyn Rico. As held in Ramos:
. . . Res ipsa loquitur is not a rigid or ordinary doctrine to ATTY. PASCUAL:
be perfunctorily used but a rule to be cautiously applied,
depending upon the circumstances of each case. It is Q Why? Have you not testified earlier that you have never
generally restricted to situations in malpractice cases seen a patient who died of typhoid fever?
where a layman is able to say, as a matter of common A In autopsy. But, that was when I was a resident
knowledge and observation, that the consequences of physician yet.
professional care were not as such as would ordinarily
have followed if due care had been exercised. A Q But you have not performed an autopsy of a patient who
distinction must be made between the failure to secure died of typhoid fever?
results, and the occurrence of something more unusual
A I have not seen one.
and not ordinarily found if the service or treatment
rendered followed the usual procedure of those skilled in Q And you testified that you have never seen a patient
that particular practice. It must be conceded that the who died of typhoid fever within five days?
doctrine of res ipsa loquitur can have no application in a
suit against a physician or a surgeon which involves the A I have not seen one.
merits of a diagnosis or of a scientific treatment. The Q How many typhoid fever cases had you seen while you
physician or surgeon is not required at his peril to explain were in the general practice of medicine?
why any particular diagnosis was not correct, or why any
particular scientific treatment did not produce the desired A In our case we had no widal test that time so we cannot
result. 20 consider that the typhoid fever is like this and like
that. And the widal test does not specify the time
Specific Acts of Negligence of the typhoid fever.
We turn to the question whether petitioners have established specific acts of
Q The question is: how many typhoid fever cases had you
negligence allegedly committed by respondent doctors.
seen in your general practice regardless of the
Petitioners contend that: (1) Dr. Marlyn Rico hastily and erroneously relied cases now you practice?
upon the Widal test, diagnosed Jorge's illness as typhoid fever, and
A I had only seen three cases.
immediately prescribed the administration of the antibiotic
chloromycetin; 21 and (2) Dr. Marvie Blanes erred in ordering the Q And that was way back in 1964?
administration of the second dose of 500 milligrams of chloromycetin barely
three hours after the first was given. 22 Petitioners presented the testimony A Way back after my training in UP.
of Dr. Apolinar Vacalares, Chief Pathologist of the Northern Mindanao
Q Clinically?
Training Hospital, Cagayan de Oro City, who performed an autopsy on the
body of Jorge Reyes. Dr. Vacalares testified that, based on his findings A Way back before my training.
during the autopsy, Jorge Reyes did not die of typhoid fever but of shock
undetermined, which could be due to allergic reaction or chloromycetin He is thus not qualified to prove that Dr. Marlyn Rico erred in her
overdose. We are not persuaded. diagnosis. Both lower courts were therefore correct in discarding his
testimony, which is really inadmissible.
First. While petitioners presented Dr. Apolinar Vacalares as an expert
In Ramos, the defendants presented the testimony of a pulmonologist to
witness, we do not find him to be so as he is not a specialist on infectious
prove that brain injury was due to oxygen deprivation after the patient had
diseases like typhoid fever. Furthermore, although he may have had
bronchospasms 24 triggered by her allergic response to a drug, 25 and not
extensive experience in performing autopsies, he admitted that he had yet
due to faulty intubation by the anesthesiologist. As the issue was whether
to do one on the body of a typhoid victim at the time he conducted the
the intubation was properly performed by an anesthesiologist, we rejected
postmortem on Jorge Reyes. It is also plain from his testimony that he has
the opinion of the pulmonologist on the ground that he was not: (1) an
treated only about three cases of typhoid fever. Thus, he testified that: 23
anesthesiologist who could enlighten the court about anesthesia practice,
procedure, and their complications; nor (2) an allergologist who could A One must first understand that typhoid fever is toxemia.
properly advance expert opinion on allergic mediated processes; nor (3) a The problem is complications are caused by
pharmacologist who could explain the pharmacologic and toxic effects of toxins produced by the bacteria . . . whether you
the drug allegedly responsible for the bronchospasms. have suffered complications to think of — heart
toxic myocardities; then you can consider a toxic
Second. On the other hand, the two doctors presented by respondents meningitis and other complications and
clearly were experts on the subject. They vouched for the correctness of Dr. perforations and bleeding in the ilium.
Marlyn Rico's diagnosis. Dr. Peter Gotiong, a diplomate whose
specialization is infectious diseases and microbiology and an associate Q Even that 40-year old married patient who received
professor at the Southwestern University College of Medicine and the Gullas medication of chloromycetin of 500 milligrams
College of Medicine, testified that he has already treated over a thousand intravenous, after the skin test, and received a
cases of typhoid fever. 26 According to him, when a case of typhoid fever is second dose of chloromycetin of 500 milligrams,
suspected, the Widal test is normally used, 27 and if the 1:320 results of the 3 hours later, the patient developed chills . . . rise
Widal test on Jorge Reyes had been presented to him along with the in temperature to 41°C, and then about 40
patient's history, his impression would also be that the patient was suffering minutes later the temperature rose to 100°F,
from typhoid fever. 28 As to the treatment of the disease, he stated that cardiac rate of 150 per minute who appeared to
chloromycetin was the drug of choice. 29 He also explained that despite the be coherent, restless, nauseating, with seizures:
measures taken by respondent doctors and the intravenous administration what significance could you attach to these
of two doses of chloromycetin, complications of the disease could not be clinical changes?
discounted. His testimony is as follows: 30
ATTY. PASCUAL:
A I would then think of toxemia, which was toxic
Q If with that count with the test of positive for 1 is to 320, meningitis and probably a toxic meningitis
what treatment if any would be given? because of the high cardiac rate.

A If those are the findings that would be presented to me, Q Even if the same patient who, after having given
the first thing I would consider would be typhoid intramuscular valium, became conscious and
fever. coherent about 20 minutes later, have seizure and
cyanosis and rolling of eyeballs and vomiting . . .
Q And presently what are the treatments commonly and death: what significance would you attach to
used? this development?
A Drug of choice of chloramphenical. A We are probably dealing with typhoid to meningitis.
Q Doctor, if given the same patient and after you have Q In such case, Doctor, what finding if any could you
administered chloramphenical about 3 1/2 hours expect on the post-mortem examination?
later, the patient associated with chills,
temperature — 41°C, what could possibly come A No, the finding would be more on the meninges or
to your mind?c covering of the brain.

A Well, when it is change in the clinical finding, you have Q And in order to see those changes would it require
to think of complication. opening the skull?

Q And what will you consider on the complication of A Yes.


typhoid? TCaEIc
As regards Dr. Vacalares' finding during the autopsy that the deceased's
gastro-intestinal tract was normal, Dr. Rico explained that, while
hyperplasia 31in the payer's patches or layers of the small intestines is administered five to six hours after the first, per instruction of Dr. Marlyn
present in typhoid fever, the same may not always be grossly visible and Rico. As held by the Court of Appeals, however:
a microscope was needed to see the texture of the cells. 32
That chloromycetin was likewise a proper prescription is
Respondents also presented the testimony of Dr. Ibarra T. Panopio who is a best established by medical authority. Wilson, et. al.,
member of the Philippine and American Board of Pathology, an examiner of in Harrison's Principle of Internal Medicine, 12th ed. write
the Philippine Board of Pathology, and chief pathologist at the Metro Cebu that chloramphenicol (which is the generic of
Community Hospital, Perpetual Succor Hospital, and the Andres Soriano Jr. chloromycetin) is the drug of choice for typhoid fever and
Memorial Medical Center. He stated that, as a clinical pathologist, he that no drug has yet proven better in promoting a
recognized that the Widal test is used for typhoid patients, although he did favorable clinical response. "Chlorampenicol
not encourage its use because a single test would only give a presumption (Chloromycetin) is specifically indicated for bacterial
necessitating that the test be repeated, becoming more conclusive at the meningitis, typhoid fever, rickettsial infections,
second and third weeks of the disease. 33 He corroborated Dr. Gotiong's bacteriodes infections, etc." (PIMS Annual, 1994, p.
testimony that the danger with typhoid fever is really the possible 211) The dosage likewise including the first administration
complications which could develop like perforation, hemorrhage, as well as of five hundred milligrams (500 mg.) at around nine o'clock
liver and cerebral complications. 34 As regards the 1:320 results of the in the evening and the second dose at around 11:30 the
Widal test on Jorge Reyes, Dr. Panopio stated that no additional information same night was still within medically acceptable limits,
could be obtained from a higher ratio. 35 He also agreed with Dr. Gotiong since the recommended dose of chloromycetin is one (1)
that hyperplasia in the payer's patches may be microscopic. 36 gram every six (6) hours. (cf. Pediatric Drug Handbook, 1st
Ed., Philippine Pediatric Society, Committee on
Indeed, the standard contemplated is not what is actually the average merit
Therapeutics and Toxicology, 1996). The intravenous
among all known practitioners from the best to the worst and from the most
route is likewise correct. (Mansser, O'Nick, Pharmacology
to the least experienced, but the reasonable average merit among the
and Therapeutics) Even if the test was not administered by
ordinarily good physicians. 37 Here, Dr. Marlyn Rico did not depart from the
the physician-on-duty, the evidence introduced that it was
reasonable standard recommended by the experts as she in fact observed
Dra. Blanes who interpreted the results remain
the due care required under the circumstances. Though the Widal test is not
uncontroverted. (Decision, pp 16-17) Once more, this
conclusive, it remains a standard diagnostic test for typhoid fever and, in the
Court rejects any claim of professional negligence in this
present case, greater accuracy through repeated testing was rendered
regard.
unobtainable by the early death of the patient. The results of the Widal test
and the patient's history of fever with chills for five days, taken with the fact xxx xxx xxx
that typhoid fever was then prevalent as indicated by the fact that the clinic
had been getting about 15 to 20 typhoid cases a month, were sufficient to As regards anaphylactic shock, the usual way of guarding
give upon any doctor of reasonable skill the impression that Jorge Reyes against it prior to the administration of a drug, is the skin
had typhoid fever. test of which, however, it has been observed: "Skin
testing with haptenic drugs is generally not reliable.
Dr. Rico was also justified in recommending the administration of the drug Certain drugs cause nonspecific histamine release,
chloromycetin, the drug of choice for typhoid fever. The burden of proving producing a weal-and-flare reaction in normal individuals.
that Jorge Reyes was suffering from any other illness rested with the Immunologic activation of mast cells requires a polyvalent
petitioners. As they failed to present expert opinion on this, preponderant allergen, so a negative skin test to a univalent haptenic
evidence to support their contention is clearly absent. drug does not rule out anaphylactic sensitivity to that
drug." (Terr, "Anaphylaxis and Urticaria" in Basic and
Third. Petitioners contend that respondent Dr. Marvie Blanes, who took over
Clinical Immunology, p. 349) What all this means legally is
from Dr. Rico, was negligent in ordering the intravenous administration of
that even if the deceased suffered from an anaphylactic
two doses of 500 milligrams of chloromycetin at an interval of less than
shock, this, of itself, would not yet establish the
three hours. Petitioners claim that Jorge Reyes died of anaphylactic
negligence of the appellee-physicians for all that the law
shock 38 or possibly from overdose as the second dose should have been
requires of them is that they perform the standard tests
and perform standard procedures. The law cannot require WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED and the decision of the Court
them to predict every possible reaction to all drugs of Appeals is AFFIRMED.
administered. The onus probandi was on the appellants to
establish, before the trial court, that the appellee- SO ORDERED.
physicians ignored standard medical procedure, Bellosillo, Quisumbing, Buena and De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur.
prescribed and administered medication with
recklessness and exhibited an absence of the ||| (Reyes v. Sisters of Mercy Hospital, G.R. No. 130547, [October 3, 2000],
competence and skills expected of general practitioners 396 PHIL 87-107)
similarly situated. 39
Fourth. Petitioners correctly observe that the medical profession is one
which, like the business of a common carrier, is affected with public interest. FIRST DIVISION
Moreover, they assert that since the law imposes upon common carriers the
duty of observing extraordinary diligence in the vigilance over the goods and
for the safety of the passengers, 40 physicians and surgeons should have [G.R. No. 126297. January 31, 2007.]
the same duty toward their patients. 41 They also contend that the Court of
Appeals erred when it allegedly assumed that the level of medical practice is PROFESSIONAL SERVICES, INC., petitioner, vs.
lower in Iligan City, thereby reducing the standard of care and degree of NATIVIDAD and ENRIQUE AGANA, respondents.
diligence required from physicians and surgeons in Iligan City.
The standard of extraordinary diligence is peculiar to common carriers. The
[G.R. No. 126467. January 31, 2007.]
Civil Code provides:
Art. 1733. Common carriers, from the nature of their NATIVIDAD (Substituted by her children MARCELINO
business and for reasons of public policy, are bound to AGANA III, ENRIQUE AGANA, JR., EMMA AGANA
observe extraordinary diligence in the vigilance over the ANDAYA, JESUS AGANA, and RAYMUND AGANA) and
goods and for the safety of the passengers transported by
ENRIQUE AGANA, petitioners, vs. JUAN
them, according to the circumstances of each case. . . .
FUENTES, respondents.
The practice of medicine is a profession engaged in only by qualified
individuals. It is a right earned through years of education, training, and by
first obtaining a license from the state through professional board [G.R. No. 127590. January 31, 2007.]
examinations. Such license may, at any time and for cause, be revoked by
the government. In addition to state regulation, the conduct of doctors is MIGUEL AMPIL, petitioner, vs. NATIVIDAD AGANA and
also strictly governed by the Hippocratic Oath, an ancient code of discipline ENRIQUE AGANA, respondents.
and ethical rules which doctors have imposed upon themselves in
recognition and acceptance of their great responsibility to society. Given
these safeguards, there is no need to expressly require of doctors the
observance of "extraordinary" diligence. As it is now, the practice of DECISION
medicine is already conditioned upon the highest degree of diligence. And,
as we have already noted, the standard contemplated for doctors is simply
the reasonable average merit among ordinarily good physicians. That is
reasonable diligence for doctors or, as the Court of Appeals called it, the SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J p:
reasonable "skill and competence . . . that a physician in the same or similar
locality . . . should apply." Hospitals, having undertaken one of mankind's most important and
delicate endeavors, must assume the grave responsibility of pursuing it with
appropriate care. The care and service dispensed through this high trust, told her that the pain was the natural consequence of the surgery. Dr. Ampil
however technical, complex and esoteric its character may be, must meet then recommended that she consult an oncologist to examine the
standards of responsibility commensurate with the undertaking to preserve cancerous nodes which were not removed during the operation.
and protect the health, and indeed, the very lives of those placed in the
On May 9, 1984, Natividad, accompanied by her husband, went to
hospital's keeping. 1
the United States to seek further treatment. After four months of
Assailed in these three consolidated petitions for review consultations and laboratory examinations, Natividad was told she was free
on certiorari is the Court of Appeals' Decision 2 dated September 6, 1996 in of cancer. Hence, she was advised to return to the Philippines.
CA-G.R. CV No. 42062 and CA-G.R. SP No. 32198 affirming with
On August 31, 1984, Natividad flew back to the Philippines, still
modification the Decision 3 dated March 17, 1993 of the Regional Trial
suffering from pains. Two weeks thereafter, her daughter found a piece of
Court (RTC), Branch 96, Quezon City in Civil Case No. Q-43322 and
gauze protruding from her vagina. Upon being informed about it, Dr. Ampil
nullifying its Order dated September 21, 1993.
proceeded to her house where he managed to extract by hand a piece of
The facts, as culled from the records, are: gauze measuring 1.5 inches in width. He then assured her that the pains
would soon vanish.
On April 4, 1984, Natividad Agana was rushed to the Medical City
General Hospital (Medical City Hospital) because of difficulty of bowel Dr. Ampil's assurance did not come true. Instead, the pains
movement and bloody anal discharge. After a series of medical intensified, prompting Natividad to seek treatment at the Polymedic General
examinations, Dr. Miguel Ampil, petitioner in G.R. No. 127590, diagnosed Hospital. While confined there, Dr. Ramon Gutierrez detected the presence
her to be suffering from "cancer of the sigmoid." of another foreign object in her vagina — a foul-smelling gauze measuring
1.5 inches in width which badly infected her vaginal vault. A recto-vaginal
On April 11, 1984, Dr. Ampil, assisted by the medical staff 4 of the fistula had formed in her reproductive organs which forced stool to excrete
Medical City Hospital, performed an anterior resection surgery on Natividad. through the vagina. Another surgical operation was needed to remedy the
He found that the malignancy in her sigmoid area had spread on her left damage. Thus, in October 1984, Natividad underwent another surgery.
ovary, necessitating the removal of certain portions of it. Thus, Dr. Ampil
obtained the consent of Natividad's husband, Enrique Agana, to permit Dr. On November 12, 1984, Natividad and her husband filed with the
Juan Fuentes, respondent in G.R. No. 126467, to perform hysterectomy on RTC, Branch 96, Quezon City a complaint for damages against the
her. Professional Services, Inc. (PSI), owner of the Medical City Hospital, Dr.
Ampil, and Dr. Fuentes, docketed as Civil Case No. Q-43322. They alleged
After Dr. Fuentes had completed the hysterectomy, Dr. Ampil took that the latter are liable for negligence for leaving two pieces of gauze
over, completed the operation and closed the incision. CAcEaS inside Natividad's body and malpractice for concealing their acts of
However, the operation appeared to be flawed. In the corresponding negligence. DECcAS
Record of Operation dated April 11, 1984, the attending nurses entered Meanwhile, Enrique Agana also filed with the Professional
these remarks: Regulation Commission (PRC) an administrative complaint for gross
"sponge count lacking 2 negligence and malpractice against Dr. Ampil and Dr. Fuentes, docketed as
Administrative Case No. 1690. The PRC Board of Medicine heard the case
"announced to surgeon searched (sic) done only with respect to Dr. Fuentes because it failed to acquire jurisdiction over
but to no avail continue Dr. Ampil who was then in the United States.
for closure."
On February 16, 1986, pending the outcome of the above cases,
On April 24, 1984, Natividad was released from the hospital. Her Natividad died and was duly substituted by her above-named children (the
hospital and medical bills, including the doctors' fees, amounted to Aganas).
P60,000.00.
On March 17, 1993, the RTC rendered its Decision in favor of the
After a couple of days, Natividad complained of excruciating pain in Aganas, finding PSI, Dr. Ampil and Dr. Fuentes liable for negligence and
her anal region. She consulted both Dr. Ampil and Dr. Fuentes about it. They malpractice, the decretal part of which reads:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered for execution of the RTC Decision. However, not long thereafter, the Aganas
the plaintiffs ordering the defendants PROFESSIONAL again filed a motion for an alias writ of execution against the properties of
SERVICES, INC., DR. MIGUEL AMPIL and DR. JUAN PSI and Dr. Fuentes. On September 21, 1993, the RTC granted the motion
FUENTES to pay to the plaintiffs, jointly and severally, and issued the corresponding writ, prompting Dr. Fuentes to file with the
except in respect of the award for exemplary damages Court of Appeals a petition for certiorari and prohibition, with prayer for
and the interest thereon which are the liabilities of preliminary injunction, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 32198. During its
defendants Dr. Ampil and Dr. Fuentes only, as follows: pendency, the Court of Appeals issued a Resolution 5 dated October 29,
1993 granting Dr. Fuentes' prayer for injunctive relief. HEDSCc
1. As actual damages, the following amounts:
On January 24, 1994, CA-G.R. SP No. 32198 was consolidated with
a. The equivalent in Philippine Currency of the CA-G.R. CV No. 42062.
total of US$19,900.00 at the rate of
P21.60-US$1.00, as reimbursement of Meanwhile, on January 23, 1995, the PRC Board of Medicine
actual expenses incurred in the United rendered its Decision 6 in Administrative Case No. 1690 dismissing the case
States of America; against Dr. Fuentes. The Board held that the prosecution failed to show that
Dr. Fuentes was the one who left the two pieces of gauze inside Natividad's
b. The sum of P4,800.00 as travel taxes of body; and that he concealed such fact from Natividad.
plaintiffs and their physician daughter;
On September 6, 1996, the Court of Appeals rendered its Decision
c. The total sum of P45,802.50, representing the jointly disposing of CA-G.R. CV No. 42062 and CA-G.R. SP No. 32198, thus:
cost of hospitalization at Polymedic
Hospital, medical fees, and cost of the WHEREFORE, except for the modification that
saline solution; the case against defendant-appellant Dr. Juan Fuentes is
hereby DISMISSED, and with the pronouncement that
2. As moral damages, the sum of P2,000,000.00; defendant-appellant Dr. Miguel Ampil is liable to
3. As exemplary damages, the sum of P300,000.00; reimburse defendant-appellant Professional Services,
Inc., whatever amount the latter will pay or had paid to the
4. As attorney's fees, the sum of P250,000.00; plaintiffs-appellees, the decision appealed from is
5. Legal interest on items 1 (a), (b), and (c); 2; and 3 hereby AFFIRMED and the instant appeal DISMISSED.
hereinabove, from date of filing of the complaint Concomitant with the above, the petition
until full payment; and for certiorari and prohibition filed by herein defendant-
appellant Dr. Juan Fuentes in CA-G.R. SP No. 32198 is
6. Costs of suit.
hereby GRANTED and the challenged order of the
SO ORDERED. respondent judge dated September 21, 1993, as well as
the alias writ of execution issued pursuant thereto are
Aggrieved, PSI, Dr. Fuentes and Dr. Ampil interposed an appeal to hereby NULLIFIED and SET ASIDE. The bond posted by
the Court of Appeals, docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 42062. the petitioner in connection with the writ of preliminary
Incidentally, on April 3, 1993, the Aganas filed with the RTC a injunction issued by this Court on November 29, 1993 is
motion for a partial execution of its Decision, which was granted in an Order hereby cancelled.
dated May 11, 1993. Thereafter, the sheriff levied upon certain properties of Costs against defendants-appellants Dr. Miguel
Dr. Ampil and sold them for P451,275.00 and delivered the amount to the
Ampil and Professional Services, Inc.
Aganas.
SO ORDERED.
Following their receipt of the money, the Aganas entered into an
agreement with PSI and Dr. Fuentes to indefinitely suspend any further
Only Dr. Ampil filed a motion for reconsideration, but it was denied Dr. Ampil's arguments are purely conjectural and without basis.
in a Resolution 7 dated December 19, 1996. Records show that he did not present any evidence to prove that the
American doctors were the ones who put or left the gauzes in Natividad's
Hence, the instant consolidated petitions. body. Neither did he submit evidence to rebut the correctness of the record
In G.R. No. 126297, PSI alleged in its petition that the Court of of operation, particularly the number of gauzes used. As to the alleged
Appeals erred in holding that: (1) it is estopped from raising the defense that negligence of Dr. Fuentes, we are mindful that Dr. Ampil examined his (Dr.
Dr. Ampil is not its employee; (2) it is solidarily liable with Dr. Ampil; and (3) it Fuentes') work and found it in order.
is not entitled to its counterclaim against the Aganas. PSI contends that Dr. The glaring truth is that all the major circumstances, taken together,
Ampil is not its employee, but a mere consultant or independent contractor. as specified by the Court of Appeals, directly point to Dr. Ampil as the
As such, he alone should answer for his negligence. CSDTac negligent party, thus:
In G.R. No. 126467, the Aganas maintain that the Court of Appeals First, it is not disputed that the surgeons used
erred in finding that Dr. Fuentes is not guilty of negligence or medical gauzes as sponges to control the bleeding of the patient
malpractice, invoking the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur. They contend that the during the surgical operation. EHTCAa
pieces of gauze are prima facie proofs that the operating surgeons have
been negligent. Second, immediately after the operation, the
nurses who assisted in the surgery noted in their report
that the ‘sponge count (was) lacking 2'; that such
Finally, in G.R. No. 127590, Dr. Ampil asserts that the Court of anomaly was 'announced to surgeon' and that a
Appeals erred in finding him liable for negligence and 'search was done but to no avail' prompting Dr. Ampil
malpractice sans evidence that he left the two pieces of gauze in Natividad's to 'continue for closure' . . . .
vagina. He pointed to other probable causes, such as: (1) it was Dr. Fuentes Third, after the operation, two (2) gauzes were
who used gauzes in performing the hysterectomy; (2) the attending nurses' extracted from the same spot of the body of Mrs. Agana
failure to properly count the gauzes used during surgery; and (3) the medical where the surgery was performed.
intervention of the American doctors who examined Natividad in the United
States of America. An operation requiring the placing of sponges in the incision is not
complete until the sponges are properly removed, and it is settled that the
For our resolution are these three vital issues: first, whether the leaving of sponges or other foreign substances in the wound after the
Court of Appeals erred in holding Dr. Ampil liable for negligence and incision has been closed is at least prima facie negligence by the operating
malpractice; second, whether the Court of Appeals erred in absolving Dr. surgeon. 8 To put it simply, such act is considered so inconsistent with due
Fuentes of any liability; and third, whether PSI may be held solidarily liable care as to raise an inference of negligence. There are even legions of
for the negligence of Dr. Ampil. authorities to the effect that such act is negligence per se. 9
I — G.R. No. 127590 Of course, the Court is not blind to the reality that there are times
Whether the Court of Appeals Erred in Holding Dr. Ampil when danger to a patient's life precludes a surgeon from further searching
Liable for Negligence and Malpractice. missing sponges or foreign objects left in the body. But this does not leave
Dr. Ampil, in an attempt to absolve himself, gears the Court's him free from any obligation. Even if it has been shown that a surgeon was
attention to other possible causes of Natividad's detriment. He argues that required by the urgent necessities of the case to leave a sponge in his
the Court should not discount either of the following possibilities: first, Dr. patient's abdomen, because of the dangers attendant upon delay, still, it is
Fuentes left the gauzes in Natividad's body after performing his legal duty to so inform his patient within a reasonable time
hysterectomy; second, the attending nurses erred in counting the gauzes; thereafter by advising her of what he had been compelled to do. This is
and third, the American doctors were the ones who placed the gauzes in in order that she might seek relief from the effects of the foreign object left in
Natividad's body. her body as her condition might permit. The ruling in Smith v. Zeagler 10 is
explicit, thus:
The removal of all sponges used is part of a left inside Natividad's body is a prima facie evidence of Dr. Fuentes'
surgical operation, and when a physician or surgeon fails negligence.
to remove a sponge he has placed in his patient's body
that should be removed as part of the operation, he We are not convinced.
thereby leaves his operation uncompleted and creates a Literally, res ipsa loquitur means "the thing speaks for itself." It is the
new condition which imposes upon him the legal duty rule that the fact of the occurrence of an injury, taken with the surrounding
of calling the new condition to his patient's attention, circumstances, may permit an inference or raise a presumption of
and endeavoring with the means he has at hand to negligence, or make out a plaintiff's prima facie case, and present a
minimize and avoid untoward results likely to ensue question of fact for defendant to meet with an explanation. 13 Stated
therefrom. differently, where the thing which caused the injury, without the fault of the
injured, is under the exclusive control of the defendant and the injury is such
Here, Dr. Ampil did not inform Natividad about the missing two
that it should not have occurred if he, having such control used proper
pieces of gauze. Worse, he even misled her that the pain she was
care, it affords reasonable evidence, in the absence of explanation that
experiencing was the ordinary consequence of her operation. Had he
the injury arose from the defendant's want of care, and the burden of proof
been more candid, Natividad could have taken the immediate and
is shifted to him to establish that he has observed due care and
appropriate medical remedy to remove the gauzes from her body. To our
diligence. 14
mind, what was initially an act of negligence by Dr. Ampil has ripened into a
deliberate wrongful act of deceiving his patient. From the foregoing statements of the rule, the requisites for the
applicability of the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur are: (1) the occurrence of an
This is a clear case of medical malpractice or more appropriately,
injury; (2) the thing which caused the injury was under the control and
medical negligence. To successfully pursue this kind of case, a patient must
only prove that a health care provider either failed to do something which a management of the defendant; (3) the occurrence was such that in the
reasonably prudent health care provider would have done, or that he did ordinary course of things, would not have happened if those who had
something that a reasonably prudent provider would not have done; and control or management used proper care; and (4) the absence of
that failure or action caused injury to the patient. 11 Simply put, the explanation by the defendant. Of the foregoing requisites, the most
elements are duty, breach, injury and proximate causation. Dr. Ampil, as instrumental is the "control and management of the thing which caused
the lead surgeon, had the duty to remove all foreign objects, such as the injury." 15
gauzes, from Natividad's body before closure of the incision. When he failed We find the element of "control and management of the thing which
to do so, it was his duty to inform Natividad about it. Dr. Ampil breached caused the injury" to be wanting. Hence, the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur will
both duties. Such breach caused injury to Natividad, necessitating her not lie.
further examination by American doctors and another surgery. That Dr.
Ampil's negligence is the proximate cause 12 of Natividad's injury could be It was duly established that Dr. Ampil was the lead surgeon during
traced from his act of closing the incision despite the information given the operation of Natividad. He requested the assistance of Dr. Fuentes only
by the attending nurses that two pieces of gauze were still missing. to perform hysterectomy when he (Dr. Ampil) found that the malignancy in
That they were later on extracted from Natividad's vagina established the her sigmoid area had spread to her left ovary. Dr. Fuentes performed the
causal link between Dr. Ampil's negligence and the injury. And what further surgery and thereafter reported and showed his work to Dr. Ampil. The
aggravated such injury was his deliberate concealment of the missing latter examined it and finding everything to be in order, allowed Dr.
gauzes from the knowledge of Natividad and her family. cEaCAH Fuentes to leave the operating room. Dr. Ampil then resumed operating
on Natividad. He was about to finish the procedure when the attending
II — G.R. No. 126467 nurses informed him that two pieces of gauze were missing. A "diligent
Whether the Court of Appeals Erred in Absolving search" was conducted, but the misplaced gauzes were not found. Dr.
Dr. Fuentes of any Liability Ampil then directed that the incision be closed. During this entire period,
The Aganas assailed the dismissal by the trial court of the case Dr. Fuentes was no longer in the operating room and had, in fact, left the
against Dr. Fuentes on the ground that it is contrary to the doctrine of res hospital. HTSaEC
ipsa loquitur. According to them, the fact that the two pieces of gauze were
Under the "Captain of the Ship" rule, the operating surgeon is the Art. 2176. Whoever by act or omission causes
person in complete charge of the surgery room and all personnel connected damage to another, there being fault or negligence, is
with the operation. Their duty is to obey his orders. 16 As stated before, Dr. obliged to pay for the damage done. Such fault or
Ampil was the lead surgeon. In other words, he was the "Captain of the negligence, if there is no pre-existing contractual relation
Ship." That he discharged such role is evident from his following between the parties, is called a quasi-delict and is
conduct: (1) calling Dr. Fuentes to perform a hysterectomy; (2) examining governed by the provisions of this Chapter. cHAaEC
the work of Dr. Fuentes and finding it in order; (3) granting Dr. Fuentes'
A derivative of this provision is Article 2180, the rule governing
permission to leave; and (4) ordering the closure of the incision. To our
vicarious liability under the doctrine of respondeat superior, thus:
mind, it was this act of ordering the closure of the incision
notwithstanding that two pieces of gauze remained unaccounted for, ART. 2180. The obligation imposed by Article
that caused injury to Natividad's body. Clearly, the control and 2176 is demandable not only for one's own acts or
management of the thing which caused the injury was in the hands of Dr. omissions, but also for those of persons for whom one is
Ampil, not Dr. Fuentes. responsible.
In this jurisdiction, res ipsa loquitur is not a rule of substantive law, xxx xxx xxx
hence, does not per se create or constitute an independent or separate
ground of liability, being a mere evidentiary rule. 17 In other words, mere The owners and managers of an establishment or
invocation and application of the doctrine does not dispense with the enterprise are likewise responsible for damages caused
requirement of proof of negligence. Here, the negligence was proven to by their employees in the service of the branches in which
have been committed by Dr. Ampil and not by Dr. Fuentes. the latter are employed or on the occasion of their
functions.
Employers shall be liable for the damages caused
III — G.R. No. 126297 by their employees and household helpers acting within
Whether PSI Is Liable for the Negligence of Dr. Ampil the scope of their assigned tasks even though the former
are not engaged in any business or industry.
The third issue necessitates a glimpse at the historical development
of hospitals and the resulting theories concerning their liability for the xxx xxx xxx
negligence of physicians.
The responsibility treated of in this article shall
Until the mid-nineteenth century, hospitals were generally charitable cease when the persons herein mentioned prove that they
institutions, providing medical services to the lowest classes of society, observed all the diligence of a good father of a family to
without regard for a patient's ability to pay. 18 Those who could afford prevent damage.
medical treatment were usually treated at home by their
doctors. 19 However, the days of house calls and philanthropic health care A prominent civilist commented that professionals engaged by an
are over. The modern health care industry continues to distance itself from employer, such as physicians, dentists, and pharmacists, are not
its charitable past and has experienced a significant conversion from a not- "employees" under this article because the manner in which they perform
for-profit health care to for-profit hospital businesses. Consequently, their work is not within the control of the latter (employer). In other words,
significant changes in health law have accompanied the business-related professionals are considered personally liable for the fault or
changes in the hospital industry. One important legal change is an increase negligence they commit in the discharge of their duties, and their
in hospital liability for medical malpractice. Many courts now allow claims for employer cannot be held liable for such fault or negligence. In the
hospital vicarious liability under the theories of respondeat superior, context of the present case, "a hospital cannot be held liable for the fault or
apparent authority, ostensible authority, or agency by estoppel. 20 negligence of a physician or surgeon in the treatment or operation of
patients." 21
In this jurisdiction, the statute governing liability for negligent acts is
Article 2176 of the Civil Code, which reads: The foregoing view is grounded on the traditional notion that the
professional status and the very nature of the physician's calling preclude
him from being classed as an agent or employee of a hospital, whenever he In the first place, hospitals exercise significant
acts in a professional capacity. 22 It has been said that medical practice control in the hiring and firing of consultants and in the
strictly involves highly developed and specialized knowledge, 23 such that conduct of their work within the hospital premises.
physicians are generally free to exercise their own skill and judgment in Doctors who apply for 'consultant' slots, visiting or
rendering medical services sans interference. 24 Hence, when a doctor attending, are required to submit proof of completion
practices medicine in a hospital setting, the hospital and its employees are of residency, their educational qualifications,
deemed to subserve him in his ministrations to the patient and his actions generally, evidence of accreditation by the appropriate
are of his own responsibility. 25 board (diplomate), evidence of fellowship in most
cases, and references. These requirements are
The case of Schloendorff v. Society of New York Hospital 26 was
carefully scrutinized by members of the hospital
then considered an authority for this view. The "Schloendorff doctrine"
administration or by a review committee set up by the
regards a physician, even if employed by a hospital, as an independent
hospital who either accept or reject the application. . .
contractor because of the skill he exercises and the lack of control exerted
.
over his work. Under this doctrine, hospitals are exempt from the application
of the respondeat superior principle for fault or negligence committed by After a physician is accepted, either as a
physicians in the discharge of their profession. visiting or attending consultant, he is normally
required to attend clinico-pathological conferences,
However, the efficacy of the foregoing doctrine has weakened with
conduct bedside rounds for clerks, interns and
the significant developments in medical care. Courts came to realize that
modern hospitals are increasingly taking active role in supplying and residents, moderate grand rounds and patient audits
regulating medical care to patients. No longer were a hospital's functions and perform other tasks and responsibilities, for the
limited to furnishing room, food, facilities for treatment and operation, and privilege of being able to maintain a clinic in the
attendants for its patients. Thus, in Bing v. Thunig, 27 the New York Court of hospital, and/or for the privilege of admitting patients
Appeals deviated from the Schloendorff doctrine, noting that modern into the hospital. In addition to these, the physician's
hospitals actually do far more than provide facilities for treatment. Rather, performance as a specialist is generally evaluated by a
they regularly employ, on a salaried basis, a large staff of physicians, peer review committee on the basis of mortality and
interns, nurses, administrative and manual workers. They charge patients for morbidity statistics, and feedback from patients, nurses,
medical care and treatment, even collecting for such services through legal interns and residents. A consultant remiss in his duties, or
action, if necessary. The court then concluded that there is no reason to a consultant who regularly falls short of the minimum
exempt hospitals from the universal rule of respondeat superior. standards acceptable to the hospital or its peer review
committee, is normally politely terminated. caTESD
In our shores, the nature of the relationship between the hospital
and the physicians is rendered inconsequential in view of our categorical In other words, private hospitals, hire, fire and
pronouncement in Ramos v. Court of Appeals 28 that for purposes of exercise real control over their attending and visiting
apportioning responsibility in medical negligence cases, an employer- 'consultant' staff. While 'consultants' are not,
employee relationship in effect exists between hospitals and their technically employees, . . . , the control exercised, the
attending and visiting physicians. This Court held: hiring, and the right to terminate consultants all fulfill
the important hallmarks of an employer-employee
"We now discuss the responsibility of the hospital relationship, with the exception of the payment of
in this particular incident. The unique practice (among wages. In assessing whether such a relationship in fact
private hospitals) of filling up specialist staff with attending exists, the control test is determining. Accordingly, on the
and visiting "consultants," who are allegedly not hospital basis of the foregoing, we rule that for the purpose of
employees, presents problems in apportioning allocating responsibility in medical negligence cases,
responsibility for negligence in medical malpractice cases. an employer-employee relationship in effect exists
However, the difficulty is more apparent than real. HIACac between hospitals and their attending and visiting
physicians."
But the Ramos pronouncement is not our only basis in sustaining In this case, PSI publicly displays in the lobby of the Medical City
PSI's liability. Its liability is also anchored upon the agency principle Hospital the names and specializations of the physicians associated or
of apparent authority or agency by estoppel and the doctrine accredited by it, including those of Dr. Ampil and Dr. Fuentes. We concur
of corporate negligence which have gained acceptance in the with the Court of Appeals' conclusion that it "is now estopped from
determination of a hospital's liability for negligent acts of health passing all the blame to the physicians whose names it proudly
professionals. The present case serves as a perfect platform to test the paraded in the public directory leading the public to believe that it
applicability of these doctrines, thus, enriching our jurisprudence. TaISEH vouched for their skill and competence." Indeed, PSI's act is tantamount
to holding out to the public that Medical City Hospital, through its
Apparent authority, or what is sometimes referred to as the "holding
accredited physicians, offers quality health care services. By accrediting
out" theory, or doctrine of ostensible agency or agency by Dr. Ampil and Dr. Fuentes and publicly advertising their qualifications, the
estoppel, 29 has its origin from the law of agency. It imposes liability, not as hospital created the impression that they were its agents, authorized to
the result of the reality of a contractual relationship, but rather because of perform medical or surgical services for its patients. As expected, these
the actions of a principal or an employer in somehow misleading the public patients, Natividad being one of them, accepted the services on the
into believing that the relationship or the authority exists. 30 The concept is reasonable belief that such were being rendered by the hospital or its
essentially one of estoppel and has been explained in this manner: employees, agents, or servants. The trial court correctly pointed out:
"The principal is bound by the acts of his agent . . . regardless of the education and status in
with the apparent authority which he knowingly permits
life of the patient, he ought not be burdened with the
the agent to assume, or which he holds the agent out to
defense of absence of employer-employee
the public as possessing. The question in every case is
relationship between the hospital and the independent
whether the principal has by his voluntary act placed the
physician whose name and competence are certainly
agent in such a situation that a person of ordinary
certified to the general public by the hospital's act of
prudence, conversant with business usages and the
listing him and his specialty in its lobby directory, as in
nature of the particular business, is justified in presuming
the case herein. The high costs of today's medical and
that such agent has authority to perform the particular act
health care should at least exact on the hospital
in question. 31
greater, if not broader, legal responsibility for the
conduct of treatment and surgery within its facility by
its accredited physician or surgeon, regardless of
The applicability of apparent authority in the field of hospital liability whether he is independent or employed." 33
was upheld long time ago in Irving v. Doctor Hospital of Lake Worth,
Inc. 32There, it was explicitly stated that "there does not appear to be any The wisdom of the foregoing ratiocination is easy to discern.
rational basis for excluding the concept of apparent authority from the Corporate entities, like PSI, are capable of acting only through other
field of hospital liability." Thus, in cases where it can be shown that a individuals, such as physicians. If these accredited physicians do their job
hospital, by its actions, has held out a particular physician as its agent well, the hospital succeeds in its mission of offering quality medical services
and/or employee and that a patient has accepted treatment from that and thus profits financially. Logically, where negligence mars the quality of
physician in the reasonable belief that it is being rendered in behalf of the its services, the hospital should not be allowed to escape liability for the acts
hospital, then the hospital will be liable for the physician's negligence. of its ostensible agents. DCSTAH
Our jurisdiction recognizes the concept of an agency by implication We now proceed to the doctrine of corporate
or estoppel. Article 1869 of the Civil Code reads: negligence or corporate responsibility.
ART. 1869. Agency may be express, or implied One allegation in the complaint in Civil Case No. Q-43332 for
from the acts of the principal, from his silence or lack of negligence and malpractice is that PSI as owner, operator and manager of
action, or his failure to repudiate the agency, knowing that Medical City Hospital, "did not perform the necessary supervision nor
another person is acting on his behalf without authority. exercise diligent efforts in the supervision of Drs. Ampil and Fuentes
and its nursing staff, resident doctors, and medical interns who
assisted Drs. Ampil and Fuentes in the performance of their duties as to exercise reasonable care to protect from harm all patients admitted
surgeons." 34 Premised on the doctrine of corporate negligence, the trial into its facility for medical treatment. Unfortunately, PSI failed to perform
court held that PSI is directly liable for such breach of duty. such duty. The findings of the trial court are convincing, thus:

We agree with the trial court. . . . PSI's liability is traceable to its failure to
conduct an investigation of the matter reported in the
Recent years have seen the doctrine of corporate negligence as the nota bene of the count nurse. Such failure established
judicial answer to the problem of allocating hospital's liability for the
PSI's part in the dark conspiracy of silence and
negligent acts of health practitioners, absent facts to support the application
concealment about the gauzes. Ethical considerations,
of respondeat superior or apparent authority. Its formulation proceeds from
if not also legal, dictated the holding of an immediate
the judiciary's acknowledgment that in these modern times, the duty of
inquiry into the events, if not for the benefit of the patient
providing quality medical service is no longer the sole prerogative and
to whom the duty is primarily owed, then in the interest of
responsibility of the physician. The modern hospitals have changed
arriving at the truth. The Court cannot accept that the
structure. Hospitals now tend to organize a highly professional medical staff
medical and the healing professions, through their
whose competence and performance need to be monitored by the hospitals
members like defendant surgeons, and their institutions
commensurate with their inherent responsibility to provide quality medical
like PSI's hospital facility, can callously turn their backs on
care. 35
and disregard even a mere probability of mistake or
The doctrine has its genesis in Darling v. Charleston Community negligence by refusing or failing to investigate a report of
Hospital. 36 There, the Supreme Court of Illinois held that "the jury could such seriousness as the one in Natividad's case. ECaScD
have found a hospital negligent, inter alia, in failing to have a sufficient It is worthy to note that Dr. Ampil and Dr. Fuentes operated on
number of trained nurses attending the patient; failing to require a Natividad with the assistance of the Medical City Hospital's staff, composed
consultation with or examination by members of the hospital staff; and of resident doctors, nurses, and interns. As such, it is reasonable to
failing to review the treatment rendered to the patient.". . . On the basis conclude that PSI, as the operator of the hospital,
of Darling, other jurisdictions held that a hospital's corporate negligence has actualor constructive knowledge of the procedures carried
extends to permitting a physician known to be incompetent to practice out, particularly the report of the attending nurses that the two pieces
at the hospital. 37 With the passage of time, more duties were expected of gauze were missing. In Fridena v. Evans, 41 it was held that a
from hospitals, among them: (1) the use of reasonable care in the corporation is bound by the knowledge acquired by or notice given to its
maintenance of safe and adequate facilities and equipment; (2) the agents or officers within the scope of their authority and in reference to a
selection and retention of competent physicians; (3) the overseeing or matter to which their authority extends. This means that the knowledge of
supervision of all persons who practice medicine within its walls; any of the staff of Medical City Hospital constitutes knowledge of PSI. Now,
and (4) the formulation, adoption and enforcement of adequate rules and the failure of PSI, despite the attending nurses' report, to investigate and
policies that ensure quality care for its patients. 38 Thus, in Tucson Medical inform Natividad regarding the missing gauzes amounts to callous
Center, Inc. v. Misevich, 39 it was held that a hospital, following the doctrine negligence. Not only did PSI breach its duties to oversee or supervise all
of corporate responsibility, has the duty to see that it meets the standards of persons who practice medicine within its walls, it also failed to take an
responsibilities for the care of patients. Such duty includes the proper active step in fixing the negligence committed. This renders PSI, not only
supervision of the members of its medical staff. And in Bost v. vicariously liable for the negligence of Dr. Ampil under Article 2180 of the
Riley, 40 the court concluded that a patient who enters a hospital does so Civil Code, but also directly liable for its own negligence under Article 2176.
with the reasonable expectation that it will attempt to cure him. The In Fridena, the Supreme Court of Arizona held:
hospital accordingly has the duty to make a reasonable effort to
monitor and oversee the treatment prescribed and administered by the . . . In recent years, however, the duty of care
physicians practicing in its premises. owed to the patient by the hospital has expanded. The
emerging trend is to hold the hospital responsible
In the present case, it was duly established that PSI operates the where the hospital has failed to monitor and review
Medical City Hospital for the purpose and under the concept of providing medical services being provided within its walls.
comprehensive medical services to the public. Accordingly, it has the duty
See Kahn Hospital Malpractice Prevention, 27 De Paul supervision of the latter. In neglecting to offer such proof, PSI failed to
Rev. 23 (1977). discharge its burden under the last paragraph of Article 2180 cited earlier,
and, therefore, must be adjudged solidarily liable with Dr. Ampil. Moreover,
Among the cases indicative of the 'emerging as we have discussed, PSI is also directly liable to the Aganas.
trend' is Purcell v. Zimbelman, 18 Ariz. App. 75,500 P. 2d
335 (1972). In Purcell, the hospital argued that it could not One final word. Once a physician undertakes the treatment and care
be held liable for the malpractice of a medical practitioner of a patient, the law imposes on him certain obligations. In order to escape
because he was an independent contractor within the liability, he must possess that reasonable degree of learning, skill and
hospital. The Court of Appeals pointed out that the experience required by his profession. At the same time, he must apply
hospital had created a professional staff whose reasonable care and diligence in the exercise of his skill and the application
competence and performance was to be monitored of his knowledge, and exert his best judgment. aEACcS
and reviewed by the governing body of the hospital,
WHEREFORE, we DENY all the petitions and AFFIRM the
and the court held that a hospital would be negligent
challenged Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 42062 and
where it had knowledge or reason to believe that a
CA-G.R. SP No. 32198.
doctor using the facilities was employing a method of
treatment or care which fell below the recognized Costs against petitioners PSI and Dr. Miguel Ampil.
standard of care.
SO ORDERED.

