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PART I – TORTS

A. Introductory Concepts

1. Nature, scope, and coverage

2. Independent alternatives

NCC Article 1161. Civil obligations arising from criminal offenses shall be
governed by the penal laws, subject to the provisions of article 2177, and of the
pertinent provisions of Chapter 2, Preliminary Title, on Human Relations, and of
Title XVIII of this Book, regulating damages. (1092a)

a. RPC Article 100. Civil liability of a person guilty of felony. - Every person
criminally liable for a felony is also civilly liable.

b. Independent Civil Action for damages

NCC Article 32. Any public officer or employee, or any private individual,
who directly or indirectly obstructs, defeats, violates or in any manner
impedes or impairs any of the following rights and liberties of another person
shall be liable to the latter for damages:

(1) Freedom of religion;


(2) Freedom of speech;
(3) Freedom to write for the press or to maintain a periodical publication;
(4) Freedom from arbitrary or illegal detention;
(5) Freedom of suffrage;
(6) The right against deprivation of property without due process of law;
(7) The right to a just compensation when private property is taken for public
use;
(8) The right to the equal protection of the laws;
(9) The right to be secure in one’s person, house, papers, and effects against
unreasonable searches and seizures;
(10) The liberty of abode and of changing the same;
(11) The privacy of communication and correspondence;
(12) The right to become a member of associations or societies for purposes
not contrary to law;
(13) The right to take part in a peaceable assembly to petition the
Government for redress of grievances;
(14) The right to be a free from involuntary servitude in any form;
(15) The right of the accused against excessive bail;
(16) The right of the accused to be heard by himself and counsel, to be
informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him, to have a
speedy and public trial, to meet the witnesses face to face, and to have
compulsory process to secure the attendance of witness in his behalf;
(17) Freedom from being compelled to be a witness against one’s self, or
from being forced to confess guilt, or from being induced by a promise of
immunity or reward to make such confession, except when the person
confessing becomes a State witness;
(18) Freedom from excessive fines, or cruel and unusual punishment, unless
the same is imposed or inflicted in accordance with a statute which has not
been judicially declared unconstitutional; and
(19) Freedom of access to the courts.

In any of the cases referred to in this article, whether or not the defendant’s
act or omission constitutes a criminal offense, the aggrieved party has a right
to commence an entirely separate and distinct civil action for damages, and
for other relief. Such civil action shall proceed independently of any criminal
prosecution (if the latter be instituted), and may be proved by a
preponderance of evidence.

The indemnity shall include moral damages. Exemplary damages may also be
adjudicated.
The responsibility herein set forth is not demandable from a judge unless his
act or omission constitutes a violation of the Penal Code or other penal
statute.

NCC Article 33. In cases of defamation, fraud, and physical injuries a civil
action for damages, entirely separate and distinct from the criminal action,
may be brought by the injured party. Such civil action shall proceed
independently of the criminal prosecution, and shall require only a
preponderance of evidence.

NCC Article 34. When a member of a city or municipal police force refuses or
fails to render aid or protection to any person in case of danger to life or
property, such peace officer shall be primarily liable for damages, and the city
or municipality shall be subsidiarily responsible therefor. The civil action
herein recognized shall be independent of any criminal proceedings, and a
preponderance of evidence shall suffice to support such action.

NCC Article 2176. Whoever by act or omission causes damage to another,


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

c. Revised Rules of Court

RULE 111 - PROSECUTION OF CIVIL ACTION

Section 1. Institution of criminal and civil actions. – (a) When a criminal


action is instituted, the civil action for the recovery of civil liability arising
from the offense charged shall be deemed instituted with the criminal action
unless the offended party waives the civil action, reserves the right to
institute it separately or institutes the civil action prior to the criminal action.

The reservation of the right to institute separately the civil action shall be
made before the prosecution starts presenting its evidence and under
circumstances affording the offended party a reasonable opportunity to make
such reservation.

When the offended party seeks to enforce civil liability against the accused
by way of moral, nominal, temperate, or exemplary damages without
specifying the amount thereof in the complaint or information, the filing fees
therefore shall constitute a first lien on the judgment awarding such damages.

Where the amount of damages, other than actual, is specified in the


complaint or information, the corresponding filing fees shall be paid by the
offended party upon the filing thereof in court.

Except as otherwise provided in these Rules, no filing fees shall be required


for actual damages.

