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DEFENSES OF COMMON CARRIER

Fortune Express, Inc. v. Court of Appeals

G.R. No. 119756, 18 November 1999, 305 SCRA 15

FACTS:

On November 18, 1989, a bus of petitioner figured in an accident with a jeepney in Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte, resulting
in the death of several passengers of the jeepney, including two Maranaos. Crisanto Generalao, a volunteer field agent of
the Constabulary Regional Security Unit, conducted an investigation of the accident. He found that the owner of the jeepney
was a Maranao residing in Delabayan, Lanao del Norte and that certain Maranaos were planning to take revenge on the
petitioner by burning some of its buses. Generalao went to see Diosdado Bravo, operations manager of petitioner, and
informed him about the plot of the Maranaos. Bravo assured him that the necessary precautions to insure the safety of lives
and property would be taken.

Several days later, Atty. Caorong was on board a bus to Iligan when three Maranaos went on board the vehicle. The leader
of the group ordered the passengers to leave the bus. Atty. Caorong later went back to get something when he saw that
the Maranaos were already pouring gasoline on the bus and on the driver. Atty. Caorong pleaded for the life of the driver,
after which the driver jumped out of the vehicle.Caorong was shot to death as a result.

RTC dismissed the complaint stating that Fortune was not negligent. Disregarding the suggestion ofproviding its buses with
security guards is not an omission of petitioner’s duty. The evidence showed that the assailants did not intend to harm the
passengers. The death of Atty. Caorong was an unexpected and unforeseen occurrence beyondpetitioner’s control.

CA REVERSED RTC’s ruling:Fortune is negligent. Despite the tip to Manager Bravo of the devious plan by several
Maranaos, management did not do not take any safety precautions at all.One available safeguard that could have absolved
Fortunefrom liability was frisking of incoming passengers en route to dangerous areas and bag inspection at the terminals,
which Fortune failed to do. The frisking system is not novel insensitive and dangerous places. Many companies adopt this
measure. Fortune did “absolutely nothing”

ISSUE:

1. W/N Petitioner is liable for the death of Atty. Caorong by failing totakenecessary precautions to ensure the safety of its
passengers;
2. W/N the attack by the Maranaos constituted causo fortuito?

RULING:

1. Petitioner is liable.
Article 1763 holds common carriers liable for the injuries to passengers caused by the wilful act of other passengers, if its
employees failed to exercise the diligence of a good father in preventing the act.
• Despite the warning by the constabulary officer, petitioner did nothing to protect the safety of its passengers. If petitioner
took the necessary precautions, they would have discovered the weapons and the large quantity of gasoline the malefactors
carried with them. A common carrier is liable for failing to prevent hijacking by frisking passengers and inspecting baggages.
• Petitioner is solely liable for Atty. Caorong’s death. There was no contributory negligence on the part of the victim, since
all he did was pleading for the life of the driver. His heroic effort was neither an act of negligence or recklessness.
From the foregoing, it is evident that petitioner’s employees failed to prevent the attack on one of petitioner’s buses because
they did not exercise the diligence of a good father of a family. Hence, petitioner should be held liable for the death of Atty.
Caorong.

2. Seizure of Petitioner’s Bus is not a Case of Force Majeure


Art. 1174 of the Civil Code defines a fortuitous event as an occurence which could not be foreseen, is inevitable. To be
considered as force majeure, it is necessary that (1) the cause of the breach of the obligation must be independent of the
human will; (2) the event must be either unforeseeable or unavoidable; (3) the occurence must be render it impossibl e for
the debtor to fulfill the obligation in a normal manner; and (4) the obligor must be free of participation in, or aggravation of,
the injury to the creditor. The absence of any of the requisites mentioned above would prevent the obligor from being
excused from liability.

Thus, in Vasquez v. Court of Appeals, it was held that the common carrier was liable for its failure to take the necessary
precautions against an approaching typhoon, of which it was warned, resulting in the loss of the lives of several passengers.
The event was forseeable, and, thus, the second requisite mentioned above was not fulfilled. This ruling applies by analogy
to the present case. Despite the report of PC agent Generalao that the Maranaos were going to attack its buses, petitioner
took no steps to safeguard the lives and properties of its passengers. The seizure of the bus of the petitioner was foreseeable
and, therefore, was not a fortuitous event which would exempt petitioner from liabilty.
DOCTRINE:If the fact of improper packing is known to the carrier or his
servants, or apparent upon ordinary observation, but it accepts the goods
notwithstanding such condition, it is not relieved of liability for loss or
injury resulting therefrom.

FACTS:

- The City of Iloilo requisitioned for rice from the National Rice and Corn Corporation (NARIC).
- NARIC shipped 1,726 sacks of rice consigned to the City of Iloilo on board of SS General Wright
belong to Southern Lines.
- The City of Iloilo received the shipment and paid the amount stated in the bill of lading (around
Php 63K).
- However, at the bottom of the bill of lading, it was noted that City of Iloilo received the
merchandise in the same condition as when shipped, except that it received only 1,685 sacks.
- Upon actual weighing, it was discovered that the shortage was equal to 41 sacks of rice.
- Thus, the City of Iloilo filed a complaint against NARIC and Southern Lines for the recovery of the
value of the shortage of the shipment of rice (Php 6,486.35).
- The lower court absolved NARIC but sentenced Southern Lines to pay the amount.
- CA affirmed.
- Hence, this petition for review.
- Southern Lines claims exemption from liability by contending that the shortage in the shipment of
rice was due to such factors as shrinkage, leakage or spillage of the rice on account of the bad
condition of the sacks at the time it received the same and negligence of the agents of City of Iloilo in
receiving the shipment.