Puno, C.J., Corona and Azcuna, JJ., concur.


Subsequent to the Purcell decision, the
Arizona Court of Appeals held that a hospital has Garcia, J., took no part.
certain inherent responsibilities regarding the quality ||| (Professional Services, Inc. v. Natividad, G.R. Nos. 126297, 126467 &
of medical care furnished to patients within its walls 127590, [January 31, 2007], 542 PHIL 464-496)
and it must meet the standards of responsibility
commensurate with this undertaking. Beeck v. Tucson
General Hospital, 18 Ariz. App. 165, 500 P. 2d 1153
(1972). This court has confirmed the rulings of the Court of SECOND DIVISION
Appeals that a hospital has the duty of supervising the
competence of the doctors on its staff. . . . .
[G.R. No. 118141. September 5, 1997.]
xxx xxx xxx
In the amended complaint, the plaintiffs did plead LEONILA GARCIA-RUEDA, petitioner,vs.WILFRED L.
that the operation was performed at the hospital with its PASCASIO, RAUL R. ARNAU, ABELARDO L.
knowledge, aid, and assistance, and that the negligence APORTADERA, JR.,Honorable CONRADO M.
of the defendants was the proximate cause of the VASQUEZ, all of the Office of the Ombudsman; JESUS
patient's injuries. We find that such general allegations F. GUERRERO, PORFIRIO MACARAEG, and
of negligence, along with the evidence produced at GREGORIO A. ARIZALA, all of the Office of the City
the trial of this case, are sufficient to support the Prosecutor, Manila, respondents.
hospital's liability based on the theory of negligent
supervision."
Acosta, Rueda-Acosta & Associates for petitioner.
Anent the corollary issue of whether PSI is solidarily liable with Dr.
Ampil for damages, let it be emphasized that PSI, apart from a general The Solicitor General for respondents.
denial of its responsibility, failed to adduce evidence showing that it
exercised the diligence of a good father of a family in the accreditation and
SYNOPSIS and "to investigate any act or omission of any public official when such act
or omission appears to be illegal, unjust, improper or inefficient." dctai
This is a special civil action case under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court filed by 2. ID.;ID.;GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION; CONSTRUED. — In this regard,
petitioner Leonila Rueda against public respondent Office of the "grave abuse of discretion" has been defined as "where a power is
Ombudsman for its failure to uphold the existence of probable cause to hold exercised in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion or
public respondents City Prosecutors liable for violation of Section 3(e) personal hostility so patent and gross as to amount to evasion of positive
of R.A. No. 3019. The records reveal that Florencio V. Rueda, husband of duty or virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined by, or in contemplation of
herein petitioner, underwent surgical operation at the UST Hospital for the law.
removal of a stone blocking his ureter. He was attended by a surgeon, Dr.
Domingo Antonio, Jr. and an anaesthesiologist, Dr. Erlinda Balatbat-Reyes. 3. REMEDIAL LAW; CRIMINAL PROCEDURE; PROBABLE CAUSE;
However, six hours after the surgery, Florencio died of complications of DEFINED AND EXPLAINED IN THE CASE AT BAR. — Probable cause has
unknown cause. Petitioner sought the help of the NBI to conduct an autopsy been defined as "the existence of such fact and circumstances as would
on her husband's body and its finding was that Florencio's death was due to excite the belief, in a reasonable mind, acting on the facts within the
lack of care by the attending physician in administering anaesthesia. A knowledge of the prosecution, that the person charged was guilty of the
formal complaint for Homicide through Reckless Imprudence was then filed crime for which he was prosecuted." "Probable cause is a reasonable
before the Manila City Prosecutors Office. In said office, petitioner's case ground of presumption that a matter is, or may be, well founded, such a
was transferred from one prosecutor to another who came out with state of facts in the mind of the prosecutor as would lead a person of
contradictory recommendations. When the case was transferred to Senior ordinary caution and prudence to believe, or entertain an honest or strong
State Prosecutor Arizala, the latter resolved to exonerate Dr. Reyes from any suspicion, that a thing is so." The term does not mean actual and positive
wrongdoing. Aggrieved petitioner filed graft charges against Prosecutors cause nor does it import absolute certainty. It is merely based on opinion
Guerrero, Macaraeg and Arizala for manifest partiality in favor of Dr. Reyes and reasonable belief. Thus, a finding of probable cause does not require an
in the Office of the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman, however, dismissed the inquiry into whether there is sufficient evidence to procure a conviction. It is
complaint for lack of evidence. cda enough that it is believed that the act or omission complained of constitutes
the offense charged. Precisely, there is a trial for the reception of evidence
The Supreme Court ruled that in exercising his discretion under the of the prosecution in support of the charge. SEcAIC
circumstances, the Ombudsman acted within his power and authority in
dismissing the complaint against the prosecutors, and the Court will not 4. CRIMINAL LAW; CRIMINAL NEGLIGENCE; FOUR ELEMENTS INVOLVED
interfere with the same. Being the proper investigating authority, the IN MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE CASES. — "In its simplest terms, the type of
Ombudsman should have inquired into the successive transfer of the case lawsuit which has been called medical malpractice or, more appropriately,
from one prosecutor to another which could hardly qualify as "standard medical negligence, is that type of claim which a victim has available to him
operating procedure." The instant petition is dismissed without prejudice to or her to redress a wrong committed by a medical professional which has
the filing of an appeal by the petitioner with the Secretary of Justice. caused bodily harm. In order to successfully pursue such a claim, a patient
must prove that a health care provider, in most cases a physician, either
failed to do something which a reasonably prudent health care provider
SYLLABUS would have done, or that he or she did something that a reasonably prudent
provider would not have done; and that that failure or action caused injury to
the patient." Hence, there are four elements involved in medical negligence
1. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW; 1987 CONSTITUTION; OMBUDSMAN; cases: duty, breach, injury and proximate causation.
POWERS AND FUNCTIONS THEREOF. — Preliminarily, the powers and
functions of the Ombudsman have generally been categorized into the 5. ID.; SECTION 3(E) OF THE ANTI-GRAFT AND CORRUPT PRACTICES
following: investigatory powers, prosecutory power, public assistance ACT; FACTS REQUIRED. — The City Prosecutors were charged with
function, authority to inquire and obtain information, and function to adopt, violating Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019 which requires the following facts: "1.
institute and implement preventive measures. As protector of the people, The accused is a public officer discharging administrative or official
the Office of the Ombudsman has the power, function and duty "to act functions or private persons charged in conspiracy with them; 2. The public
promptly on complaints filed in any form or manner against public officials" officer committed the prohibited act during the performance of his official
duty or in relation to his public position; 3. The public officer acted with Florencio V. Rueda, husband of petitioner Leonila Garcia-Rueda, underwent
manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross, inexcusable negligence; and 4. surgical operation at the UST Hospital for the removal of a stone blocking
His action caused undue injury to the Government or any private party, or his ureter. He was attended by Dr. Domingo Antonio, Jr. who was the
gave any party any unwarranted benefit, advantage or preference to such surgeon, while Dr. Erlinda Balatbat-Reyes was the anaesthesiologist. Six
parties." dctai hours after the surgery, however, Florencio died of complications of
"unknown cause," according to officials of the UST Hospital. 2
Not satisfied with the findings of the hospital, petitioner requested the
DECISION National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct an autopsy on her
husband's body. Consequently, the NBI ruled that Florencio's death was
due to lack of care by the attending physician in administering anaesthesia.
Pursuant to its findings, the NBI recommended that Dr. Domingo Antonio
ROMERO, J p: and Dr. Erlinda Balatbat-Reyes be charged for Homicide through Reckless
Imprudence before the Office of the City Prosecutor.
May this Court review the findings of the Office of the Ombudsman? The
general rule has been enunciated in Ocampo v. Ombudsman 1 which During the preliminary investigation, what transpired was a confounding
states: LLjur series of events which we shall try to disentangle. The case was initially
assigned to Prosecutor Antonio M. Israel, who had to inhibit himself
"In the exercise of its investigative power, this Court has because he was related to the counsel of one of the doctors. As a result, the
consistently held that courts will not interfere with the case was re-raffled to Prosecutor Norberto G. Leono who was, however,
discretion of the fiscal or the Ombudsman to determine disqualified on motion of the petitioner since he disregarded prevailing laws
the specificity and adequacy of the averments of the and jurisprudence regarding preliminary investigation. The case was then
offense charged. He may dismiss the complaint forthwith referred to Prosecutor Ramon O. Carisma, who issued a resolution
if he finds it to be insufficient in form and substance or if recommending that only Dr. Reyes be held criminally liable and that the
he otherwise finds no ground to continue with the inquiry; complaint against Dr. Antonio be dismissed.
or he may proceed with the investigation of the complaint
if, in his view, it is in due and proper form." The case took another perplexing turn when Assistant City Prosecutor
Josefina Santos Sioson, in the "interest of justice and peace of mind of the
Does the instant case warrant a departure from the foregoing general rule? parties," recommended that the case be re-raffled on the ground that
When a patient dies soon after surgery under circumstances which indicate Prosecutor Carisma was partial to the petitioner. Thus, the case was
that the attending surgeon and anaesthesiologist may have been guilty of transferred to Prosecutor Leoncia R. Dimagiba, where a volte face occurred
negligence but upon their being charged, a series of nine prosecutors toss again with the endorsement that the complaint against Dr. Reyes be
the responsibility of conducting a preliminary investigation to each other dismissed and instead, a corresponding information be filed against Dr.
with contradictory recommendations, "ping-pong" style, perhaps the Antonio. Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration, questioning the
distraught widow is not to be blamed if she finally decides to accuse the findings of Prosecutor Dimagiba.
City Prosecutors at the end of the line for partiality under the Anti-Graft and
Corrupt Practices Act. Nor may she be entirely faulted for finally filing a
petition before this Court against the Ombudsman for grave abuse of
Pending the resolution of petitioner's motion for reconsideration regarding
discretion in dismissing her complaint against said City Prosecutors on the
Prosecutor Dimagiba's resolution, the investigative "pingpong" continued
ground of lack of evidence. Much as we sympathize with the bereaved
when the case was again assigned to another prosecutor, Eudoxia T.
widow, however, this Court is of the opinion that the general rule still finds
Gualberto, who recommended that Dr. Reyes be included in the criminal
application in instant case. In other words, the respondent Ombudsman did
information of Homicide through Reckless Imprudence. While the
not commit grave abuse of discretion in deciding against filing the necessary
recommendation of Prosecutor Gualberto was pending, the case was
information against public respondents of the Office of the City Prosecutor.
transferred to Senior State Prosecutor Gregorio A. Arizala, who resolved to
The following facts are borne out by the records. exonerate Dr. Reyes from any wrongdoing, a resolution which was approved
by both City Prosecutor Porfirio G. Macaraeg and City Prosecutor Jesus F. Whether such transfers were due to any outside pressure or ulterior motive
Guerrero. is a matter of evidence. One would have expected the Ombudsman,
however, to inquire into what could hardly qualify as "standard operating
Aggrieved, petitioner filed graft charges specifically for violation of Section procedure," given the surrounding circumstances of the case.
3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 3 against Prosecutors Guerrero, Macaraeg,
and Arizala for manifest partiality in favor of Dr. Reyes before the Office of While it is true that a preliminary investigation is essentially inquisitorial, and
the Ombudsman. However, on July 11, 1994, the Ombudsman issued the is often the only means to discover who may be charged with a crime, its
assailed resolution dismissing the complaint for lack of evidence. function is merely to determine the existence of probable cause. 8 Probable
cause has been defined as "the existence of such fact and circumstances as
In fine, petitioner assails the exercise of the discretionary power of the would excite the belief, in a reasonable mind, acting on the facts within the
Ombudsman to review the recommendations of the government knowledge of the prosecution, that the person charged was guilty of the
prosecutors and to approve and disapprove the same. Petitioner faults the crime for which he was prosecuted." 9
Ombudsman for, allegedly in grave abuse of discretion, refusing to find that
there exists probable cause to hold public respondent City Prosecutors "Probable cause is a reasonable ground of presumption that a matter is, or
liable for violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019. may be, well founded, such a state of facts in the mind of the prosecutor as
would lead a person of ordinary caution and prudence to believe, or
Preliminarily, the powers and functions of the Ombudsman have generally entertain an honest or strong suspicion, that a thing is so." The term does
been categorized into the following: investigatory powers, prosecutory not mean actual and positive cause nor does it import absolute certainty. It
power, public assistance function, authority to inquire and obtain is merely based on opinion and reasonable belief. Thus, a finding of
information, and function to adopt, institute and implement preventive probable cause does not require an inquiry into whether there is sufficient
measures. 4 evidence to procure a conviction. It is enough that it is believed that the act
As protector of the people, the Office of the Ombudsman has the power, or omission complained of constitutes the offense charged. Precisely, there
function and duty "to act promptly on complaints filed in any form or manner is a trial for the reception of evidence of the prosecution in support of the
against public officials" and "to investigate any act or omission of any public charge. 10
official when such act or omission appears to be illegal, unjust, improper or In the instant case, no less than the NBI pronounced after conducting an
inefficient." 5 autopsy that there was indeed negligence on the part of the attending
While the Ombudsman has the full discretion to determine whether or not a physicians in administering the anaesthesia. 11 The fact of want of
criminal case should be filed, this Court is not precluded from reviewing the competence or diligence is evidentiary in nature, the veracity of which can
Ombudsman's action when there is an abuse of discretion, in which case best be passed upon after a full-blown trial for it is virtually impossible to
Rule 65 of the Rules of Court may exceptionally be invoked pursuant ascertain the merits of a medical negligence case without extensive
to Section I, Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution. 6 investigation, research, evaluation and consultations with medical experts.
Clearly, the City Prosecutors are not in a competent position to pass
In this regard, "grave abuse of discretion" has been defined as "where a judgment on such a technical matter, especially when there are conflicting
power is exercised in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion evidence and findings. The bases of a party's accusation and defenses are
or personal hostility so patent and gross as to amount to evasion of positive better ventilated at the trial proper than at the preliminary investigation.
duty or virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined by, or in contemplation of
law. 7 A word on medical malpractice or negligence cases.

From a procedural standpoint, it is certainly odd why the successive "In its simplest terms, the type of lawsuit which has been
transfers from one prosecutor to another were not sufficiently explained in called medical malpractice or, more appropriately,
the Resolution of the Ombudsman. Being the proper investigating authority medical negligence, is that type of claim which a victim
with respect to misfeasance, non-feasance and malfeasance of public has available to him or her to redress a wrong committed
officials, the Ombudsman should have been more vigilant and assiduous in by a medical professional which has caused bodily harm.
determining the reasons behind the "buck passing" to ensure that no In order to successfully pursue such a claim, a patient
irregularity took place. must prove that a health care provider, in most cases a
physician, either failed to do something which a deleterious effect the anaesthesia might produce. 19 Why these
reasonably prudent health care provider would have done, precautionary measures were disregarded must be sufficiently explained.
or that he or she did something that a reasonably prudent
provider would not have done; and that failure or action The City Prosecutors were charged with violating Section 3(e) of the Anti-
caused injury to the patient." 12 Graft and Corrupt Practices Act which requires the following facts:

Hence, there are four elements involved in medical negligence cases: duty, "1. The accused is a public officer discharging
breach, injury and proximate causation. administrative or official functions or private persons
charged in conspiracy with them;
Evidently, when the victim employed the services of Dr. Antonio and Dr.
Reyes, a physician-patient relationship was created. In accepting the case, 2. The public officer committed the prohibited act during
Dr. Antonio and Dr. Reyes in effect represented that, having the needed the performance of his official duty or in relation to his
training and skill possessed by physicians and surgeons practicing in the public position;
same field, they will employ such training, care and skill in the treatment of 3. The public officer acted with manifest partiality, evident
their patients. 13 They have a duty to use at least the same level of care that bad faith or gross, inexcusable negligence; and
any other reasonably competent doctor would use to treat a condition under
the same circumstances. The breach of these professional duties of skill and 4. His action caused undue injury to the Government or
care, or their improper performance, by a physician surgeon whereby the any private party, or gave any party any unwarranted
patient is injured in body or in health, constitutes actionable benefit, advantage or preference to such parties." 20
malpractice. 14Consequently, in the event that any injury results to the
Why did the complainant, petitioner in instant case, elect to charge
patient from want of due care or skill during the operation, the surgeons may
respondents under the above law?
be held answerable in damages for negligence. 15
While a party who feels himself aggrieved is at liberty to choose the
Moreover, in malpractice or negligence cases involving the administration of
appropriate "weapon from the armory," it is with no little surprise that this
anaesthesia, the necessity of expert testimony and the availability of the
Court views the choice made by the complainant widow.
charge of res ipsa loquitur to the plaintiff, have been applied in actions
against anaesthesiologists to hold the defendant liable for the death or injury
of a patient under excessive or improper anaesthesia. 16 Essentially, it
requires two-pronged evidence: evidence as to the recognized standards of To our mind, the better and more logical remedy under the circumstances
the medical community in the particular kind of case, and a showing that the would have been to appeal the resolution of the City Prosecutors dismissing
physician in question negligently departed from this standard in his the criminal complaint to the Secretary of Justice under the Department of
treatment. 17 Justice's Order No. 223, 21 otherwise known as the "1993 Revised Rules on
Appeals From Resolutions in Preliminary Investigations/Reinvestigations," as
Another element in medical negligence cases is causation which is divided amended by Department Order No. 359, Section 1 of which provides:
into two inquiries: whether the doctor's actions in fact caused the harm to
the patient and whether these were the proximate cause of the patient's "Section 1. What May Be Appealed.— Only resolutions of
injury. 18 Indeed here, a causal connection is discernible from the the Chief State Prosecutor/Regional State
occurrence of the victim's death after the negligent act of the Prosecutor/Provincial or City Prosecutor dismissing a
anaesthesiologist in administering the anesthesia, a fact which, if confirmed, criminal complaint may be the subject of an appeal to the
should warrant the filing of the appropriate criminal case. To be sure, the Secretary of Justice except as otherwise provided in
allegation of negligence is not entirely baseless. Moreover, the NBI deduced Section 4 hereof."
that the attending surgeons did not conduct the necessary interview of the What action may the Secretary of Justice take on the appeal? Section 9 of
patient prior to the operation. It appears that the cause of the death of the Order No. 223 states: "The Secretary of Justice may reverse, affirm or
victim could have been averted had the proper drug been applied to cope modify the appealed resolution." On the other hand, "He may motu
with the symptoms of malignant hyperthermia. Also, we cannot ignore the propio or on motion of the appellee, dismiss outright the appeal on specified
fact that an antidote was readily available to counteract whatever grounds." 22
In exercising his discretion under the circumstances, the Ombudsman acted Erlinda's husband filed a civil case for damages against said hospital and
within his power and authority in dismissing the complaint against the Drs. Orlino Hosaka and Perfecta Gutierrez. The Regional Trial Court ruled in
Prosecutors and this Court will not interfere with the same. cdlex favor of the plaintiffs. The Court of Appeals, however, reversed the decision
of the lower court and ordered the dismissal of the complaint. Hence, this
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the instant petition is DISMISSED, petition.
without prejudice to the filing of an appeal by the petitioner with the
Secretary of Justice assailing the dismissal of her criminal complaint by the The doctrine of res ipsa loquitur is a recognition of the postulate that, as a
respondent City Prosecutors. No costs. matter of common knowledge and experience, the very nature of certain
types of occurrences may justify an inference of negligence on the part of
SO ORDERED. the person who controls the instrumentality causing the injury in the
Regalado, Puno, Mendoza and Torres, Jr.,JJ ., concur. absence of some explanation by the defendant who is charged with
negligence. The damage sustained by Erlinda in her brain prior to a
||| (Garcia-Rueda v. Pascasio, G.R. No. 118141, [September 5, 1997], 344 scheduled gall bladder operation presents a case for the application of res
PHIL 323-335) ipsa loquitur. aACHDS
Brain damage, which Erlinda sustained is an injury which does not normally
FIRST DIVISION occur in the process of a gall bladder operation. In fact, this kind of situation
does not happen in the absence of negligence of someone in the
administration of anesthesia and in the use of endotracheal tube. Moreover,
[G.R. No. 124354. December 29, 1999.] the instruments used in the administration of anesthesia, including the
endotracheal tube, were all under the exclusive control of private
ROGELIO E. RAMOS and ERLINDA RAMOS, in their respondents, who are the physicians-in-charge.
own behalf and as natural guardians of the minors,
ROMMEL RAMOS, ROY RODERICK RAMOS and RON
RAYMOND RAMOS, petitioners, vs. COURT OF SYLLABUS
APPEALS, DELOS SANTOS MEDICAL CENTER, DR.
ORLINO HOSAKA and DRA. PERFECTA 1. REMEDIAL LAW; CIVIL PROCEDURE; MOTION FOR
GUTIERREZ, respondents. RECONSIDERATION; NO DELAY OF FILING IN CASE AT BAR. — It is
elementary that when a party is represented by counsel, all notices should
be sent to the party's lawyer at his given address. With a few exceptions,
Luis C. A. Sillano for petitioners. notice to a litigant without notice to his counsel on record is no notice at all.
In the present case, since a copy of the decision of the appellate court was
Antonio H. Abad & Associates for respondents Doctors.
not sent to the counsel on record of petitioner, there can be no sufficient
Tanjuatco, Sta. Maria, Tanjuatco for respondent DLSMC. notice to speak of. Hence, the delay in the filing of the motion for
reconsideration cannot be taken against petitioner. Moreover, since the
Court of Appeals already issued a second Resolution, dated 29 March 1996,
SYNOPSIS which superseded the earlier resolution issued on 25 July 1995, and denied
the motion for reconsideration of petitioner, we believe that the receipt of
the former should be considered in determining the timeliness of the filing of
In the morning of June 17, 1985, Erlinda Ramos was brought into the
the present petition. Based on this, the petition before us was submitted on
operating room of the Delos Santos Medical Center for a cholecystectomy.
time.
She was then a robust woman, normal as any other except for occasional
complaints of discomfort due to pains allegedly caused by the presence of 2. CIVIL LAW; DOCTRINE OF RES IPSA LOQUITUR; ELUCIDATED. — Res
stones in her gall bladder. At around 3:00 p.m. of that day, Erlinda was taken ipsa loquitur is a Latin phrase which literally means "the thing or the
to the Intensive Care unit of the hospital, comatose. On January 8, 1986, transaction speaks for itself." The phrase "res ipsa loquitur" is a maxim for
the rule that the fact of the occurrence of an injury, taken with the 3. ID.; ID.; APPLICATION IN MEDICAL MALPRACTICE. — Medical
surrounding circumstances, may permit an inference or raise a presumption malpractice cases do not escape the application of this doctrine. Thus, res
of negligence, or make out a plaintiffs prima facie case, and present a ipsa loquiturhas been applied when the circumstances attendant upon the
question of fact for defendant to meet with an explanation. Where the thing harm are themselves of such a character as to justify an inference of
which caused the injury complained of is shown to be under the negligence as the cause of that harm. The application of res ipsa loquitur in
management of the defendant or his servants and the accident is such as in medical negligence cases presents a question of law since it is a judicial
ordinary course of things does not happen if those who have its function to determine whether a certain set of circumstances does, as a
management or control use proper care, it affords reasonable evidence, in matter of law, permit a given inference. Although generally, expert medical
the absence of explanation by the defendant, that the accident arose from testimony is relied upon in malpractice suits to prove that a physician has
or was caused by the defendant's want of care. The doctrine of res ipsa done a negligent act or that he has deviated from the standard medical
loquitur is simply a recognition of the postulate that, as a matter of common procedure, when the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur is availed by the plaintiff,
knowledge and experience, the very nature of certain types of occurrences the need for expert medical testimony is dispensed with because the injury
may justify an inference of negligence on the part of the person who controls itself provides the proof of negligence. The reason is that the general rule on
the instrumentality causing the injury in the absence of some explanation by the necessity of expert testimony applies only to such matters clearly within
the defendant who is charged with negligence. It is grounded in the superior the domain of medical science, and not to matters that are within the
logic of ordinary human experience and on the basis of such experience or common knowledge of mankind which may be testified to by anyone
common knowledge, negligence may be deduced from the mere occurrence familiar with the facts. Ordinarily, only physicians and surgeons of skill and
of the accident itself. Hence, res ipsa loquitur is applied in conjunction with experience are competent to testify as to whether a patient has been treated
the doctrine of common knowledge. However, much has been said that res or operated upon with a reasonable degree of skill and care. However,
ipsa loquitur is not a rule of substantive law and, as such, does not create or testimony as to the statements and acts of physicians and surgeons,
constitute an independent or separate ground of liability. Instead, it is external appearances, and manifest conditions which are observable by any
considered as merely evidentiary or in the nature of a procedural rule. It is one may be given by non-expert witnesses. Hence, in cases where the res
regarded as a mode of proof, or a mere procedural convenience since it ipsa loquitur is applicable, the court is permitted to find a physician
furnishes a substitute for, and relieves a plaintiff of, the burden of producing negligent upon proper proof of injury to the patient, without the aid of expert
specific proof of negligence. In other words, mere invocation and application testimony, where the court from its fund of common knowledge can
of the doctrine does not dispense with the requirement of proof of determine the proper standard of care. Where common knowledge and
negligence. It is simply a step in the process of such proof, permitting the experience teach that a resulting injury would not have occurred to the
plaintiff to present along with the proof of the accident, enough of the patient if due care had been exercised, an inference of negligence may be
attending circumstances to invoke the doctrine, creating an inference or drawn giving rise to an application of the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur without
presumption of negligence, and to thereby place on the defendant the medical evidence, which is ordinarily required to show not only what
burden of going forward with the proof. Still, before resort to the doctrine occurred but how and why it occurred. When the doctrine is appropriate, all
may be allowed, the following requisites must be satisfactorily shown: 1. The that the patient must do is prove a nexus between the particular act or
accident is of a kind which ordinarily does not occur in the absence of omission complained of and the injury sustained while under the custody
someone's negligence; 2. It is caused by an instrumentality within the and management of the defendant without need to produce expert medical
exclusive control of the defendant or defendants; and 3. The possibility of testimony to establish the standard of care. Resort to res ipsa loquitur is
contributing conduct which would make the plaintiff responsible is allowed because there is no other way, under usual and ordinary conditions,
eliminated. In the above requisites, the fundamental element is the "control by which the patient can obtain redress for injury suffered by him. Thus,
of the instrumentality" which caused the damage. Such element of control courts of other jurisdictions have applied the doctrine in the following
must be shown to be within the dominion of the defendant. In order to have situations: leaving of a foreign object in the body of the patient after an
the benefit of the rule, a plaintiff, in addition to proving injury or damage, operation, injuries sustained on a healthy part of the body which was not
must show a situation where it is applicable, and must establish that the under, or in the area, of treatment, removal of the wrong part of the body
essential elements of the doctrine were present in a particular when another part was intended, knocking out a tooth while a patient's jaw
incident. TaHDAS was under anesthetic for the removal of his tonsils, and loss of an eye while
the patient plaintiff was under the influence of anesthetic, during or following
an operation for appendicitis, among others. Nevertheless, despite the fact
that the scope of res ipsa loquitur has been measurably enlarged, it does not sound and unaffected member of the body (the brain) is injured or destroyed
automatically apply to all cases of medical negligence as to mechanically while the patient is unconscious and under the immediate and exclusive
shift the burden of proof to the defendant to show that he is not guilty of the control of the physicians, we hold that a practical administration of justice
ascribed negligence. Res ipsa loquitur is not a rigid or ordinary doctrine to dictates the application of res ipsa loquitur. Upon these facts and under
be perfunctorily used but a rule to be cautiously applied, depending upon these circumstances the Court would be able to say, as a matter of common
the circumstances of each case. It is generally restricted to situations in knowledge and observation, if negligence attended the management and
malpractice cases where a layman is able to say, as a matter of common care of the patient. Moreover, the liability of the physicians and the hospital
knowledge and observation, that the consequences of professional care in this case is not predicated upon an alleged failure to secure the desired
were not as such as would ordinarily have followed if due care had been results of an operation nor on an alleged lack of skill in the diagnosis or
exercised. A distinction must be made between the failure to secure results, treatment as in fact no operation or treatment was ever performed on
and the occurrence of something more unusual and not ordinarily found if Erlinda. Thus, upon all these initial determination a case is made out for the
the service or treatment rendered followed the usual procedure of those application of the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur.
skilled in that particular practice. It must be conceded that the doctrine
of res ipsa loquitur can have no application in a suit against a physician or 6. REMEDIAL LAW; EVIDENCE; WITNESS; COMPETENCE; UPHELD IN
surgeon which involves the merits of a diagnosis or of a scientific treatment. CASE AT BAR. — Although witness Cruz is not an anesthesiologist, she can
The physician or surgeon is not required at his peril to explain why any very well testify upon matters on which she is capable of observing such as,
particular diagnosis was not correct, or why any particular scientific the statements and acts of the physician and surgeon, external
treatment did not produce the desired result. Thus, res ipsa loquitur is not appearances, and manifest conditions which are observable by any one.
available in a malpractice suit if the only showing is that the desired result of This is precisely allowed under the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur where the
an operation or treatment was not accomplished. The real question, testimony of expert witnesses is not required. It is the accepted rule that
therefore, is whether or not in the process of the operation any extraordinary expert testimony is not necessary for the proof of negligence in non-
incident or unusual event outside of the routine performance occurred which technical matters or those of which an ordinary person may be expected to
is beyond the regular scope of customary professional activity in such have knowledge, or where the lack of skill or want of care is so obvious as
operations, which, if unexplained would themselves reasonably speak to the to render expert testimony unnecessary.
average man as the negligent cause or causes of the untoward 7. ID.; ID.; RULES OF ADMISSIBILITY; TESTIMONIAL EVIDENCE; OPINION
consequence. If there was such extraneous interventions, the doctrine of res OF EXPERT WITNESS; NOT ADMITTED IN CASE AT BAR. — The provision
ipsa loquitur may be utilized and the defendant is called upon to explain the in the rules of evidence regarding expert witnesses states: Sec. 49. Opinion
matter, by evidence of exculpation, if he could. of expert witness. — The opinion of a witness on a matter requiring special
knowledge, skill, experience or training which he is shown to possess, may
be received in evidence. Generally, to qualify as an expert witness, one must
4. ID.; ID.; APPLICABLE IN CASE AT BAR. — We find the doctrine of res have acquired special knowledge of the subject matter about which he or
ipsa loquitur appropriate in the case at bar. . . . Brain damage, which Erlinda she is to testify, either by the study of recognized authorities on the subject
sustained, is an injury which does not normally occur in the process of a gall or by practical experience. Clearly, Dr. Jamora does not qualify as an expert
bladder operation. In fact, this kind of situation does not happen in the witness based on the above standard since he lacks the necessary
absence of negligence of someone in the administration of anesthesia and in knowledge, skill, and training in the field of anesthesiology.
the use of endotracheal tube. Normally, a person being put under
anesthesia is not rendered decerebrate as a consequence of administering 8. CIVIL LAW; DAMAGES; EXCEPTIONAL NEGLIGENCE AND
such anesthesia if the proper procedure was followed. Furthermore, the PROFESSIONAL IRRESPONSIBILITY IN THE MEDICAL FIELD IN CASE AT
instruments used in the administration of anesthesia, including the BAR. — Respondent Dra. Gutierrez' act of seeing her patient for the first
endotracheal tube, were all under the exclusive control of private time only an hour before the scheduled operative procedure was therefore,
respondents, who are the physicians-in-charge. CaTSEA an act of exceptional negligence and professional irresponsibility. The
measures cautioning prudence and vigilance in dealing with human lives lie
5. ID.; ID.; CONTRIBUTORY NEGLIGENCE. — Petitioner Erlinda could not at the core of the physician's centuries-old Hippocratic Oath. Her failure to
have been guilty of contributory negligence because she was under the follow this medical procedure is, therefore, a clear indicia of her negligence.
influence of anesthetics which rendered her unconscious. Considering that a
9. ID.; ID.; ID. — As the so-called "captain of the ship," it is the surgeon's in the hospital, and/or for the privilege of admitting patients into the hospital.
responsibility to see to it that those under him perform their task in the In addition to these, the physician's performance as a specialist is generally
proper manner. Respondent Dr. Hosaka's negligence can be found in his evaluated by a peer review committee on the basis of mortality and
failure to exercise the proper authority (as the "captain" of the operative morbidity statistics, and feedback from patients, nurses, interns and
team) in not determining if his anesthesiologist observed proper anesthesia residents. A consultant remiss in his duties, or a consultant who regularly
protocols. In fact, no evidence on record exists to show that respondent Dr. falls short of the minimum standards acceptable to the hospital or its peer
Hosaka verified if respondent Dra. Gutierrez properly intubated the patient. review committee, is normally politely terminated. In other words, private
Furthermore, it does not escape us that respondent Dr. Hosaka had hospitals, hire, fire and exercise real control over their attending and visiting
scheduled another procedure in a different hospital at the same time as "consultant" staff. While "consultants" are not, technically employees, a
Erlinda's cholecystectomy, and was in fact over three hours late for the point which respondent hospital asserts in denying all responsibility for the
latter's operation. Because of this, he had little or no time to confer with his patient's condition, the control exercised, the hiring, and the right to
anesthesiologist regarding the anesthesia delivery. This indicates that he terminate consultants all fulfill the important hallmarks of an employer-
was remiss in his professional duties towards his patient. Thus, he shares employee relationship, with the exception of the payment of wages. In
equal responsibility for the events which resulted in Erlinda's condition. assessing whether such a relationship in fact exists, the control test is
determining. Accordingly, on the basis of the foregoing, we rule that for the
10. ID.; TORTS; PROXIMATE CAUSE; ELUCIDATED. — Proximate cause purpose of allocating responsibility in medical negligence cases, an
has been defined as that which, in natural and continuous sequence, employer-employee relationship in effect exists between hospitals and their
unbroken by any efficient intervening cause, produces injury, and without attending and visiting physicians. DCTSEA
which the result would not have occurred. An injury or damage is
proximately caused by an act or a failure to act, whenever it appears from 12. ID.; ID.; ID.; EMPLOYERS LIABLE FOR THE DAMAGES CAUSED BY
the evidence in the case, that the act or omission played a substantial part THEIR EMPLOYEES. — The basis for holding an employer solidarily
in bringing about or actually causing the injury or damage; and that the responsible for the negligence of its employee is found in Article 2180 of the
injury or damage was either a direct result or a reasonably probable Civil Code which considers a person accountable not only for his own acts
consequence of the act or omission. It is the dominant, moving or producing but also for those of others based on the former's responsibility under a
cause. Applying the above definition in relation to the evidence at hand, relationship of patria potestas. Such responsibility ceases when the persons
faulty intubation is undeniably the proximate cause which triggered the or entity concerned prove that they have observed the diligence of a good
chain of events leading to Erlinda's brain damage and, ultimately, her father of the family to prevent damage. In other words, while the burden of
comatosed condition. proving negligence rests on the plaintiffs, once negligence is shown, the
burden shifts to the respondents (parent, guardian, teacher or employer)
11 ID.; EXTRA-CONTRACTUAL OBLIGATIONS; QUASI-DELICTS; who should prove that they observed the diligence of a good father of a
EMPLOYER-EMPLOYEE RELATIONSHIP EXISTS BETWEEN HOSPITALS family to prevent damage. In the instant case, respondent hospital, apart
AND CONSULTANTS FOR THE PURPOSE OF ALLOCATING from a general denial of its responsibility over respondent physicians, failed
RESPONSIBILITY IN MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE CASES. — Hospitals exercise to adduce evidence showing that it exercised the diligence of a good father
significant control in the hiring and firing of consultants and in the conduct of a family in the hiring and supervision of the latter. It failed to adduce
of their work within the hospital premises. Doctors who apply for evidence with regard to the degree of supervision which it exercised over its
"consultant" slots, visiting or attending, are required to submit proof of physicians. In neglecting to offer such proof, or proof of a similar nature,
completion of residency, their educational qualifications; generally, evidence respondent hospital thereby failed to discharge its burden under the last
of accreditation by the appropriate board (diplomate), evidence of fellowship paragraph of Article 2180. Having failed to do this, respondent hospital is
in most cases, and references. These requirements are carefully scrutinized consequently solidarily responsible with its physicians for Erlinda's
by members of the hospital administration or by a review committee set up condition.
by the hospital who either accept or reject the application. This is
particularly true with respondent hospital. After a physician is accepted, 13. ID.; DAMAGES; ACTUAL AND TEMPERATE DAMAGES; PROPER IN
either as a visiting or attending consultant, he is normally required to attend CASE AT BAR. — The amount of actual damages recoverable in suits
clinico-pathological conferences, conduct bedside rounds for clerks, interns arising from negligence should at least reflect the correct minimum cost of
and residents, moderate grand rounds and patient audits and perform other proper care, not the cost of the care the family is usually compelled to
tasks and responsibilities, for the privilege of being able to maintain a clinic undertake at home to avoid bankruptcy. However, the provisions of the Civil
Code on actual or compensatory damages present us with some difficulties. condition. The husband and the children, all petitioners in this case, will
Well-settled is the rule that actual damages which may be claimed by the have to live with the day to day uncertainty of the patient's illness, knowing
plaintiff are those suffered by him as he has duly proved. Our rules on actual any hope of recovery is close to nil. They have fashioned their daily lives
or compensatory damages generally assume that at the time of litigation, around the nursing care of petitioner, altering their long term goals to take
the injury suffered as a consequence of an act of negligence has been into account their life with a comatose patient. They, not the respondents,
completed and that the cost can be liquidated. However, these provisions are charged with the moral responsibility of the care of the victim. The
neglect to take into account those situations, as in this case, where the family's moral injury and suffering in this case is clearly a real one. For the
resulting injury might be continuing and possible future complications foregoing reasons, an award of P2,000,000.00 in moral damages would be
directly arising from the injury, while certain to occur, are difficult to predict. appropriate.
In these cases, the amount of damages which should be awarded, if they
are to adequately and correctly respond to the injury caused, should be one 15. ID.; ID.; EXEMPLARY DAMAGES AND ATTORNEY'S FEES. — By way of
which compensates for pecuniary loss incurred and proved, up to the time example, exemplary damages in the amount of P100,000.00 are hereby
of trial; and one which would meet pecuniary loss certain to be suffered but awarded. Considering the length and nature of the instant suit we are of the
which could not, from the nature of the case, be made with certainty. In opinion that attorney's fees valued at P100,000.00 are likewise proper. Our
other words, temperate damages can and should be awarded on top of courts face unique difficulty in adjudicating medical negligence cases
actual or compensatory damages in instances where the injury is chronic because physicians are not insurers of life and, they rarely set out to
and continuing. And because of the unique nature of such cases, no intentionally cause injury or death to their patients. However, intent is
incompatibility arises when both actual and temperate damages are immaterial in negligence cases because where negligence exists and is
provided for. The reason is that these damages cover two distinct phases. proven, the same automatically gives the injured a right to reparation for the
As it would not be equitable — and certainly not in the best interests of the damage caused. Established medical procedures and practices, though in
administration of justice — for the victim in such cases to constantly come constant flux are devised for the purpose of preventing complications. A
before the courts and invoke their aid in seeking adjustments to the physician's experience with his patients would sometimes tempt him to
compensatory damages previously awarded — temperate damages are deviate from established community practices, and he may end a
appropriate. The amount given as temperate damages, though to a certain distinguished career using unorthodox methods without incident. However,
extent speculative, should take into account the cost of proper care. In the when failure to follow established procedure results in the evil precisely
instant case, petitioners were able to provide only homebased nursing care sought to be averted by observance of the procedure and a nexus is made
for a comatose patient who has remained in that condition for over a between the deviation and the injury or damage, the physician would
decade. Having premised our award for compensatory damages on the necessarily be called to account for it. In the case at bar, the failure to
amount provided by petitioners at the onset of litigation, it would be now observe pre-operative assessment protocol which would have influenced
much more in step with the interests of justice if the value awarded for the intubation in a salutary way was fatal to private respondents'
temperate damages would allow petitioners to provide optimal care for their case. TCacIA
loved one in a facility which generally specializes in such care. They should
not be compelled by dire circumstances to provide substandard care at
home without the aid of professionals, for anything less would be grossly DECISION
inadequate.