No counterclaim, cross-claim or third-party complaint may be filed by the


accused in the criminal case, but any cause of action which could have been
the subject thereof may be litigated in a separate civil action.

(b) The criminal action for violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 shall be
deemed to include the corresponding civil action. No reservation to file such
civil action separately shall be allowed.

Upon filing of the aforesaid joint criminal and civil actions, the offended
party shall pay in full the filing fees based on the amount of the check
involved, which shall be considered as the actual damages claimed. Where
the complaint or information also seeks to recover liquidated, moral, nominal,
temperate or exemplary damages, the offended party shall pay additional
filing fees based on the amounts alleged therein. If the amounts are not so
alleged but any of these damages are subsequently awarded by the court, the
filing fees based on the amount awarded shall constitute a first lien on the
judgment.

Where the civil action has been filed separately and trial thereof has not yet
commenced, it may be consolidated with the criminal action upon application
with the court trying the latter case. If the application is granted, the trial of
both actions shall proceed in accordance with section 2 of this Rule governing
consolidation of the civil and criminal actions.

Sec. 2. When separate civil action is suspended. – After the criminal action
has been commenced, the separate civil action arising therefrom cannot be
instituted until final judgment has been entered in the criminal action.

If the criminal action is filed after the said civil action has already been
instituted, the latter shall be suspended in whatever state it may be found
before judgment on the merits. The suspension shall last until final judgment
is rendered in the criminal action. Nevertheless, before judgment on the
merits rendered in the civil action, the same may, upon motion of the
offended party, be consolidated with the criminal action in the court trying the
criminal action. In case of consolidation, the evidence already adduced in the
civil action shall be deemed automatically reproduced in the criminal action
without prejudice to the right of the prosecution to cross-examine the witness
presented by the offended party in the criminal case and of the parties to
present additional evidence. The consolidated criminal and civil actions shall
be tried and decided jointly.

During the pendency of the criminal action, the running period of


prescription of the civil action which cannot be instituted separately or whose
proceeding has been suspended shall be tolled.

The extinction of the penal action does not carry with it extinction of the
civil action. However, the civil action based on delict shall be deemed
extinguished if there is a finding in a final judgment in the criminal action that
the act or omission from which the civil liability may arise did not exist.

Sec. 3. When civil action may proceed independently. – In the cases


provided in Articles 32, 33, 34 and 2176 of the Civil Code of the Philippines,
the independent civil action may be brought by the offended party. It shall
proceed independently of the criminal action and shall require only a
preponderance of evidence. In no case, however, may the offended party
recover damages twice for the same act or omission charged in the criminal
action.

Sec. 4. Effect of death on civil actions. – The death of the accused after
arraignment and during the pendency of the criminal action shall extinguish
the civil liability arising from the delict. However, the independent civil action
instituted under section 3 of this Rule or which thereafter is instituted to
enforce liability arising from other sources of obligation may be continued
against the estate or legal representative of the accused after proper
substitution or against said estate, as the case may be. The heirs of the
accused may be substituted for the deceased without requiring the
appointment of an executor or administrator and the court may appoint a
guardian ad litem for the minor heirs.

The court shall forthwith order said legal representative or representatives


to appear and be substituted within a period of thirty (30) days from notice.

A final judgment entered in favor of the offended party shall be enforced in


the manner especially provided in these rules for prosecuting claims against
the estate of the deceased.

If the accused dies before arraignment, the case shall be dismissed without
prejudice to any civil action the offended party may file against the estate of
the deceased.
Sec. 5. Judgment in civil action not a bar. – A final judgment rendered in a
civil action absolving the defendant from civil liability is not a bar to a criminal
action against the defendant for the same act or omission subject of the civil
action.

Sec. 6. Suspension by reason of prejudicial question. – A petition for


suspension of the criminal action based upon the pendency of a prejudicial
question in a civil action may be filed in the office of the prosecutor or the
court conducting the preliminary investigation. When the criminal action has
been filed in court for trial, the petition to suspend shall be filed in the same
criminal action at any time before the prosecution rests.

Sec. 7. Elements of prejudicial question. – The elements of a prejudicial


questions are: (a) the previously instituted civil action involves an issue
similar or intimately related to the issue raised in the subsequent criminal
action, and (b) the resolution of such issue determines whether or not the
criminal action may proceed.