14. ID.; ID.; PROPER MORAL DAMAGES. — The actual physical, emotional KAPUNAN, J p:
and financial cost of the care of petitioner would be virtually impossible to
quantify. Even the temperate damages herein awarded would be inadequate The Hippocratic Oath mandates physicians to give primordial consideration
if petitioner's condition remains unchanged for the next ten years. We to the health and welfare of their patients. If a doctor fails to live up to this
recognized that the victim's actual injury would not even scratch the surface precept, he is made accountable for his acts. A mistake, through gross
of the resulting moral damage because it would be highly speculative to negligence or incompetence or plain human error, may spell the difference
estimate the amount of emotional and moral pain, psychological damage between life and death. In this sense, the doctor plays God on his patient's
and injury suffered by the victim or those actually affected by the victim's fate. 1
In the case at bar, the Court is called upon to rule whether a surgeon, an fee of P16,000.00, which was to include the
anesthesiologist and a hospital should be made liable for the unfortunate anesthesiologist's fee and which was to be paid after the
comatose condition of a patient scheduled for cholecystectomy. 2 operation (TSN, October 19, 1989, pp. 14-15, 22-23, 31-
33; TSN, February 27, 1990, p. 13; and TSN, November 9,
Petitioners seek the reversal of the decision 3 of the Court of Appeals, dated 1989, pp. 3-4, 10, 17).
29 May 1995, which overturned the decision 4 of the Regional Trial Court,
dated 30 January 1992, finding private respondents liable for damages A day before the scheduled date of operation, she was
arising from negligence in the performance of their professional duties admitted at one of the rooms of the DLSMC, located
towards petitioner Erlinda Ramos resulting in her comatose condition. cdrep along E. Rodriguez Avenue, Quezon City (TSN, October
19, 1989, p. 11).
The antecedent facts as summarized by the trial court are reproduced
hereunder: At around 7:30 A.M. of June 17, 1985 and while still in her
room, she was prepared for the operation by the hospital
Plaintiff Erlinda Ramos was, until the afternoon of June 17, staff. Her sister-in-law, Herminda Cruz, who was the Dean
1985, a 47-year old (Exh. "A") robust woman (TSN, of the College of Nursing at the Capitol Medical Center,
October 19, 1989, p. 10). Except for occasional was also there for moral support. She reiterated her
complaints of discomfort due to pains allegedly caused by previous request for Herminda to be with her even during
the presence of a stone in her gall bladder (TSN, January the operation. After praying, she was given injections. Her
13, 1988, pp. 4-5), she was as normal as any other hands were held by Herminda as they went down from her
woman. Married to Rogelio E. Ramos, an executive of room to the operating room (TSN, January 13, 1988, pp.
Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company, she has 9-11). Her husband, Rogelio, was also with her (TSN,
three children whose names are Rommel Ramos, Roy October 19, 1989, p. 18). At the operating room,
Roderick Ramos and Ron Raymond Ramos (TSN, Herminda saw about two or three nurses and Dr. Perfecta
October 19, 1989, pp. 5-6). Gutierrez, the other defendant, who was to administer
Because the discomforts somehow interfered with her anesthesia. Although not a member of the hospital staff,
normal ways, she sought professional advice. She was Herminda introduced herself as Dean of the College of
advised to undergo an operation for the removal of a Nursing at the Capitol Medical Center who was to provide
stone in her gall bladder (TSN, January 13, 1988, p. 5). moral support to the patient, to them. Herminda was
She underwent a series of examinations which included allowed to stay inside the operating room.
blood and urine tests (Exhs. "A" and "C") which indicated At around 9:30 A.M., Dr. Gutierrez reached a nearby
she was fit for surgery. phone to look for Dr. Hosaka who was not yet in (TSN,
Through the intercession of a mutual friend, Dr. Buenviaje January 13, 1988, pp. 11-12). Dr. Gutierrez thereafter
(TSN, January 13, 1988, p. 7), she and her husband informed Herminda Cruz about the prospect of a delay in
Rogelio met for the first time Dr. Orlino Hozaka (should be the arrival of Dr. Hosaka. Herminda then went back to the
Hosaka; see TSN, February 20, 1990, p. 3), one of the patient who asked, "Mindy, wala pa ba ang Doctor"? The
defendants in this case, on June 10, 1985. They agreed former replied, "Huwag kang mag-alaala, darating na iyon"
that their date at the operating table at the DLSMC (ibid.).
(another defendant), would be on June 17, 1985 at 9:00 Thereafter, Herminda went out of the operating room and
A.M.. Dr. Hosaka decided that she should undergo a informed the patient's husband, Rogelio, that the doctor
"cholecystectomy" operation after examining the was not yet around (id., p. 13). When she returned to the
documents (findings from the Capitol Medical Center, FEU operating room, the patient told her, "Mindy, inip na inip
Hospital and DLSMC) presented to him. Rogelio E. na ako, ikuha mo ako ng ibang Doctor." So, she went out
Ramos, however, asked Dr. Hosaka to look for a good again and told Rogelio about what the patient said (id., p.
anesthesiologist. Dr. Hosaka, in turn, assured Rogelio that 15). Thereafter, she returned to the operating room.
he will get a good anesthesiologist. Dr. Hosaka charged a
At around 10:00 A.M., Rogelio E. Ramos was "already of the operating room. He also saw several doctors
dying [and] waiting for the arrival of the doctor" even as he rushing towards the operating room. When informed by
did his best to find somebody who will allow him to pull Herminda Cruz that something wrong was happening, he
out his wife from the operating room (TSN, October 19, told her (Herminda) to be back with the patient inside the
1989, pp. 19-20). He also thought of the feeling of his operating room (TSN, October 19, 1989, pp. 25-28).
wife, who was inside the operating room waiting for the
doctor to arrive (ibid.). At almost 12:00 noon, he met Dr.
Garcia who remarked that he (Dr. Garcia) was also tired of Herminda Cruz immediately rushed back, and saw that
waiting for Dr. Hosaka to arrive (id., p. 21). While talking to the patient was still in trendelenburg position (TSN,
Dr. Garcia at around 12:10 P.M., he came to know that Dr. January 13, 1988, p. 20). At almost 3:00 P.M. of that
Hosaka arrived as a nurse remarked, "Nandiyan na si Dr. fateful day, she saw the patient taken to the Intensive
Hosaka, dumating na raw." Upon hearing those words, he Care Unit (ICU).
went down to the lobby and waited for the operation to be
completed (id., pp. 16, 29-30). About two days thereafter, Rogelio E. Ramos was able to
talk to Dr. Hosaka. The latter informed the former that
At about 12:15 P.M., Herminda Cruz, who was inside the something went wrong during the intubation. Reacting to
operating room with the patient, heard somebody say that what was told to him, Rogelio reminded the doctor that
"Dr. Hosaka is already here." She then saw people inside the condition of his wife would not have happened, had
the operating room "moving, doing this and that, [and] he (Dr. Hosaka) looked for a good anesthesiologist (TSN,
preparing the patient for the operation" (TSN, January 13, October 19, 1989, p. 31).
1988, p. 16). As she held the hand of Erlinda Ramos, she
then saw Dr. Gutierrez intubating the hapless patient. She Doctors Gutierrez and Hosaka were also asked by the
thereafter heard Dr. Gutierrez say, "ang hirap ma-intubate hospital to explain what happened to the patient. The
nito, mali yata ang pagkakapasok. O lumalaki ang tiyan" doctors explained that the patient had bronchospasm
(id., p. 17). Because of the remarks of Dra. Gutierrez, she (TSN, November 15, 1990, pp. 26-27).
focused her attention on what Dr. Gutierrez was doing.
Erlinda Ramos stayed at the ICU for a month. About four
She thereafter noticed bluish discoloration of the nailbeds
months thereafter or on November 15, 1985, the patient
of the left hand of the hapless Erlinda even as Dr. Hosaka
was released from the hospital.
approached her. She then heard Dr. Hosaka issue an
order for someone to call Dr. Calderon, another During the whole period of her confinement, she incurred
anesthesiologist (id., p. 19). After Dr. Calderon arrived at hospital bills amounting to P93,542.25 which is the
the operating room, she saw this anesthesiologist trying to subject of a promissory note and affidavit of undertaking
intubate the patient. The patient's nailbed became bluish executed by Rogelio E. Ramos in favor of DLSMC. Since
and the patient was placed in a trendelenburg position — that fateful afternoon of June 17, 1985, she has been in a
a position where the head of the patient is placed in a comatose condition. She cannot do anything. She cannot
position lower than her feet which is an indication that move any part of her body. She cannot see or hear. She is
there is a decrease of blood supply to the patient's brain living on mechanical means. She suffered brain damage
(Id., pp. 19-20). Immediately thereafter, she went out of as a result of the absence of oxygen in her brain for four
the operating room, and she told Rogelio E. Ramos "that to five minutes (TSN, November 9, 1989, pp. 21-22). After
something wrong was . . . happening" (Ibid.). Dr. Calderon being discharged from the hospital, she has been staying
was then able to intubate the patient (TSN, July 25, 1991, in their residence, still needing constant medical attention,
p. 9). prLL with her husband Rogelio incurring a monthly expense
ranging from P8,000.00 to P10,000.00 (TSN, October 19,
Meanwhile, Rogelio, who was outside the operating room,
1989, pp. 32-34). She was also diagnosed to be suffering
saw a respiratory machine being rushed towards the door
from "diffuse cerebral parenchymal damage" (Exh. "G"; anesthesiologist', and for arriving for the scheduled
see also TSN, December 21, 1989, p. 6). 5 operation almost three (3) hours late. cdphil

Thus, on 8 January 1986, petitioners filed a civil case 6 for damages with the On the part of DLSMC (the hospital), this Court finds that
Regional Trial Court of Quezon City against herein private respondents it is liable for the acts of negligence of the doctors in their
alleging negligence in the management and care of Erlinda Ramos. 'practice of medicine' in the operating room. Moreover,
the hospital is liable for failing through its responsible
During the trial, both parties presented evidence as to the possible cause of officials, to cancel the scheduled operation after Dr.
Erlinda's injury. Plaintiff presented the testimonies of Dean Herminda Cruz Hosaka inexcusably failed to arrive on time.
and Dr. Mariano Gavino to prove that the damage sustained by Erlinda was
due to lack of oxygen in her brain caused by the faulty management of her In having held thus, this Court rejects the defense raised
airway by private respondents during the anesthesia phase. On the other by defendants that they have acted with due care and
hand, private respondents primarily relied on the expert testimony of Dr. prudence in rendering medical services to plaintiff-patient.
Eduardo Jamora, a pulmonologist, to the effect that the cause of brain For if the patient was properly intubated as claimed by
damage was Erlinda's allergic reaction to the anesthetic agent, Thiopental them, the patient would not have become comatose. And,
Sodium (Pentothal). the fact that another anesthesiologist was called to try to
intubate the patient after her (the patient's) nailbed turned
After considering the evidence from both sides, the Regional Trial Court bluish, belie their claim. Furthermore, the defendants
rendered judgment in favor of petitioners, to wit: should have rescheduled the operation to a later date.
After evaluating the evidence as shown in the finding of This, they should have done, if defendants acted with due
facts set forth earlier, and applying the aforecited care and prudence as the patient's case was an elective,
provisions of law and jurisprudence to the case at bar, this not an emergency case.
Court finds and so holds that defendants are liable to xxx xxx xxx
plaintiffs for damages. The defendants were guilty of, at
the very least, negligence in the performance of their duty WHEREFORE, and in view of the foregoing, judgment is
to plaintiff-patient Erlinda Ramos. rendered in favor of the plaintiffs and against the
defendants. Accordingly, the latter are ordered to pay,
On the part of Dr. Perfecta Gutierrez, this Court finds that jointly and severally, the former the following sums of
she omitted to exercise reasonable care in not only money, to wit:
intubating the patient, but also in not repeating the
administration of atropine (TSN, August 20, 1991, pp. 5- 1) the sum of P8,000.00 as actual monthly
10), without due regard to the fact that the patient was expenses for the plaintiff Erlinda Ramos
inside the operating room for almost three (3) hours. For reckoned from November 15, 1985 or in
after she committed a mistake in intubating [the] patient, the total sum of P632,000.00 as of April
the patient's nailbed became bluish and the patient, 15, 1992, subject to its being updated;
thereafter, was placed in trendelenburg position, because
2) the sum of P100,000.00 as reasonable
of the decrease of blood supply to the patient's brain. The
attorney's fees;
evidence further shows that the hapless patient suffered
brain damage because of the absence of oxygen in her 3) the sum of P800,000.00 by way of moral
(patient's) brain for approximately four to five minutes damages and the further sum of
which, in turn, caused the patient to become comatose. P200,000.00 by way of exemplary
damages; and,
On the part of Dr. Orlino Hosaka, this Court finds that he
is liable for the acts of Dr. Perfecta Gutierrez whom he had 4) the costs of the suit.
chosen to administer anesthesia on the patient as part of
his obligation to provide the patient a 'good SO ORDERED. 7
Private respondents seasonably interposed an appeal to the Court of received by the Court of Appeals already on July 4,
Appeals. The appellate court rendered a Decision, dated 29 May 1995, necessarily, the 15-day period already passed. For that
reversing the findings of the trial court. The decretal portion of the decision alone, the latter should be denied.
of the appellate court reads:
Even assuming admissibility of the Motion for
WHEREFORE, for the foregoing premises the appealed Reconsideration, but after considering the
decision is hereby REVERSED, and the complaint below Comment/Opposition, the former, for lack of merit, is
against the appellants is hereby ordered DISMISSED. The hereby DENIED.
counterclaim of appellant De Los Santos Medical Center
is GRANTED but only insofar as appellees are hereby SO ORDERED. 10
ordered to pay the unpaid hospital bills amounting to A copy of the above resolution was received by Atty. Sillano on 11 April
P93,542.25, plus legal interest for justice must be 1996. The next day, or on 12 April 1996, Atty. Sillano filed before this Court
tempered with mercy. a motion for extension of time to file the present petition for certiorari under
SO ORDERED. 8 Rule 45. The Court granted the motion for extension of time and gave
petitioners additional thirty (30) days after the expiration of the fifteen-day
The decision of the Court of Appeals was received on 9 June 1995 by (15) period counted from the receipt of the resolution of the Court of
petitioner Rogelio Ramos who was mistakenly addressed as "Atty. Rogelio Appeals within which to submit the petition. The due date fell on 27 May
Ramos." No copy of the decision, however, was sent nor received by the 1996. The petition was filed on 9 May 1996, well within the extended period
Coronel Law Office, then counsel on record of petitioners. Rogelio referred given by the Court.
the decision of the appellate court to a new lawyer, Atty. Ligsay, only on 20
June 1995, or four (4) days before the expiration of the reglementary period Petitioners assail the decision of the Court of Appeals on the following
for filing a motion for reconsideration. On the same day, Atty. Ligsay, filed grounds:
with the appellate court a motion for extension of time to file a motion for I
reconsideration. The motion for reconsideration was submitted on 4 July
1995. However, the appellate court denied the motion for extension of time IN PUTTING MUCH RELIANCE ON THE TESTIMONIES
in its Resolution dated 25 July 1995. 9 Meanwhile, petitioners engaged the OF RESPONDENTS DRA. GUTIERREZ, DRA. CALDERON
services of another counsel, Atty. Sillano, to replace Atty. Ligsay. Atty. AND DR. JAMORA;
Sillano filed on 7 August 1995 a motion to admit the motion for
II
reconsideration contending that the period to file the appropriate pleading
on the assailed decision had not yet commenced to run as the Division Clerk IN FINDING THAT THE NEGLIGENCE OF THE
of Court of the Court of Appeals had not yet served a copy thereof to the RESPONDENTS DID NOT CAUSE THE UNFORTUNATE
counsel on record. Despite this explanation, the appellate court still denied COMATOSE CONDITION OF PETITIONER ERLINDA
the motion to admit the motion for reconsideration of petitioners in its RAMOS;
Resolution, dated 29 March 1996, primarily on the ground that the fifteen-
day (15) period for filing a motion for reconsideration had already expired, to III
wit: IN NOT APPLYING THE DOCTRINE OF RES IPSA
We said in our Resolution on July 25, 1995, that the filing LOQUITUR. 11
of a Motion for Reconsideration cannot be extended; Before we discuss the merits of the case, we shall first dispose of the
precisely, the Motion for Extension (Rollo, p. 12) was procedural issue on the timeliness of the petition in relation to the motion for
denied. It is, on the other hand, admitted in the latter reconsideration filed by petitioners with the Court of Appeals. In their
Motion that plaintiffs/appellees received a copy of the
Comment, 12 private respondents contend that the petition should not be
decision as early as June 9, 1995. Computation wise, the
given due course since the motion for reconsideration of the petitioners on
period to file a Motion for Reconsideration expired on
the decision of the Court of Appeals was validly dismissed by the appellate
June 24. The Motion for Reconsideration, in turn, was
court for having been filed beyond the reglementary period. We do not management or control use proper care, it affords reasonable evidence, in
agree. cdphil the absence of explanation by the defendant, that the accident arose from
or was caused by the defendant's want of care. 14
The doctrine of res ipsa loquitur is simply a recognition of the postulate that,
A careful review of the records reveals that the reason behind the delay in as a matter of common knowledge and experience, the very nature of
filing the motion for reconsideration is attributable to the fact that the certain types of occurrences may justify an inference of negligence on the
decision of the Court of Appeals was not sent to then counsel on record of part of the person who controls the instrumentality causing the injury in the
petitioners, the Coronel Law Office. In fact, a copy of the decision of the absence of some explanation by the defendant who is charged with
appellate court was instead sent to and received by petitioner Rogelio
negligence. 15 It is grounded in the superior logic of ordinary human
Ramos on 9 June 1995 wherein he was mistakenly addressed as Atty.
experience and on the basis of such experience or common knowledge,
Rogelio Ramos. Based on the other communications received by petitioner
negligence may be deduced from the mere occurrence of the accident
Rogelio Ramos, the appellate court apparently mistook him for the counsel
itself. 16 Hence, res ipsa loquitur is applied in conjunction with the doctrine
on record. Thus, no copy of the decision of the appellate court was
of common knowledge.
furnished to the counsel on record. Petitioner, not being a lawyer and
unaware of the prescriptive period for filing a motion for reconsideration, However, much has been said the res ipsa loquitur is not a ruled of
referred the same to a legal counsel only on 20 June 1995. substantive law and, as such, does not create or constitute an independent
or separate ground of liability. 17 Instead, it is considered as merely
It is elementary that when a party is represented by counsel, all notices
evidentiary or in the nature of a procedural rule. 18 It is regarded as a mode
should be sent to the party's lawyer at his given address. With a few
of proof, of a mere procedural convenience since it furnishes a substitute
exceptions, notice to a litigant without notice to his counsel on record is no
for, and relieves a plaintiff of, the burden of producing specific proof of
notice at all. In the present case, since a copy of the decision of the
negligence. 19 In other words, mere invocation and application of the
appellate court was not sent to the counsel on record of petitioner, there
doctrine does not dispense with the requirement of proof of negligence. It is
can be no sufficient notice to speak of. Hence, the delay in the filing of the
simply a step in the process of such proof, permitting the plaintiff to present
motion for reconsideration cannot be taken against petitioner. Moreover,
along with the proof of the accident, enough of the attending circumstances
since the Court of Appeals already issued a second Resolution, dated 29
to invoke the doctrine, creating an inference or presumption of negligence,
March 1996, which superseded the earlier resolution issued on 25 July
and to thereby place on the defendant the burden of going forward with the
1995, and denied the motion for reconsideration of petitioner, we believe
proof. 20 Still, before resort to the doctrine may be allowed, the following
that the receipt of the former should be considered in determining the
requisites must be satisfactorily shown:
timeliness of the filing of the present petition. Based on this, the petition
before us was submitted on time. 1. The accident is of a kind which ordinarily does not
occur in the absence of someone's negligence;
After resolving the foregoing procedural issue, we shall now look into the
merits of the case. For a more logical presentation of the discussion we shall 2. It is caused by an instrumentality within the exclusive
first consider the issue on the applicability of the doctrine of res ipsa control of the defendant or defendants; and
loquitur to the instant case. Thereafter, the first two assigned errors shall be
tackled in relation to the res ipsa loquitur doctrine. 3. The possibility of contributing conduct which would
make the plaintiff responsible is eliminated. 21
Res ipsa loquitur is a Latin phrase which literally means "the thing or the
transaction speaks for itself." The phrase "res ipsa loquitur" is a maxim for In the above requisites, the fundamental element is the "control of the
the rule that the fact of the occurrence of an injury, taken with the instrumentality" which caused the damage. 22 Such element of control must
surrounding circumstances, may permit an inference or raise a presumption be shown to be within the dominion of the defendant. In order to have the
of negligence, or make out a plaintiff's prima facie case, and present a benefit of the rule, a plaintiff, in addition to proving injury or damage, must
question of fact for defendant to meet with an explanation. 13 Where the show a situation where it is applicable, and must establish that the essential
thing which caused the injury complained of is shown to be under the elements of the doctrine were present in a particular incident. 23
management of the defendant or his servants and the accident is such as in
ordinary course of things does not happen if those who have its
Medical malpractice 24 cases do not escape the application of this doctrine. eye while the patient plaintiff was under the influence of anesthetic, during
Thus, res ipsa loquitur has been applied when the circumstances attendant or following an operation for appendicitis, 36 among others.
upon the harm are themselves of such a character as to justify an inference
of negligence as the cause of that harm. 25 The application of res ipsa Nevertheless, despite the fact that the scope of res ipsa loquitur has been
loquitur in medical negligence cases presents a question of law since it is a measurably enlarged, it does not automatically apply to all cases of medical
judicial function to determine whether a certain set of circumstances does, negligence as to mechanically shift the burden of proof to the defendant to
show that he is not guilty of the ascribed negligence. Res ipsa loquitur is not
as a matter of law, permit a given inference. 26
a rigid or ordinary doctrine to be perfunctorily used but a rule to be
Although generally, expert medical testimony is relied upon in malpractice cautiously applied, depending upon the circumstances of each case. It is
suits to prove that a physician has done a negligent act or that he has generally restricted to situations in malpractice cases where a layman is able
deviated from the standard medical procedure, when the doctrine of res ipsa to say, as a matter of common knowledge and observation, that the
loquitur is availed by the plaintiff, the need for expert medical testimony is consequences of professional care were not as such as would ordinarily
dispensed with because the injury itself provides the proof of have followed if due care had been exercised. 37 A distinction must be
negligence. 27 The reason is that the general rule on the necessity of expert made between the failure to secure results, and the occurrence of
testimony applies only to such matters clearly within the domain of medical something more unusual and not ordinarily found if the service or treatment
science, and not to matters that are within the common knowledge of rendered followed the usual procedure of those skilled in that particular
mankind which may be testified to by anyone familiar with the practice. It must be conceded that the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur can have
facts. 28 Ordinarily, only physicians and surgeons of skill and experience are no application in a suit against a physician or surgeon which involves the
competent to testify as to whether a patient has been treated or operated merits of a diagnosis or of a scientific treatment. 38 The physician or
upon with a reasonable degree of skill and care. However, testimony as to surgeon is not required at his peril to explain why any particular diagnosis
the statements and acts of physicians and surgeons, external appearances, was not correct, or why any particular scientific treatment did not produce
and manifest conditions which are observable by any one may be given by the desired result. 39 Thus, res ipsa loquitur is not available in a malpractice
non-expert witnesses. 29 Hence, in cases where the res ipsa loquitur is suit if the only showing is that the desired result of an operation or treatment
applicable, the court is permitted to find a physician negligent upon proper was not accomplished. 40 The real question, therefore, is whether or not in
proof of injury to the patient, without the aid of expert testimony, where the the process of the operation any extraordinary incident or unusual event
court from its fund of common knowledge can determine the proper outside of the routine performance occurred which is beyond the regular
standard of care. 30 Where common knowledge and experience teach that scope of customary professional activity in such operations, which, if
a resulting injury would not have occurred to the patient if due care had unexplained would themselves reasonably speak to the average man as the
been exercised, an inference of negligence may be drawn giving rise to an negligent cause or causes of the untoward consequence. 41 If there was
application of the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur without medical evidence, such extraneous interventions, the doctrine or res ipsa loquitur may be
which is ordinarily required to show not only what occurred but how and utilized and the defendant is called upon to explain the matter, by evidence
why it occurred. 31 When the doctrine is appropriate, all that the patient of exculpation, if he could. 42
must do is prove a nexus between the particular act or omission complained
of and the injury sustained while under the custody and management of the
defendant without need to produce expert medical testimony to establish We find the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur appropriate in the case bar. As will
the standard of care. Resort to res ipsa loquitur is allowed because there is hereinafter be explained, the damage sustained by Erlinda in her brain prior
no other way, under usual and ordinary conditions, by which the patient can to a scheduled gall bladder operation presents a case for the application
obtain redress for injury suffered by him. of res ipsa loquitur. LLjur
Thus, courts of other jurisdictions have applied the doctrine in the following A case strikingly similar to the one before us is Voss vs. Bridwell, 43 where
situations: leaving of a foreign object in the body of the patient after an the Kansas Supreme Court in applying the res ipsa loquitur stated:
operation, 32 injuries sustained on a healthy part of the body which was not
under, or in the area, of treatment, 33 removal of the wrong part of the body The plaintiff herein submitted himself for a mastoid
when another part was intended, 34 knocking out a tooth while a patient's operation and delivered his person over to the care,
jaw was under anesthetic for the removal of his tonsils, 35 and loss of an custody and control of his physician who had complete
and exclusive control over him, but the operation was as a consequence of administering such anesthesia if the proper procedure
never performed. At the time of submission he was was followed. Furthermore, the instruments used in the administration of
neurologically sound and physically fit in mind and body, anesthesia, including the endotracheal tube, were all under the exclusive
but he suffered irreparable damage and injury rendering control of private respondents, who are the physicians-in-charge. Likewise,
him decerebrate and totally incapacitated. The injury was petitioner Erlinda could not have been guilty of contributory negligence
one which does not ordinarily occur in the process of a because she was under the influence of anesthetics which rendered her
mastoid operation or in the absence of negligence in the unconscious.
administration of an anesthetic, and in the use and
employment of an endoctracheal tube. Ordinarily a person Considering that a sound and unaffected member of the body (the brain) is
being put under anesthesia is not rendered decerebrate injured or destroyed while the patient is unconscious and under the
as a consequence of administering such anesthesia in the immediate and exclusive control of the physicians, we hold that a practical
absence of negligence. Upon these facts and under these administration of justice dictates the application of res ipsa loquitur. Upon
circumstances a layman would be able to say, as a matter these facts and under these circumstances the Court would be able to say,
of common knowledge and observation, that the as a matter of common knowledge and observation, if negligence attended
consequences of professional treatment were not as such the management and care of the patient. Moreover, the liability of the
as would ordinarily have followed if due care had been physicians and the hospital in this case is not predicated upon an alleged
exercised. failure to secure the desired results of an operation nor on an alleged lack of
skill in the diagnosis or treatment as in fact no operation or treatment was
Here the plaintiff could not have been guilty of ever performed on Erlinda. Thus, upon all these initial determination a case
contributory negligence because he was under the is made out for the application of the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur.
influence of anesthetics and unconscious, and the
circumstances are such that the true explanation of event Nonetheless, in holding that res ipsa loquitur is available to the present case
is more accessible to the defendants than to the plaintiff we are not saying that the doctrine is applicable in any and all cases where
for they had the exclusive control of the instrumentalities injury occurs to a patient while under anesthesia, or to any and all
of anesthesia. anesthesia cases. Each case must be viewed in its own light and scrutinized
in order to be within the res ipsa loquitur coverage.
Upon all the facts, conditions and circumstances alleged
in Count II it is held that a cause of action is stated under Having in mind the applicability of the res ipsa loquitur doctrine and the
the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur. 44 presumption of negligence allowed therein, the Court now comes to the
issue of whether the Court of Appeals erred in finding that private
Indeed, the principles enunciated in the aforequoted case apply with equal respondents were not negligent in the care of Erlinda during the anesthesia
force here. In the present case, Erlinda submitted herself phase of the operation and, if in the affirmative, whether the alleged
for cholecystectomy and expected a routine general surgery to be negligence was the proximate cause of Erlinda's comatose condition.
performed on her gall bladder. On that fateful day she delivered her person Corollary thereto, we shall also determine if the Court of Appeals erred in
over to the care, custody and control of private respondents who exercised relying on the testimonies of the witnesses for the private respondents.
complete and exclusive control over her. At the time of submission, Erlinda
was neurologically sound and, except for a few minor discomforts, was In sustaining the position of private respondents, the Court of Appeals relied
likewise physically fit in mind and body. However, during the administration on the testimonies of Dra. Gutierrez, Dra. Calderon and Dr. Jamora. In giving
of anesthesia and prior to the performance of cholecystectomy she suffered weight to the testimony of Dra. Gutierrez, the Court of Appeals rationalized
irreparable damage to her brain. Thus, without undergoing surgery, she went that she was candid enough to admit that she experienced some difficulty in
out of the operating room already decerebrate and totally incapacitated. the endotracheal intubation 45 of the patient and thus, cannot be said to be
Obviously, brain damage, which Erlinda sustained, is an injury which does covering her negligence with falsehood. The appellate court likewise opined
not normally occur in the process of a gall bladder operation. In fact, this that private respondents were able to show that the brain damage sustained
kind of situation does not happen in the absence of negligence of someone by Erlinda was not caused by the alleged faulty intubation but was due to
in the administration of anesthesia and in the use of endotracheal tube. the allergic reaction of the patient to the drug Thiopental Sodium (Pentothal),
Normally, a person being put under anesthesia is not rendered decerebrate a short-acting barbiturate, as testified on by their expert witness, Dr.
Jamora. On the other hand, the appellate court rejected the testimony of all of a sudden I heard some remarks coming from
Dean Herminda Cruz offered in favor of petitioners that the cause of the Dra. Perfecta Gutierrez herself. She was saying
brain injury was traceable to the wrongful insertion of the tube since the "Ang hirap ma-intubate nito, mali yata ang
latter, being a nurse, was allegedly not knowledgeable in the process of pagkakapasok. O lumalaki ang tiyan."
intubation. In so holding, the appellate court returned a verdict in favor of
respondents physicians and hospital and absolved them of any liability xxx xxx xxx
towards Erlinda and her family. ATTY. PAJARES:
We disagree with the findings of the Court of Appeals. We hold that private Q: From whom did you hear those words "lumalaki ang
respondents were unable to disprove the presumption of negligence on their tiyan"?
part in the care of Erlinda and their negligence was the proximate cause of
her piteous condition. A: From Dra. Perfecta Gutierrez.

In the instant case, the records are helpful in furnishing not only the logical xxx xxx xxx
scientific evidence of the pathogenesis of the injury but also in providing the
Q. After hearing the phrase "lumalaki ang tiyan," what did
Court the legal nexus upon which liability is based. As will be shown
you notice on the person of the patient?
hereinafter, private respondents' own testimonies which are reflected in the
transcript of stenographic notes are replete of signposts indicative of their A: I notice (sic) some bluish discoloration on the nailbeds
negligence in the care and management of Erlinda. of the left hand where I was at.
With regard to Dra. Gutierrez, we find her negligent in the care of Erlinda Q: Where was Dr. Orlino Ho[s]aka then at that particular
during the anesthesia phase. As borne by the records, respondent Dra. time?
Gutierrez failed to properly intubate the patient. This fact was attested to by
Prof. Herminda Cruz, Dean of the Capitol Medical Center School of Nursing A: I saw him approaching the patient during that time.
and petitioner's sister-in-law, who was in the operating room right beside
Q: When he approached the patient, what did he do, if
the patient when the tragic event occurred. Witness Cruz testified to this
any?
effect:
A: He made an order to call on the anesthesiologist in the
ATTY. PAJARES: cdasia
person of Dr. Calderon.
Q: In particular, what did Dra. Perfecta Gutierrez do, if any
Q: Did Dr. Calderon, upon being called, arrive inside the
on the patient?
operating room?
A: In particular, I could see that she was intubating the
A: Yes sir.
patient.
Q: What did [s]he do, if any?
Q: Do you know what happened to that intubation
process administered by Dra. Gutierrez? A: [S]he tried to intubate the patient.
ATTY. ALCERA: Q: What happened to the patient?
She will be incompetent Your Honor. A: When Dr. Calderon try (sic) to intubate the patient, after
a while the patient's nailbed became bluish and I
COURT:
saw the patient was placed in trendelenburg
Witness may answer if she knows. position.