3. Elements

a. Act or omission

b. Fault or negligence

NCC Article 1173. The fault or negligence of the obligor consists in the
omission of that diligence which is required by the nature of the obligation
and corresponds with the circumstances of the persons, of the time and of the
place. When negligence shows bad faith, the provisions of articles 1171 and
2201, paragraph 2, shall apply.

If the law or contract does not state the diligence which is to be observed in
the performance, that which is expected of a good father of a family shall be
required. (1104a)

1) Concept

The test for determining whether a person is negligent in doing an act


whereby injury or damage results to the person or property of another is
this: Would a prudent man, in the position of the person to whom
negligence is attributed, foresee harm to the person injured as a
reasonable consequence of the course about to be pursued? If so, the law
imposes a duty on the actor to refrain from that course or to take
precaution against its mischievous results, and the failure to do so
constitutes negligence. Reasonable foresight of harm, followed by the
ignoring of the admonition born of this prevision, is the constitutive fact in
negligence.

2) Standard of care

a. Bonus paterfamilias – “Good father of the family.” A diligent guardian


of the rights and interests of his or her ward.

b. Extraordinary diligence – that extreme measure of care and caution


which persons of unusual prudence and circumspection use for
securing and preserving their own property or rights.

3) Presumptions of negligence

NCC Article 2184. In motor vehicle mishaps, the owner is solidarily liable
with his driver, if the former, who was in the vehicle, could have, by the
use of the due diligence, prevented the misfortune. It is disputably
presumed that a driver was negligent, if he had been found guilty of
reckless driving or violating traffic regulations at least twice within the
next preceding two months.
If the owner was not in the motor vehicle, the provisions of article 2180
are applicable. (n)

NCC Article 2185. Unless there is proof to the contrary, it is presumed


that a person driving a motor vehicle has been negligent if at the time of
the mishap, he was violating any traffic regulation. (n)

NCC Article 2188. There is prima facie presumption of negligence on the


part of the defendant if the death or injury results from his possession of
dangerous weapons or substances, such as firearms and poison, except
when the possession or use thereof is indispensable in his occupation or
business. (n)

NCC Article 1756. In case of death of or injuries to passengers, common


carriers are presumed to have been at fault or to have acted negligently,
unless they prove that they observed extraordinary diligence as prescribed
in articles 1733 and 1755.

B. Causal Relation between Act or Omission and Damage

1. Doctrine of Proximate Cause

a. Concept and definition

Proximate cause – that cause which, in natural and continuous sequence,


unbroken by any efficient intervening cause, produces the injury, and without
which the result would not have occurred.

To be entitled to damages for an injury resulting from the negligence of


another, a claimant must establish the relation between the omission and the
damage. He must prove under Article 2179 of the New Civil Code that the
defendant’s negligence was the immediate and proximate cause of his injury.

The doctrine of proximate cause is applicable only in actions for quasi-delict,


not in actions involving breach of contract. The doctrine is a device for
imputing liability to a person where there is no relation between him and
another party. In such a case, the obligation is created by law itself. But,
where there is a pre-existing contractual relation between the parties, it is the
parties themselves who create the obligation, and the function of the law is
merely to regulate the relation thus created. Insofar as contracts of carriage
are concerned, some aspects regulated by the Civil Code are those respecting
the diligence required of common carriers with regard to the safety of
passengers as well as the presumption of negligence in cases of death or
injury to passengers.

b. Test of proximate cause

But-For Test – whether such conduct is a cause without which the injury
would not have taken place

Foreseeability Test – must be shown that the actor foresaw or should have
foreseen the injurious consequences of his act or omission

2. Doctrine of Imputed Negligence

NCC Article 2184. In motor vehicle mishaps, the owner is solidarily liable with
his driver, if the former, who was in the vehicle, could have, by the use of the
due diligence, prevented the misfortune. It is disputably presumed that a driver
was negligent, if he had been found guilty of reckless driving or violating traffic
regulations at least twice within the next preceding two months.

If the owner was not in the motor vehicle, the provisions of article 2180 are
applicable. (n)
NCC Article 2185. Unless there is proof to the contrary, it is presumed that a
person driving a motor vehicle has been negligent if at the time of the mishap, he
was violating any traffic regulation. (n)

NCC Article 2188. There is prima facie presumption of negligence on the part of
the defendant if the death or injury results from his possession of dangerous
weapons or substances, such as firearms and poison, except when the possession
or use thereof is indispensable in his occupation or business. (n)

3. Doctrine of Res Ipsa Loquitor

“Where the thing which caused the injury complained of is shown to be under the
management defendant or his servants and the accident is such as in the
ordinary course of things does not happen if those who have its management or
control use proper care, it affords reasonable evidence, in absence of explanation
by defendant, that the accident arose from want of care.”