A: As I have said, I was with the patient, I was beside the xxx xxx xxx
stretcher holding the left hand of the patient and
Q: Do you know the reason why the patient was placed in procedures have become so common, that even an ordinary person can tell
that trendelenburg position? if it was administered properly. As such, it would not be too difficult to tell if
the tube was properly inserted. This kind of observation, we believe, does
A: As far as I know, when a patient is in that position, not require a medical degree to be acceptable.
there is a decrease of blood supply to the
brain. 46 At any rate, without doubt, petitioner's witness, an experienced clinical
nurse whose long experience and scholarship led to her appointment as
xxx xxx xxx Dean of the Capitol Medical Center School of Nursing, was fully capable of
The appellate court, however, disbelieved Dean Cruz's testimony in the trial determining whether or not the intubation was a success. She had extensive
court by declaring that: clinical experience starting as a staff nurse in Chicago, Illinois; staff nurse
and clinical instructor in a teaching hospital, the FEU-NRMF; Dean of the
A perusal of the standard nursing curriculum in our Laguna College of Nursing in San Pablo City; and then Dean of the Capitol
country will show that intubation is not taught as part of Medical Center School of Nursing. 50 Reviewing witness Cruz' statements,
nursing procedures and techniques. Indeed, we take we find that the same were delivered in a straightforward manner, with the
judicial notice of the fact that nurses do not, and cannot, kind of detail, clarity, consistency and spontaneity which would have been
intubate. Even on the assumption that she is fully capable difficult to fabricate. With her clinical background as a nurse, the Court is
of determining whether or not a patient is properly satisfied that she was able to demonstrate through her testimony what truly
intubated, witness Herminda Cruz, admittedly, did not transpired on that fateful day.
peep into the throat of the patient. (TSN, July 25, 1991, p.
13). More importantly, there is no evidence that she ever Most of all, her testimony was affirmed by no less than respondent Dra.
auscultated the patient or that she conducted any type of Gutierrez who admitted that she experienced difficulty in inserting the tube
examination to check if the endotracheal tube was in its into Erlinda's trachea, to wit:
proper place, and to determine the condition of the heart, ATTY. LIGSAY:
lungs, and other organs. Thus, witness Cruz's categorical
statements that appellant Dra. Gutierrez failed to intubate Q: In this particular case, Doctora, while you were
the appellee Erlinda Ramos and that it was Dra. Calderon intubating at your first attempt (sic), you did not
who succeeded in doing so clearly suffer from lack of immediately see the trachea?
sufficient factual bases. 47
DRA. GUTIERREZ:
A: Yes sir.
In other words, what the Court of Appeals is trying to impress is that being a
nurse, and considered a layman in the process of intubation, witness Cruz is Q: Did you pull away the tube immediately?
not competent to testify on whether or not the intubation as a success. A: You do not pull the . . .
We do not agree with the above reasoning of the appellate court. Although Q: Did you or did you not?
witness Cruz is not an anesthesiologist, she can very well testify upon
matters on which she is capable of observing such as, the statements and A: I did not pull the tube.
acts of the physician and surgeon, external appearances, and manifest
Q: When you said "mahirap yata ito," what were you
conditions which are observable by any one. 48 This is precisely allowed
referring to?
under the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur where the testimony of expert
witnesses is not required. It is the accepted rule that expert testimony is not A: "Mahirap yata itong i-intubate," that was the patient.
necessary for the proof of negligence in non-technical matters or those of
which an ordinary person may be expected to have knowledge, or where the Q: So, you found some difficulty in inserting the tube?
lack of skill or want of care is so obvious as to render expert testimony A: Yes, because of (sic) my first attempt, I did not see right
unnecessary. 49 We take judicial notice of the fact that anesthesia away. 51
Curiously in the case at bar, respondent Dra. Gutierrez made the haphazard physician's centuries-old Hippocratic Oath. Her failure to follow this medical
defense that she encountered hardship in the insertion of the tube in the procedure is, therefore, a clear indicia of her negligence.
trachea of Erlinda because it was positioned more anteriorly (slightly
deviated from the normal anatomy of a person) 52 making it harder to locate Respondent Dra. Gutierrez, however, attempts to gloss over this omission
and, since Erlinda is obese and has a short neck and protruding teeth, it by playing around with the trial court's ignorance of clinical procedure,
made intubation even more difficult. cdphil hoping that she could get away with it. Respondent Dra. Gutierrez tried to
muddle the difference between an elective surgery and an emergency
The argument does not convince us. If this was indeed observed, private surgery just so her failure to perform the required pre-operative evaluation
respondents adduced no evidence demonstrating that they proceeded to would escape unnoticed. In her testimony she asserted:
make a thorough assessment of Erlinda's airway, prior to the induction of
anesthesia, even if this would mean postponing the procedure. From their ATTY. LIGSAY:
testimonies, it appears that the observation was made only as an Q: Would you agree, Doctor, that it is good medical
afterthought, as a means of defense. practice to see the patient a day before so you
The pre-operative evaluation of a patient prior to the administration of can introduce yourself to establish good doctor-
anesthesia is universally observed to lessen the possibility of anesthetic patient relationship and gain the trust and
accidents. Pre-operative evaluation and preparation for anesthesia begins confidence of the patient?
when the anesthesiologist reviews the patient's medical records and visits DRA. GUTIERREZ:
with the patient, traditionally, the day before elective surgery. 53 It includes
taking the patient's medical history, review of current drug therapy, physical A: As I said in my previous statement, it depends on the
examination and interpretation of laboratory data. 54 The physical operative procedure of the anesthesiologist and in
examination performed by the anesthesiologist is directed primarily toward my case, with elective cases and normal cardio-
the central nervous system, cardiovascular system, lungs and upper pulmonary clearance like that, I usually don't do it
airway. 55 A thorough analysis of the patient's airway normally involves except on emergency and on cases that have an
investigating the following: cervical spine mobility, temporomandibular abnormalities (sic). 58
mobility, prominent central incisors, diseased or artificial teeth, ability to
However, the exact opposite is true. In an emergency procedure, there is
visualize uvula and the thyromental distance. 56Thus, physical
hardly enough time available for the fastidious demands of pre-operative
characteristics of the patient's upper airway that could make tracheal
procedure so that an anesthesiologist is able to see the patient only a few
intubation difficult should be studied. 57 Where the need arises, as when minutes before surgery, if at all. Elective procedures, on the other hand, are
initial assessment indicates possible problems (such as the alleged short operative procedures that can wait for days, weeks or even months. Hence,
neck and protruding teeth of Erlinda) a thorough examination of the patient's in these cases, the anesthesiologist possesses the luxury of time to make a
airway would go a long way towards decreasing patient morbidity and proper assessment, including the time to be at the patient's bedside to do a
mortality. proper interview and clinical evaluation. There is ample time to explain the
In the case at bar, respondent Dra. Gutierrez admitted that she saw Erlinda method of anesthesia, the drugs to be used, and their possible hazards for
for the first time on the day of the operation itself, on 17 June 1985. Before purposes of informed consent. Usually, the pre-operative assessment is
this date, no prior consultations with, or pre-operative evaluation of Erlinda conducted at least one day before the intended surgery, when the patient is
was done by her. Until the day of the operation, respondent Dra. Gutierrez relaxed and cooperative.
was unaware of the physiological make-up and needs of Erlinda. She was Erlinda's case was elective and this was known to respondent Dra.
likewise not properly informed of the possible difficulties she would face Gutierrez. Thus, she had all the time to make a thorough evaluation of
during the administration of anesthesia to Erlinda. Respondent Dra. Erlinda's case prior to the operation and prepare her for anesthesia.
Gutierrez' act of seeing her patient for the first time only an hour before the However, she never saw the patient at the bedside. She herself admitted
scheduled operative procedure was therefore, an act of exceptional that she had seen petitioner only in the operating room, and only on the
negligence and professional irresponsibility. The measures cautioning actual date of the cholecystectomy. She negligently failed to take advantage
prudence and vigilance in dealing with human lives lie at the core of the
of this important opportunity. As such, her attempt to exculpate herself must Q: But not in particular when you practice pulmonology?
fail.
A: No.
Having established that respondent Dra. Gutierrez failed to perform pre-
operative evaluation of the patient which, in turn, resulted to a wrongful Q: In other words, your knowledge about pentothal is
intubation, we now determine if the faulty intubation is truly the proximate based only on what you have read from books
cause of Erlinda's comatose condition. and not by your own personal application of the
medicine pentothal?
Private respondents repeatedly hammered the view that the cerebral anoxia
which led to Erlinda's coma was due to bronchospasm 59 mediated by her A: Based on my personal experience also on pentothal.
allergic response to the drug, Thiopental Sodium, introduced into her Q: How many times have you used pentothal?
system. Towards this end, they presented Dr. Jamora, a Fellow of the
Philippine College of Physicians and Diplomate of the Philippine Specialty A: They used it on me. I went into bronchospasm during
Board of Internal Medicine, who advanced private respondents' theory that my appendectomy.
the oxygen deprivation which led to anoxic encephalopathy, 60 was due to
Q: And because they have used it on you and on account
an unpredictable drug reaction to the short-acting barbiturate. We find the
of your own personal experience you feel that you
theory of private respondents unacceptable.
can testify on pentothal here with medical
First of all, Dr. Jamora cannot be considered an authority in the field of authority?
anesthesiology simply because he is not an anesthesiologist. Since Dr.
A: No. That is why I used references to support my
Jamora is a pulmonologist, he could not have been capable of properly
claims. 61
enlightening the court about anesthesia practice and procedure and their
complications. Dr. Jamora is likewise not an allergologist and could not An anesthetic accident caused by a rare drug-induced bronchospasm
therefore properly advance expert opinion on allergic-mediated processes. properly falls within the fields of anesthesia, internal medicine-allergy, and
Moreover, he is not a pharmacologist and, as such, could not have been clinical pharmacology. The resulting anoxic encephalopathy belongs to the
capable, as an expert would, of explaining to the court the pharmacologic field of neurology. While admittedly, many bronchospastic-mediated
and toxic effects of the supposed culprit, Thiopental Sodium (Pentothal). pulmonary diseases are within the expertise of pulmonary medicine, Dr.
Jamora's field, the anesthetic drug-induced, allergic mediated
bronchospasm alleged in this case is within the disciplines of
The inappropriateness and absurdity of accepting Dr. Jamora's testimony as anesthesiology, allergology and pharmacology. On the basis of the
an expert witness in the anesthetic practice of Pentothal administration is foregoing transcript, in which the pulmonologist himself admitted that he
further supported by his own admission that he formulated his opinions on could not testify about the drug with medical authority, it is clear that the
the drug not from the practical experience gained by a specialist or expert in appellate court erred in giving weight to Dr. Jamora's testimony as an expert
the administration and use of Sodium Pentothal on patients, but only from in the administration of Thiopental Sodium.
reading certain references, to wit: dctai
The provision in the rules of evidence 62 regarding expert witnesses states:
ATTY. LIGSAY:
SECTION 49. Opinion of expert witness. — The opinion of
Q: In your line of expertise on pulmonology, did you have a witness on a matter requiring special knowledge, skill,
any occasion to use pentothal as a method of experience or training which he is shown to possess, may
management? be received in evidence.

DR. JAMORA: Generally, to qualify as an expert witness, one must have acquired special
knowledge of the subject matter about which he or she is to testify, either by
A: We do it in conjunction with the anesthesiologist when the study of recognized authorities on the subject or by practical
they have to intubate our patient. experience. 63 Clearly, Dr. Jamora does not qualify as an expert witness
based on the above standard since he lacks the necessary knowledge, skill,
and training in the field of anesthesiology. Oddly, apart from submitting endotracheal intubation what actually took place was an esophageal
testimony from a specialist in the wrong field, private respondents' intubation. During intubation, such distention indicates that air has entered
intentionally avoided providing testimony by competent and independent the gastrointestinal tract through the esophagus instead of the lungs
experts in the proper areas. through the trachea. Entry into the esophagus would certainly cause some
delay in oxygen delivery into the lungs as the tube which carries oxygen is in
Moreover, private respondents' theory, that Thiopental Sodium may have the wrong place. That abdominal distention had been observed during the
produced Erlinda's coma by triggering an allergic mediated response, has first intubation suggests that the length of time utilized in inserting the
no support in evidence. No evidence of stridor, skin reactions, or wheezing endotracheal tube (up to the time the tube was withdrawn for the second
— some of the more common accompanying signs of an allergic reaction — attempt) was fairly significant. Due to the delay in the delivery of oxygen in
appears on record. No laboratory data were ever presented to the court. her lungs Erlinda showed signs of cyanosis. 66 As stated in the testimony of
In any case, private respondents themselves admit that Thiopental induced, Dr. Hosaka, the lack of oxygen became apparent only after he noticed that
allergic-mediated bronchospasm happens only very rarely. If courts were to the nailbeds of Erlinda were already blue. 67 However, private respondents
accept private respondents' hypothesis without supporting medical proof, contend that a second intubation was executed on Erlinda and this one was
and against the weight of available evidence, then every anesthetic accident successfully done. We do not think so. No evidence exists on record,
would be an act of God. Evidently, the Thiopental-allergy theory vigorously beyond private respondents' bare claims, which supports the contention
asserted by private respondents was a mere afterthought. Such an that the second intubation was successful. Assuming that the endotracheal
explanation was advanced in order to absolve them of any and all tube finally found its way into the proper orifice of the trachea, the same
responsibility for the patient's condition. gave no guarantee of oxygen delivery, the hallmark of a successful
intubation. In fact, cyanosis was again observed immediately after the
In view of the evidence at hand, we are inclined to believe petitioners' stand second intubation. Proceeding from this event (cyanosis), it could not be
that it was the faulty intubation which was the proximate cause of Erlinda's claimed, as private respondents insist, that the second intubation was
comatose condition. accomplished. Even granting that the tube was successfully inserted during
the second attempt, it, was obviously too late. As aptly explained by the trial
Proximate cause has been defined as that which, in natural and continuous
court, Erlinda already suffered brain damage as a result of the inadequate
sequence, unbroken by any efficient intervening cause, produces injury, and
oxygenation of her brain for about four to five minutes. 68
without which the result would not have occurred. 64 An injury or damage is
proximately caused by an act or a failure to act, whenever it appears from The above conclusion is not without basis. Scientific studies point out that
the evidence in the case, that the act or omission played a substantial part intubation problems are responsible for one-third (1/3) of deaths and serious
in bringing about or actually causing the injury or damage; and that the injuries associated with anesthesia. 69 Nevertheless, ninety-eight percent
injury or damage was either a direct result or a reasonably probable (98%) or the vast majority of difficult intubations may be anticipated by
consequence of the act or omission. 65 It is the dominant, moving or performing a thorough evaluation of the patient's airway prior to the
producing cause. operation. 70 As stated beforehand, respondent Dra. Gutierrez failed to
observe the proper pre-operative protocol which could have prevented this
Applying the above definition in relation to the evidence at hand, faulty
unfortunate incident. Had appropriate diligence and reasonable care been
intubation is undeniably the proximate cause which triggered the chain of
used in the pre-operative evaluation, respondent physician could have been
events leading to Erlinda's brain damage and, ultimately, her comatosed
much more prepared to meet the contingency brought about by the
condition.
perceived anatomic variations in the patient's neck and oral area, defects
Private respondents themselves admitted in their testimony that the first which would have been easily overcome by a prior knowledge of those
intubation was a failure. This fact was likewise observed by witness Cruz variations together with a change in technique. 71 In other words, an
when she heard respondent Dra. Gutierrez remarked, "Ang hirap ma- experienced anesthesiologist, adequately alerted by a thorough pre-
intubate nito, mali yata ang pagkakapasok. O lumalaki ang tiyan." Thereafter, operative evaluation, would have had little difficulty going around the short
witness Cruz noticed abdominal distention on the body of Erlinda. The neck and protruding teeth. 72 Having failed to observe common medical
development of abdominal distention, together with respiratory standards in pre-operative management and intubation, respondent Dra.
embarrassment indicates that the endotracheal tube entered the esophagus Gutierrez' negligence resulted in cerebral anoxia and eventual coma of
instead of the respiratory tree. In other words, instead of the intended Erlinda. cda
We now determine the responsibility of respondent Dr. Orlino Hosaka as the standards acceptable to the hospital or its peer review committee, is
head of the surgical team. As the so-called "captain of the ship," 73 it is the normally politely terminated.
surgeon's responsibility to see to it that those under him perform their task
in the proper manner. Respondent Dr. Hosaka's negligence can be found in In other words, private hospitals, hire, fire and exercise real control over their
his failure to exercise the proper authority (as the "captain" of the operative attending and visiting "consultant" staff. While "consultants" are not,
team) in not determining if his anesthesiologist observed proper anesthesia technically employees, a point which respondent hospital asserts in denying
protocols. In fact, no evidence on record exists to show that respondent Dr. all responsibility for the patient's condition, the control exercised, the hiring,
Hosaka verified if respondent Dra. Gutierrez properly intubated the patient. and the right to terminate consultants all fulfill the important hallmarks of an
Furthermore, it does not escape us that respondent Dr. Hosaka had employer-employee relationship, with the exception of the payment of
scheduled another procedure in a different hospital at the same time as wages. In assessing whether such a relationship in fact exists, the control
Erlinda's cholecystectomy, and was in fact over three hours late for the test is determining. Accordingly, on the basis of the foregoing, we rule that
latter's operation. Because of this, he had little or no time to confer with his for the purpose of allocating responsibility in medical negligence cases, an
anesthesiologist regarding the anesthesia delivery. This indicates that he employer-employee relationship in effect exists between hospitals and their
was remiss in his professional duties towards his patient. Thus, he shares attending and visiting physicians. This being the case, the question now
equal responsibility for the events which resulted in Erlinda's condition. arises as to whether or not respondent hospital is solidarily liable with
respondent doctors for petitioner's condition. 76
We now discuss the responsibility of the hospital in this particular incident.
The unique practice (among private hospitals) of filling up specialist staff The basis for holding an employer solidarily responsible for the negligence
with attending and visiting "consultants," 74 who are allegedly not hospital of its employee is found in Article 2180 of the Civil Code which considers a
employees, presents problems in apportioning responsibility for negligence person accountable not only for his own acts but also for those of others
in medical malpractice cases. However, the difficulty is only more apparent based on the former's responsibility under a relationship of patria
than real. potestas. 77Such responsibility ceases when the persons or entity
concerned prove that they have observed the diligence of a good father of
the family to prevent damage. 78 In other words, while the burden of proving
negligence rests on the plaintiffs, once negligence is shown, the burden
In the first place, hospitals exercise significant control in the hiring and firing shifts to the respondents (parent, guardian, teacher or employer) who should
of consultants and in the conduct of their work within the hospital premises. prove that they observed the diligence of a good father of a family to prevent
Doctors who apply for "consultant" slots, visiting or attending, are required damage.
to submit proof of completion of residency, their educational qualifications;
generally, evidence of accreditation by the appropriate board (diplomate), In the instant case, respondent hospital, apart from a general denial of its
evidence of fellowship in most cases, and references. These requirements responsibility over respondent physicians, failed to adduce evidence
are carefully scrutinized by members of the hospital administration or by a showing that it exercised the diligence of a good father of a family in the
review committee set up by the hospital who either accept or reject the hiring and supervision of the latter. It failed to adduce evidence with regard
application. 75 This is particularly true with respondent hospital. to the degree of supervision which it exercised over its physicians. In
neglecting to offer such proof, or proof of a similar nature, respondent
After a physician is accepted, either as a visiting or attending consultant, he hospital thereby failed to discharge its burden under the last paragraph
is normally required to attend clinico-pathological conferences, conduct of Article 2180. Having failed to do this, respondent hospital is consequently
bedside rounds for clerks, interns and residents, moderate grand rounds solidarily responsible with its physicians for Erlinda's condition.
and patient audits and perform other tasks and responsibilities, for the
privilege of being able to maintain a clinic in the hospital, and/or for the Based on the foregoing, we hold that the Court of Appeals erred in
privilege of admitting patients into the hospital. In addition to these, the accepting and relying on the testimonies of the witnesses for the private
physician's performance as a specialist is generally evaluated by a peer respondents. Indeed, as shown by the above discussions, private
review committee on the basis of mortality and morbidity statistics, and respondents were unable to rebut the presumption of negligence. Upon
feedback from patients, nurses, interns and residents. A consultant remiss in these disquisitions we hold that private respondents are solidarily liable for
his duties, or a consultant who regularly falls short of the minimum damages under Article 2176 79 of the Civil Code.
We now come to the amount of damages due petitioners. The trial court in this case, where the resulting injury might be continuing and possible
awarded a total of P632,000.00 pesos (should be P616,000.00) in future complications directly arising from the injury, while certain to occur,
compensatory damages to the plaintiff, "subject to its being updated" are difficult to predict. LexLib
covering the period from 15 November 1985 up to 15 April 1992, based on
monthly expenses for the care of the patient estimated at P8,000.00. In these cases, the amount of damages which should be awarded, if they
are to adequately and correctly respond to the injury caused, should be one
At current levels, the P8000/monthly amount established by the trial court at which compensates for pecuniary loss incurred and proved, up to the time
the time of its decision would be grossly inadequate to cover the actual of trial; and one which would meet pecuniary loss certain to be suffered but
costs of home-based care for a comatose individual. The calculated amount which could not, from the nature of the case, be made with certainty. 80 In
was not even arrived at by looking at the actual cost of proper hospice care other words, temperate damages can and should be awarded on top of
for the patient. What it reflected were the actual expenses incurred and actual or compensatory damages in instances where the injury is chronic
proved by the petitioners after they were forced to bring home the patient to and continuing. And because of the unique nature of such cases, no
avoid mounting hospital bills. incompatibility arises when both actual and temperate damages are
provided for. The reason is that these damages cover two distinct phases.
And yet ideally, a comatose patient should remain in a hospital or be
transferred to a hospice specializing in the care of the chronically ill for the As it would not be equitable — and certainly not in the best interests of the
purpose of providing a proper milieu adequate to meet minimum standards administration of justice — for the victim in such cases to constantly come
of care. In the instant case for instance, Erlinda has to be constantly turned before the courts and invoke their aid in seeking adjustments to the
from side to side to prevent bedsores and hypostatic pneumonia. Feeding is compensatory damages previously awarded — temperate damages are
done by nasogastric tube. Food preparation should be normally made by a appropriate. The amount given as temperate damages, though to a certain
dietitian to provide her with the correct daily caloric requirements and extent speculative, should take into account the cost of proper care.
vitamin supplements. Furthermore, she has to be seen on a regular basis by
a physical therapist to avoid muscle atrophy, and by a pulmonary therapist In the instant case, petitioners were able to provide only home-based
to prevent the accumulation of secretions which can lead to respiratory nursing care for a comatose patient who has remained in that condition for
complications. over a decade. Having premised our award for compensatory damages on
the amount provided by petitioners at the onset of litigation, it would be now
Given these considerations, the amount of actual damages recoverable in much more in step with the interests of justice if the value awarded for
suits arising from negligence should at least reflect the correct minimum temperate damages would allow petitioners to provide optimal care for their
cost of proper care, not the cost of the care the family is usually compelled loved one in a facility which generally specializes in such care. They should
to undertake at home to avoid bankruptcy. However, the provisions of the not be compelled by dire circumstances to provide substandard care at
Civil Code on actual or compensatory damages present us with some home without the aid of professionals, for anything less would be grossly
difficulties. inadequate. Under the circumstances, an award of P1,500,000.00 in
temperate damages would therefore be reasonable. 81
Well-settled is the rule that actual damages which may be claimed by the
plaintiff are those suffered by him as he has duly proved. The Civil Code In Valenzuela vs. Court of Appeals, 82 this Court was confronted with a
provides: situation where the injury suffered by the plaintiff would have led to
expenses which were difficult to estimate because while they would have
ARTICLE 2199. Except as provided by law or by
been a direct result of the injury (amputation), and were certain to be
stipulation, one is entitled to an adequate compensation
incurred by the plaintiff, they were likely to arise only in the future. We
only for such pecuniary loss suffered by him as he has
awarded P1,000,000.00 in moral damages in that case.
duly proved. Such compensation is referred to as actual
or compensatory damages. Describing the nature of the injury, the Court therein stated:
Our rules on actual or compensatory damages generally assume that at the As a result of the accident, Ma. Lourdes Valenzuela
time of litigation, the injury suffered as a consequence of an act of underwent a traumatic amputation of her left lower
negligence has been completed and that the cost can be liquidated. extremity at the distal left thigh just above the knee.
However, these provisions neglect to take into account those situations, as Because of this, Valenzuela will forever be deprived of the
full ambulatory functions of her left extremity, even with Meanwhile, the actual physical, emotional and financial cost of the care of
the use of state of the art prosthetic technology. Well petitioner would be virtually impossible to quantify. Even the temperate
beyond the period of hospitalization (which was paid for damages herein awarded would be inadequate if petitioner's condition
by Li), she will be required to undergo adjustments in her remains unchanged for the next ten years.
prosthetic devise due to the shrinkage of the stump from
the process of healing. We recognized, in Valenzuela that a discussion of the victim's actual injury
would not even scratch the surface of the resulting moral damage because it
would be highly speculative to estimate the amount of emotional and moral
pain, psychological damage and injury suffered by the victim or those
These adjustments entail costs, prosthetic replacements actually affected by the victim's condition. 84 The husband and the children,
and months of physical and occupational rehabilitation all petitioners in this case, will have to live with the day to day uncertainty of
and therapy. During her lifetime, the prosthetic devise will the patient's illness, knowing any hope of recovery is close to nil. They have
have to be replaced and readjusted to changes in the size fashioned their daily lives around the nursing care of petitioner, altering their
of her lower limb effected by the biological changes of long term goals to take into account their life with a comatose patient. They,
middle-age, menopause and aging. Assuming she not the respondents, are charged with the moral responsibility of the care of
reaches menopause, for example, the prosthetic will have the victim. The family's moral injury and suffering in this case is clearly a real
to be adjusted to respond to the changes in bone one. For the foregoing reasons, an award of P2,000,000.00 in moral
resulting from a precipitate decrease in calcium levels damages would be appropriate.
observed in the bones of all post-menopausal women. In
other words, the damage done to her would not only be Finally, by way of example, exemplary damages in the amount of
permanent and lasting, it would also be permanently P100,000.00 are hereby awarded. Considering the length and nature of the
changing and adjusting to the physiologic changes which instant suit we are of the opinion that attorney's fees valued at P100,000.00
her body would normally undergo through the years. The are likewise proper.
replacements, changes, and adjustments will require
corresponding adjustive physical and occupational Our courts face unique difficulty in adjudicating medical negligence cases
therapy. All of these adjustments, it has been because physicians are not insurers of life and, they rarely set out to
documented, are painful. intentionally cause injury or death to their patients. However, intent is
immaterial in negligence cases because where negligence exists and is
xxx xxx xxx proven, the same automatically gives the injured a right to reparation for the
damage caused.
A prosthetic devise, however technologically advanced,
will only allow a reasonable amount of functional Established medical procedures and practices, though in constant flux are
restoration of the motor functions of the lower limb. The devised for the purpose of preventing complications. A physician's
sensory functions are forever lost. The resultant anxiety, experience with his patients would sometimes tempt him to deviate from
sleeplessness, psychological injury, mental and physical established community practices, and he may end a distinguished career
pain are inestimable. 83 using unorthodox methods without incident. However, when failure to follow
established procedure results in the evil precisely sought to be averted by
The injury suffered by Erlinda as a consequence of private respondents' observance of the procedure and a nexus is made between the deviation
negligence is certainly much more serious than the amputation in and the injury or damage, the physician would necessarily be called to
the Valenzuela case. account for it. In the case at bar, the failure to observe pre-operative
Petitioner Erlinda Ramos was in her mid-forties when the incident occurred. assessment protocol which would have influenced the intubation in a
She has been in a comatose state for over fourteen years now. The burden salutary way was fatal to private respondents' case.
of care has so far been heroically shouldered by her husband and children, WHEREFORE, the decision and resolution of the appellate court appealed
who, in the intervening years have been deprived of the love of a wife and a from are hereby modified so as to award in favor of petitioners, and
mother. cdrep solidarily against private respondents the following: 1) P1,352,000.00 as
actual damages computed as of the date of promulgation of this decision
plus a monthly payment of P8,000.00 up to the time that petitioner Erlinda private respondents De los Santos Medical Center (DLSMC), Dr. Orlino
Ramos expires or miraculously survives; 2) P2,000,000.00 as moral Hosaka and Dr. Perfecta Gutierrez. After due trial, the court a
damages, 3) P1,500,000.00 as temperate damages; 4) P100,000.00 each as quo rendered judgment in favor of petitioners. Essentially, the trial court
exemplary damages and attorney's fees; and, 5) the costs of the suit. found that private respondents were negligent in the performance of
their duties to petitioner Erlinda Ramos. On appeal by private
SO ORDERED. llcd respondents, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's decision
Davide, Jr., C.J., Puno, Pardo and Ynares-Santiago, JJ., concur. and directed petitioners to pay their "unpaid medical bills" to private
respondents. Petitioners filed with the Court a petition for review
||| (Ramos v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 124354, [December 29, 1999], 378 on certiorari. The Court held private respondents civilly liable for
PHIL 1198-1247) petitioner Erlinda Ramos' comatose condition after she delivered herself
to them for their professional care and management. Hence, the present
motion for reconsideration. Subsequent to the promulgation of the
FIRST DIVISION Decision, the Court was informed by petitioner Rogelio Ramos that
petitioner Erlinda died on August 3, 1999. aIcSED
[G.R. No. 124354. April 11, 2002.] The Supreme Court found no sufficient reason to modify its
ruling holding private respondents Dr. Orlino Hosaka and Dr. Perfecta
Reyes civilly liable for the comatose condition of petitioner Erlinda
ROGELIO E. RAMOS and ERLINDA RAMOS, in their
Ramos. According to the Court, the injury incurred by Erlinda does not
own behalf and as natural guardians of the minors,
normally happen absent any negligence in the administration of
ROMMEL RAMOS, ROY RODERICK RAMOS, and RON
anesthesia and in the use of an endotracheal tube. The Court ruled that
RAYMOND RAMOS, petitioners, vs. COURT OF
although there is indeed a trend in American jurisprudence to do away
APPEALS, DE LOS SANTOS MEDICAL CENTER, DR.
with the Captain-of-the-Ship doctrine, it does not mean that this Court
ORLINO HOSAKA and DR. PERFECTA
will ipso facto follow said trend. Due regard for the peculiar factual
GUTIERREZ, respondents.
circumstances obtaining in this case justify the application of the
Captain-of-the-Ship doctrine. From the facts on record it can be
logically inferred that Dr. Hosaka exercised a certain degree of, at the
Luis C.A. Sillano for petitioners.
very least, supervision over the procedure then being performed on
Walter Young & Associates for Movant-Intervenors. Erlinda by Dr. Gutierrez. The Court, however, absolved respondent
Delos Santos Medical Center from liability. According to the Court, there
Brian Keith F. Hosaka, Miguelito Ocampo, Emmanuel Ypil, & Ret. Justice is no employer-employee relationship between DLSMC and Drs.
Hector Hofilena for respondent Dr. O. Hosaka. Gutierrez and Hosaka which would hold DLSMC solidarily liable for the
Macarius Gaslutera & Philip De Clara and Tanjuatco Sta. Maria Tanjuatco for injury suffered by petitioner Erlinda under Article 2180 of the Civil Code.
The contract between the consultant in respondent hospital and his
respondent Delos Santos Medical Center.
patient is separate and distinct from the contract between respondent
Antonio H. Abad & Associates for respondents-doctors. hospital and said patient. The first has for its object the rendition of
medical services by the consultant to the patient, while the second
Gana Law Offices collaborating counsel for respondent Dra. Perfecta concerns the provision by the hospital of facilities and services by its
Gutierrez. staff such as nurses and laboratory personnel necessary for the proper
treatment of the patient. Further, no evidence was adduced to show that
the injury suffered by petitioner Erlinda was due to a failure on the part
SYNOPSIS of respondent DLSMC to provide for hospital facilities and staff
necessary for her treatment.
Petitioners Rogelio Ramos and Erlinda Ramos filed with the
Regional Trial Court of Quezon City a civil case for damages against
SYLLABUS engage the services of Dr. Gutierrez to administer the anesthesia on his
patient. Second, Dr. Hosaka himself admitted that he was the attending
physician of Erlinda. Thus, when Erlinda showed signs of cyanosis, it was
1. CIVIL LAW; DAMAGES; MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE; DOCTRINE OF RES
Dr. Hosaka who gave instructions to call for another anesthesiologist and
IPSA LOQUITOR; APPLICABLE IN CASE AT BAR; INJURY INCURRED BY
cardiologist to help resuscitate Erlinda. Third, it is conceded that in
DECEASE PATIENT DOES NOT NORMALLY HAPPEN ABSENT ANY
performing their responsibilities to the patient, Drs. Hosaka and Gutierrez
NEGLIGENCE IN THE ADMINISTRATION OF ANESTHESIA AND IN THE
worked as a team. Their work cannot be placed in separate watertight
USE OF AN ENDOTRACHEAL TUBE. — The injury incurred by petitioner
compartments because their duties intersect with each other.
Erlinda does not normally happen absent any negligence in the
administration of anesthesia and in the use of an endotracheal tube. As was 3. ID.; ID.; ID.; WHILE THE SURGEON AND THE ANESTHESIOLOGIST
noted in our Decision, the instruments used in the administration of DOES NOT EXERCISE CONTROL OVER THE OTHER, THEY WERE
anesthesia, including the endotracheal tube, were all under the exclusive CERTAINLY NOT COMPLETELY INDEPENDENT OF EACH OTHER SO AS
control of private respondents Dr. Gutierrez and Dr. Hosaka. In Voss vs. TO ABSOLVE ONE FROM THE NEGLIGENT ACTS OF THE OTHER
Bridwell, which involved a patient who suffered brain damage due to the PHYSICIAN. — While the professional services of Dr. Hosaka and Dr.
wrongful administration of anesthesia, and even before the scheduled Gutierrez were secured primarily for their performance of acts within their
mastoid operation could be performed, the Kansas Supreme Court applied respective fields of expertise for the treatment of petitioner Erlinda, and that
the doctrine of res ipso loquitur, reasoning that the injury to the patient one does not exercise control over the other, they were certainly not
therein was one which does not ordinarily take place in the absence of completely independent of each other so as to absolve one from the
negligence in the administration of an anesthetic, and in the use and negligent acts of the other physician. That they were working as a medical
employment of an endotracheal tube. The court went on to say that team is evident from the fact that Dr. Hosaka was keeping an eye on the
"[o]rdinarily a person being put under anesthesia is not rendered intubation of the patient by Dr. Gutierrez, and while doing so, he observed
decerebrate as a consequence of administering such anesthesia in the that the patient's nails had become dusky and had to call Dr. Gutierrez's
absence of negligence. Upon these facts and under these circumstances, a attention thereto. The Court also notes that the counsel for Dr. Hosaka
layman would be able to say, as a matter of common knowledge and admitted that in practice, the anesthesiologist would also have to observe
observation, that the consequences of professional treatment were not as the surgeon's acts during the surgical process and call the attention of the
such as would ordinarily have followed if due care had been exercised." surgeon whenever necessary in the course of the treatment. The duties of
Considering the application of the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, the testimony Dr. Hosaka and those of Dr. Gutierrez in the treatment of petitioner Erlinda
of Cruz was properly given credence in the case at bar. are therefore not as clear-cut as respondents claim them to be. On the
contrary, it is quite apparent that they have a common responsibility to treat
2. ID.; ID.; ID.; DUE REGARD FOR THE PECULIAR FACTUAL
the patient, which responsibility necessitates that they call each other's
CIRCUMSTANCES OBTAINING IN CASE AT BAR JUSTIFY THE
attention to the condition of the patient while the other physician is
APPLICATION OF THE "CAPTAIN-OF-THE-SHIP-DOCTRINE"; IT CAN BE
performing the necessary medical procedures. CIAcSa
LOGICALLY INFERRED FROM THE FACTS ON RECORD THAT
RESPONDENT SURGEON EXERCISED A CERTAIN DEGREE, AT THE VERY 4. ID.; ID.; ID.; THE SURGEON'S IRRESPONSIBLE CONDUCT OF
LEAST, SUPERVISION OVER PROCEDURE THEN BEING PERFORMED ON ARRIVING VERY LATE FOR THE SCHEDULED OPERATION IS VIOLATIVE
THE PATIENT. — That there is a trend in American jurisprudence to do away NOT ONLY OF HIS DUTY AS PHYSICIAN BUT ALSO OF ARTICLE 19 OF
with the Captain-of-the-Ship doctrine does not mean that this Court will ipso THE CIVIL CODE WHICH REQUIRES A PERSON, IN THE PERFORMANCE
facto follow said trend. Due regard for the peculiar factual circumstances OF HIS DUTIES, TO ACT WITH JUSTICE AND GIVE EVERYONE HIS DUE.
obtaining in this case justify the application of the Captain-of-the-Ship — It is equally important to point out that Dr. Hosaka was remiss in his duty
doctrine. From the facts on record it can be logically inferred that Dr. of attending to petitioner Erlinda promptly, for he arrived more than three (3)
Hosaka exercised a certain degree of, at the very least, supervision over the hours late for the scheduled operation. The cholecystectomy was set for
procedure then being performed on Erlinda. First, it was Dr. Hosaka who June 17, 1985 at 9:00 a.m., but he arrived at DLSMC only at around 12:10
recommended to petitioners the services of Dr. Gutierrez. In effect, he p.m. In reckless disregard for his patient's well being, Dr. Hosaka scheduled
represented to petitioners that Dr. Gutierrez possessed the necessary two procedures on the same day, just thirty minutes apart from each other,
competence and skills. Drs. Hosaka and Gutierrez had worked together at different hospitals. Thus, when the first procedure (protoscopy) at the Sta.
since 1977. Whenever Dr. Hosaka performed a surgery, he would always Teresita Hospital did not proceed on time, Erlinda was kept in a state of
uncertainty at the DLSMC. The unreasonable delay in petitioner Erlinda's from the contract between respondent hospital and said patient. The first
scheduled operation subjected her to continued starvation and has for its object the rendition of medical services by the consultant to the
consequently, to the risk of acidosis, or the condition of decreased alkalinity patient, while the second concerns the provision by the hospital of facilities
of the blood and tissues, marked by sickly sweet breath, headache, nausea and services by its staff such as nurses and laboratory personnel necessary
and vomiting, and visual disturbances. The long period that Dr. Hosaka for the proper treatment of the patient. Further, no evidence was adduced to
made Erlinda wait for him certainly aggravated the anxiety that she must show that the injury suffered by petitioner Erlinda was due to a failure on the
have been feeling at the time. It could be safely said that her anxiety part of respondent DLSMC to provide for hospital facilities and staff
adversely affected the administration of anesthesia on her. As explained by necessary for her treatment. For these reasons, we reverse the finding of
Dr. Camagay, the patient's anxiety usually causes the outpouring of liability on the part of DLSMC for the injury suffered by petitioner Erlinda.
adrenaline which in turn results in high blood pressure or disturbances in the
heart rhythm. Dr. Hosaka cannot now claim that he was entirely blameless
of what happened to Erlinda. His conduct clearly constituted a breach of his
professional duties to Erlinda: Dr. Hosaka's irresponsible conduct of arriving RESOLUTION
very late for the scheduled operation of petitioner Erlinda is violative, not
only of his duty as a physician "to serve the interest of his patients with the
greatest solicitude, giving them always his best talent and skill," but also of KAPUNAN, J p:
Article 19 of the Civil Code which requires a person, in the performance of
his duties, to act with justice and give everyone his due.
Private respondents De Los Santos Medical Center, Dr. Orlino Hosaka and
Dr. Perfecta Gutierrez move for a reconsideration of the Decision, dated
December 29, 1999, of this Court holding them civilly liable for petitioner
5. ID.; ID.; ID.; NO EMPLOYER-EMPLOYEE RELATIONSHIP EXISTS Erlinda Ramos' comatose condition after she delivered herself to them for
BETWEEN THE HOSPITAL AND THE TWO PHYSICIANS IN CASE AT BAR their professional care and management. EICDSA
WHICH WOULD HOLD THE FORMER SOLIDARILY LIABLE FOR THE
INJURY SUFFERED BY THE PATIENT UNDER ARTICLE 2180 OF THE CIVIL For better understanding of the issues raised in private respondents'
CODE. — There is no employer-employee relationship between DLSMC and respective motions, we will briefly restate the facts of the case as follows:
Drs. Gutierrez and Hosaka which would hold DLSMC solidarily liable for the
Sometime in 1985, petitioner Erlinda Ramos, after seeking professional
injury suffered by petitioner Erlinda under Article 2180 of the Civil Code. As
medical help, was advised to undergo an operation for the removal of a
explained by respondent hospital, that the admission of a physician to
stone in her gall bladder (cholecystectomy). She was referred to Dr. Hosaka,
membership in DLSMC's medical staff as active or visiting consultant is first
a surgeon, who agreed to perform the operation on her. The operation was
decided upon by the Credentials Committee thereof, which is composed of
scheduled for June 17, 1985 at 9:00 in the morning at private respondent De
the heads of the various specialty departments such as the Department of
Los Santos Medical Center (DLSMC). Since neither petitioner Erlinda nor her
Obstetrics and Gynecology, Pediatrics, Surgery with the department head of
husband, petitioner Rogelio, knew of any anesthesiologist, Dr. Hosaka
the particular specialty applied for as chairman. The Credentials Committee
recommended to them the services of Dr. Gutierrez.
then recommends to DLSMC's Medical Director or Hospital Administrator
the acceptance or rejection of the applicant physician, and said director or Petitioner Erlinda was admitted to the DLSMC the day before the scheduled
administrator validates the committee's recommendation. Similarly, in cases operation. By 7:30 in the morning of the following day, petitioner Erlinda was
where a disciplinary action is lodged against a consultant, the same is already being prepared for operation. Upon the request of petitioner Erlinda,
initiated by the department to whom the consultant concerned belongs and her sister-in-law, Herminda Cruz, who was then Dean of the College of
filed with the Ethics Committee consisting of the department specialty Nursing at the Capitol Medical Center, was allowed to accompany her inside
heads. The medical director/hospital administrator merely acts as ex- the operating room.
oficio member of said committee. Neither is there any showing that it is
DLSMC which pays any of its consultants for medical services rendered by At around 9:30 in the morning, Dr. Hosaka had not yet arrived so Dr.
the latter to their respective patients. Moreover, the contract between the Gutierrez tried to get in touch with him by phone. Thereafter, Dr. Gutierrez
consultant in respondent hospital and his patient is separate and distinct informed Cruz that the operation might be delayed due to the late arrival of
Dr. Hosaka. In the meantime, the patient, petitioner Erlinda said to Cruz, respondents the following: 1) P1,352,000.00 as actual
"Mindy, inip na inip na ako, ikuha mo ako ng ibang Doctor." damages computed as of the date of promulgation of this
decision plus a monthly payment of P8,000.00 up to the
By 10:00 in the morning, when Dr. Hosaka was still not around, petitioner time that petitioner Erlinda Ramos expires or miraculously
Rogelio already wanted to pull out his wife from the operating room. He met survives; 2) P2,000,000.00 as moral damages, 3)
Dr. Garcia, who remarked that he was also tired of waiting for Dr. Hosaka. P1,500,000.00 as temperate damages; 4) P100,000.00
Dr. Hosaka finally arrived at the hospital at around 12:10 in the afternoon, or each exemplary damages and attorney's fees; and 5) the
more than three (3) hours after the scheduled operation. costs of the suit. 2
Cruz, who was then still inside the operating room, heard about Dr. In his Motion for Reconsideration, private respondent Dr. Hosaka submits
Hosaka's arrival. While she held the hand of Erlinda, Cruz saw Dr. Gutierrez the following as grounds therefor:
trying to intubate the patient. Cruz heard Dr. Gutierrez utter: "ang hirap ma-
intubate nito, mali yata ang pagkakapasok. O lumalaki ang tiyan." Cruz I
noticed a bluish discoloration of Erlinda's nailbeds on her left hand. She
(Cruz) then heard Dr. Hosaka instruct someone to call Dr. Calderon, another THE HONORABLE SUPREME COURT COMMITTED
anesthesiologist. When he arrived, Dr. Calderon attempted to intubate the REVERSIBLE ERROR WHEN IT HELD RESPONDENT DR.
patient. The nailbeds of the patient remained bluish, thus, she was placed in HOSAKA LIABLE ON THE BASIS OF THE "CAPTAIN-OF-
a trendelenburg position — a position where the head of the patient is THE-SHIP" DOCTRINE.
placed in a position lower than her feet. At this point, Cruz went out of the II
operating room to express her concern to petitioner Rogelio that Erlinda's
operation was not going well. THE HONORABLE SUPREME COURT ERRED IN
HOLDING RESPONDENT DR. HOSAKA LIABLE DESPITE
Cruz quickly rushed back to the operating room and saw that the patient THE FACT THAT NO NEGLIGENCE CAN BE
was still in trendelenburg position. At almost 3:00 in the afternoon, she saw ATTRIBUTABLE TO HIM.
Erlinda being wheeled to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). The doctors
explained to petitioner Rogelio that his wife had bronchospasm. Erlinda III
stayed in the ICU for a month. She was released from the hospital only four
ASSUMING WITHOUT ADMITTING THAT RESPONDENT
months later or on November 15, 1985. Since the ill-fated operation, Erlinda
DR. HOSAKA IS LIABLE, THE HONORABLE SUPREME
remained in comatose condition until she died on August 3, 1999. 1
COURT ERRED IN AWARDING DAMAGES THAT WERE
Petitioners filed with the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City a civil case for CLEARLY EXCESSIVE AND WITHOUT LEGAL BASIS. 3
damages against private respondents. After due trial, the court a
Private respondent Dr. Gutierrez, for her part, avers that:
quo rendered judgment in favor of petitioners. Essentially, the trial court
found that private respondents were negligent in the performance of their A. THE HONORABLE SUPREME COURT MAY HAVE
duties to Erlinda. On appeal by private respondents, the Court of Appeals INADVERTENTLY OVERLOOKED THE FACT THAT THE
reversed the trial court's decision and directed petitioners to pay their COURT OF APPEAL'S DECISION DATED 29 MAY 1995
"unpaid medical bills" to private respondents. HAD ALREADY BECOME FINAL AND EXECUTORY AS
OF 25 JUNE 1995, THEREBY DEPRIVING THIS
Petitioners filed with this Court a petition for review on certiorari. The private
HONORABLE COURT OF JURISDICTION OVER THE
respondents were then required to submit their respective comments
INSTANT PETITION;
thereon. On December 29, 1999, this Court promulgated the decision which
private respondents now seek to be reconsidered. The dispositive portion of B. THE HONORABLE SUPREME COURT MAY HAVE
said Decision states: INADVERTENTLY OVERLOOKED SEVERAL MATERIAL
FACTUAL CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH, IF PROPERLY
WHEREFORE, the decision and resolution of the appellate
CONSIDERED, WOULD INDUBITABLY LEAD TO NO
court appealed from are hereby modified so as to award
OTHER CONCLUSION BUT THAT PRIVATE
in favor of petitioners, and solidarily against private
RESPONDENT DOCTORS WERE NOT GUILTY OF ANY THE HONORABLE SUPREME COURT ERRED IN
NEGLIGENCE IN RESPECT OF THE INSTANT CASE; FINDING THAT AN EMPLOYER-EMPLOYEE
[RELATIONSHIP] EXISTS BETWEEN RESPONDENT DE
B.1 RESPONDENT DOCTOR PERFECTA LOS SANTOS MEDICAL CENTER AND DRS. ORLINO
GUTIERREZ HAS SUFFICIENTLY HOSAKA AND PERFECTA GUTIERREZ
DISCHARGED THE BURDEN OF
EVIDENCE BY SUBSTANTIAL PROOF OF III
HER COMPLIANCE WITH THE
STANDARDS OF DUE CARE EXPECTED THE HONORABLE SUPREME COURT ERRED IN
IN HER RESPECTIVE FIELD OF MEDICAL FINDING THAT RESPONDENT DE LOS SANTOS
SPECIALIZATION. MEDICAL CENTER IS SOLIDARILY LIABLE WITH
RESPONDENT DOCTORS
B.2 RESPONDENT DOCTOR PERFECTA
GUTIERREZ HAS SUFFICIENTLY
DISCHARGED THE BURDEN OF IV
EVIDENCE BY SUBSTANTIAL PROOF OF
HER HAVING SUCCESSFULLY THE HONORABLE SUPREME COURT ERRED IN
INTUBATED PATIENT ERLINDA RAMOS. INCREASING THE AWARD OF DAMAGES IN FAVOR OF
PETITIONERS. 5
C. THE SUPREME COURT MAY HAVE INADVERTENTLY
PLACED TOO MUCH RELIANCE ON THE TESTIMONY In the Resolution of February 21, 2000, this Court denied the motions for
OF PETITIONER'S WITNESS HERMINDA CRUZ, DESPITE reconsideration of private respondents Drs. Hosaka and Gutierrez. They
THE EXISTENCE OF SEVERAL FACTUAL then filed their respective second motions for reconsideration. The
CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH RENDERS DOUBT ON HER Philippine College of Surgeons filed its Petition-in-Intervention contending in
CREDIBILITY; the main that this Court erred in holding private respondent Dr. Hosaka
liable under the captain-of-the-ship doctrine. According to the intervenor,
D. THE SUPREME COURT MAY HAVE INADVERTENTLY said doctrine had long been abandoned in the United States in recognition
DISREGARDED THE EXPERT TESTIMONY OF DR. of the developments in modern medical and hospital practice. 6 The Court
JAMORA AND DRA. CALDERON; noted these pleadings in the Resolution of July 17, 2000. 7
E. THE HONORABLE SUPREME COURT MAY HAVE On March 19, 2001, the Court heard the oral arguments of the parties,
INADVERTENTLY AWARDED DAMAGES TO including the intervenor. Also present during the hearing were the amicii
PETITIONERS DESPITE THE FACT THAT THERE WAS curiae: Dr. Felipe A. Estrella, Jr., Consultant of the Philippine Charity
NO NEGLIGENCE ON THE PART OF RESPONDENT Sweepstakes, former Director of the Philippine General Hospital and former
DOCTOR. 4 Secretary of Health; Dr. Iluminada T. Camagay, President of the Philippine
Private respondent De Los Santos Medical Center likewise moves for Society of Anesthesiologists, Inc. and Professor and Vice-Chair for
reconsideration on the following grounds: Research, Department of Anesthesiology, College of Medicine-Philippine
General Hospital, University of the Philippines; and Dr. Lydia M. Egay,
I Professor and Vice-Chair for Academics, Department of Anesthesiology,
College of Medicine-Philippine General Hospital, University of the
THE HONORABLE COURT ERRED IN GIVING DUE
Philippines.
COURSE TO THE INSTANT PETITION AS THE DECISION
OF THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS HAD The Court enumerated the issues to be resolved in this case as follows:
ALREADY BECOME FINAL AND EXECUTORY
1. WHETHER OR NOT DR. ORLINO HOSAKA (SURGEON)
II IS LIABLE FOR NEGLIGENCE;
2. WHETHER OR NOT DR. PERFECTA GUTIERREZ this because we need records for our protection, well,
(ANESTHESIOLOGIST) IS LIABLE FOR records. And it entails having brief summary of patient
NEGLIGENCE; AND history and physical findings pertinent to anesthesia, plan,
organize as a problem list, the plan anesthesia technique,
3. WHETHER OR NOT THE HOSPITAL (DELOS SANTOS the plan post operative, pain management if appropriate,
MEDICAL CENTER) IS LIABLE FOR ANY ACT OF special issues for this particular patient. There are needs
NEGLIGENCE COMMITTED BY THEIR VISITING for special care after surgery and if it so it must be written
CONSULTANT SURGEON AND down there and a request must be made known to proper
ANESTHESIOLOGIST. 8 authorities that such and such care is necessary. And the
We shall first resolve the issue pertaining to private respondent Dr. request for medical evaluation if there is an indication.
Gutierrez. She maintains that the Court erred in finding her negligent and in When we ask for a cardio-pulmonary clearance it is not in
holding that it was the faulty intubation which was the proximate cause of fact to tell them if this patient is going to be fit for
Erlinda's comatose condition. The following objective facts allegedly negate anesthesia, the decision to give anesthesia rests on the
a finding of negligence on her part: 1) That the outcome of the procedure anesthesiologist. What we ask them is actually to give us
was a comatose patient and not a dead one; 2) That the patient had a the functional capacity of certain systems which may be
cardiac arrest; and 3) That the patient was revived from that cardiac affected by the anesthetic agent or the technique that we
arrest. 9 In effect, Dr. Gutierrez insists that, contrary to the finding of this are going to use. But the burden of responsibility in terms
Court, the intubation she performed on Erlinda was successful. of selection of agent and how to administer it rest on the
anesthesiologist. 10
Unfortunately, Dr. Gutierrez' claim of lack of negligence on her part is belied
by the records of the case. It has been sufficiently established that she failed The conduct of a preanesthetic/preoperative evaluation prior to an
to exercise the standards of care in the administration of anesthesia on a operation, whether elective or emergency, cannot be dispensed
patient. Dr. Egay enlightened the Court on what these standards are: with. 11 Such evaluation is necessary for the formulation of a plan of
anesthesia care suited to the needs of the patient concerned.
. . . What are the standards of care that an
anesthesiologist should do before we administer Pre-evaluation for anesthesia involves taking the patient's medical history,
anesthesia? The initial step is the preparation of the reviewing his current drug therapy, conducting physical examination,
patient for surgery and this is a pre-operative evaluation interpreting laboratory data, and determining the appropriate prescription of
because the anesthesiologist is responsible for preoperative medications as necessary to the conduct of anesthesia. 12
determining the medical status of the patient, developing Physical examination of the patient entails not only evaluating the patient's
the anesthesia plan and acquainting the patient or the central nervous system, cardiovascular system and lungs but also the upper
responsible adult particularly if we are referring with the airway. Examination of the upper airway would in turn include an analysis of
patient or to adult patient who may not have, who may the patient's cervical spine mobility, temporomandibular mobility, prominent
have some mental handicaps of the proposed plans. We central incisors, deceased or artificial teeth, ability to visualize uvula and the
do pre-operative evaluation because this provides for an thyromental distance. 13
opportunity for us to establish identification and personal
acquaintance with the patient. It also makes us have an Nonetheless, Dr. Gutierrez omitted to perform a thorough preoperative
opportunity to alleviate anxiety, explain techniques and evaluation on Erlinda. As she herself admitted, she saw Erlinda for the first
risks to the patient, given the patient the choice and time on the day of the operation itself, one hour before the scheduled
establishing consent to proceed with the plan. And lastly, operation. She auscultated 14 the patient's heart and lungs and checked the
once this has been agreed upon by all parties concerned latter's blood pressure to determine if Erlinda was indeed fit for
the ordering of pre-operative medications. And following operation. 15 However, she did not proceed to examine the patient's airway.
this line at the end of the evaluation we usually come up Had she been able to check petitioner Erlinda's airway prior to the
on writing, documentation is very important as far as operation, Dr. Gutierrez would most probably not have experienced difficulty
when we train an anesthesiologist we always emphasize
in intubating the former, and thus the resultant injury could have been CHIEF JUSTICE:
avoided. As we have stated in our Decision:
Meaning to say, the patient became comatose
In the case at bar, respondent Dra. Gutierrez admitted after some intervention, professional acts have
that she saw Erlinda for the first time on the day of the been done by Dr. Gutierrez?
operation itself, on 17 June 1985. Before this date, no
prior consultations with, or pre-operative evaluation of ATTY. GANA:
Erlinda was done by her. Until the day of the operation, Yes, Your Honor.
respondent Dra. Gutierrez was unaware of the
physiological make-up and needs of Erlinda. She was CHIEF JUSTICE:
likewise not properly informed of the possible difficulties
In other words, the comatose status was a
she would face during the administration of anesthesia to
consequence of some acts performed by Dr.
Erlinda. Respondent Dra. Gutierrez' act of seeing her
Gutierrez?
patient for the first time only an hour before the scheduled
operative procedure was, therefore, an act of exceptional ATTY. GANA:
negligence and professional irresponsibility. The measures
cautioning prudence and vigilance in dealing with human It was a consequence of the well, (interrupted)
lives lie at the core of the physician's centuries-old CHIEF JUSTICE:
Hippocratic Oath. Her failure to follow this medical
procedure is, therefore, a clear indicia of her An acts performed by her, is that not correct?
negligence. 16
ATTY. GANA:
Further, there is no cogent reason for the Court to reverse its finding that it
was the faulty intubation on Erlinda that caused her comatose condition. Yes, Your Honor.
There is no question that Erlinda became comatose after Dr. Gutierrez CHIEF JUSTICE:
performed a medical procedure on her. Even the counsel of Dr. Gutierrez
admitted to this fact during the oral arguments: Thank you. 17

CHIEF JUSTICE: What is left to be determined therefore is whether Erlinda's hapless


condition was due to any fault or negligence on the part of Dr. Gutierrez
Mr. Counsel, you started your argument saying while she (Erlinda) was under the latter's care. Dr. Gutierrez maintains that
that this involves a comatose patient? the bronchospasm and cardiac arrest resulting in the patient's comatose
ATTY. GANA: condition was brought about by the anaphylactic reaction of the patient to
Thiopental Sodium (pentothal). 18 In the Decision, we explained why we
Yes, Your Honor. found Dr. Gutierrez' theory unacceptable. In the first place, Dr. Eduardo
Jamora, the witness who was presented to support her (Dr. Gutierrez)
CHIEF JUSTICE: theory, was a pulmonologist. Thus, he could not be considered an authority
How do you mean by that, a comatose, a on anesthesia practice and procedure and their complications. 19
comatose after any other acts were done by Dr. Secondly, there was no evidence on record to support the theory that
Gutierrez or comatose before any act was done Erlinda developed an allergic reaction to pentothal. Dr. Camagay
by her? enlightened the Court as to the manifestations of an allergic reaction in this
ATTY. GANA: wise:

No, we meant comatose as a final outcome of the DR. CAMAGAY:


procedure.
All right, let us qualify an allergic reaction. In Dr. Gutierrez, however, insists that she successfully intubated Erlinda as
medical terminology an allergic reaction is evidenced by the fact that she was revived after suffering from cardiac
something which is not usual response and it is arrest. Dr. Gutierrez faults the Court for giving credence to the testimony of
further qualified by the release of a hormone Cruz on the matter of the administration of anesthesia when she (Cruz),
called histamine and histamine has an effect on all being a nurse, was allegedly not qualified to testify thereon. Rather, Dr.
the organs of the body generally release because Gutierrez invites the Court's attention to her synopsis on what transpired
the substance that entered the body reacts with during Erlinda's intubation:
the particular cell, the mass cell, and the mass cell
secretes this histamine. In a way it is some form 12:15 p.m. Patient was inducted with sodium pentothal
of response to take away that which is not mine, 2.5% (250 mg) given by slow IV. 02 was
which is not part of the body. So, histamine has started by mask. After pentothal injection
multiple effects on the body. So, one of the this was followed by IV injection of
effects as you will see you will have redness, if Norcuron 4 mg. After 2 minutes 02 was
you have an allergy you will have tearing of the given by positive pressure for about one
eyes, you will have swelling, very crucial swelling minute. Intubation with endotracheal tube
sometimes of the larynges which is your voice box 7.5 m. in diameter was done with slight
main airway, that swelling may be enough to difficulty (short neck & slightly prominent
obstruct the entry of air to the trachea and you upper teeth) chest was examined for breath
could also have contraction, constriction of the sounds & checked if equal on both sides.
smaller airways beyond the trachea, you see you The tube was then anchored to the mouth
have the trachea this way, we brought some by plaster & cuff inflated. Ethrane 2% with
visual aids but unfortunately we do not have a 02 4 liters was given. Blood pressure was
projector. And then you have the smaller airways, checked 120/80 & heart rate regular and
the bronchi and then eventually into the mass of normal 90/min.
the lungs you have the bronchus. The difference is 12:25 p.m. After 10 minutes patient was cyanotic. Ethrane
that these tubes have also in their walls muscles was discontinued & 02 given alone.
and this particular kind of muscles is smooth Cyanosis disappeared. Blood pressure and
muscle so, when histamine is released they close heart beats stable.
up like this and that phenomenon is known as
bronco spasm. However, the effects of histamine 12:30 p.m. Cyanosis again reappeared this time with
also on blood vessels are different. They dilate sibilant and sonorous rales all over the
blood vessel open up and the patient or whoever chest. D_5%_H2O & 1 ampule of
has this histamine release has hypertension or low aminophyline by fast drip was started. Still
blood pressure to a point that the patient may the cyanosis was persistent. Patient was
have decrease blood supply to the brain and may connected to a cardiac monitor. Another
collapse so, you may have people who have ampule of of [sic] aminophyline was given
this. 20 and solu cortef was given.
12:40 p.m. There was cardiac arrest. Extra cardiac
massage and intercardiac injection of
These symptoms of an allergic reaction were not shown to have been extant adrenalin was given & heart beat
in Erlinda's case. As we held in our Decision, "no evidence of stridor, skin reappeared in less than one minute. Sodium
reactions, or wheezing – some of the more common accompanying signs of bicarbonate & another dose of solu cortef
an allergic reaction – appears on record. No laboratory data were ever was given by IV. Cyanosis slowly
presented to the court." 21 disappeared & 02 continuously given &
assisted positive pressure. Laboratory cyanosis, in your recording when did the cyanosis
exams done (see results in chart). occur?
Patient was transferred to ICU for further management. 22 A (sic)
From the foregoing, it can be allegedly seen that there was no withdrawal Q Is it a standard practice of anesthesia that whatever you
(extubation) of the tube. And the fact that the cyanosis allegedly do during that period or from the time of induction
disappeared after pure oxygen was supplied through the tube proved that it to the time that you probably get the patient out of
was properly placed. the operating room that every single action that
you do is so recorded in your anesthesia record?
The Court has reservations on giving evidentiary weight to the entries
purportedly contained in Dr. Gutierrez' synopsis. It is significant to note that A I was not able to record everything I did not have time
the said record prepared by Dr. Gutierrez was made only after Erlinda was anymore because I did that after the, when the
taken out of the operating room. The standard practice in anesthesia is that patient was about to leave the operating room.
every single act that the anesthesiologist performs must be recorded. In Dr. When there was second cyanosis already that
Gutierrez' case, she could not account for at least ten (10) minutes of what was the (interrupted)
happened during the administration of anesthesia on Erlinda. The following
exchange between Dr. Estrella, one of the amicii curiae, and Dr. Gutierrez is Q When was the first cyanosis?
instructive: A The first cyanosis when I was (interrupted)
DR. ESTRELLA Q What time, more or less?
You mentioned that there were two (2) attempts in the A I think it was 12:15 or 12:16.
intubation period?
Q Well, if the record will show you started induction at
DR. GUTIERREZ 12:15?
Yes. A Yes, Your Honor.
Q There were two attempts. In the first attempt was the Q And the first medication you gave was what?
tube inserted or was the laryngoscope only
inserted, which was inserted? A The first medication, no, first the patient was
oxygenated for around one to two minutes.
A All the laryngoscope.
Q Yes, so, that is about 12:13?
Q All the laryngoscope. But if I remember right
somewhere in the re-direct, a certain lawyer, you A Yes, and then, I asked the resident physician to start
were asked that you did a first attempt and the giving the pentothal very slowly and that was
question was – did you withdraw the tube? And around one minute.
you said – you never withdrew the tube, is that
Q So, that is about 12:13 no, 12:15, 12:17?
right?
A Yes, and then, after one minute another oxygenation
A Yes.
was given and after (interrupted)
Q Yes. And so if you never withdrew the tube then there
Q 12:18?
was no, there was no insertion of the tube during
that first attempt. Now, the other thing that we A Yes, and then after giving the oxygen we start the
have to settle here is – when cyanosis occurred, is menorcure which is a relaxant. After that relaxant
it recorded in the anesthesia record when the (interrupted)
Q After that relaxant, how long do you wait before you do Q At what point, for purposes of discussion without
any manipulation? accepting it, at what point did you make the
comment "na mahirap ata to intubate, mali ata
A Usually you wait for two minutes or three minutes. ang pinasukan"?
Q So, if our estimate of the time is accurate we are now A I did not say "mali ata ang pinasukan" I never said that.
more or less 12:19, is that right?
Q Well, just for the information of the group here the
A May be. remarks I am making is based on the documents
Q 12:19. And at that time, what would have been done to that were forwarded to me by the Supreme Court.
this patient? That is why for purposes of discussion I am trying
to clarify this for the sake of enlightenment. So, at
A After that time you examine the, if there is relaxation of what point did you ever make that comment?
the jaw which you push it downwards and when I
saw that the patient was relax because that A Which one, sir?
monorcure is a relaxant, you cannot intubate the Q The "mahirap intubate ito" assuming that you
patient or insert the laryngoscope if it is not (interrupted)
keeping him relax. So, my first attempt when I put
the laryngoscope on I saw the trachea was deeply A Iyon lang, that is what I only said "mahirap intubate
interiorly. So, what I did ask "mahirap ata ito ah." (interrupted)
So, I removed the laryngoscope and oxygenated
again the patient. Q At what point?

Q So, more or less you attempted to do an intubation after A When the first attempt when I inserted the laryngoscope
the first attempt as you claimed that it was only for the first time.
the laryngoscope that was inserted. Q So, when you claim that at the first attempt you inserted
A Yes. the laryngoscope, right?

Q And in the second attempt you inserted the A Yes.


laryngoscope and now possible intubation? Q But in one of the recordings somewhere at the,
A Yes. somewhere in the transcript of records that when
the lawyer of the other party try to inquire from
Q And at that point, you made a remark, what remark did you during the first attempt that was the time
you make? when "mayroon ba kayong hinugot sa tube, I do
not remember the page now, but it seems to me it
A I said "mahirap ata ito" when the first attempt I did not is there. So, that it was on the second attempt
see the trachea right away. That was when I that (interrupted)
(interrupted)
A I was able to intubate.
Q That was the first attempt?
Q And this is more or less about what time 12:21?
A Yes.
A May be, I cannot remember the time, Sir.
Q What about the second attempt?
Q Okay, assuming that this was done at 12:21 and looking
A On the second attempt I was able to intubate right away at the anesthesia records from 12:20 to 12:30
within two to three seconds. there was no recording of the vital signs. And can
we presume that at this stage there was already We cannot thus give full credence to Dr. Gutierrez' synopsis in light of her
some problems in handling the patient? admission that it does not fully reflect the events that transpired during the
administration of anesthesia on Erlinda. As pointed out by Dr. Estrella, there
A Not yet. was a ten-minute gap in Dr. Gutierrez' synopsis, i.e., the vital signs of
Q But why are there no recordings in the anesthesia Erlinda were not recorded during that time. The absence of these data is
record? particularly significant because, as found by the trial court, it was the
absence of oxygen supply for four (4) to five (5) minutes that caused
A I did not have time. Erlinda's comatose condition.
Q Ah, you did not have time, why did you not have time? On the other hand, the Court has no reason to disbelieve the testimony of
Cruz. As we stated in the Decision, she is competent to testify on matters
A Because it was so fast, I really (at this juncture the
which she is capable of observing such as, the statements and acts of the
witness is laughing)
physician and surgeon, external appearances and manifest conditions which
Q No, I am just asking. Remember I am not here not to pin are observable by any one. 24 Cruz, Erlinda's sister-in-law, was with her
point on anybody I am here just to more or less inside the operating room. Moreover, being a nurse and Dean of the Capitol
clarify certainty more or less on the record. Medical Center School of Nursing at that, she is not entirely ignorant of
anesthetic procedure. Cruz narrated that she heard Dr. Gutierrez
A Yes, Sir. remark, "Ang hirap ma-intubate nito, mali yata ang pagkakapasok. O lumalaki
Q And so it seems that there were no recording during ang tiyan." She observed that the nailbeds of Erlinda became bluish and
that span of ten (10) minutes. From 12:20 to thereafter Erlinda was placed in trendelenburg position. 25 Cruz further
12:30, and going over your narration, it seems to averred that she noticed that the abdomen of Erlinda became distended. 26
me that the cyanosis appeared ten (10) minutes
after induction, is that right?
The cyanosis (bluish discoloration of the skin or mucous membranes caused
A Yes. by lack of oxygen or abnormal hemoglobin in the blood) and enlargement of
Q And that is after induction 12:15 that is 12:25 that was the stomach of Erlinda indicate that the endotracheal tube was improperly
the first cyanosis? inserted into the esophagus instead of the trachea. Consequently, oxygen
was delivered not to the lungs but to the gastrointestinal tract. This
A Yes. conclusion is supported by the fact that Erlinda was placed in trendelenburg
position. This indicates that there was a decrease of blood supply to the
Q And that the 12:25 is after the 12:20? patient's brain. The brain was thus temporarily deprived of oxygen supply
A We cannot (interrupted) causing Erlinda to go into coma.

Q Huwag ho kayong makuwan, we are just trying to The injury incurred by petitioner Erlinda does not normally happen absent
enlighten, I am just going over the record ano, any negligence in the administration of anesthesia and in the use of an
kung mali ito kuwan eh di ano. So, ganoon po endotracheal tube. As was noted in our Decision, the instruments used in
ano, that it seems to me that there is no recording the administration of anesthesia, including the endotracheal tube, were all
from 12:20 to 12:30, so, I am just wondering why under the exclusive control of private respondents Dr. Gutierrez and Dr.
there were no recordings during the period and Hosaka. 27 In Voss vs. Bridwell, 28 which involved a patient who suffered
then of course the second cyanosis, after the first brain damage due to the wrongful administration of anesthesia, and even
cyanosis. I think that was the time Dr. Hosaka before the scheduled mastoid operation could be performed, the Kansas
came in? Supreme Court applied the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, reasoning that the
injury to the patient therein was one which does not ordinarily take place in
A No, the first cyanosis (interrupted). 23 the absence of negligence in the administration of an anesthetic, and in the
use and employment of an endotracheal tube. The court went on to say that
"[o]rdinarily a person being put under anesthesia is not rendered facts on record it can be logically inferred that Dr. Hosaka exercised a
decerebrate as a consequence of administering such anesthesia in the certain degree of, at the very least, supervision over the procedure then
absence of negligence. Upon these facts and under these circumstances, a being performed on Erlinda.
layman would be able to say, as a matter of common knowledge and
observation, that the consequences of professional treatment were not as First, it was Dr. Hosaka who recommended to petitioners the services of Dr.
such as would ordinarily have followed if due care had been Gutierrez. In effect, he represented to petitioners that Dr. Gutierrez
exercised. 29 Considering the application of the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, possessed the necessary competence and skills. Drs. Hosaka and Gutierrez
the testimony of Cruz was properly given credence in the case at bar. had worked together since 1977. Whenever Dr. Hosaka performed a
surgery, he would always engage the services of Dr. Gutierrez to administer
For his part, Dr. Hosaka mainly contends that the Court erred in finding him the anesthesia on his patient. 36
negligent as a surgeon by applying the Captain-of-the-Ship doctrine. 30 Dr.
Hosaka argues that the trend in United States jurisprudence has been to Second, Dr. Hosaka himself admitted that he was the attending physician of
reject said doctrine in light of the developments in medical practice. He Erlinda. Thus, when Erlinda showed signs of cyanosis, it was Dr. Hosaka
points out that anesthesiology and surgery are two distinct and specialized who gave instructions to call for another anesthesiologist and cardiologist to
fields in medicine and as a surgeon, he is not deemed to have control over help resuscitate Erlinda. 37
the acts of Dr. Gutierrez. As anesthesiologist, Dr. Gutierrez is a specialist in Third, it is conceded that in performing their responsibilities to the patient,
her field and has acquired skills and knowledge in the course of her training Drs. Hosaka and Gutierrez worked as a team. Their work cannot be placed
which Dr. Hosaka, as a surgeon, does not possess. 31 He states further that in separate watertight compartments because their duties intersect with
current American jurisprudence on the matter recognizes that the trend each other. 38
towards specialization in medicine has created situations where surgeons
do not always have the right to control all personnel within the operating While the professional services of Dr. Hosaka and Dr. Gutierrez were
room, 32especially a fellow specialist. 33 secured primarily for their performance of acts within their respective fields
of expertise for the treatment of petitioner Erlinda, and that one does not
Dr. Hosaka cites the case of Thomas v. Raleigh General Hospital, 34 which exercise control over the other, they were certainly not completely
involved a suit filed by a patient who lost his voice due to the wrongful independent of each other so as to absolve one from the negligent acts of
insertion of the endotracheal tube preparatory to the administration of the other physician.
anesthesia in connection with the laparotomy to be conducted on him. The
patient sued both the anesthesiologist and the surgeon for the injury That they were working as a medical team is evident from the fact that Dr.
suffered by him. The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia held that Hosaka was keeping an eye on the intubation of the patient by Dr. Gutierrez,
the surgeon could not be held liable for the loss of the patient's voice, and while doing so, he observed that the patient's nails had become dusky
considering that the surgeon did not have a hand in the intubation of the and had to call Dr. Gutierrez's attention thereto. The Court also notes that
patient. The court rejected the application of the "Captain-of-the-Ship the counsel for Dr. Hosaka admitted that in practice, the anesthesiologist
Doctrine," citing the fact that the field of medicine has become specialized would also have to observe the surgeon's acts during the surgical process
such that surgeons can no longer be deemed as having control over the and calls the attention of the surgeon whenever necessary 39 in the course
other personnel in the operating room. It held that "[a]n assignment of of the treatment. The duties of Dr. Hosaka and those of Dr. Gutierrez in the
liability based on actual control more realistically reflects the actual treatment of petitioner Erlinda are therefore not as clear-cut as respondents
relationship which exists in a modern operating room." 35 Hence, only the claim them to be. On the contrary, it is quite apparent that they have a
anesthesiologist who inserted the endotracheal tube into the patient's throat common responsibility to treat the patient, which responsibility necessitates
was held liable for the injury suffered by the latter. that they call each other's attention to the condition of the patient while the
other physician is performing the necessary medical procedures.
This contention fails to persuade.
It is equally important to point out that Dr. Hosaka was remiss in his duty of
That there is a trend in American jurisprudence to do away with the Captain- attending to petitioner Erlinda promptly, for he arrived more than three (3)
of-the-Ship doctrine does not mean that this Court will ipso facto follow said hours late for the scheduled operation. The cholecystectomy was set for
trend. Due regard for the peculiar factual circumstances obtaining in this June 17, 1985 at 9:00 a.m., but he arrived at DLSMC only at around 12:10
case justify the application of the Captain-of-the-Ship doctrine. From the p.m. In reckless disregard for his patient's well being, Dr. Hosaka scheduled
two procedures on the same day, just thirty minutes apart from each other, CHIEF JUSTICE:
at different hospitals. Thus, when the first procedure (protoscopy) at the Sta.
Teresita Hospital did not proceed on time, Erlinda was kept in a state of In other words, I understand that in this particular
uncertainty at the DLSMC. case that was the case, three hours waiting and the
patient was already on the operating table (interrupted)
The unreasonable delay in petitioner Erlinda's scheduled operation
subjected her to continued starvation and consequently, to the risk of DR. CAMAGAY:
acidosis, 40 or the condition of decreased alkalinity of the blood and tissues, Yes.
marked by sickly sweet breath, headache, nausea and vomiting, and visual
disturbances. 41The long period that Dr. Hosaka made Erlinda wait for him CHIEF JUSTICE:
certainly aggravated the anxiety that she must have been feeling at the time.
Would you therefore conclude that the surgeon
It could be safely said that her anxiety adversely affected the administration
contributed to the aggravation of the anxiety of the
of anesthesia on her. As explained by Dr. Camagay, the patient's anxiety
patient?
usually causes the outpouring of adrenaline which in turn results in high
blood pressure or disturbances in the heart rhythm: DR. CAMAGAY:
DR. CAMAGAY: That this operation did not take place as
scheduled is already a source of anxiety and most
. . . Pre-operative medication has three main functions:
operating tables are very narrow and that patients are
One is to alleviate anxiety. Second is to dry up the
usually at risk of falling on the floor so there are restraints
secretions and Third is to relieve pain. Now, it is very
that are placed on them and they are never, never left
important to alleviate anxiety because anxiety is
alone in the operating room by themselves specially if
associated with the outpouring of certain substances
they are already pre-medicated because they may not be
formed in the body called adrenalin. When a patient is
aware of some of their movement that they make which
anxious there is an outpouring of adrenalin which would
would contribute to their injury.
have adverse effect on the patient. One of it is high blood
pressure, the other is that he opens himself to
disturbances in the heart rhythm, which would have
adverse implications. So, we would like to alleviate CHIEF JUSTICE:
patient's anxiety mainly because he will not be in control In other words due diligence would require a
of his body there could be adverse results to surgery and surgeon to come on time?
he will be opened up; a knife is going to open up his body.
. . . 42 DR. CAMAGAY:
Dr. Hosaka cannot now claim that he was entirely blameless of what I think it is not even due diligence it is courtesy.
happened to Erlinda. His conduct clearly constituted a breach of his
professional duties to Erlinda: CHIEF JUSTICE:

CHIEF JUSTICE: Courtesy.

Two other points. The first, Doctor, you were DR. CAMAGAY:
talking about anxiety, would you consider a patient's stay And care.
on the operating table for three hours sufficient enough to
aggravate or magnify his or her anxiety? CHIEF JUSTICE:

DR. CAMAGAY: Duty as a matter of fact?

Yes. DR. CAMAGAY:


Yes, Your Honor. 43 admission in a hospital, it is the doctor who prescribes the treatment to be
given to said patient. The hospital's obligation is limited to providing the
Dr. Hosaka's irresponsible conduct of arriving very late for the scheduled patient with the preferred room accommodation, the nutritional diet and
operation of petitioner Erlinda is violative, not only of his duty as a physician medications prescribed by the doctor, the equipment and facilities
"to serve the interest of his patients with the greatest solicitude, giving them necessary for the treatment of the patient, as well as the services of the
always his best talent and skill," 44 but also of Article 19 of the Civil Code hospital staff who perform the ministerial tasks of ensuring that the doctor's
which requires a person, in the performance of his duties, to act with justice orders are carried out strictly. 51
and give everyone his due. EaCDAT
After a careful consideration of the arguments raised by DLSMC, the Court
Anent private respondent DLSMC's liability for the resulting injury to finds that respondent hospital's position on this issue is meritorious. There is
petitioner Erlinda, we held that respondent hospital is solidarily liable with no employer-employee relationship between DLSMC and Drs. Gutierrez and
respondent doctors therefor under Article 2180 of the Civil Code 45 since Hosaka which would hold DLSMC solidarily liable for the injury suffered by
there exists an employer-employee relationship between private respondent petitioner Erlinda under Article 2180 of the Civil Code.
DLSMC and Drs. Gutierrez and Hosaka:
As explained by respondent hospital, that the admission of a physician to
In other words, private hospitals, hire, fire and exercise membership in DLSMC's medical staff as active or visiting consultant is first
real control over their attending and visiting "consultant" decided upon by the Credentials Committee thereof, which is composed of
staff. While "consultants" are not, technically employees, . the heads of the various specialty departments such as the Department of
. . the control exercised, the hiring and the right to Obstetrics and Gynecology, Pediatrics, Surgery with the department head of
terminate consultants all fulfill the important hallmarks of the particular specialty applied for as chairman. The Credentials Committee
an employer-employee relationship, with the exception of then recommends to DLSMC's Medical Director or Hospital Administrator
the payment of wages. In assessing whether such a the acceptance or rejection of the applicant physician, and said director or
relationship in fact exists, the control test is determining . . administrator validates the committee's recommendation. 52 Similarly, in
. .46 cases where a disciplinary action is lodged against a consultant, the same is
DLSMC however contends that applying the four-fold test in determining initiated by the department to whom the consultant concerned belongs and
whether such a relationship exists between it and the respondent doctors, filed with the Ethics Committee consisting of the department specialty
the inescapable conclusion is that DLSMC cannot be considered an heads. The medical director/hospital administrator merely acts as ex-
employer of the respondent doctors. officio member of said committee. IESTcD

It has been consistently held that in determining whether an employer- Neither is there any showing that it is DLSMC which pays any of its
employee relationship exists between the parties, the following elements consultants for medical services rendered by the latter to their respective
must be present: (1) selection and engagement of services; (2) payment of patients. Moreover, the contract between the consultant in respondent
wages; (3) the power to hire and fire; and (4) the power to control not only hospital and his patient is separate and distinct from the contract between
the end to be achieved, but the means to be used in reaching such an respondent hospital and said patient. The first has for its object the rendition
end. 47 of medical services by the consultant to the patient, while the second
concerns the provision by the hospital of facilities and services by its staff
DLSMC maintains that first, a hospital does not hire or engage the services such as nurses and laboratory personnel necessary for the proper treatment
of a consultant, but rather, accredits the latter and grants him or her the of the patient.
privilege of maintaining a clinic and/or admitting patients in the hospital
upon a showing by the consultant that he or she possesses the necessary Further, no evidence was adduced to show that the injury suffered by
qualifications, such as accreditation by the appropriate board (diplomate), petitioner Erlinda was due to a failure on the part of respondent DLSMC to
evidence of fellowship and references. 48 Second, it is not the hospital but provide for hospital facilities and staff necessary for her treatment.
the patient who pays the consultant's fee for services rendered by the For these reasons, we reverse the finding of liability on the part of DLSMC
latter. 49 Third, a hospital does not dismiss a consultant; instead, the latter for the injury suffered by petitioner Erlinda.
may lose his or her accreditation or privileges granted by the
hospital. 50 Lastly, DLSMC argues that when a doctor refers a patient for
Finally, the Court also deems it necessary to modify the award of damages In the instant case, petitioners were able to provide only
to petitioners in view of the supervening event of petitioner Erlinda's death. home-based nursing care for a comatose patient who has
In the assailed Decision, the Court awarded actual damages of One Million remained in that condition for over a decade. Having
Three Hundred Fifty-Two Thousand Pesos (P1,352,000.00) to cover the premised our award for compensatory damages on the
expenses for petitioner Erlinda's treatment and care from the date of amount provided by petitioners at the onset of litigation, it
promulgation of the Decision up to the time the patient expires or would be now much more in step with the interests of
survives. 53 In addition thereto, the Court awarded temperate damages of justice if the value awarded for temperate damages would
One Million Five Hundred Thousand Pesos (P1,500,000.00) in view of the allow petitioners to provide optimal care for their loved
chronic and continuing nature of petitioner Erlinda's injury and the certainty one in a facility which generally specializes in such care.
of further pecuniary loss by petitioners as a result of said injury, the amount They should not be compelled by dire circumstances to
of which, however, could not be made with certainty at the time of the provide substandard care at home without the aid of
promulgation of the decision. The Court justified such award in this professionals, for anything less would be grossly
manner: TCcDaE inadequate. Under the circumstances, an award of
P1,500,000.00 in temperate damages would therefore be
Our rules on actual or compensatory damages generally reasonable. 54
assume that at the time of litigation, the injury suffered as
a consequence of an act of negligence has been However, subsequent to the promulgation of the Decision, the Court was
completed and that the cost can be liquidated. However, informed by petitioner Rogelio that petitioner Erlinda died on August 3,
these provisions neglect to take into account those 1999. 55In view of this supervening event, the award of temperate damages
situations, as in this case, where the resulting injury might in addition to the actual or compensatory damages would no longer be
be continuing and possible future complications directly justified since the actual damages awarded in the Decision are sufficient to
arising from the injury, while certain to occur, are difficult cover the medical expenses incurred by petitioners for the patient. Hence,
to predict. only the amounts representing actual, moral and exemplary damages,
attorney's fees and costs of suit should be awarded to petitioners. HScCEa
In these cases, the amount of damages which should be
awarded, if they are to adequately and correctly respond WHEREFORE, the assailed Decision is hereby modified as follows:
to the injury caused, should be one which compensates
for pecuniary loss incurred and proved, up to the time of (1) Private respondent De Los Santos Medical Center is hereby absolved
trial; and one which would meet pecuniary loss certain to from liability arising from the injury suffered by petitioner Erlinda Ramos on
be suffered but which could not, from the nature of the June 17, 1985;
case, be made with certainty. In other words, temperate (2) Private respondents Dr. Orlino Hosaka and Dr. Perfecta Gutierrez are
damages can and should be awarded on top of actual or hereby declared to be solidarily liable for the injury suffered by petitioner
compensatory damages in instances where the injury is Erlinda on June 17, 1985 and are ordered to pay petitioners —
chronic and continuing. And because of the unique nature
of such cases, no incompatibility arises when both actual (a) P1,352,000.00 as actual damages;
and temperate damages are provided for. The reason is
that these damages cover two distinct phases.
(b) P2,000,000.00 as moral damages;
As it would not be equitable — and certainly not in the
(c) P100,000.00 as exemplary damages;
best interests of the administration of justice — for the
victim in such cases to constantly come before the courts (d) P100,000.00 as attorney's fees; and
and invoke their aid in seeking adjustments to the (e) the costs of the suit. EcICSA
compensatory damages previously awarded — temperate
damages are appropriate. The amount given as temperate SO ORDERED.
damages, though to a certain extent speculative, should
Davide, Jr., C.J., Puno and Ynares-Santiago, JJ., concur.
take into account the cost of proper care.
||| (Ramos v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 124354 (Resolution), [April 11, On August 18, 1993, Angelica was admitted to SLMC. However,
2002], 430 PHIL 275-314) she died on September 1, 1993, just eleven (11) days after the
(intravenous) administration of the first cycle of the chemotherapy
regimen. Because SLMC refused to release a death certificate without
full payment of their hospital bill, respondents brought the cadaver of
EN BANC Angelica to the Philippine National Police (PNP) Crime Laboratory at
Camp Crame for post-mortem examination. The Medico-Legal Report
issued by said institution indicated the cause of death as "Hypovolemic
[G.R. No. 165279. June 7, 2011.]
shock secondary to multiple organ hemorrhages and Disseminated
Intravascular Coagulation." 5
DR. RUBI LI, petitioner, vs. SPOUSES REYNALDO and
LINA SOLIMAN, as parents/heirs of deceased Angelica On the other hand, the Certificate of Death 6 issued by SLMC
Soliman, respondents. stated the cause of death as follows:

Immediate cause : a. Osteosarcoma, Status Post AKA


DECISION Antecedent cause : b. (above knee amputation)
Underlying cause : c. Status Post Chemotherapy