When Applicable
(a) the event is of a kind which does not ordinarily occur in the absence of
negligence;
(b) other responsible causes, including the conduct of the plaintiff and third
persons, are sufficiently eliminated by the evidence; and
(c) the indicated negligence is within the scope of the defendant’s duty to the
plaintiff

The doctrine of res ipsa loquitur as a rule of evidence is peculiar to the law of
negligence which recognizes that prima facie negligence may be established
without direct proof and furnishes a substitute for specific proof of negligence.
The doctrine is not a rule of substantive law but merely a mode of proof or a
mere procedural convenience. The rule, when applicable to the facts and
circumstances of a particular case, is not intended to and does not dispense with
the requirement of proof of culpable negligence on the part of the party charged.
It merely determines and regulates what shall be prima facie evidence thereof
and facilitates the burden of plaintiff of proving a breach of the duty of due care.
The doctrine can be invoked when and only when, under the circumstances
involved, direct evidence is absent and not readily available.

It has generally been held that the presumption of inference arising from the
doctrine cannot be availed of, or is overcome, where plaintiff has knowledge and
testifies or presents evidence as to the specific act of negligence which is the
cause of the injury complained of or where there is direct evidence as to the
precise cause of the accident and all the facts and circumstances attendant on
the occurrence clearly appear. Finally, once the actual cause of injury is
established beyond controversy, whether by the plaintiff or by the defendant, no
presumptions will be involved and the doctrine becomes inapplicable when the
circumstances have been so completely elucidated that no inference of
defendant’s liability can reasonably be made, whatever the source of the
evidence.

Requisites
1) the accident is of a kind which does not ordinarily occur unless someone is
negligent;
2) the cause of the injury was under the exclusive control of the person in
charge; and
3) the injury suffered must not have been due to any voluntary action or
contribution on the part of the person injure

4. Defenses

a. Plaintiff’s Own Negligence

A party cannot charge another for the damage caused by his own negligence.
— It is basic that private respondents cannot charge PLDT for their injuries
where their own failure to exercise due and reasonable care was the cause
thereof. It is both a societal norm and necessity that one should exercise a
reasonable degree of caution for his own protection. It was his negligence
that exposed him and his wife to danger; hence, he is solely responsible for
the consequences of his imprudence. (PLDT vs. CA)

b. Assumption of Risk

NCC Article 2179. When the plaintiff’s own negligence was the immediate
and proximate cause of his injury, he cannot recover damages. But if his
negligence was only contributory, the immediate and proximate cause of the
injury being the defendant’s lack of due care, the plaintiff may recover
damages, but the courts shall mitigate the damages to be awarded. (n)

Volenti non fit injuria – The doctrine of volenti non fit injuria (“to which a
person assents is not esteemed in law as injury”) refers to self-inflicted injury
or to the consent to injury which precludes the recovery of damages by one
who has knowingly and voluntarily exposed himself to danger, even if he is
not negligent in doing so.

 A person is excused from the force of the rule, that when he


voluntarily assents to a known danger he must abide by the
consequences, if an emergency is found to exist or if the life or
property of another is in peril, or when he seeks to rescue his
endangered property.

Damnum absque injuria – If damage results from a person’s exercising his


legal rights, it is damnum absque injuria (“loss without injury”).

c. Doctrine of Contributory Negligence

NCC Article 2179. When the plaintiff’s own negligence was the immediate
and proximate cause of his injury, he cannot recover damages. But if his
negligence was only contributory, the immediate and proximate cause of the
injury being the defendant’s lack of due care, the plaintiff may recover
damages, but the courts shall mitigate the damages to be awarded. (n)

 Where both parties are guilty of negligence, but the negligent act of
one succeeds that of the other by an appreciable interval of time, the
one who has the last reasonable opportunity to avoid the impending
harm and fails to do so is chargeable with the consequences, without
reference to the prior negligence of the other party.

 Contributory negligence is conduct on the part of the injured party,


contributing as a legal cause to the harm he has suffered, which falls
below the standard to which he is required to conform for his own
protection.