VILLARAMA, JR., J p: On February 21, 1994, respondents filed a damage


suit 7 against petitioner, Dr. Leo Marbella, Mr. Jose Ledesma, a certain
Challenged in this petition for review on certiorari is the Dr. Arriete and SLMC. Respondents charged them with negligence and
Decision 1 dated June 15, 2004 as well as the Resolution 2 dated disregard of Angelica's safety, health and welfare by their careless
September 1, 2004 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. administration of the chemotherapy drugs, their failure to observe the
58013 which modified the Decision 3 dated September 5, 1997 of the essential precautions in detecting early the symptoms of fatal blood
Regional Trial Court of Legazpi City, Branch 8 in Civil Case No. 8904. platelet decrease and stopping early on the chemotherapy, which
bleeding led to hypovolemic shock that caused Angelica's untimely
The factual antecedents:
demise. Further, it was specifically averred that petitioner assured the
On July 7, 1993, respondents' 11 year old daughter, Angelica respondents that Angelica would recover in view of 95% chance of
Soliman, underwent a biopsy of the mass located in her lower extremity healing with chemotherapy ("Magiging normal na ang anak nyo basta
at the St. Luke's Medical Center (SLMC). Results showed that Angelica ma-chemo. 95% ang healing")and when asked regarding the side
was suffering from osteosarcoma, osteoblastic type, 4 a high-grade effects, petitioner mentioned only slight vomiting, hair loss and
(highly malignant) cancer of the bone which usually afflicts teenage weakness ("Magsusuka ng kaunti. Malulugas ang buhok. Manghihina").
children. Following this diagnosis and as primary intervention, Angelica's Respondents thus claimed that they would not have given their consent
right leg was amputated by Dr. Jaime Tamayo in order to remove the to chemotherapy had petitioner not falsely assured them of its side
tumor. As adjuvant treatment to eliminate any remaining cancer cells, effects.
and hence minimize the chances of recurrence and prevent the disease
In her answer, 8 petitioner denied having been negligent in administering the
from spreading to other parts of the patient's body (metastasis),
chemotherapy drugs to Angelica and asserted that she had fully explained
chemotherapy was suggested by Dr. Tamayo. Dr. Tamayo referred
to respondents how the chemotherapy will affect not only the cancer cells
Angelica to another doctor at SLMC, herein petitioner Dr. Rubi Li, a
but also the patient's normal body parts, including the lowering of white and
medical oncologist.
red blood cells and platelets. She claimed that what happened to Angelica
can be attributed to malignant tumor cells possibly left behind after surgery.
Few as they may be, these have the capacity to compete for nutrients such
that the body becomes so weak structurally (cachexia) and functionally in
the form of lower resistance of the body to combat infection. Such infection creatinine and complete liver function tests. 13 Petitioner proceeded with
becomes uncontrollable and triggers a chain of events (sepsis or septicemia) the chemotherapy by first administering hydration fluids to Angelica. 14
that may lead to bleeding in the form of Disseminated Intravascular
Coagulation (DIC), as what the autopsy report showed in the case of The following day, August 19, petitioner began administering three
Angelica. chemotherapy drugs — Cisplatin, 15 Doxorubicin 16 and Cosmegen 17 —
intravenously. Petitioner was supposedly assisted by her trainees Dr. Leo
Since the medical records of Angelica were not produced in court, the trial Marbella 18 and Dr. Grace Arriete. 19 In his testimony, Dr. Marbella denied
and appellate courts had to rely on testimonial evidence, principally the having any participation in administering the said chemotherapy drugs. 20
declarations of petitioner and respondents themselves. The following
chronology of events was gathered: On the second day of chemotherapy, August 20, respondents noticed
reddish discoloration on Angelica's face. 21 They asked petitioner about it,
On July 23, 1993, petitioner saw the respondents at the hospital after but she merely quipped, "Wala yan. Epekto ng gamot." 22 Petitioner recalled
Angelica's surgery and discussed with them Angelica's condition. Petitioner noticing the skin rashes on the nose and cheek area of Angelica. At that
told respondents that Angelica should be given two to three weeks to moment, she entertained the possibility that Angelica also had systemic
recover from the operation before starting chemotherapy. Respondents lupus and consulted Dr. Victoria Abesamis on the matter. 23
were apprehensive due to financial constraints as Reynaldo earns only from
P70,000.00 to P150,000.00 a year from his jewelry and watch repairing On the third day of chemotherapy, August 21, Angelica had difficulty
business. 9Petitioner, however, assured them not to worry about her breathing and was thus provided with oxygen inhalation apparatus. This
professional fee and told them to just save up for the medicines to be used. time, the reddish discoloration on Angelica's face had extended to her neck,
but petitioner dismissed it again as merely the effect of
Petitioner claimed that she explained to respondents that even when a medicines. 24 Petitioner testified that she did not see any discoloration on
tumor is removed, there are still small lesions undetectable to the naked Angelica's face, nor did she notice any difficulty in the child's breathing. She
eye, and that adjuvant chemotherapy is needed to clean out the small claimed that Angelica merely complained of nausea and was given ice
lesions in order to lessen the chance of the cancer to recur. She did not give chips. 25
the respondents any assurance that chemotherapy will cure Angelica's
cancer. During these consultations with respondents, she explained the On August 22, 1993, at around ten o'clock in the morning, upon seeing that
following side effects of chemotherapy treatment to respondents: (1) falling their child could not anymore bear the pain, respondents pleaded with
hair; (2) nausea and vomiting; (3) loss of appetite; (4) low count of white petitioner to stop the chemotherapy. Petitioner supposedly replied: "Dapat
blood cells [WBC], red blood cells [RBC] and platelets; (5) possible sterility 15 Cosmegen pa iyan. Okay, let's observe. If pwede na, bigyan uli ng
due to the effects on Angelica's ovary; (6) damage to the heart and kidneys; chemo." At this point, respondents asked petitioner's permission to bring
and (7) darkening of the skin especially when exposed to sunlight. She their child home. Later in the evening, Angelica passed black stool and
actually talked with respondents four times, once at the hospital after the reddish urine. 26Petitioner countered that there was no record of blackening
surgery, twice at her clinic and the fourth time when Angelica's mother of stools but only an episode of loose bowel movement (LBM). Petitioner
called her through long distance. 10 This was disputed by respondents who also testified that what Angelica complained of was carpo-pedal spasm, not
countered that petitioner gave them assurance that there is 95% chance of convulsion or epileptic attack, as respondents call it (petitioner described it
healing for Angelica if she undergoes chemotherapy and that the only side in the vernacular as "naninigas ang kamay at paa"). She then requested for a
effects were nausea, vomiting and hair loss. 11 Those were the only side- serum calcium determination and stopped the chemotherapy. When
effects of chemotherapy treatment mentioned by petitioner. 12 Angelica was given calcium gluconate, the spasm and numbness
subsided. 27
On July 27, 1993, SLMC discharged Angelica, with instruction from
petitioner that she be readmitted after two or three weeks for the The following day, August 23, petitioner yielded to respondents' request to
chemotherapy. take Angelica home. But prior to discharging Angelica, petitioner requested
for a repeat serum calcium determination and explained to respondents that
On August 18, 1993, respondents brought Angelica to SLMC for the chemotherapy will be temporarily stopped while she observes Angelica's
chemotherapy, bringing with them the results of the laboratory tests muscle twitching and serum calcium level. Take-home medicines were also
requested by petitioner: Angelica's chest x-ray, ultrasound of the liver, prescribed for Angelica, with instructions to respondents that the serum
calcium test will have to be repeated after seven days. Petitioner told were tears in her eyes and she kept turning her head. Observing her
respondents that she will see Angelica again after two weeks, but daughter to be at the point of death, Lina asked for a doctor but the latter
respondents can see her anytime if any immediate problem arises. 28 could not answer her anymore. 36 At this time, the attending physician was
Dr. Marbella who was shaking his head saying that Angelica's platelets were
However, Angelica remained in confinement because while still in the down and respondents should pray for their daughter. Reynaldo claimed
premises of SLMC, her "convulsions" returned and she also had LBM. that he was introduced to a pediatrician who took over his daughter's case,
Angelica was given oxygen and administration of calcium continued. 29 Dr. Abesamis who also told him to pray for his daughter. Angelica continued
The next day, August 24, respondents claimed that Angelica still suffered to have difficulty in her breathing and blood was being suctioned from her
from convulsions. They also noticed that she had a fever and had difficulty stomach. A nurse was posted inside Angelica's room to assist her breathing
breathing. 30 Petitioner insisted it was carpo-pedal spasm, not convulsions. and at one point they had to revive Angelica by pumping her chest.
She verified that at around 4:50 that afternoon, Angelica developed difficulty Thereafter, Reynaldo claimed that Angelica already experienced difficulty in
in breathing and had fever. She then requested for an electrocardiogram urinating and her bowel consisted of blood-like fluid. Angelica requested for
analysis, and infused calcium gluconate on the patient at a "stat dose." She an electric fan as she was in pain. Hospital staff attempted to take blood
further ordered that Angelica be given Bactrim, 31 a synthetic antibacterial samples from Angelica but were unsuccessful because they could not even
combination drug, 32 to combat any infection on the child's body. 33 locate her vein. Angelica asked for a fruit but when it was given to her, she
only smelled it. At this time, Reynaldo claimed he could not find either
By August 26, Angelica was bleeding through the mouth. Respondents also petitioner or Dr. Marbella. That night, Angelica became hysterical and
saw blood on her anus and urine. When Lina asked petitioner what was started removing those gadgets attached to her. At three o'clock in the
happening to her daughter, petitioner replied, "Bagsak ang platelets ng anak morning of September 1, a priest came and they prayed before Angelica
mo." Four units of platelet concentrates were then transfused to Angelica. expired. Petitioner finally came back and supposedly told respondents that
Petitioner prescribed Solucortef. Considering that Angelica's fever was high there was "malfunction" or bogged-down machine. 37
and her white blood cell count was low, petitioner prescribed Leucomax.
About four to eight bags of blood, consisting of packed red blood cells, By petitioner's own account, Angelica was merely irritable that day (August
fresh whole blood, or platelet concentrate, were transfused to Angelica. For 31). Petitioner noted though that Angelica's skin was indeed sloughing
two days (August 27 to 28), Angelica continued bleeding, but petitioner off. 38She stressed that at 9:30 in the evening, Angelica pulled out her
claimed it was lesser in amount and in frequency. Petitioner also denied that endotracheal tube. 39 On September 1, exactly two weeks after being
there were gadgets attached to Angelica at that time. 34 admitted at SLMC for chemotherapy, Angelica died. 40 The cause of death,
according to petitioner, was septicemia, or overwhelming infection, which
On August 29, Angelica developed ulcers in her mouth, which petitioner said caused Angelica's other organs to fail. 41 Petitioner attributed this to the
were blood clots that should not be removed. Respondents claimed that patient's poor defense mechanism brought about by the cancer itself. 42
Angelica passed about half a liter of blood through her anus at around seven
o'clock that evening, which petitioner likewise denied. While he was seeking the release of Angelica's cadaver from SLMC,
Reynaldo claimed that petitioner acted arrogantly and called him names. He
On August 30, Angelica continued bleeding. She was restless as was asked to sign a promissory note as he did not have cash to pay the
endotracheal and nasogastric tubes were inserted into her weakened body. hospital bill. 43
An aspiration of the nasogastric tube inserted to Angelica also revealed a
bloody content. Angelica was given more platelet concentrate and fresh Respondents also presented as witnesses Dr. Jesusa Nieves-Vergara,
whole blood, which petitioner claimed improved her condition. Petitioner Medico-Legal Officer of the PNP-Crime Laboratory who conducted the
told Angelica not to remove the endotracheal tube because this may induce autopsy on Angelica's cadaver, and Dr. Melinda Vergara Balmaceda who is
further bleeding. 35 She was also transferred to the intensive care unit to a Medical Specialist employed at the Department of Health (DOH)
avoid infection. Operations and Management Services.

The next day, respondents claimed that Angelica became hysterical, Testifying on the findings stated in her medico-legal report, Dr. Vergara
vomited blood and her body turned black. Part of Angelica's skin was also noted the following: (1) there were fluids recovered from the abdominal
noted to be shredding by just rubbing cotton on it. Angelica was so restless cavity, which is not normal, and was due to hemorrhagic shock secondary
she removed those gadgets attached to her, saying "Ayaw ko na"; there to bleeding; (2) there was hemorrhage at the left side of the heart; (3)
bleeding at the upper portion of and areas adjacent to, the esophagus; (4) referred the patient to petitioner because he felt that petitioner is a
lungs were heavy with bleeding at the back and lower portion, due to competent oncologist. Considering that this type of cancer is very
accumulation of fluids; (4) yellowish discoloration of the liver; (5) kidneys aggressive and will metastasize early, it will cause the demise of the patient
showed appearance of facial shock on account of hemorrhages; and (6) should there be no early intervention (in this case, the patient developed
reddishness on external surface of the spleen. All these were the end result sepsis which caused her death). Cancer cells in the blood cannot be seen
of "hypovolemic shock secondary to multiple organ hemorrhages and by the naked eye nor detected through bone scan. On cross-examination,
disseminated intravascular coagulation." Dr. Vergara opined that this can be Dr. Tamayo stated that of the more than 50 child patients who had
attributed to the chemical agents in the drugs given to the victim, which osteogenic sarcoma he had handled, he thought that probably all of them
caused platelet reduction resulting to bleeding sufficient to cause the died within six months from amputation because he did not see them
victim's death. The time lapse for the production of DIC in the case of anymore after follow-up; it is either they died or had seen another doctor. 46
Angelica (from the time of diagnosis of sarcoma) was too short, considering
the survival rate of about 3 years. The witness conceded that the victim will In dismissing the complaint, the trial court held that petitioner was not liable
also die of osteosarcoma even with amputation or chemotherapy, but in this for damages as she observed the best known procedures and employed her
case Angelica's death was not caused by osteosarcoma. Dr. Vergara highest skill and knowledge in the administration of chemotherapy drugs on
admitted that she is not a pathologist but her statements were based on the Angelica but despite all efforts said patient died. It cited the testimony of Dr.
opinion of an oncologist whom she had interviewed. This oncologist Tamayo who testified that he considered petitioner one of the most
supposedly said that if the victim already had DIC prior to the proficient in the treatment of cancer and that the patient in this case was
chemotherapy, the hospital staff could have detected it. 44 afflicted with a very aggressive type of cancer necessitating chemotherapy
as adjuvant treatment. Using the standard of negligence laid down in Picart
On her part, Dr. Balmaceda declared that it is the physician's duty to inform v. Smith, 47 the trial court declared that petitioner has taken the necessary
and explain to the patient or his relatives every known side effect of the precaution against the adverse effect of chemotherapy on the patient,
procedure or therapeutic agents to be administered, before securing the adding that a wrong decision is not by itself negligence. Respondents were
consent of the patient or his relatives to such procedure or therapy. The ordered to pay their unpaid hospital bill in the amount of P139,064.43. 48
physician thus bases his assurance to the patient on his personal
assessment of the patient's condition and his knowledge of the general Respondents appealed to the CA which, while concurring with the trial
effects of the agents or procedure that will be allowed on the patient. Dr. court's finding that there was no negligence committed by the petitioner in
Balmaceda stressed that the patient or relatives must be informed of all the administration of chemotherapy treatment to Angelica, found that
known side effects based on studies and observations, even if such will petitioner as her attending physician failed to fully explain to the
aggravate the patient's condition. 45 respondents all the known side effects of chemotherapy. The appellate
court stressed that since the respondents have been told of only three side
Dr. Jaime Tamayo, the orthopaedic surgeon who operated on Angelica's effects of chemotherapy, they readily consented thereto. Had petitioner
lower extremity, testified for the defendants. He explained that in case of made known to respondents those other side effects which gravely affected
malignant tumors, there is no guarantee that the ablation or removal of the their child — such as carpo-pedal spasm, sepsis, decrease in the blood
amputated part will completely cure the cancer. Thus, surgery is not platelet count, bleeding, infections and eventual death — respondents could
enough. The mortality rate of osteosarcoma at the time of modern have decided differently or adopted a different course of action which could
chemotherapy and early diagnosis still remains at 80% to 90%. Usually, have delayed or prevented the early death of their child.
deaths occur from metastasis, or spread of the cancer to other vital organs
like the liver, causing systemic complications. The modes of therapy The CA thus declared:
available are the removal of the primary source of the cancerous growth and Plaintiffs-appellants' child was suffering from a malignant
then the residual cancer cells or metastasis should be treated with disease. The attending physician recommended that she
chemotherapy. Dr. Tamayo further explained that patients with undergo chemotherapy treatment after surgery in order to
osteosarcoma have poor defense mechanism due to the cancer cells in the increase her chances of survival. Appellants consented to
blood stream. In the case of Angelica, he had previously explained to her the chemotherapy treatment because they believed in Dr.
parents that after the surgical procedure, chemotherapy is imperative so Rubi Li's representation that the deceased would have a
that metastasis of these cancer cells will hopefully be addressed. He strong chance of survival after chemotherapy and also
because of the representation of appellee Dr. Rubi Li that On her supposed non-disclosure of all possible side effects of
there were only three possible side-effects of the chemotherapy, including death, petitioner argues that it was foolhardy to
treatment. However, all sorts of painful side-effects imagine her to be all-knowing/omnipotent. While the theoretical side effects
resulted from the treatment including the premature death of chemotherapy were explained by her to the respondents, as these should
of Angelica. The appellants were clearly and totally be known to a competent doctor, petitioner cannot possibly predict how a
unaware of these other side-effects which manifested particular patient's genetic make-up, state of mind, general health and body
only during the chemotherapy treatment. This was constitution would respond to the treatment. These are obviously dependent
shown by the fact that every time a problem would on too many known, unknown and immeasurable variables, thus requiring
take place regarding Angelica's condition (like an that Angelica be, as she was, constantly and closely monitored during the
unexpected side-effect manifesting itself), they would treatment. Petitioner asserts that she did everything within her professional
immediately seek explanation from Dr. Rubi Li. Surely, competence to attend to the medical needs of Angelica.
those unexpected side-effects culminating in the loss of a
Citing numerous trainings, distinctions and achievements in her field and her
love[d] one caused the appellants so much trouble, pain
current position as co-director for clinical affairs of the Medical Oncology,
and suffering.
Department of Medicine of SLMC, petitioner contends that in the absence of
On this point therefore, [w]e find defendant-appellee Dr. any clear showing or proof, she cannot be charged with negligence in not
Rubi Li negligent which would entitle plaintiffs-appellants informing the respondents all the side effects of chemotherapy or in the pre-
to their claim for damages. treatment procedures done on Angelica.

xxx xxx xxx As to the cause of death, petitioner insists that Angelica did not die of
platelet depletion but of sepsis which is a complication of the cancer itself.
WHEREFORE, the instant appeal is hereby GRANTED. Sepsis itself leads to bleeding and death. She explains that the response
Accordingly, the assailed decision is hereby modified to rate to chemotherapy of patients with osteosarcoma is high, so much so
the extent that defendant-appellee Dr. Rubi Li is ordered that survival rate is favorable to the patient. Petitioner then points to some
to pay the plaintiffs-appellants the following amounts: probable consequences if Angelica had not undergone chemotherapy. Thus,
without chemotherapy, other medicines and supportive treatment, the
1. Actual damages of P139,064.43, plus
patient might have died the next day because of massive infection, or the
P9,828.00 for funeral expenses;
cancer cells might have spread to the brain and brought the patient into a
2. Moral damages of P200,000.00; coma, or into the lungs that the patient could have been hooked to a
respirator, or into her kidneys that she would have to undergo dialysis.
3. Exemplary damages of P50,000.00; Indeed, respondents could have spent as much because of these
4. Attorney's fee of P30,000.00. complications. The patient would have been deprived of the chance to
survive the ailment, of any hope for life and her "quality of life" surely
SO ORDERED. 49 (Emphasis supplied.) compromised. Since she had not been shown to be at fault, petitioner
maintains that the CA erred in holding her liable for the damages suffered by
Petitioner filed a motion for partial reconsideration which the appellate court
the respondents. 50
denied.
The issue to be resolved is whether the petitioner can be held liable for
Hence, this petition.
failure to fully disclose serious side effects to the parents of the child patient
Petitioner assails the CA in finding her guilty of negligence in not explaining who died while undergoing chemotherapy, despite the absence of finding
to the respondents all the possible side effects of the chemotherapy on their that petitioner was negligent in administering the said treatment.
child, and in holding her liable for actual, moral and exemplary damages and
The petition is meritorious.
attorney's fees. Petitioner emphasized that she was not negligent in the pre-
chemotherapy procedures and in the administration of chemotherapy The type of lawsuit which has been called medical malpractice or, more
treatment to Angelica. appropriately, medical negligence, is that type of claim which a victim has
available to him or her to redress a wrong committed by a medical
professional which has caused bodily harm. In order to successfully pursue of undergoing the proposed treatment, or alternative treatment, or none at
such a claim, a patient must prove that a health care provider, in most cases all, may intelligently exercise his judgment by reasonably balancing the
a physician, either failed to do something which a reasonably prudent health probable risks against the probable benefits. 55
care provider would have done, or that he or she did something that a
reasonably prudent provider would not have done; and that that failure or Subsequently, in Canterbury v. Spence 56 the court observed that the duty
action caused injury to the patient. 51 to disclose should not be limited to medical usage as to arrogate the
decision on revelation to the physician alone. Thus, respect for the patient's
This Court has recognized that medical negligence cases are best proved by right of self-determination on particular therapy demands a standard set by
opinions of expert witnesses belonging in the same general neighborhood law for physicians rather than one which physicians may or may not impose
and in the same general line of practice as defendant physician or surgeon. upon themselves. 57 The scope of disclosure is premised on the fact that
The deference of courts to the expert opinion of qualified physicians stems patients ordinarily are persons unlearned in the medical sciences.
from the former's realization that the latter possess unusual technical skills Proficiency in diagnosis and therapy is not the full measure of a physician's
which laymen in most instances are incapable of intelligently evaluating, responsibility. It is also his duty to warn of the dangers lurking in the
hence the indispensability of expert testimonies. 52 proposed treatment and to impart information which the patient has every
right to expect. Indeed, the patient's reliance upon the physician is a trust of
In this case, both the trial and appellate courts concurred in finding that the the kind which traditionally has exacted obligations beyond those
alleged negligence of petitioner in the administration of chemotherapy drugs associated with armslength transactions. 58 The physician is not expected
to respondents' child was not proven considering that Drs. Vergara and
to give the patient a short medical education, the disclosure rule only
Balmaceda, not being oncologists or cancer specialists, were not qualified
requires of him a reasonable explanation, which means generally informing
to give expert opinion as to whether petitioner's lack of skill, knowledge and
the patient in nontechnical terms as to what is at stake; the therapy
professional competence in failing to observe the standard of care in her line alternatives open to him, the goals expectably to be achieved, and the risks
of practice was the proximate cause of the patient's death. Furthermore,
that may ensue from particular treatment or no treatment. 59 As to the issue
respondents' case was not at all helped by the non-production of medical
of demonstrating what risks are considered material necessitating
records by the hospital (only the biopsy result and medical bills were
disclosure, it was held that experts are unnecessary to a showing of the
submitted to the court). Nevertheless, the CA found petitioner liable for her
materiality of a risk to a patient's decision on treatment, or to the
failure to inform the respondents on all possible side effects of
reasonably, expectable effect of risk disclosure on the decision. Such
chemotherapy before securing their consent to the said treatment.
unrevealed risk that should have been made known must further materialize,
The doctrine of informed consent within the context of physician-patient for otherwise the omission, however unpardonable, is without legal
relationships goes far back into English common law. As early as 1767, consequence. And, as in malpractice actions generally, there must be a
doctors were charged with the tort of "battery" (i.e., an unauthorized causal relationship between the physician's failure to divulge and damage to
physical contact with a patient) if they had not gained the consent of their the patient. 60
patients prior to performing a surgery or procedure. In the United States, the
Reiterating the foregoing considerations, Cobbs v. Grant 61 deemed it as
seminal case was Schoendorff v. Society of New York Hospital 53 which
integral part of physician's overall obligation to patient, the duty of
involved unwanted treatment performed by a doctor. Justice Benjamin
reasonable disclosure of available choices with respect to proposed therapy
Cardozo's oft-quoted opinion upheld the basic right of a patient to give
and of dangers inherently and potentially involved in each. However, the
consent to any medical procedure or treatment: "Every human being of
physician is not obliged to discuss relatively minor risks inherent in common
adult years and sound mind has a right to determine what shall be done with
procedures when it is common knowledge that such risks inherent in
his own body; and a surgeon who performs an operation without his
procedure of very low incidence. Cited as exceptions to the rule that the
patient's consent, commits an assault, for which he is liable in
patient should not be denied the opportunity to weigh the risks of surgery or
damages." 54 From a purely ethical norm, informed consent evolved into a
treatment are emergency cases where it is evident he cannot evaluate data,
general principle of law that a physician has a duty to disclose what a
and where the patient is a child or incompetent. 62 The court thus
reasonably prudent physician in the medical community in the exercise of
concluded that the patient's right of self-decision can only be effectively
reasonable care would disclose to his patient as to whatever grave risks of
exercised if the patient possesses adequate information to enable him in
injury might be incurred from a proposed course of treatment, so that a
making an intelligent choice. The scope of the physician's communications
patient, exercising ordinary care for his own welfare, and faced with a choice
to the patient, then must be measured by the patient's need, and that need were dealing with grave conditions such as cancer to have falsely assured
is whatever information is material to the decision. The test therefore for patients of chemotherapy's success rate. Besides, informed consent laws in
determining whether a potential peril must be divulged is its materiality to other countries generally require only a reasonable explanation of potential
the patient's decision. 63 harms, so specific disclosures such as statistical data, may not be legally
necessary. 65
Cobbs v. Grant further reiterated the pronouncement in Canterbury v.
Spence that for liability of the physician for failure to inform patient, there The element of ethical duty to disclose material risks in the proposed
must be causal relationship between physician's failure to inform and the medical treatment cannot thus be reduced to one simplistic formula
injury to patient and such connection arises only if it is established that, had applicable in all instances. Further, in a medical malpractice action based on
revelation been made, consent to treatment would not have been given. lack of informed consent, "the plaintiff must prove both the duty and the
breach of that duty through expert testimony. 66 Such expert testimony
There are four essential elements a plaintiff must prove in a malpractice must show the customary standard of care of physicians in the same
action based upon the doctrine of informed consent: "(1) the physician had
practice as that of the defendant doctor. 67
a duty to disclose material risks; (2) he failed to disclose or inadequately
disclosed those risks; (3) as a direct and proximate result of the failure to In this case, the testimony of Dr. Balmaceda who is not an oncologist but a
disclose, the patient consented to treatment she otherwise would not have Medical Specialist of the DOH's Operational and Management Services
consented to; and (4) plaintiff was injured by the proposed treatment." The charged with receiving complaints against hospitals, does not qualify as
gravamen in an informed consent case requires the plaintiff to "point to expert testimony to establish the standard of care in obtaining consent for
significant undisclosed information relating to the treatment which would chemotherapy treatment. In the absence of expert testimony in this regard,
have altered her decision to undergo it. 64 the Court feels hesitant in defining the scope of mandatory disclosure in
cases of malpractice based on lack of informed consent, much less set a
Examining the evidence on record, we hold that there was adequate standard of disclosure that, even in foreign jurisdictions, has been noted to
disclosure of material risks inherent in the chemotherapy procedure be an evolving one.
performed with the consent of Angelica's parents. Respondents could not
have been unaware in the course of initial treatment and amputation of As society has grappled with the juxtaposition between
Angelica's lower extremity, that her immune system was already weak on personal autonomy and the medical profession's intrinsic
account of the malignant tumor in her knee. When petitioner informed the impetus to cure, the law defining "adequate" disclosure
respondents beforehand of the side effects of chemotherapy which includes has undergone a dynamic evolution. A standard once
lowered counts of white and red blood cells, decrease in blood platelets, guided solely by the ruminations of physicians is now
possible kidney or heart damage and skin darkening, there is reasonable dependent on what a reasonable person in the patient's
expectation on the part of the doctor that the respondents understood very position regards as significant. This change in perspective
well that the severity of these side effects will not be the same for all is especially important as medical breakthroughs move
patients undergoing the procedure. In other words, by the nature of the practitioners to the cutting edge of technology, ever
disease itself, each patient's reaction to the chemical agents even with pre- encountering new and heretofore unimagined treatments
treatment laboratory tests cannot be precisely determined by the physician. for currently incurable diseases or ailments. An adaptable
That death can possibly result from complications of the treatment or the standard is needed to account for this constant
underlying cancer itself, immediately or sometime after the administration of progression. Reasonableness analyses permeate our legal
chemotherapy drugs, is a risk that cannot be ruled out, as with most other system for the very reason that they are determined by
major medical procedures, but such conclusion can be reasonably drawn social norms, expanding and contracting with the ebb and
from the general side effects of chemotherapy already disclosed. flow of societal evolution.
As a physician, petitioner can reasonably expect the respondents to have As we progress toward the twenty-first century, we now
considered the variables in the recommended treatment for their daughter realize that the legal standard of disclosure is not
afflicted with a life-threatening illness. On the other hand, it is difficult to give subject to construction as a categorical imperative.
credence to respondents' claim that petitioner told them of 95% chance of Whatever formulae or processes we adopt are only useful
recovery for their daughter, as it was unlikely for doctors like petitioner who as a foundational starting point; the particular quality or
quantity of disclosure will remain inextricably bound [G.R. No. 143196. November 26, 2002.]
by the facts of each case. Nevertheless, juries that
ultimately determine whether a physician properly
STI DRIVERS ASSOCIATION, SALVADOR CARANZA,
informed a patient are inevitably guided by what they
MARIANO TAN, AMADO EVANGELISTA, MANUEL
perceive as the common expectation of the medical
EVANGELISTA, EUSEBIO TABULOD, JR., MANUEL T.
consumer — "a reasonable person in the patient's
RODULFO, JOHNNY BUMATAY, FRANCISCO
position when deciding to accept or reject a
DOMINGO, NOLITO BRANZUELA, DOMIZALDE
recommended medical procedure." 68 (Emphasis
BUMATAY, FERNANDO ARIBON, JUNELIAM
supplied.)
QUINANOLA, JESUS FERRER, RAYMUNDO
WHEREFORE, the petition for review on certiorari is GRANTED. The BUMATAY, JR., MANUEL MOSTRALES, ROGELIO
Decision dated June 15, 2004 and the Resolution dated September 1, 2004 MAZO, ROLANDO EVASCO, FELIXBERTO BADINAS,
of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 58013 are SET ASIDE. GERRY BOLIDO, GREGORIO GALVEZ, JR., CHARITO
MOSCOSA, MARCELINO VILLANUEVA, IBARISTO
The Decision dated September 5, 1997 of the Regional Trial Court of LACATA, FELIX OROGAN, GERRY CONDA, DENNIS
Legazpi City, Branch 8, in Civil Case No. 8904 is REINSTATED and SANCHEZ, PABLO ARAOS, NARIO BERNALDEZ, LITO
UPHELD. YAMBA, ANDRES NOVAL, JUDY VICENTE, DAVID
No costs. CAJES, and FELIPE CASBADILLO, petitioners, vs.
COURT OF APPEALS, SIMENT TRANSPORT, INC., ELY
SO ORDERED. CHUA, WILLIAM CHUA, SIMON CHUAHE, ELIZABETH
TAN, JRB MANPOWER AGENCY/EDWIN
Corona, C.J. and Perez, J., concur.
BUMATAY, respondents.
Carpio, J., see dissenting opinion.
Carpio Morales, Velasco, Jr. and Peralta, JJ., join the dissent of J. Carpio. Ricardo M. Perez for petitioners.
Nachura, Leonardo-de Castro and Mendoza, JJ., join the separate opinion of Isidro T. Gamutan for respondents.
J. Brion.

Brion, J., in the result: see separate opinion.


SYNOPSIS
Bersamin, J., concur in the result, and I join the separate opinion of J. Brion.
Del Castillo, J., took no part. Petitioners filed a petition for review of the CA decision praying that the case
be remanded to the Regional Arbitration Branch of the NLRC on the ground
Abad, J., please see my concurring opinion. that they were denied due process for being represented by an impostor
lawyer who was negligent in attending to their case from the moment it was
Sereno, J., I dissent. Evidence was provided by the doctor-petitioner herself.
filed up to its dismissal by the appellate court. Petitioners claimed that a
I join J. Antonio Carpio.
certain Mr. Villamor Mostrales led them to believe that he was a lawyer, but
||| (Li v. Spouses Soliman, G.R. No. 165279, [June 7, 2011], 666 PHIL 29- he failed to file the position papers required by the Labor Arbiter and to
121) appeal on time to the NLRC. aESIHT
The Supreme Court denied the petition, ruling: that records showed that
aside from Mr. Mostrales, the petitioners were duly represented by a bona
THIRD DIVISION fidelawyer, Atty. Ernesto R. Arellano, and the latter's failure to file the
required position papers is not a ground to declare the proceedings a
quo null and void; that it was ruled that any act performed by a lawyer within
the scope of his general or implied authority is regarded as an act of his Mostrales and Atty. Arellano, as warranted. Damages, after all, can be
client; consequently, the mistake or negligence of petitioners' counsel may recovered as a result of fraud or inaction. cTEICD
result in the rendition of an unfavorable judgment against them. After all, in
applying the principle of due process, what is sought to be guarded against
is not the lack of previous notice but the denial of the opportunity to be
heard. Petitioners can file appropriate proceedings to recover damages from DECISION
Mr. Mostrales and Atty. Arellano as a result of fraud or inaction.