 When the immediate cause of an accident resulting in an injury is the


plaintiff’s own act, which contributed to the principal occurrence as one
of its determining factors, he cannot recover damages for the injury.

 The negligence of the injured person contributing to his injury but not
being one of the determining causes of the principal accident, does not
operate as a bar to recovery, but only in reduction of his damages.
Each party is chargeable with damages in proportion to his fault.

 A child under nine years of age must be conclusively presumed


incapable of contributory negligence as a matter of law.

d. Doctrine of Last Clear Chance

 The law is that the person who has the last fair chance to avoid the
impending harm and fails to do so is chargeable with the
consequences.
 The doctrine of the last clear chance simply means that the negligence
of a claimant does not preclude a recovery for the negligence of
defendant where it appears that the latter, by exercising reasonable
care and prudence, might have avoided injurious consequences to
claimant notwithstanding his negligence.

The doctrine applies only in a situation where the plaintiff was guilty of
prior or antecedent negligence but the defendant, who had the last fair
chance to avoid the impending harm and failed to do so, is made liable
for all the consequences of the accident notwithstanding the prior
negligence of the plaintiff.

The subsequent negligence of the defendant in failing to exercise


ordinary care to avoid injury to plaintiff becomes the immediate or
proximate cause of the accident which intervenes between the
accident and the more remote negligence of the plaintiff, thus making
the defendant liable to the plaintiff.

 The doctrine of last clear chance applies only in a situation where the
defendant, having the last fair chance to avoid the impending harm
and failed to do so, becomes liable for all the consequences of the
accident notwithstanding the prior negligence of the plaintiff.

In order that the doctrine of last clear chance may be applied, it must
be shown that the person who allegedly had the last opportunity to
avert the accident was aware of the existence of the peril or with
exercise of due care should have been aware of it.

This doctrine of last chance has no application to a case where a


person is to act instantaneously, and if the injury cannot be avoided by
using all means available after the peril is or should have been
discovered.

e. Emergency Rule

 An individual who suddenly finds himself in a situation of danger and is


required to act without much time to consider the best means that
may be adopted to avoid the impending danger, is not guilty of
negligence if he fails to undertake what subsequently and upon
reflection may appear to be a better solution, unless the emergency
was brought by his own negligence.

While the emergency rule applies to those cases in which reflective


thought, or the opportunity to adequately weigh a threatening
situation is absent, the conduct which is required of an individual in
such cases is dictated not exclusively by the suddenness of the event
which absolutely negates thoughtful care, but by the over-all nature of
the circumstances.

f. Prescription

NCC Article 1150. The time for prescription for all kinds of actions, when
there is no special provision which ordains otherwise, shall be counted from
the day they may be brought. (1969)

 An action for recovery of damages based on a quasi-delict must be


instituted within four years.

 An action based on a quasi-delict is governed by Article 1150 of the


Civil Code as to the question of when the prescriptive period of four
years shall begin to run, that is, “from the day (the action) may be
brought,” which means from the day the quasi-delict occurred or was
committed.
 The institution of a criminal action cannot have the effect of
interrupting the institution of a civil action based on a quasi-delict.

***

 Doctrine of Attractive Nuisance – One who maintains on his premises dangerous


instrumentalities or appliances of a character likely to attract children in play, and
who fails to exercise ordinary care to prevent children from playing therewith or
resorting thereto, is liable to a child of tender years who is injured thereby, even if
the child is technically a trespasser in the premises.
(The attractive nuisance doctrine generally is not applicable to bodies of water,
artificial as well as natural, in the absence of some unusual condition or artificial
feature other than the mere water and its location.)

 Caso Fortuito – A caso fortuito is an event which could not be foreseen, or which,
though foreseen, was inevitable. This requires that the following requirements be
present: (a) the cause of the breach is independent of the debtor’s will; (b) the
event is unforeseeable or unavoidable; (c) the event is such as to render it
impossible for the debtor to fulfill his obligation in a normal manner; and (d) the
debtor did not take part in causing the injury to the creditor.

 Elements of any act evincing bad faith or intent to injure – (1) There is a legal
right or duty; (2) which is exercised in bad faith; (3) for the sole intent of prejudicing
or injuring another.

 Acts contra bonus mores have the following elements: (1) There is an act which is
legal; (2) but which is contrary to morals, good custom, public order, or public
policy; and (3) it is done with intent to injure.