CORONA, J p:
SYLLABUS
Before us is a petition for review of the decision 1 dated July 26, 1999 of the
1. LEGAL AND JUDICIAL ETHICS; ATTORNEYS; MISTAKE OF COUNSEL Court of Appeals 2 in CA-G.R. SP No. 51216 dismissing the petition
BINDS THE CLIENT; EXCEPTIONS; CASE AT BAR. — We find that the for certiorariof the decision 3 dated January 31, 1996 of the National Labor
petitioners were duly represented by a bona-fide lawyer and the latter's Relations Commission in NLRC NCR Case No. 008951-95 which affirmed
failure to file the required position papers before the Labor Arbiter or to the decision 4 dated April 21, 1995 of Labor Arbiter Romulus Protasio ruling
appeal on time to the NLRC is not a ground to declare the proceedings a in favor of the respondents.
quo null and void. We have ruled time and again that any act performed by a
The facts, as found by the appellate court, are as follows:
lawyer within the scope of his general or implied authority is regarded as an
act of his client. Consequently, the mistake or negligence of petitioners' The petitioners are truck drivers and truck helpers of herein respondents
counsel may result in the rendition of an unfavorable judgment against them. Siment Transport, Inc. (STI, for brevity), Family Mercantile (FM, for brevity),
Exceptions to the foregoing have been recognized by this Court in cases Simon Enterprises (SE, for brevity), and their owners, namely, Ely Chua,
where reckless or gross negligence of counsel deprives the client of due William Chua, Simon Chuahe, and Elizabeth Tan. JRB Manpower Agency
process of law, or when its application "results in the outright deprivation of and Edwin Bumatay were likewise included as respondents in the instant
one's property through a technicality." None of these exceptions has been petition. The petitioners are Salvador Caranza, Mariano Tan, Amado
sufficiently shown in the instant case. In the case at bar, the petitioners Evangelista, Manuel Evangelista, Eusebio Tabulod, Jr., Manuel T. Rodulfo,
merely claimed deprivation of their rights as a result of misrepresentations Johnny Bumatay, Francisco Domingo, Nolito Branzuela, Domizalde
perpetrated by an impostor lawyer. But, as already discussed, we cannot Bumatay, Fernando Aribon, Juneliam Quinanola, Jesus Ferrer, Raymundo
overlook the fact that they retained the services of Atty. Arellano. The Bumatay, Jr., Manuel Mostrales, Rogelio Mazo, Rolando Evasco, Felixberto
petitioners failed to show any evidence that the services of Atty. Arellano Badinas, Gerry Bolido, Gregorio Galvez, Jr., Charito Moscosa, Marcelino
violated their right to due process or deprived them of their property through Villanueva, Ibaristo Lacata, Felix Orogan, Gerry Conda, Dennis Sanchez,
a technicality. No gross negligence can be attributed to Atty. Arellano Pablo Araos, Nario Bernaldez, Lito Yamba, Andres Noval, Judy Vicente,
inasmuch as he did not totally abandon or disregard his clients' cases. He David Cajes and Felipe Casbadillo.
filed pleadings for and in their behalf. The petitioners should therefore, as far
as this suit is concerned, bear the consequences of their faulty option. After The petitioner drivers formed STI Drivers Association which was registered
all, in the application of the principle of due process, what is sought to be with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE, for brevity) under
safeguarded against is not the lack of previous notice but the denial of the Registration Certificate No. NCR-UR-1-1188-94. On May 2, 1994, the said
opportunity to be heard. The question is not whether the petitioners union filed a petition for certification election duly signed by Atty. Ernesto
succeeded in defending their interest but whether the petitioners had the Arellano. On June 13, 1994, Med-arbiter Brigada Fadrigon issued an order
opportunity to present their side. dismissing the petition. On appeal to the DOLE, Undersecretary Bienvenido
Laguesma affirmed the said order on August 25, 1994.
2. ID.; ID.; ID.; DAMAGES ARE RECOVERABLE AS A RESULT OF FRAUD
OR INACTION. — Although nothing can be done to reverse the decision of Pending resolution of the appeal to the DOLE, however, on June 29, 1994,
the appellate court, the aggrieved petitioners can still explore the feasibility petitioner drivers Salvador Caranza, Mariano Tan, Amado Evangelista,
of filing the appropriate criminal, civil and administrative cases against Mr. Manuel Rodulfo, Johnny Bumatay and Eusebio Tabulod, Jr. were dismissed
by respondent STI for violation of the "Union Security Clause" provided for
in respondent's Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA, for brevity) with the On May 9, 1995, the petitioners appealed the case to the NLRC but, in a
Federation of Democratic Trade Unions-STI Workers Union Chapter (FDTU- resolution dated June 30, 1995, the NLRC dismissed the appeal for being
STI, for brevity). Subsequently, the concerned petitioners filed a complaint filed out of time. The motion for reconsideration was likewise denied.
for illegal dismissal, unfair labor practice and payment of damages against
the respondents before the Regional Arbitration Branch of the NLRC. On the They filed a petition for certiorari before the Court of Appeals questioning
same day, the petitioner drivers also filed a complaint for underpayment of the decision of the NLRC but the appellate court dismissed the same. The
their vacation leave, sick leave and 13th month pay against the respondents. Court of Appeals held that the petitioners were not denied due process
inasmuch as their counsel, a certain Villamor Mostrales, was informed in
The petitioner truck helpers (pahinantes) were also dismissed for open court to submit petitioners' position paper, but he did not. In affirming
abandonment of work when they failed to report for work on July 13, 1994 the legality of the petitioners' dismissal, the Court of Appeals found that they
on the ground that they allegedly attended an organizational meeting of the committed an act of disloyalty when, during the existence of the CBA, they
drivers' union. Respondent JRB sent notices to the concerned petitioners organized another union (the STI Drivers' Association) and then filed a
requiring them to report for work with a stern warning that their employment petition for certification election outside the 60-day freedom period, in
would be terminated if they failed to comply. Inasmuch as they disobeyed violation of the "contract bar rule" under Articles 253 and 253-A of the Labor
the said order, they were dismissed for abandonment of work. On August 2, Code. SIDTCa
1994, they filed a complaint for illegal dismissal, unfair labor practice and
payment of damages against the respondents before the Regional
Arbitration Branch of the NLRC. SCaITA Hence, this petition for review of the decision of the Court of Appeals based
On October 1, 1994, the petitioner drivers Francisco Domingo, Nolito on this sole assignment of error:
Branzuela, Domizalde Bumatay, Fernando Aribon, Juneliam Quinanola, "I
Jesus Ferrer, Manuel Mostrales, Raymundo Bumatay, Jr., Rogelio Mazo,
and Rolando Evasco were also dismissed on the ground that they failed to "PETITIONERS WERE DENIED DUE PROCESS BECAUSE
join FDTU-STI as required by the union security clause of their CBA. They THEY WERE MISREPRESENTED BY AN IMPOSTOR
filed a complaint for illegal dismissal, unfair labor practice and damages. LAWYER OR A NON-LAWYER." 6
This case was consolidated with the first case filed by the first group of
The petitioners pray that the case be remanded to the Regional Arbitration
petitioner drivers.
Branch of the NLRC on the ground that they were denied due process for
The three cases were consolidated and assigned to Labor Arbiter Ernesto being represented by an impostor lawyer who was negligent in attending to
Dinopol. They were later on re-raffled and assigned to Labor Arbiter their case from the moment it was filed up to its dismissal by the appellate
Romulus Protasio. The parties were required to submit their respective court. They claim that a certain Villamor Mostrales led them to believe that
position papers. However, petitioners failed to submit their position paper. he was a lawyer who could represent them in the consolidated labor
Hence, Labor Arbiter Protasio proceeded to hear the case ex parte. On April complaints against herein respondents. However, Mr. Mostrales failed to file
21, 1995, Labor Arbiter Protasio dismissed the three consolidated the necessary position papers required by Labor Arbiter Protasio. As a
complaints, the dispositive portion of which reads: result, Labor Arbiter Protasio declared the petitioners in default and ruled
against them on the basis of the position paper submitted by the
"WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered declaring the respondents. The petitioners discovered that Mr. Mostrales was not a lawyer
dismissal of the complainants in Case No. 1 by JRB after they secured a certification from the Office of the Bar Confidant that
Manpower Agency/Edwin Bumatay and the dismissal of Mr. Mostrales' name is not included in the Roll of Attorneys. They now argue
complainants by respondent Siment Transport, Inc. and that the actions of the impostor lawyer denied them due process for the
its officers, William Chua, Ely Chua, Simon Chuahe and reason that they were not given competent representation during the
Elizabeth Tan in Case No. 2 as valid and legal. Paragraph hearing of the case and thus the proceedings a quo were null and void.
Case No. 3 is also dismissed since the benefits prayed for
have already been fully paid for as here before We deny the petition.
indicated." 5
The records show that, aside from Mr. Mostrales, a counsel named Atty.
Ernesto R. Arellano, represented them in all the stages of the proceedings.
In fact, the Labor Arbiter issued an order notifying Atty. Arellano of the the services of Atty. Arellano violated their right to due process or deprived
reglementary period within which to file the petitioners' position papers. We them of their property through a technicality. No gross negligence can be
herein quote the judgment of the NLRC denying petitioners' motion for attributed to Atty. Arellano inasmuch as he did not totally abandon or
reconsideration as proof of this fact, to wit: disregard his clients' cases. He filed pleadings for and in their behalf. The
petitioners should therefore, as far as this suit is concerned, bear the
"Records show that contrary to complainants' allegations, consequences of their faulty option. After all, in the application of the
the Order of February 20, 1995 was served to their principle of due process, what is sought to be safeguarded against is not the
counsel, 'Atty. Ernesto R. Arellano of Rm. 400, Jino Bldg., lack of previous notice but the denial of the opportunity to be heard. The
Timog Avenue, Quezon City.' It was received by certain question is not whether the petitioners succeeded in defending their interest
'Edmond T. Lao' on February 27, 1995 (See Record, p. but whether the petitioners had the opportunity to present their side. 15
268). . . ." 7
Although nothing can be done to reverse the decision of the appellate court,
In addition, the petitioners failed to dispute the fact that the written the aggrieved petitioners can still explore the feasibility of filing the
notification of the order of dismissal of the petition for certification appropriate criminal, civil and administrative cases against Mr. Mostrales
election was directed to Atty. Arellano as petitioners' counsel of and Atty. Arellano, as warranted. Damages, after all, can be recovered as a
record. 8 And after the adverse decision of the Labor Arbiter, Atty. result of fraud or inaction.
Ernesto Arellano filed the appeal to the NLRC, as evidenced by his
signature on the appeal brief. 9 Also, the NLRC directed the notice of its WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is hereby DENIED. No
resolution (dismissing the petitioners' appeal for having been filed out of costs.
time) to his law firm, Arellano and Associates. 10 The earlier petition that
they filed before this Court (involving the same parties and issues), SO ORDERED.
which was remanded to the Court of Appeals as a result of our ruling Panganiban, Sandoval-Gutierrez and Carpio-Morales, JJ., concur.
in St. Martin Funeral Home vs. National Labor Relations
Commission, 11 was likewise signed by the same Atty. Ernesto R. Puno, J., is on official leave.
Arellano. 12 These undisputed facts prove that, during the entire
proceedings, a bona-fide lawyer represented them and filed pleadings in
their behalf.
||| (STI Drivers Association v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 143196, [November
Based on the foregoing, we find that the petitioners were duly represented 26, 2002], 441 PHIL 166-174)
by a bona-fide lawyer and the latter's failure to file the required position
papers before the Labor Arbiter or to appeal on time to the NLRC is not a
ground to declare the proceedings a quo null and void. We have ruled time
and again that any act performed by a lawyer within the scope of his general SECOND DIVISION
or implied authority is regarded as an act of his client. Consequently, the
mistake or negligence of petitioners' counsel may result in the rendition of [G.R. No. 160110. June 18, 2014.]
an unfavorable judgment against them. 13 Exceptions to the foregoing have
been recognized by this Court in cases where reckless or gross negligence
of counsel deprives the client of due process of law, or when its application MARIANO C. MENDOZA and ELVIRA
"results in the outright deprivation of one's property through a LIM, petitioners, vs. SPOUSES LEONORA J. GOMEZ
technicality." 14 None of these exceptions has been sufficiently shown in the and GABRIEL V. GOMEZ, respondents.
instant case.
In the case at bar, the petitioners merely claimed deprivation of their rights
as a result of misrepresentations perpetrated by an impostor lawyer. But, as DECISION
already discussed, we cannot overlook the fact that they retained the
services of Atty. Arellano. The petitioners failed to show any evidence that
PEREZ, J p: Additionally, respondents averred that the mishap deprived them of a daily
income of P1,000.00. Engaged in the business of buying plastic scraps and
Assailed in the present appeal by certiorari is the Decision 1 dated 29 delivering them to recycling plants, respondents claimed that the Isuzu truck
September 2003 of the Special Fourth Division of the Court of Appeals (CA) was vital in the furtherance of their business.
in CA-G.R. CV No. 71877, which affirmed with modification the
Decision 2 dated 31 January 2001 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch For their part, petitioners capitalized on the issue of ownership of the bus in
172, Valenzuela City in Civil Case No. 5352-V-97, and which effectively question. Respondents argued that although the registered owner was Lim,
the actual owner of the bus was SPO1 Cirilo Enriquez (Enriquez), who had
allowed the award of actual, moral, and exemplary damages, as well as
attorney's fees and costs of the suit in favor of respondent Spouses Leonora the bus attached with Mayamy Transportation Company (Mayamy
and Gabriel Gomez (respondents). Transport) under the so-called "kabit system". Respondents then impleaded
both Lim and Enriquez.
Antecedent Facts
Petitioners, on the other hand, presented Teresita Gutierrez (Gutierrez),
On 7 March 1997, an Isuzu Elf truck (Isuzu truck) with plate number UAW whose testimony was offered to prove that Mayamy Bus or Mayamy
582, 3 owned by respondent Leonora J. Gomez (Leonora) 4 and driven by Transport is a business name registered under her name, and that such
Antenojenes Perez (Perez), 5 was hit by a Mayamy Transportation bus business is a sole proprietorship. Such was presented by petitioners to
(Mayamy bus) with temporary plate number 1376-1280, 6 registered under rebut the allegation of respondents that Mayamy Transport is a
the name of petitioner Elvira Lim (Lim) 7 and driven by petitioner Mariano C. corporation; 15 and to show, moreover, that although Gutierrez is the sole
Mendoza (Mendoza). 8 proprietor of Mayamy Transport, she was not impleaded by respondents in
the case at bar. 16
Owing to the incident, an Information for reckless imprudence resulting in
damage to property and multiple physical injuries was filed against After weighing the evidence, the RTC found Mendoza liable for direct
Mendoza. 9Mendoza, however, eluded arrest, thus, respondents filed a personal negligence under Article 2176 of the Civil Code,and it also found
separate complaint for damages against Mendoza and Lim, seeking actual Lim vicariously liable under Article 2180 of the same Code.
damages, compensation for lost income, moral damages, exemplary
damages, attorney's fees and costs of the suit. 10 This was docketed as As regards Lim, the RTC relied on the Certificate of Registration issued by
Civil Case No. 5352-V-97. ECAaTS the Land Transportation Office on 9 December 1996 17 in concluding that
she is the registered owner of the bus in question. Although actually owned
According to PO1 Melchor F. Rosales (PO1 Rosales), investigating officer of by Enriquez, following the established principle in transportation law, Lim, as
the case, at around 5:30 a.m., the Isuzu truck, coming from Katipunan Road the registered owner, is the one who can be held liable.
and heading towards E. Rodriguez, Sr. Avenue, was travelling along the
downward portion of Boni Serrano Avenue when, upon reaching the corner Thus, the RTC disposed of the case as follows:
of Riviera Street, fronting St. Ignatius Village, its left front portion was hit by
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the
the Mayamy bus. 11 According to PO1 Rosales, the Mayamy bus, while
[respondents] and against the [petitioners]:
traversing the opposite lane, intruded on the lane occupied by the Isuzu
truck. 12 1. Ordering the [petitioners] except Enriquez to pay
[respondents], jointly and severally, the costs of
PO1 Rosales also reported that Mendoza tried to escape by speeding away,
repair of the damaged vehicle in the amount of
but he was apprehended in Katipunan Road corner C. P. Garcia Avenue by
P142,757.40;
one Traffic Enforcer Galante and a security guard of St. Ignatius Village. 13
2. Ordering the defendants except Enriquez to pay
As a result of the incident, Perez, as well as the helpers on board the Isuzu [respondents], jointly and severally, the amount of
truck, namely Melchor V. Anla (Anla), Romeo J. Banca (Banca), and Jimmy
P1,000.00 per day from March 7, 1997 up to
Repisada (Repisada), sustained injuries necessitating medical treatment
November 1997 representing the unrealized
amounting to P11,267.35, which amount was shouldered by respondents. income of the [respondents] when the incident
Moreover, the Isuzu truck sustained extensive damages on its cowl, chassis, transpired up to the time the damaged Isuzu truck
lights and steering wheel, amounting to P142,757.40. 14
was repaired;
3. Ordering the [petitioners] except Enriquez to pay erroneously applied the provision of Article 21 of
[respondents], jointly and severally, the amount of the same code to justify the award for bad faith is
P100,000.00 as moral damages, plus a separate not consistent with quasi-delict which is founded
amount of P50,000.00 as exemplary on fault or negligence.
damages; DISEaC
b. Exemplary damages in spite of the fact that
4. Ordering the [petitioners] except Enriquez to pay there is no finding that the vehicular accident was
[respondents], jointly and severally, the amount of due to petitioner-driver's gross negligence to be
P50,000.00 as attorney's fees; entitled thereto pursuant to Article 2231 of
the New Civil Code and pertinent decisions of the
5. Ordering the [petitioners] except Enriquez to pay Supreme Court to that effect. The factual basis of
[respondents] the costs of suit. 18 the court a quo that "the act of the driver of the
Displeased, petitioners appealed to the CA, which appeal was docketed as bus in attempting to escape after causing the
CA-G.R. CV No. 71877. After evaluating the damages awarded by the RTC, accident in wanton disregard of the
such were affirmed by the CA with the exception of the award of unrealized consequences of his negligent act is such gross
income which the CA ordered deleted, viz.: negligence that justifies an award of exemplary
damages" is an act after the fact which is not
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appeal within the contemplation of Article 2231 of
is PARTLY GRANTED. The judgment of the Regional Trial the New Civil Code.
Court of Valenzuela City, Branch 172 dated January 31,
2001, is MODIFIED, in that the award of P1,000.00 per c. Attorney's fees in spite of the fact that the
day from March 1997 up to November 1997 representing assailed decisions of the trial court and the
unrealized income is DELETED. The award of court a quo are bereft with jurisdictions for the
P142,757.40 for the cost of repair of the damaged vehicle, award of attorney's fees pursuant to the pertinent
the award of P100,000.00 as moral damages, the award decisions of the Supreme Court on the matter and
of P50,000.00 as exemplary damages, the award of provision Article 2208 of the New Civil Code. The
P50,000.00 as attorney's fees and the costs of the suit are court a quo erroneously applied the decision of
hereby MAINTAINED. 19 the Supreme Court in Bañas, Jr. vs. Court of
Appeals, 325 SCRA 259.
The Present Petition
The Court's Ruling
Unsatisfied with the CA ruling, petitioners filed an appeal by certiorari before
the Court, raising the following issues: 20 The petition is partially meritorious.

1. The court a quo has decided questions of substance in Respondents anchor their claim for damages on Mendoza's negligence,
a way not in accord with law or with the banking on Article 2176 of the Civil Code,to wit:
applicable decisions of the Supreme Court when Whoever by act or omission causes damage to another,
it awarded: there being fault or negligence, is obliged to pay for the
a. Moral damages in spite of the fact that the damage done. Such fault or negligence, if there is no pre-
[respondents'] cause of action is clearly based existing contractual relation between the parties, is called
on quasi-delict and [respondents] did not a quasi-delict and is governed by the provisions of this
sustain physical injuries to be entitled thereto Chapter.
pursuant to Article 2219 (2) of the New Civil In impleading Lim, on the other hand, respondents invoke the latter's
Code and pertinent decisions of the Supreme vicarious liability as espoused in Article 2180 of the same Code:
Court to that effect. The court a quo erroneously
concluded that the driver acted in bad faith and
The obligation imposed by Article 2176 is demandable not the latter to spin, injuring Perez, Anla, Banca, and Repisada, and
only for one's own acts or omissions, but also for those of considerably damaging the Isuzu truck.
persons for whom one is responsible.
Having settled the fact of Mendoza's negligence, then, the next question
xxx xxx xxx that confronts us is who may be held liable. According to Manresa, liability
for personal acts and omissions is founded on that indisputable principle of
Employers shall be liable for the damages caused by their justice recognized by all legislations that when a person by his act or
employees and household helpers acting within the scope omission causes damage or prejudice to another, a juridical relation is
of their assigned tasks, even though the former are not created by virtue of which the injured person acquires a right to be
engaged in any business or industry. indemnified and the person causing the damage is charged with the
The first question to address, then, is whether or not Mendoza's negligence corresponding duty of repairing the damage. The reason for this is found in
was duly proven. Negligence is defined as the failure to observe for the the obvious truth that man should subordinate his acts to the precepts of
protection of the interests of another person, that degree of care, precaution prudence and if he fails to observe them and causes damage to another, he
and vigilance which the circumstances justly demand, whereby such other must repair the damage. 24 His negligence having caused the damage,
person suffers injury. 21 Mendoza is certainly liable to repair said damage.

As found by the RTC, and affirmed by the CA, Mendoza was negligent in Additionally, Mendoza's employer may also be held liable under the doctrine
driving the subject Mayamy bus, as demonstrated by the fact that, at the of vicarious liability or imputed negligence. Under such doctrine, a person
time of the collision, the bus intruded on the lane intended for the Isuzu who has not committed the act or omission which caused damage or injury
truck. Having encroached on the opposite lane, Mendoza was clearly in to another may nevertheless be held civilly liable to the latter either directly
violation of traffic laws. Article 2185 of the Civil Code provides that unless or subsidiarily under certain circumstances. 25 In our jurisdiction, vicarious
there is proof to the contrary, it is presumed that a person driving a motor liability or imputed negligence is embodied in Article 2180 of the Civil
vehicle has been negligent if at the time of the mishap, he was violating any Code and the basis for damages in the action under said article is the direct
traffic regulation. In the case at bar, Mendoza's violation of traffic laws was and primary negligence of the employer in the selection or supervision, or
the proximate cause of the harm. CAIHaE both, of his employee. 26

Proximate cause is defined as that cause, which, in natural and continuous In the case at bar, who is deemed as Mendoza's employer? Is it Enriquez,
sequence, unbroken by any efficient intervening cause, produces the injury, the actual owner of the bus or Lim, the registered owner of the bus?
and without which the result would not have occurred. And more In Filcar Transport Services v. Espinas, 27 we held that the registered owner
comprehensively, the proximate legal cause is that acting first and is deemed the employer of the negligent driver, and is thus vicariously liable
producing the injury, either immediately or by setting other events in motion, under Article 2176, in relation to Article 2180, of the Civil
all constituting a natural and continuous chain of events, each having a Code.Citing Equitable Leasing Corporation v. Suyom, 28 the Court ruled that
close causal connection with its immediate predecessor, the final event in in so far as third persons are concerned, the registered owner of the motor
the chain immediately effecting the injury as a natural and probable result of vehicle is the employer of the negligent driver, and the actual employer is
the cause which first acted, under such circumstances that the person considered merely as an agent of such owner. Thus, whether there is an
responsible for the first event should, as an ordinary prudent and intelligent employer-employee relationship between the registered owner and the
person, have reasonable ground to expect at the moment of his act or driver is irrelevant in determining the liability of the registered owner who the
default that an injury to some person might probably result therefrom. 22 law holds primarily and directly responsible for any accident, injury or death
The evidence on record shows that before the collision, the Isuzu truck was caused by the operation of the vehicle in the streets and highways. 29
in its rightful lane, and was even at a stop, having been flagged down by a As early as Erezo v. Jepte, 30 the Court, speaking through Justice Alejo
security guard of St. Ignatius Village. 23 The mishap occurred when the Labrador summarized the justification for holding the registered owner
Mayamy bus, travelling at a fast speed as shown by the impact of the directly liable, to wit:
collision, and going in the opposite direction as that of the Isuzu truck,
encroached on the lane rightfully occupied by said Isuzu truck, and caused . . . The main aim of motor vehicle registration is to
identify the owner so that if any accident happens, or
that any damage or injury is caused by the vehicles on father of a family to prevent damage — are no longer available to the
the public highways, responsibility therefore can be registered owner of the motor vehicle, because the motor vehicle
fixed on a definite individual, the registered owner. registration law, to a certain extent, modified Article 2180. 33
Instances are numerous where vehicle running on public
highways caused accidents or injuries to pedestrians or As such, there can be no other conclusion but to hold Lim vicariously liable
other vehicles without positive identification of the with Mendoza. TAcSaC
owner or drivers, or with very scant means of This does not mean, however, that Lim is left without any recourse against
identification. It is to forestall these circumstances, so Enriquez and Mendoza. Under the civil law principle of unjust enrichment,
inconvenient or prejudicial to the public, that the motor the registered owner of the motor vehicle has a right to be indemnified by
vehicle registration is primarily ordained, in the interest the actual employer of the driver; and under Article 2181 of the Civil
of the determination of persons responsible for Code,whoever pays for the damage caused by his dependents or
damages or injuries caused on public highways. employees may recover from the latter what he has paid or delivered in
"One of the principal purposes of motor vehicles satisfaction of the claim.
legislation is identification of the vehicle and of the Having identified the persons liable, our next question is what may be
operator, in case of accident; and another is that the awarded.
knowledge that means of detection are always available
may act as a deterrent from lax observance of the law and Actual or Compensatory Damages. Actual or compensatory damages are
of the rules of conservative and safe operation. Whatever those awarded in satisfaction of, or in recompense for, loss or injury
purpose there may be in these statutes, it is subordinate sustained. They simply make good or replace the loss caused by the
at the last to the primary purpose of rendering it certain wrong. 34
that the violator of the law or of the rules of safety shall
Article 2202 of the Civil Code provides that in crimes and quasi-delicts, the
not escape because of lack of means to discover him."
defendant shall be liable for all damages which are the natural and probable
The purpose of the statute is thwarted, and the displayed
consequences of the act or omission complained of. It is not necessary that
number becomes a "snare and delusion", if courts will
such damages have been foreseen or could have reasonably been foreseen
entertain such defenses as that put forward by appellee in
by the defendant. Article 2199 of the same Code, however, sets the
this case. No responsible person or corporation could be
limitation that, except as provided by law or by stipulation, one is entitled to
held liable for the most outrageous acts of negligence, if
an adequate compensation only for such pecuniary loss suffered by him as
they should be allowed to place a "middleman" between
he has duly proved. As such, to warrant an award of actual or compensatory
them and the public, and escape liability by the manner in
damages, the claimant must prove that the damage sustained is the natural
which they recompense their servants. 31
and probable consequences of the negligent act and, moreover, the
Generally, when an injury is caused by the negligence of a servant or claimant must adequately prove the amount of such damage.
employee, there instantly arises a presumption of law that there was
In the case at bar, the RTC, basing on the receipts submitted by
negligence on the part of the master or employer either in the selection of
respondents and which receipts petitioners had the opportunity to examine,
the servant or employee (culpa in eligiendo) or in the supervision over him
found that the total repairs on the Isuzu truck amounted to P142,757.40,
after the selection (culpa vigilando), or both. The presumption is juris
and that the full hospitalization and medical expenses of Perez, Anla, Banca,
tantum and not juris et de jure; consequently, it may be rebutted.
and Repisada amounted to P11,267.35. As such, these are the amounts that
Accordingly, the general rule is that if the employer shows to the satisfaction
respondents are entitled to as actual and compensatory damages.
of the court that in the selection and supervision of his employee he has
exercised the care and diligence of a good father of a family, the Although respondents alleged in their complaint that the damage to their
presumption is overcome and he is relieved of liability. 32 However, with the Isuzu truck caused them the loss of a daily income of P1,000.00, such claim
enactment of the motor vehicle registration law, the defenses available was not duly substantiated by any evidence on record, and thus cannot be
under Article 2180 of the Civil Code — that the employee acts beyond the awarded in their favor.
scope of his assigned task or that it exercised the due diligence of a good
Moral Damages. Moral damages are awarded to enable the injured party to A: I have incurred expenses and I was forced to apply for
obtain means, diversions or amusements that will serve to alleviate the a loan, sir.
moral suffering he has undergone, by reason of the defendant's culpable
action. 35 In Kierulf v. CA, 39 we observed that this Court cannot remind the bench
and the bar often enough that in order that moral damages may be
In prayers for moral damages, however, recovery is more an exception awarded, there must be pleading and proof of moral suffering, mental
rather than the rule. Moral damages are not meant to be punitive but are anguish, fright and the like. Citing Francisco v. GSIS, 40 the Court held that
designed to compensate and alleviate the physical suffering, mental there must be clear testimony on the anguish and other forms of mental
anguish, fright, serious anxiety, besmirched reputation, wounded feelings, suffering. Thus, if the plaintiff fails to take the witness stand and testify as to
moral shock, social humiliation, and similar harm unjustly caused to a his social humiliation, wounded feelings and anxiety, moral damages cannot
person. To be entitled to such an award, the claimant must satisfactorily be awarded.
prove that he has suffered damages and that the injury causing it has
sprung from any of the cases listed in Articles 2219 and 2220 of the Civil Moreover, respondents were not able to show that their claim properly falls
Code.Moreover, the damages must be shown to be the proximate result of a under Articles 2219 and 2220 of the Civil Code.Respondents cannot rely on
wrongful act or omission. The claimant must thus establish the factual basis Article 2219 (2) of the Civil Code which allows moral damages in quasi-
of the damages and its causal tie with the acts of the defendant. 36 delicts causing physical injuries because in physical injuries, moral damages
are recoverable only by the injured party, 41 and in the case at bar, herein
In fine, an award of moral damages calls for the presentation of 1) evidence respondents were not the ones who were actually injured.
of besmirched reputation or physical, mental or psychological suffering
sustained by the claimant; 2) a culpable act or omission factually In B.F. Metal (Corp.) v. Sps. Lomotan, et al., 42 the Court, in a claim for
established; 3) proof that the wrongful act or omission of the defendant is damages based on quasi-delict causing physical injuries, similarly
the proximate cause of the damages sustained by the claimant; and 4) the disallowed an award of moral damages to the owners of the damaged
proof that the act is predicated on any of the instances expressed or vehicle, when neither of them figured in the accident and sustained injuries.
envisioned by Article 2219 and Article 2220 of the Civil Code.37 Neither can respondents rely on Article 21 of the Civil Code as the RTC
A review of the complaint and the transcript of stenographic notes yields the erroneously did. Article 21 deals with acts contra bonus mores, and has
pronouncement that respondents neither alleged nor offered any evidence the following elements: (1) There is an act which is legal; (2) but which is
of besmirched reputation or physical, mental or psychological suffering contrary to morals, good custom, public order, or public policy; (3) and it is
incurred by them. All that Leonora and her counsel had to say on the matter done with intent to injure. 43 In the present case, it can hardly be said that
of damages other than actual or compensatory damages is this: 38 ASEIDH Mendoza's negligent driving and violation of traffic laws are legal acts.
Moreover, it was not proven that Mendoza intended to injure Perez, et al.
Q: Did you ever spend covering attorney's fees? Thus, Article 21 finds no application to the case at bar.
A: Yes, sir. P50,000.00. All in all, we find that the RTC and the CA erred in granting moral damages
to respondents. CHDAEc
Q: Aside from the actual damage that you have mentioned
. . ., how much more would you like this Court to Exemplary Damages. Article 2229 of the Civil Code provides that
award you by way of moral damages? exemplary or corrective damages are imposed, by way of example or
correction for the public good, in addition to moral, temperate, liquidated or
A: P100,000.00, sir. compensatory damages. Article 2231 of the same Code further states that
Q: How about exemplary damages? in quasi-delicts, exemplary damages may be granted if the defendant acted
with gross negligence.
A: P50,000.00, sir.
Our jurisprudence sets certain conditions when exemplary damages may be
Q: What happened to you, what did you feel when the awarded: First, they may be imposed by way of example or correction only
defendants failed to immediately repair your in addition, among others, to compensatory damages, and cannot be
vehicle that was damaged Madam Witness? recovered as a matter of right, their determination depending upon the
amount of compensatory damages that may be awarded to the claimant. (4) In case of a clearly unfounded civil action or
Second, the claimant must first establish his right to moral, temperate, proceeding against the plaintiff;
liquidated or compensatory damages. Third, the wrongful act must be
accompanied by bad faith, and the award would be allowed only if the guilty (5) Where the defendant acted in gross and
party acted in a wanton, fraudulent, reckless, oppressive or malevolent evident bad faith in refusing to satisfy the
manner. 44 plaintiff's valid and demandable claim;

In motor vehicle accident cases, exemplary damages may be awarded (6) In actions for legal support;
where the defendant's misconduct is so flagrant as to transcend simple (7) In actions for the recovery of wages of
negligence and be tantamount to positive or affirmative misconduct rather household helpers, laborers and skilled
than passive or negative misconduct. In characterizing the requisite positive workers;
misconduct which will support a claim for punitive damages, the courts have
used such descriptive terms as willful, wanton, grossly negligent, reckless, (8) In actions for indemnity under workmen's
or malicious, either alone or in combination. 45 compensation and employer's liability
laws;
Gross negligence is the absence of care or diligence as to amount to a
reckless disregard of the safety of persons or property. It evinces a (9) In a separate civil action to recover civil liability
thoughtless disregard of consequences without exerting any effort to avoid arising from a crime;
them. 46
(10) When at least double judicial costs are
In the case at bar, having established respondents' right to compensatory awarded;
damages, exemplary damages are also in order, given the fact that
(11) In any other case where the court deems it
Mendoza was grossly negligent in driving the Mayamy bus. His act of
just and equitable that attorney's fees and
intruding or encroaching on the lane rightfully occupied by the Isuzu truck
expenses of litigation should be
shows his reckless disregard for safety.
recovered;
In Baño v. Bachelor Express, Inc., et al., 47 where an erring bus, in the
In all cases, the attorney's fees and expenses of litigation
process of overtaking a jeepney, also encroached on the opposite lane, and
must be reasonable.
consequently collided with a dump truck, the Court held the driver of the
bus grossly negligent and affirmed the award of exemplary damages. From the very opening sentence of Article 2208 of the Civil Code,it is clearly
intended to retain the award of attorney's fees as the exception in our law,
Attorney's Fees. Article 2208 of the Civil Code enumerates the instances
as the general rule remains that attorney's fees are not recoverable in the
when attorney's fees may be recovered:
absence of a stipulation thereto, the reason being that it is not sound policy
Art. 2208. In the absence of stipulation, attorney's fees to set a premium on the right to litigate. 48
and expenses of litigation, other than judicial costs,
As such, in Spouses Agustin v. CA, 49 we held that, the award of attorney's
cannot be recovered, except:
fees being an exception rather than the general rule, it is necessary for the
(1) When exemplary damages are awarded; court to make findings of facts and law that would bring the case within the
exception and justify the grant of such award. Thus, the reason for the
(2) When the defendant's act or omission has award of attorney's fees must be stated in the text of the court's decision;
compelled the plaintiff to litigate with third otherwise, if it is stated only in the dispositive portion of the decision, the
persons or to incur expenses to protect same must be disallowed on appeal. SaIACT
his interest;
In the case at bar, the RTC Decision had nil discussion on the propriety of
(3) In criminal cases of malicious prosecution attorney's fees, and it merely awarded such in the dispositive. The CA
against the plaintiff; Decision, on the other hand, merely stated that the award of attorney's fees
is merited as such is allowed when exemplary damages are
awarded. 50 Following established jurisprudence, 51 however, the CA WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court Resolves to PARTIALLY
should have disallowed on appeal said award of attorney's fees as the RTC GRANT the appeal by certiorari, as follows:
failed to substantiate said award.
1) DECLARE Mariano Mendoza and Elvira Lim solidarily
Costs of suit. The Rules of Court provide that, generally, costs shall be liable to respondent Spouses Leonora and Gabriel
allowed to the prevailing party as a matter of course, thus: 52 Gomez;
Section 1. Costs ordinarily follow results of suit. — 2) MAINTAIN the award of actual or compensatory
Unless otherwise provided in these rules, costs shall be damages in the amount of P142,757.40 for the
allowed to the prevailing party as a matter of course, but repair of the Isuzu Elf truck, with legal interest
the court shall have power, for special reasons, to beginning 31 January 2001 until fully paid;
adjudge that either party shall pay the costs of an
action, or that the same be divided, as may be 3) GRANT additional actual or compensatory damages in
equitable. No costs shall be allowed against the the amount of P11,267.35 for the medical
Republic of the Philippines, unless otherwise provided expenses shouldered by respondent Spouses
by law. Leonora and Gabriel Gomez, with legal interest
beginning 31 January 2001 until fully paid;
In the present case, the award of costs of suit to respondents, as the
prevailing party, is in order. 4) DELETE the award of moral damages; ICAcaH

Interests. Interest by way of damages has been defined as interest allowed 5) MAINTAIN the award of exemplary damages at
in actions for breach of contract or tort for the unlawful detention of money P50,000.00;
already due. This type of interest is frequently called "moratory interest".
6) DELETE the award of attorney's fees; and
Interest as a part of damage, is allowed, not by application of arbitrary rules,
but as a result of the justice of the individual case and as compensation to 7) MAINTAIN the award of costs of suit.
the injured party. 53
SO ORDERED.
The legal provision on interests in quasi-delicts is Article 2211 of the Civil
Code which provides that in crimes and quasi-delicts, interest as part of the Brion, * Del Castillo, Mendoza ** and Perlas-Bernabe, JJ., concur.
damage, may, in a proper case, be adjudicated in the discretion of the ||| (Mendoza v. Spouses Gomez, G.R. No. 160110, [June 18, 2014], 736 PHIL
court. 460-487)
Generally, interest is allowed as a matter of right for failure to pay liquidated
claims when due. 54 For unliquidated claims, however, Article 2213 of
the Civil Code provides that interest cannot be recovered upon unliquidated
claims or damages, except when the demand can be established with THIRD DIVISION
reasonable certainty.
[G.R. No. 166869. February 16, 2010.]
In the case at bar, although the award of exemplary damages is unliquidated
in the sense that petitioners cannot know for sure, before judgment, the
exact amount that they are required to pay to respondents, the award of PHILIPPINE HAWK CORPORATION, petitioner, vs.
actual or compensatory damages, however, such as the truck repairs and VIVIAN TAN LEE, respondent.
medical expenses, is arguably liquidated in that they can be measured
against a reasonably certain standard. 55 Moreover, justice would seem to
require that the delay in paying for past losses which can be made
reasonably certain should be compensated through an award of interest. 56 DECISION
PERALTA, J p: Metro Bus with [P]late No. NXR-262 driven by
Margarito Avila, were involved in an accident;
This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari 1 of the Decision of the
2. As a result of the accident, Silvino Tan died on the spot
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 70860, promulgated on August 17,
while plaintiff Vivian Lee Tan suffered physical
2004, affirming with modification the Decision of the Regional Trial Court
injuries which necessitated medical attention and
(RTC) of Quezon City, Branch 102, dated March 16, 2001, in Civil Case
hospitalization;
No. Q-91-9191, ordering petitioner Philippine Hawk Corporation and
Margarito Avila to jointly and severally pay respondent Vivian Tan Lee 3. The deceased Silvino Tan is survived by his wife,
damages as a result of a vehicular accident. plaintiff Vivian Lee Tan and four children, three of
The facts are as follows: whom are now residents of the United States; and

On March 15, 2005, respondent Vivian Tan Lee filed before the 4. Defendant Margarito Avila is an employee of defendant
RTC of Quezon City a Complaint 2 against petitioner Philippine Hawk Philippine Hawk. 6
Corporation and defendant Margarito Avila for damages based
The parties also agreed on the following issues:
on quasi-delict, arising from a vehicular accident that occurred on
March 17, 1991 in Barangay Buensoceso, Gumaca, Quezon. The 1. Whether or not the proximate cause of the accident
accident resulted in the death of respondent's husband, Silvino Tan, and causing physical injuries upon the plaintiff Vivian
caused respondent physical injuries. Lee Tan and resulting in the death of the latter's
husband was the recklessness and negligence of
On June 18, 1992, respondent filed an Amended Complaint, 3 in
Margarito Avila or the deceased Silvino Tan; and
her own behalf and in behalf of her children, in the civil case for
damages against petitioner. Respondent sought the payment of 2. Whether or not defendant Philippine Hawk Transport
indemnity for the death of Silvino Tan, moral and exemplary damages, Corporation exercised the diligence of a good
funeral and interment expenses, medical and hospitalization expenses, father of the family in the selection and
the cost of the motorcycle's repair, attorney's fees, and other just and supervision of its driver Margarito Avila. 7
equitable reliefs.
Respondent testified that on March 17, 1991, she was riding on
The accident involved a motorcycle, a passenger jeep, and a their motorcycle in tandem with her husband, who was on the wheel, at
bus with Body No. 119. The bus was owned by petitioner Philippine a place after a Caltex gasoline station in Barangay Buensoceso,
Hawk Corporation, and was then being driven by Margarito Avila. Gumaca, Quezon on the way to Lopez, Quezon. They came from the
In its Answer, 4 petitioner denied liability for the vehicular Pasumbal Machine Shop, where they inquired about the repair of their
accident, alleging that the immediate and proximate cause of the tanker. They were on a stop position at the side of the highway; and
accident was the recklessness or lack of caution of Silvino Tan. when they were about to make a turn, she saw a bus running at fast
Petitioner asserted that it exercised the diligence of a good father of the speed coming toward them, and then the bus hit a jeep parked on the
family in the selection and supervision of its employees, including roadside, and their motorcycle as well. She lost consciousness and was
Margarito Avila. CcaDHT brought to the hospital in Gumaca, Quezon, where she was confined for
a week. She was later transferred to St. Luke's Hospital in Quezon City,
On March 25, 1993, the trial court issued a Pre-trial Manila. She suffered a fracture on her left chest, her left arm became
Order 5 stating that the parties manifested that there was no possibility swollen, she felt pain in her bones, and had high blood pressure. 8
of amicable settlement between them. However, they agreed to stipulate
on the following facts: Respondent's husband died due to the vehicular accident. The
immediate cause of his death was massive cerebral hemorrhage. 9
1. On March 17, 1991, in Bgy. Buensoceso, Gumaca,
Quezon, plaintiff Vivian Lee Tan and her husband Respondent further testified that her husband was
Silvino Tan, while on board a motorcycle with leasing 10 and operating a Caltex gasoline station in Gumaca, Quezon
[P]late No. DA-5480 driven by the latter, and a that yielded one million pesos a year in revenue. They also had a copra
business, which gave them an income of P3,000.00 a month or motorcycle crossed the highway in a zigzag manner and bumped the
P36,000.00 a year. 11 side of the bus. 17
Ernest Ovial, the driver of the passenger jeep involved in the In its Decision dated March 16, 2001, the trial court rendered
accident, testified that in the afternoon of March 17, 1991, his jeep was judgment against petitioner and defendant Margarito Avila, the
parked on the left side of the highway near the Pasumbal Machine dispositive portion of which reads:
Shop. He did not notice the motorcycle before the accident. But he saw
ACCORDINGLY, MARGARITO AVILA is adjudged guilty of
the bus dragging the motorcycle along the highway, and then the bus
simple negligence, and judgment is hereby rendered in
bumped his jeep and sped away. 12
favor of the plaintiff Vivian Lee Tan and h[er] husband's
For the defense, Margarito Avila, the driver of petitioner's bus, heirs ordering the defendants Philippine Hawk
testified that on March 17, 1999, at about 4:30 p.m., he was driving his Corporation and Margarito Avila to pay them jointly and
bus at 60 kilometers per hour on the Maharlika Highway. When they solidarily the sum of P745,575.00 representing loss of
were at Barangay Buensoceso, Gumaca, Quezon, a motorcycle ran from earnings and actual damages plus P50,000.00 as moral
his left side of the highway, and as the bus came near, the motorcycle damages. 18
crossed the path of the bus, and so he turned the bus to the right. He
heard a loud banging sound. From his side mirror, he saw that the The trial court found that before the collision, the motorcycle
motorcycle turned turtle ("bumaliktad"). He did not stop to help out of was on the left side of the road, just as the passenger jeep was. Prior to
fear for his life, but drove on and surrendered to the police. He denied the accident, the motorcycle was in a running position moving toward
that he bumped the motorcycle. 13 the right side of the highway. The trial court agreed with the bus driver
that the motorcycle was moving ahead of the bus from the left side of
Avila further testified that he had previously been involved in the road toward the right side of the road, but disagreed that the
sideswiping incidents, but he forgot how many times. 14 motorcycle crossed the path of the bus while the bus was running on
Rodolfo Ilagan, the bus conductor, testified that the motorcycle the right side of the road. 19
bumped the left side of the bus that was running at 40 kilometers per The trial court held that if the bus were on the right side of the
hour. 15 highway, and Margarito Avila turned his bus to the right in an attempt to
avoid hitting the motorcyle, then the bus would not have hit the
Domingo S. Sisperes, operations officer of petitioner, testified
passenger jeep, which was then parked on the left side of the road. The
that, like their other drivers, Avila was subjected to and passed the
fact that the bus also hit the passenger jeep showed that the bus must
following requirements: TcHDIA
have been running from the right lane to the left lane of the highway,
(1) Submission of NBI clearance; which caused the collision with the motorcycle and the passenger jeep
parked on the left side of the road. The trial court stated that since Avila
(2) Certification from his previous employer that he had no
saw the motorcycle before the collision, he should have stepped on the
bad record;
brakes and slowed down, but he just maintained his speed and veered
(3) Physical examination to determine his fitness to drive; to the left. 20 The trial court found Margarito Avila guilty of simple
negligence.
(4) Test of his driving ability, particularly his defensive skill;
and The trial court held petitioner bus company liable for failing to
exercise the diligence of a good father of the family in the selection and
(5) Review of his driving skill every six months. 16 supervision of Avila, having failed to sufficiently inculcate in him
discipline and correct behavior on the road. 21 DaAISH
Efren Delantar, a Barangay Kagawad in Buensoceso, Gumaca,
Quezon, testified that the bus was running on the highway on a straight On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the trial
path when a motorcycle, with a woman behind its driver, suddenly court with modification in the award of damages. The dispositive portion
emerged from the left side of the road from a machine shop. The of the decision reads:
WHEREFORE, foregoing premises considered, the appeal Petitioner seeks a review of the factual findings of the trial court,
is DENIED. The assailed decision dated March 16, 2001 is which were sustained by the Court of Appeals, that petitioner's driver
hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. Appellants was negligent in driving the bus, which caused physical injuries to
Philippine Hawk and Avila are hereby ordered to pay respondent and the death of respondent's husband.
jointly and severally appellee the following amount: (a)
The rule is settled that the findings of the trial court, especially
P168,019.55 as actual damages; (b) P10,000.00 as
when affirmed by the Court of Appeals, are conclusive on this Court
temperate damages; (c) P100,000.00 as moral damages;
when supported by the evidence on record. 24 The Court has carefully
(d) P590,000.00 as unearned income; and (e) P50,000.00
reviewed the records of this case, and found no cogent reason to
as civil indemnity. 22
disturb the findings of the trial court, thus: DACaTI
Petitioner filed this petition, raising the following issues: The Court agree[s] with the bus driver Margarito that the
1) The Court of Appeals committed grave abuse of motorcycle was moving ahead of the bus towards the
discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction in right side from the left side of the road, but disagrees with
passing upon an issue, which had not been raised him that it crossed the path of the bus while the bus was
on appeal, and which had, therefore, attained running on the right side of the highway.
finality, in total disregard of the doctrine laid down
If the bus were on the right side of the highway and
by this Court inAbubakar v. Abubakar, G.R. No.
Margarito turned his bus to the right in an attempt to avoid
134622, October 22, 1999.
hitting it, then the bus would not have hit the passenger
2) The Court of Appeals committed reversible error in its jeep vehicle which was then parked on the left side of the
finding that the petitioner's bus driver saw the road. The fact that the bus hit the jeep too, shows that the
motorcycle of private respondent executing a U- bus must have been running to the left lane of the
turn on the highway "about fifteen (15) meters highway from right to the left, that the collision between it
away" and thereafter held that the Doctrine of and the parked jeep and the moving rightways cycle
Last Clear was applicable to the instant case. This became inevitable. Besides, Margarito said he saw the
was a palpable error for the simple reason that the motorcycle before the collision ahead of the bus; that
aforesaid distance was the distance of the being so, an extra-cautious public utility driver should
witness to the bus and not the distance of the bus have stepped on his brakes and slowed down. Here, the
to the respondent's motorcycle, as clearly borne bus never slowed down, it simply maintained its highway
out by the records. speed and veered to the left. This is negligence indeed. 25

3) The Court of Appeals committed reversible error in Petitioner contends that the Court of Appeals was mistaken in
awarding damages in total disregard of the stating that the bus driver saw respondent's motorcycle "about 15
established doctrine laid down inDanao v. Court meters away" before the collision, because the said distance, as
of Appeals, 154 SCRA 447 and Viron testified to by its witness Efren Delantar Ong, was Ong's distance from
Transportation Co., Inc. v. Delos Santos, G.R. No. the bus, and not the distance of the bus from the motorcycle. Petitioner
138296, November 22, 2000. 23 asserts that this mistaken assumption of the Court of Appeals made it
conclude that the bus driver, Margarito Avila, had the last clear chance
In short, the issues raised by petitioner are: (1) whether or not to avoid the accident, which was the basis for the conclusion that Avila
negligence may be attributed to petitioner's driver, and whether was guilty of simple negligence.
negligence on his part was the proximate cause of the accident,
resulting in the death of Silvino Tan and causing physical injuries to A review of the records showed that it was petitioner's witness,
respondent; (2) whether or not petitioner is liable to respondent for Efren Delantar Ong, who was about 15 meters away from the bus when
damages; and (3) whether or not the damages awarded by respondent he saw the vehicular accident. 26 Nevertheless, this fact does not affect
Court of Appeals are proper. the finding of the trial court that petitioner's bus driver, Margarito Avila,
was guilty of simple negligence as affirmed by the appellate court.
Foreseeability is the fundamental test of negligence. 27 To be negligent, dependent on an assigned error and properly argued in
a defendant must have acted or failed to act in such a way that an the brief, save as the court pass upon plain errors and
ordinary reasonable man would have realized that certain interests of clerical errors.
certain persons were unreasonably subjected to a general but definite
class of risks. 28 Philippine National Bank v. Rabat 31 cited the book 32 of
Justice Florenz D. Regalado to explain the section above, thus:
In this case, the bus driver, who was driving on the right side of
the road, already saw the motorcycle on the left side of the road before In his book, Mr. Justice Florenz D. Regalado commented
the collision. However, he did not take the necessary precaution to slow on this section, thus:
down, but drove on and bumped the motorcycle, and also the 1. Sec. 8, which is an amendment of the former Sec. 7 of
passenger jeep parked on the left side of the road, showing that the bus this Rule, now includes some substantial changes in the
was negligent in veering to the left lane, causing it to hit the motorcycle rules on assignment of errors. The basic procedural rule is
and the passenger jeep. that only errors claimed and assigned by a party will be
Whenever an employee's negligence causes damage or injury to considered by the court, except errors affecting its
another, there instantly arises a presumption that the employer failed to jurisdiction over the subject matter. To this exception has
exercise the due diligence of a good father of the family in the selection now been added errors affecting the validity of the
or supervision of its employees. 29 To avoid liability for a quasi- judgment appealed from or the proceedings therein.
delict committed by his employee, an employer must overcome the Also, even if the error complained of by a party is not
presumption by presenting convincing proof that he exercised the care expressly stated in his assignment of errors but the same
and diligence of a good father of a family in the selection and is closely related to or dependent on an assigned error
supervision of his employee. 30 SacTCA and properly argued in his brief, such error may now be
The Court upholds the finding of the trial court and the Court of considered by the court. These changes are of
Appeals that petitioner is liable to respondent, since it failed to exercise jurisprudential origin. CEDScA
the diligence of a good father of the family in the selection and
2. The procedure in the Supreme Court being generally
supervision of its bus driver, Margarito Avila, for having failed to
the same as that in the Court of Appeals, unless
sufficiently inculcate in him discipline and correct behavior on the road.
otherwise indicated (see Secs. 2 and 4, Rule 56), it has
Indeed, petitioner's tests were concentrated on the ability to drive and
been held that the latter is clothed with ample
physical fitness to do so. It also did not know that Avila had been
authority to review matters, even if they are not
previously involved in sideswiping incidents.
assigned as errors on appeal, if it finds that their
As regards the issue on the damages awarded, petitioner consideration is necessary in arriving at a just
contends that it was the only one that appealed the decision of the trial decision of the case. Also, an unassigned error closely
court with respect to the award of actual and moral damages; hence, related to an error properly assigned (PCIB vs. CA, et al.,
the Court of Appeals erred in awarding other kinds of damages in favor L-34931, Mar. 18, 1988), or upon which the determination
of respondent, who did not appeal from the trial court's decision. of the question raised by error properly assigned is
Petitioner's contention is unmeritorious. dependent, will be considered by the appellate court
notwithstanding the failure to assign it as error (Ortigas, Jr.
Section 8, Rule 51 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure vs. Lufthansa German Airlines, L-28773, June 30,
provides: 1975; Soco vs. Militante, et al., G.R. No. 58961, June 28,
SEC. 8. Questions that may be decided. — No error which 1983).
does not affect the jurisdiction over the subject matter or It may also be observed that under Sec. 8 of this Rule, the
the validity of the judgment appealed from or the appellate court is authorized to consider a plain error,
proceedings therein will be considered unless stated in although it was not specifically assigned by the appellant
the assignment of errors, or closely related to or
(Dilag vs. Heirs of Resurreccion, 76 Phil. 649), otherwise it the earnings less expenses necessary for the creation of such earnings
would be sacrificing substance for technicalities. 33 or income, less living and other incidental expenses. 39 In the absence
of documentary evidence, it is reasonable to peg necessary expenses
In this case for damages based on quasi-delict, the trial court for the lease and operation of the gasoline station at 80 percent of the
awarded respondent the sum of P745,575.00, representing loss of gross income, and peg living expenses at 50 percent of the net income
earning capacity (P590,000.00) and actual damages (P155,575.00 for (gross income less necessary expenses). ECcTaH
funeral expenses), plus P50,000.00 as moral damages. On appeal to the
Court of Appeals, petitioner assigned as error the award of damages by In this case, the computation for loss of earning capacity is as follows:
the trial court on the ground that it was based merely on suppositions
Gross Annual
and surmises, not the admissions made by respondent during the trial. Net Earning = Life Expectancy x - Reasonable and
Income
In its Decision, the Court of Appeals sustained the award by the Capacity [2/3 (80-age at the (GAI) Necessary
trial court for loss of earning capacity of the deceased Silvino Tan, moral
damages for his death, and actual damages, although the amount of the time of death) Expenses
latter award was modified.
(80% of GAI)
The indemnity for loss of earning capacity of the deceased is
provided for by Article 2206 of the Civil Code. 34 Compensation of this
nature is awarded not for loss of earnings, but for loss of capacity to
X = [2/3 (80-65) x P1,000,000.00 - P800,000.00
earn money. 35
As a rule, documentary evidence should be presented to X = 2/3 (15) x P200,000.00 - P100,000.00
substantiate the claim for damages for loss of earning capacity. 36 By (Living Expenses)
way of exception, damages for loss of earning capacity may be awarded
despite the absence of documentary evidence when: (1) the deceased is X = 30/3 x P100,000.00
self-employed and earning less than the minimum wage under current
labor laws, in which case, judicial notice may be taken of the fact that in X = 10 x P100,000.00
the deceased's line of work no documentary evidence is available; or (2) X = P1,000,000.00
the deceased is employed as a daily wage worker earning less than the
minimum wage under current labor laws. 37 The Court of Appeals also awarded actual damages for the
In this case, the records show that respondent's husband was expenses incurred in connection with the death, wake, and interment of
leasing and operating a Caltex gasoline station in Gumaca, Quezon. respondent's husband in the amount of P154,575.30, and the medical
Respondent testified that her husband earned an annual income of one expenses of respondent in the amount of P168,019.55.
million pesos. Respondent presented in evidence a Certificate of Actual damages must be substantiated by documentary
Creditable Income Tax Withheld at Source for the Year 1990, 38 which evidence, such as receipts, in order to prove expenses incurred as a
showed that respondent's husband earned a gross income of result of the death of the victim 40 or the physical injuries sustained by
P950,988.43 in 1990. It is reasonable to use the Certificate and the victim. A review of the valid receipts submitted in evidence showed
respondent's testimony as bases for fixing the gross annual income of that the funeral and related expenses amounted only to P114,948.60,
the deceased at one million pesos before respondent's husband died on while the medical expenses of respondent amounted only to
March 17, 1999. However, no documentary evidence was presented P12,244.25, yielding a total of P127,192.85 in actual damages.
regarding the income derived from their copra business; hence, the
testimony of respondent as regards such income cannot be Moreover, the Court of Appeals correctly sustained the award of
considered. HDTSIE moral damages in the amount of P50,000.00 for the death of
respondent's husband. Moral damages are not intended to enrich a
In the computation of loss of earning capacity, only net plaintiff at the expense of the defendant. 41 They are awarded to allow
earnings, not gross earnings, are to be considered; that is, the total of the plaintiff to obtain means, diversions or amusements that will serve to
alleviate the moral suffering he/she has undergone due to the One Hundred Twenty-Seven Thousand One Hundred Ninety-Two Pesos
defendant's culpable action and must, perforce, be proportional to the and Eighty-Five Centavos (P127,192.85); (c) moral damages in the
suffering inflicted. 42 amount of Eighty Thousand Pesos (P80,000.00); (d) indemnity for loss of
earning capacity in the amount of One Million Pesos (P1,000,000.00);
In addition, the Court of Appeals correctly awarded temperate
and (e) temperate damages in the amount of Ten Thousand Pesos
damages in the amount of P10,000.00 for the damage caused on
(P10,000.00).
respondent's motorcycle. Under Art. 2224 of the Civil Code, temperate
damages "may be recovered when the court finds that some pecuniary Costs against petitioner.
loss has been suffered but its amount cannot, from the nature of the
case, be proved with certainty." The cost of the repair of the motorcycle SO ORDERED.
was prayed for by respondent in her Complaint. However, the evidence Corona, Velasco, Jr., Nachura and Mendoza, JJ., concur.
presented was merely a job estimate 43 of the cost of the motorcycle's
repair amounting to P17,829.00. The Court of Appeals aptly held that ||| (Philippine Hawk Corporation v. Lee, G.R. No. 166869, [February 16,
there was no doubt that the damage caused on the motorcycle was due 2010], 626 PHIL 483-501)
to the negligence of petitioner's driver. In the absence of competent
proof of the actual damage caused on the motorcycle or the actual cost
of its repair, the award of temperate damages by the appellate court in
the amount of P10,000.00 was reasonable under the circumstances. 44 EN BANC

The Court of Appeals also correctly awarded respondent moral


damages for the physical injuries she sustained due to the vehicular [G.R. No. 97412. July 12, 1994.]
accident. Under Art. 2219 of the Civil Code, 45 moral damages may be
recovered in quasi-delicts causing physical injuries. However, the award EASTERN SHIPPING LINES, INC., petitioner, vs. HON.
of P50,000.00 should be reduced to P30,000.00 in accordance with COURT OF APPEALS AND MERCANTILE INSURANCE
prevailing jurisprudence. 46 SCDaHc COMPANY, INC., respondents.
Further, the Court of Appeals correctly awarded respondent civil
indemnity for the death of her husband, which has been fixed by current
jurisprudence at P50,000.00. 47 The award is proper under Art. 2206 of SYLLABUS
the Civil Code. 48
In fine, the Court of Appeals correctly awarded civil indemnity 1. CIVIL LAW; COMMON CARRIERS; TIME FRAME WITHIN WHICH
for the death of respondent's husband, temperate damages, and moral DILIGENCE REQUIRED IN SHIPMENT OF GOODS LAST. — The common
damages for the physical injuries sustained by respondent in addition to carrier's duty to observe the requisite diligence in the shipment of goods
the damages granted by the trial court to respondent. The trial court lasts from the time the articles are surrendered to or unconditionally placed
overlooked awarding the additional damages, which were prayed for by in the possession of, and received by, the carrier for transportation until
respondent in her Amended Complaint. The appellate court is clothed delivered to, or until the lapse of a reasonable time for their acceptance, by
with ample authority to review matters, even if they are not assigned as the person entitled to receive them (Arts. 1736-1738, Civil Code; Ganzon vs.
errors in the appeal, if it finds that their consideration is necessary in Court of Appeals, 161 SCRA 646; Kui Bai vs. Dollar Steamship Lines, 52
arriving at a just decision of the case. 49 Phil. 863).

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision of the 2. ID.; ID.; ID.; PRESUMPTION OF CARRIER'S FAULT ON LOST OR
Court of Appeals dated August 17, 2004 in CA-G.R. CV No. 70860 is DAMAGED GOODS SHIPPED; CASE AT BAR NOT AN EXCEPTION. —
hereby AFFIRMEDwith MODIFICATION. Petitioner Philippine Hawk When the goods shipped either are lost or arrive in damaged condition, a
Corporation and Margarito Avila are hereby ordered to pay jointly and presumption arises against the carrier of its failure to observe that diligence,
severally respondent Vivian Lee Tan: (a) civil indemnity in the amount of and there need not be an express finding of negligence to hold it liable (Art.
Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00); (b) actual damages in the amount of 1735, Civil Code; Philippine National Railways vs. Court of Appeals, 139
SCRA 87; Metro Port Service vs. Court of Appeals, 131 SCRA 365). There customs broker; (b) whether the payment of legal interest on an award of
are, of course, exceptional cases when such presumption of fault is not loss or damage is to be computed from the time the complaint is filed or
observed but these cases, enumerated in Article 1734 of the Civil Code, are from the date the decision appealed from is rendered; and (c) whether the
exclusive, not one of which can be applied to this case. applicable rate of interest, referred to above, is twelve percent (12%) or six
percent (6%). llcd
3. ID.; DAMAGES; INTEREST AWARDED AS A CONCEPT THEREOF; RATE
AND ACCRUAL THEREOF, HOW DETERMINED. — With regard particularly The findings of the court a quo, adopted by the Court of Appeals, on the
to an award of interest in the concept of actual and compensatory damages, antecedent and undisputed facts that have led to the controversy are
the rate of interest, as well as the accrual thereof, is imposed, as follows: 1. hereunder reproduced:
When the obligation is breached, and it consists in the payment of a sum of
money, i.e., a loan or forbearance of money, the interest due should be that "This is an action against defendants shipping company,
which may have been stipulated in writing. Furthermore, the interest due arrastre operator and broker-forwarded for damages
shall itself earn legal interest from the time it is judicially demanded. In the sustained by a shipment while in defendants' custody,
absence of stipulation, the rate of interest shall be 12% per annum to be filed by the insurer-subrogee who paid the consignee the
computed from default, i.e., from judicial or extrajudicial demand under and value of such losses/damages.
subject to the provisions of Article 1169 of the Civil Code. 2. When a "On December 4, 1981, two fiber drums of riboflavin were
obligation, not constituting a loan or forbearance of money, is breached, an shipped from Yokohama, Japan for delivery vessel `SS
interest on the amount of damages awarded may be imposed at EASTERN COMET' owned by defendant Eastern Shipping
the discretion of the court at the rate of 6% per annum. No interest, Lines under Bill of Lading No. YMA-8 (Exh. B). The
however, shall be adjudged on unliquidated claims or damages except when shipment was insured under plaintiff's Marine Insurance
or until the demand can be established with reasonable certainty. Policy No. 81/01177 for P36,382,466.38.
Accordingly, where the demand is established with reasonable certainty, the
interest shall begin to run from the time the claim is made judicially or "Upon arrival of the shipment in Manila on December 12,
extrajudicially (Art. 1169, Civil Code) but when such certainty cannot be so 1981, it was discharged unto the custody of defendant
reasonably established at the time the demand is made, the interest shall Metro Port Services, Inc. The latter excepted to one drum,
begin to run only from the date of the judgment of the court is made (at said to be in bad order, which damage was unknown to
which time the quantification of damages may be deemed to have been plaintiff.
reasonably ascertained). The actual base for the computation of legal
"On January 7, 1982 defendant Allied Brokerage
interest shall, in any case, be on the amount of finally adjudged. 3. When the
Corporation received the shipment from defendant Metro
judgment of the court awarding a sum of money becomes final and
Port Service, Inc., one drum opened and without seal (per
executory, the rate of legal interest, whether the case falls under paragraph
'Request for Bad Order Survey.' (Exh. D).
1 or paragraph 2, above, shall be 12% per annum from such finality until its
satisfaction, this interim period being deemed to be by then an equivalent to "On January 8 and 14, 1982, defendant Allied Brokerage
a forbearance of credit. Corporation made deliveries of the shipment to the
consignees' warehouse. The latter excepted to one drum
which contained spillages, while the rest of the contents
was adulterated/fake (per 'Bad Order Waybill' No. 10649,
DECISION
Exh. E).
"Plaintiff contended that due to the losses/damage
sustained by said drum, the consignee suffered losses
VITUG, J p: totaling P19,032.95, due to the fault and negligence of
defendants. Claims were presented against defendants
The issues, albeit not completely novel, are: (a) whether or not a claim for who failed and refused to pay the same (Exhs. H, I, J, K,
damage sustained on a shipment of goods can be a solidary, or joint and L). Cdpr
several, liability of the common carrier, the arrastre operator and the
"As a consequence of the losses sustained, plaintiff was p. 34; Allied's pre-Trial Brief,
compelled to pay the consignee P19,032.95 under the adopting plaintiff's Records, p. 38).'
aforestated marine insurance policy, so that it became
'As to the first issue, there can be no doubt that
subrogated to all the rights of action of said consignee
the shipment sustained losses/damages. The two
against defendants (per 'Form of Subrogation,' 'Release'
drums were shipped in good order and condition,
and Philbanking check, Exhs. M, N, and O)." (pp. 85-86, as clearly shown by the Bill of Lading and
Rollo.)
Commercial Invoice which do not indicate any
There were, to be sure, other factual issues that confronted both courts. damages drum that was shipped (Exhs. B and C).
Here, the appellate court said: But when on December 12, 1981 the shipment
was delivered to defendant Metro Port Service,
"Defendants filed their respective answers, traversing the Inc., it excepted to one drum in bad order.
material allegations of the compliant contending that: As
for defendant Eastern Shipping it alleged that the 'Correspondingly, as to the second issue,
shipment was discharged in good order from the vessel it follows that the losses/damages were sustained
unto the custody of Metro Port Service so that any while in the respective and/or successive custody
damage/losses incurred after the shipment was incurred and possession of defendants carrier (Eastern),
after the shipment was turned over to the latter, is no arrastre operator (Metro Port) and broker (Allied
longer its liability (p. 17, Record); Metroport averred that Brokerage). This becomes evident when the
although subject shipment was discharged unto its Marine Cargo Survey Report (Exh. G), with its
custody, portion of the same was already in bad order (p. 'Additional Survey Notes,' are considered. In the
11, Record); Allied Brokerage alleged that plaintiff has no latter notes, it is stated that when the shipment
cause of action against it, not having negligent or at fault was 'landed on vessel' to dock of Pier # 15, South
for the shipment was already in damage and bad order Harbor, Manila on December 12, 1981,' it was
condition when received by it, but nonetheless, it still observed that 'one (1) fiber drum (was) in
exercised extra ordinary care and diligence in he damaged condition, covered by the vessel's
handling/delivery of the cargo to consignee in the same Agent's Bad order Tally Sheet No. 86427.' The
condition shipment was received by it. report further states that when defendant Allied
Brokerage withdrew the shipment, from defendant
"From the evidence that court found the following: arrastre operator's custody on January 7, 1982,
one drum was found opened without seal, cello
"'The issues are:
bag partly torn but contents intact. Net
'1. Whether or not the unrecovered spillages was 15 kgs. The report
shipment sustained went on to state that when the drums reached the
losses/damages; consignee, one drum was found with
adulterated/faked contents. It is obvious,
'2. Whether or not these
therefore, that these losses/damages occurred
losses/damages were sustained
before the shipment reached the consignee while
while in the custody of defendants
under the successive custodies of defendants.
(in whose respective custody, if
Under Art. 1737 of the New Civil Code, the
determinable); prLL
common carrier's duty to observe extraordinary
'3. Whether or not diligence in the vigilance of goods remains in full
defendant(s) should be held liable force and effect even if the goods are temporarily
for the losses/damages (see unloaded and stored in transit in the warehouse of
plaintiff's pre-Trial Brief, Records, the carrier at the place of destination, until the
consignee has been advised and has had
reasonable opportunity to remove or dispose of SO ORDERED.' (p. 207, Record).
the goods (Art. 1738, NCC). Defendant Eastern
Shipping's own exhibit, the 'Turn-Over Survey of "Dissatisfied, defendant's recourse to US.
Bad Order Cargoes' (Exhs. 3-Eastern) states that "The appeal is devoid of merit.
on December 12, 1981 one drum was found
'open.' "After a careful scrutiny of the evidence on record. We
find that the conclusion drawn therefrom is correct. As
"and thus held: there is sufficient evidence that the shipment sustained
'WHEREFORE, PREMISES damage while in the successive possession of appellants,
CONSIDERED, judgment is hereby rendered: and therefore they are liable to the appellee, as subrogee
for the amount it paid to the consignee." (pp. 87-89,
A. Ordering defendants to Rollo.)
pay plaintiff, jointly and severally:
The Court of Appeal thus affirmed in toto the judgment of the court a
1. The amount of quo.
P19,032.95 with the
present legal interest of In this petition, Eastern Shipping Lines, Inc., the common carrier, attributes
12% per annum from error and grave abuse of discretion on the part of the appellate court when
October 1, 1982, the date —
of filing of this complaints, I. IT HELD PETITIONER CARRIER JOINTLY AND
until fully paid (the liability SEVERALLY LIABLE WITH THE ARRASTRE OPERATOR
of defendant Eastern AND CUSTOMS BROKER FOR THE CLAIM OF PRIVATE
Shipping, Inc. shall not RESPONDENT AS GRANTED IN THE QUESTIONED
exceed US$500 per case or DECISION;
the CIF value of the loss,
whichever is lesser, while II. IT HELD THAT THE GRANT OF INTEREST ON THE
the liability of defendant CLAIM OF PRIVATE RESPONDENT SHOULD
Metro Port Service, Inc. COMMENCE FROM THE DATE OF THE FILING OF THE
shall be to the extent of the COMPLAINT AT THE RATE OF TWELVE PERCENT PER
actual invoice value of each ANNUM INSTEAD OF FROM THE DATE OF THE
package, crate box or DECISION OF THE TRIAL COURT AND ONLY AT THE
container in no case to RATE OF SIX PERCENT PER ANNUM, PRIVATE
exceed P5,000.00 each, RESPONDENT'S CLAIM BEING INDISPUTABLY
pursuant to Section 6.01 of UNLIQUIDATED.
the Management
The petition is, in part, granted.
Contract); LexLib
In this decision, we have begun by saying that the questions raised by
petitioner carrier are not all that novel. Indeed, we do have a fairly good
2. P3,000.00 as number of previous decisions this Court can merely tack to. Cdpr
attorney's fees, and
The common carrier's duty to observe the requisite diligence in the
3. Costs.
shipment of goods lasts from the time the articles are surrendered to or
B. Dismissing the unconditionally placed in the possession of, and received by, the carrier for
counterclaims and crossclaim of transportation until delivered to, or until the lapse of a reasonable time for
defendant/cross-claimant Allied their acceptance, by the person entitled to receive them (Arts. 1736-1738,
Brokerage Corporation. Civil Code; Ganzon vs. Court of Appeals, 161 SCRA 646; Kui Bai vs. Dollar
Steamship Lines, 52 Phil. 863).When the goods shipped either are lost or The early case of Malayan Insurance Co., Inc., vs. Manila Port
arrive in damaged condition, a presumption arises against the carrier of its Service, 2 decided 3 on 15 May 1969, involved a suit for recovery of money
failure to observe that diligence, and there need not be an express finding of arising out of short deliveries and pilferage of goods. In this case, appellee
negligence to hold it liable (Art. 1735, Civil Code; Philippine National Malayan Insurance (the plaintiff in the lower court) averred in its complaint
Railways vs. Court of Appeals, 139 SCRA 87; Metro Port Service vs. Court of that the total amount of its claim for the value of the undelivered goods
Appeals, 131 SCRA 365). There are, of course, exceptional cases when amounted to P3,947.20. This demand, however, was neither established in
such presumption of fault is not observed but these cases, enumerated its totality nor definitely ascertained. In the stipulation of facts later entered
in Article 1734 1 of the Civil Code, are exclusive, not one of which can be into by the parties, in lieu of proof, the amount of P1,447.51 was agreed
applied to this case. upon. The trial court rendered judgment ordering the appellants (defendants)
Manila Port Service and Manila Railroad Company to pay appellee Malayan
The question of charging both the carrier and the arrastre operator with the Insurance the sum of P1,447.51 with legal interest thereon from the date the
obligation of properly delivering the goods to the consignee has, too, been complaint was filed on 28 December 1962 until full payment thereof. The
passed upon by the Court. In Fireman's Fund Insurance vs. Metro Port appellants then assailed, inter alia, the award of legal interest. In sustaining
Services (182 SCRA 455), we have explained in holding the carrier and the the appellants, this Court ruled:
arrastre operator liable in solidum, thus: Cdpr
"Interest upon an obligation which calls for the payment of
"The legal relationship between the consignee and the money, absent a stipulation, is the legal rate. Such interest
arrastre operator is akin to that of a depositor and normally is allowable from the date of demand, judicial or
warehouseman (Lua Kian v. Manila Railroad Co., 19 SCRA extrajudicial. The trial court opted for judicial demand as
5 [1967]. The relationship between the consignee and the the starting point.
common carrier is similar to that of the consignee and the
arrastre operator (Northern Motors, Inc. v. Prince Line, et "But then upon the provisions of Article 2213 of the Civil
al., 107 Phil. 253 [1960]). Since it is the duty of the Code, interest 'cannot be recovered upon unliquidated
ARRASTRE to take good care of the goods that are in its claims or damages, except when the demand can be
custody and to deliver them in good condition to the established with reasonable certainty.' And as was held
consignee, such responsibility also devolves upon the by this Court in Rivera vs. Perez 4 , L-6998, February 29,
CARRIER. Both the ARRASTRE and the CARRIER are 1956, if the suit were for damages, 'unliquidated and not
therefore charged with the obligation to deliver the goods known until definitely ascertained, assessed and
in goods condition to the consignee." determined by the courts after proof (Montilla c.
Corporacion de P. P. Agustinos, 25 Phil. 447; Lichauco v.
We do not, of course, imply by the above pronouncement that the arrastre Guzman, 38 Phil. 302),' then, interest 'should be from the
operator and the customs broker are themselves always and necessarily date of the decision.'" (Emphasis supplied). Cdpr
liable solidarily with the carrier, or vice-versa, nor that attendant facts in a
given case may not vary the rule. The instant petition has been brought The case of Reformina vs. Tomol, 5 rendered on 11 October 1985, was for
solely by Eastern Shipping Lines which, being the carrier and not having "Recovery of Damages for Injury to Person and Loss of Property." After trial,
been able to rebut the presumption of fault, is, in any event, to be held liable the lower court decreed:
in this particular case. A factual finding of both the court a quo and the
appellate court, we take note, is that "there is sufficient evidence that the "WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of
shipment sustained damage while in the successive possession of the plaintiffs and third party defendants and against the
appellants" (the herein petitioner among them). Accordingly, the liability defendants and third party plaintiffs as follows:
imposed on Eastern Shipping Lines, Inc., the sole petitioner in this case, is "Ordering defendants and third party plaintiffs Shell and
inevitable regardless of whether there are others solidarily liable with it. llcd Michael, Incorporated to pay jointly and severally the
It is over the issue of legal interest adjudged by the appellate court that following persons:
deserves more than just a passing remark. "(a) . . .
Let us first see a chronological recitation of the major rulings of this Court:
"xxx xxx xxx "Coming to the case at bar, the decision
herein sought to be executed is one rendered in an
"(g) Plaintiffs Pacita F. Reformina and Francisco Action for Damages for injury to persons and loss of
Reformina the sum of P131,084.00 which is the value of property and does not involve any loan, much less
the boat F B Pacita III together with its accessories, forbearances of any money, goods or credits. As
fishing gear and equipment minus P80,000.00 which is the correctly argued by the private respondents, the law
value of the insurance recovered and the amount of applicable to the said case is Article 2209 of the
P10,000.00 a month as the estimated monthly loss New Civil Code which reads —
suffered by them as a result of the fire of May 6, 1969 up
to the time they are actually paid or already the total sum 'ARTICLE 2209. If the obligation consists
of P370,000.00 as of June 4, 1972 with legal interest from in the payment of a sum of money, and the debtor
the filing of the complaint until paid and to pay attorney's incurs in delay, the indemnity for damages, there
fees of P5,000.00 with costs against defendants and third being no stipulation to the contrary, shall be the
party plaintiffs." (Emphasis supplied.) payment of interest agreed upon, and in the
absence of stipulation, the legal interest which is
On appeal of the Court of Appeals, the latter modified the amount of six percent per annum.'"
damages awarded but sustained the trial court in adjudging legal
interest from the filing of the complaint until fully paid. When the
appellate court's decision became final, the case was remanded to the The above rule was reiterated in Philippine Rabbit Bus Lines, Inc., v.
lower court for execution, and this was when the trial court issued its
Cruz, 7 promulgated on 28 July 1986. The case was for damages
assailed resolution which applied the 6% interest per annum prescribed
occasioned by an injury to person and loss of property. The trial court
in Article 2209 of the Civil Code. In their petition for review on certiorari,
awarded private respondent Pedro Manabat actual and compensatory
the petitioners contended that Central Bank Circular No. 416, providing
damages in the amount of P72,500.00 with legal interest thereon from the
thus — Cdpr
filing of the complaint until fully paid. Relying on the Reformina v. Tomol
"By virtue of the authority granted to it under Section 1 of case, this Court 8 modified the interest award from 12% to 6% interest per
Act 2655, as amended, Monetary Board in its Resolution annum but sustained the time computation thereof, i.e., from the filing of the
No. 1622 dated July 29, 1974, has prescribed that the rate complaint until fully paid. Cdpr
of interest for the loan, or forbearance of any money,
goods, or credits and the rate allowed in judgments, in the In Nakpil and Sons vs. Court of Appeals, 9 the trial court, in an action for the
absence of express contract as to such rate of interest, recovery of damages arising from the collapse of a building, ordered inter
shall be twelve (12%) percent per annum. This Circular alia,the "defendant United Construction Co., Inc. (one of the petitioners) . . .
shall take effect immediately." (Emphasis found in the text) to pay the plaintiff, . . ., the sum of P989,335.68 with interest at the legal rate
— from November 29, 1968, the date of the filing of the complaint until full
payment . . . ." Save from the modification of the amount granted by the
should have, instead, been applied. This Court 6 ruled: lower court, the Court of Appeals sustained the trial court's decision. When
"The judgments spoken of and referred to are judgments taken to this Court for review, the case, on 03 October 1986, was decided,
in litigations involving loans or forbearance of any money, thus:
goods or credits. any other kind of monetary judgment "WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is hereby
which has nothing to do with, nor involving loans or MODIFIED and considering the special and environmental
forbearance of any money, goods or credits does not fall circumstances of this case, we deem it reasonable to
within the coverage of the said law for it is not within the render a decision imposing, as We do hereby impose,
ambit of the authority granted to the Central Bank. upon the defendant and the third-party defendants (with
"xxx xxx xxx the exception of Roman Ozaeta) a solidary (Art. 1723, Civil
Code, Supra. p. 10) indemnity in favor of the Philippine
Bar Association of FIVE MILLION (P5,000,000.00) Pesos
to cover all damages (with the exception of attorney's exemplary damages with interest thereon at 12% per annum from notice of
fees) occasioned by the loss of the building and an judgment, plus costs of suit. In a decision of 09 November 1988, this Court,
additional ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND (P100,000.00) while recognizing the right of the private respondent to recover damages,
Pesos as and for attorney's fees, the total sum being held the award, however, for moral damages by the trial court, later
payable upon the finality of this decision. Upon failure to sustained by the IAC, to be inconceivably large. The Court 12 thus set aside
pay on such finality, twelve (12%) per cent interest per the decision of the appellate court and rendered a new one, "ordering the
annum shall be imposed upon aforementioned amounts petitioner to pay private respondent the sum of One Hundred Thousand
from finality until paid. Solidary costs against the (P100,000.00) Pesos as moral damages, withsix (6%) percent interest
defendant and third-party defendants (except Roman thereon computed from the finality of this decision until paid." (Emphasis
Ozaeta)." (Emphasis supplied). supplied). Cdpr
A motion for reconsideration was filed by United Construction, Reformina came into fore again in the 21 February 1989 case of Florendo v.
contending that "the interest of twelve (12%) per cent per annum Ruiz 13 which arose from a breach of employment contract. For having been
imposed on the total amount of the monetary award was in illegally dismissed, the petitioner was awarded by the trial court moral and
contravention of law." The Court 10 ruled out the applicability of the exemplary damages without, however, providing any legal interest thereon.
Reformina and Philippine Rabbit Bus Lines cases and, in its resolution of When the decision was appealed to the Court of Appeals, the latter held:
15 April 1988, it explained: LLphil
"WHEREFORE, except as modified hereinabove the
"There should be no dispute that the imposition of 12% decision of the CFI of Negros Oriental dated October 31,
interest pursuant to Central Bank Circular No. 416 . . . is 1972 is affirmed in all respects, with the modification that
applicable only in the following: (1) loans; (2) forbearance defendants-appellants, except defendant-appellant
of any money, goods or credit; and (3) rate allowed in Merton Munn, are ordered to pay, jointly and severally, the
judgments (judgments spoken of refer to judgments amounts stated in the dispositive portion of the decision,
involving loans or forbearance of any money, goods or including the sum of P1,400.00 in concept of
credits. (Philippine Rabbit Bus Lines Inc. v. Cruz, 143 compensatory damages, with interest at the legal rate
SCRA 160-161 [1986]; Reformina v. Tomol, Jr., 139 SCRA from the date of the filing of the complaint until fully paid."
260 [1985]). It is true that in the instant case, there is (Emphasis supplied)
neither a loan or a forbearance, but then no interest is
actually imposed provided the sums referred to in the The petition for review to this Court was denied. The records were
judgment are paid upon the finality of the judgment. It is thereupon transmitted to the trial court, and an entry of judgment was
delay in the payment of such final judgment, that will made. The writ of execution issued by the trial court directed that only
cause the imposition of the interest. compensatory damages should earn interest at 6% per annum from the
date of the filing of the complaint. Ascribing grave abuse of discretion
"It will be noted that in the cases already adverted to, the on the part of the trial judge, a petition for certiorari assailed the said
rate of interest is imposed on the total sum, from the filing order. This court said:
of the complaint until paid; in other words, as part of the
judgment for damages. Clearly, they are not applicable to ". . ., it is to be noted that the Court of Appeals ordered
the instant case." (Emphasis supplied) the payment of interest 'at the legal rate' from the time of
the filing of the complaint. . . . Said circular [Central Bank
The subsequent case of American Express International, Inc., vs. Circular No. 416] does not apply to actions based on a
International Appellate Court 11 was a petition for review on certiorari from breach of employment contract like the case at bar."
the decision, dated 27 February 1985, of the then Intermediate Appellate (Emphasis supplied)
Court reducing the amount of moral and exemplary damages awarded by
the trial court, to P240,000.00 and P100,000.00, respectively, and its The Court reiterated that the 6% interest per annum on the damages
resolution, dated 29 April 1985, restoring the amount of damages awarded should be computed from the time the complaint was filed until the
by the trial court, i.e., P2,000,000,00 as moral damages and P400,000.00 as amount is fully paid.
Quite recently, the Court had another occasion to rule on the i.e., from the time the complaint is filed until the adjudged amount is fully
matter. National Power Corporation vs. Angas, 14 decided on 08 May 1992, paid.
involved the expropriation of certain parcels of land. After conducting a
hearing on the complaints for eminent domain, the trial court ordered the The "second group," did not alter the pronounced rule on the application of
petitioner to pay the private respondents certain sums of money as just the 6% or 12% interest per annum, 17 depending on whether or not the
compensation for their lands so expropriated "with legal interest thereon . . amount involved is a loan or forbearance, on the one hand, or one of
. until fully paid." Again, in applying the 6% legal interest per annum under indemnity for damage, on the other hand. Unlike, however, the "first group"
which remained consistent in holding that the running of the legal interest
the Civil Code, the Court 15 declared: LLpr
should be from the time of the filing of the complaint until fully paid, the
". . ., (T)he transaction involved is clearly not a loan or "second group" varied on the commencement of the running of the legal
forbearance of money, goods or credits but expropriation interest. cdll
of certain parcels of land for a public purpose, the
payment of which is without stipulation regarding interest,
and the interest adjudged by the trial court is in the nature Malayan held that the amount awarded should bear legal interest from the
of indemnity for damages. The legal interest required to date of the decision of the court a quo, explaining that "if the suit were for
be paid on the amount of just compensation for the damages, 'unliquidated and not known until definitely ascertained, assessed
properties expropriated is manifestly in the form of and determined by the courts after proof,' then, interest 'should be from the
indemnity for damages for the delay in the payment date of the decision.'" American Express International v. IAC, introduced a
thereof. Therefore, since the kind of interest involved in different time frame for reckoning the 6% interest by ordering it to be
the joint judgment of the lower court sought to be "computed from the finality of (the) decision until paid." The Nakpil and Sons
enforced in this case is interest by way of damages, and case ruled that 12% interest per annum should be imposed from the finality
not by way of earnings from loans, etc. Art. 2209 of the of the decision until the judgment amount is paid.
Civil Code shall apply."
The ostensible discord is not difficult to explain. The factual circumstances
Concededly, there have been seeming variances in the above holdings. The may have called for different applications, guided by the rule that the courts
cases can perhaps be classified into two groups according to the similarity are vested with discretion, depending on the equities of each case, on the
of the issues involved and the corresponding rulings rendered by the court. award of interest. Nonetheless, it may not be unwise, by way of clarification
The " first group" would consist of the cases of Reformina v. and reconciliation, to suggest the following rules of thumb for future
Tomol (1985), Philippine Rabbit Bus Lines v. Cruz (1986), Florendo v. guidance.
Ruiz (1989) and National Power Corporation v. Angas (1992). In the "second
group" would be Malayan Insurance Company v. Manila Port I. When an obligation, regardless of its source, i.e., law, contracts, quasi-
Service (1969), Nakpil and Sons v. Court of Appeals (1988), and American contracts, delicts or quasi-delicts 18 is breached, the contravenor can be
Express International v. Intermediate Appellate Court (1988). LLpr held liable for damages. 19 The provisions under Title XVIII on "Damages" of
the Civil Code govern in determining the measure of recoverable
In the " first group," the basic issue focus on the application of either the 6% damages. 20
(under the Civil Code) or 12% (under the Central Bank Circular) interest per
annum. It is easily discernible in these cases that there has been a II. With regard particularly to an award of interest in the concept of actual
consistent holding that the Central Bank Circular imposing the 12% interest and compensatory damages, the rate of interest, as well as the accrual
per annum applies only to loans or forbearance 16 of money, goods or thereof, is imposed, as follows: LibLex
credits, as well as to judgments involving such loan or forbearance of
1. When the obligation is breached, and it consists in the payment of a sum
money, goods or credits, and that the 6% interest under the Civil Code
of money, i.e., a loan or forbearance of money, the interest due should be
governs when the transaction involves the payment of indemnities in the
that which may have been stipulated in writing. 21 Furthermore, the interest
concept of damage arising from the breach of a delay in the performance of
due shall itself earn legal interest from the time it is judicially
obligations in general. Observe, too, that in these cases, a common time
demanded. 22 In the absence of stipulation, the rate of interest shall be 12%
frame in the computation of the 6% interest per annum has been applied,
per annum to be computed from default, i.e., from judicial or extrajudicial
demand under and subject to the provisions of Article 1169 23 of the Civil PHILIPPINE NATIONAL CONSTRUCTION CORPORATI
Code. ON, petitioner, vs. APAC MARKETING CORPORATION,
represented by CESAR M. ONG, JR., respondents.
2. When a obligation, not constituting a loan or forbearance of money, is
breached, an interest on the amount of damages awarded may be imposed
at the discretion of the court 24 at the rate of 6% per annum. 25 No interest,
however, shall be adjudged on unliquidated claims or damages except when DECISION
or until the demand can be established with reasonable
certainty. 26 Accordingly, where the demand is established with reasonable
certainty, the interest shall begin to run from the time the claim is made
judicially or extrajudicially (Art. 1169, Civil Code) but when such certainty SERENO, C.J p:
cannot be so reasonably established at the time the demand is made, the
interest shall begin to run only from the date of the judgment of the court is In this Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules
made (at which time the quantification of damages may be deemed to have on Civil Procedures, the primordial issue to be resolved is whether the Court
been reasonably ascertained). The actual base for the computation of legal of Appeals (CA) 1 correctly affirmed the court a quo 2 in holding petitioner
interest shall, in any case, be on the amount of finally adjudged. LLjur liable to respondent for attorney's fees. HCITDc

3. When the judgment of the court awarding a sum of money becomes final The Antecedent Facts
and executory, the rate of legal interest, whether the case falls under Considering that there are no factual issues involved, as the Court of
paragraph 1 or paragraph 2, above, shall be 12% per annum from such Appeals (CA) adopted the findings of fact of the Regional Trial Court (RTC)
finality until its satisfaction, this interim period being deemed to be by then of Quezon City, Branch 96, we hereby adopt the CA's findings, as follows:
an equivalent to a forbearance of credit.
The present case involves a simple purchase transaction
WHEREFORE, the petition is partly GRANTED. The appealed decision is between defendant-
AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that the legal interest to be paid is SIX appellant Philippine National Construction Corporation (P
PERCENT(6%) on the amount due computed from the decision, dated 03 NCC), represented by defendants-appellants Rogelio
February 1988, of the court a quo. A TWELVE PERCENT (12%) interest, in Espiritu and Rolando Macasaet, and plaintiff-
lieu of SIX PERCENT (6%), shall be imposed on such amount upon finality of appellee APAC, represented by Cesar M. Ong, Jr.,
this decision until the payment thereof. cdll involving crushed basalt rock delivered by plaintiff-
SO ORDERED. appellee to defendant-appellant PNCC.

Narvasa, C.J., Cruz, Feliciano, Padilla, Bidin, Regalado, Davide, Jr., Romero, On August 17, 1999, plaintiff-appellee filed with the trial
Bellosillo, Melo, Quiason, Puno and Kapunan, JJ., concur. court a complaint against defendants-appellees for
collection of sum of money with damages, alleging that (i)
Mendoza, J., took no part. in March 1998, defendants-appellants engaged the
services of plaintiff-appellee by buying aggregates
||| (Eastern Shipping Lines, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 97412, [July 12, materials from plaintiff-appellee, for which the latter had
1994], 304 PHIL 236-254) delivered and supplied good quality crushed basalt rock;
(ii) the parties had initially agreed on the terms of payment,
whereby defendants-appellants would issue the check
corresponding to the value of the materials to be
FIRST DIVISION
delivered, or "Check Before Delivery," but prior to the
implementation of the said payment agreement,
[G.R. No. 190957. June 5, 2013.] defendants-appellants requested from plaintiff-appellee a
30-day term from the delivery date within which to pay,
whic