ISSUES:

- Whether Southern Lines is liable for the loss or shortage of the rice shipped.YES
- Whether the City of Iloilo is precluded from filing an action for damages on account of its failure to
present a claim within 24 hours from receipt of the shipment as stated in the bill of lading.NO

HELD:

- YES. The SC held that the contention of Southern Lines with respect to the improper packing is
untenable.Under Art. 361 of the Code of Commerce, the carrier, in order to free itself from liability,
was only obliged to prove that the damages suffered by the goods were “by virtue of the nature or
defect of the articles.” Under Art. 362, the plaintiff, in order to hold the defendant liable, was obliged to
prove that the damages to the goods is by virtue of their nature, occurred on account of its negligence
or because the defendant did not take the precaution adopted by careful persons.It held that if the
fact of improper packing is known to the carrier or his servants, or apparent upon ordinary
observation, but it accepts the goods notwithstanding such condition, it is not relieved of liability for
loss or injury resulting therefrom.

- NO. The SC noted that Southern Lines failed to plead this defense in its answer to City of Iloilo’s
complaint and, therefore, the same is deemed waived and cannot be raised for the first time.The SC
also cited the finding of the CA that City of Iloilo filed the action within a reasonable time; that the
action is one for the refund of the amount paid in excess, and not for damages or the recovery of
shortage; the bill of lading does not at all limit the time for the filing of action for the refund of money
paid in excess.
Nocum v. Laguna Tayabas Bus Co.
G.R. No. L-23733, 31 October 1969, 30 SCRA 69

FACTS:

Nocum, plaintiff, was a passenger of the defendant’s Bus No. 120, then making a trip within the barrio of Dita,
Municipality of Bay, Laguna, who got injured as a consequence of the explosion of firecrackers, contained in a box,
loaded in said bus and declared to its conductor as containing clothes and miscellaneous items by a co-passenger.
Plaintiff sued Laguna Tayabas for Breach of Contract of Carriage.

The Trial Court held Laguna Tayabas Bus Company liable since it did not observe the extraordinary or utmost
diligence of a very cautious person as required by the Civil Code. It further states that the defense of fortuitous event
is unavailing.

The Trial Court’s decision is based on the witness, Severino Andaya, who states that a man with box went up the
baggage compartment of the bus and the box was place under the seat. They left Azcarraga at about 11:30 in the
morning and when the explosion occurred, the plaintiff was thrown out. There were 37 other passengers who got
injured.

The bus conductor said that such box belongs to a passenger whom he didn’t know and states that it contained
miscellaneous items and clothes. From its appearance there was no indication that the contents of the box were
explosives and firecrackers.

The dispatcher said that they were not authorized to open the baggage of passengers because the instruction from
the management is to call the police if there were packages containing articles which were against regulations.

ISSUE:

Whether or not Laguna Tayabas Bus Company is liable for breach of contract of carriage?

RULING:

Laguna Tayabas Bus Company is not liable for damages. In overland transportation, the common carrier is not bound
nor empowered to make an examination on the contents of packages or bags, particularly those hand carried by
passengers.

No doubt, the views of the trial court do seem to be in line with the reasons that the Code Commission had for
incorporating the above-quoted provisions in its draft of the Civil Code. Indeed, in approving the said draft, Congress
must have concurred with the Commission that by requiring the highest degree of diligence from common carriers in
the safe transport of their passengers and by creating a presumption of negligence against them.

It is undisputed that before the box containing the firecrackers were allowed to be loaded in the bus by the conductor,
inquiry was made with the passenger carrying the same as to what was in it and according to the trial court “if proper
and rigid inspection were observed by the defendant, the contents of the box could have been discovered and the
accident avoided. Refusal by the passenger to have the package opened was no excuse because, as stated by
Dispatcher Cornista, employees should call the police if there were packages containing articles against company
regulations.”

However, the Supreme Court considered the opinion that the law does not require as much. Article 1733 is not as
unbending as the trial court has held, for it reasonably qualifies the extraordinary diligence required of common carriers
for the safety of the passengers transported by them to be “according to all the circumstances of each case.” In fact,
Article 1755 repeats this same qualification: “A common carrier is bound to carry the passengers safely as far as
human care and foresight can provide, using the utmost diligence of very cautious persons, with due regard for all the
circumstances.”

Fairness demands that in measuring a common carrier’s duty towards its passengers, allowance must be given to the
reliance that should be reposed on the sense of responsibility of all the passengers in regard to their common safety.
It is to be presumed that a passenger will not take with him anything dangerous to the lives and limbs of his co-
passengers, not to speak of his own. Not to be lightly considered must be the right to privacy to which each passenger
is entitled. He cannot be subjected to any unusual search, when he protests the innocuousness of his baggage and
nothing appears to indicate the contrary, as in the case at bar. In other words, inquiry may be verbally made as to the
nature of a passenger’s baggage when such is not outwardly perceptible, but beyond this, constitutional boundaries
are already in danger of being transgressed.

Calling a policeman to his aid, as suggested by the service manual invoked by the trial judge, in compelling the
passenger to submit to more rigid inspection, after the passenger had already declared that the box contained mere
clothes and other miscellaneous, could not have justified invasion of a constitutionally protected domain.
What must be importantly considered here is not so much the infringement of the fundamental sacred rights of the
particular passenger herein involved, but the constant threat any contrary ruling would pose on the right of privacy of
all passengers of all common carriers, considering how easily the duty to inspect can be made an excuse for mischief
and abuse.
Bachelor Express, Inc. v. Court of Appeals
G.R. No. 85691, 31 July 1990, 188 SCRA 216

FACTS:

– On Aug 1980, a bus owned by Bachelor Express, Inc. (BEI) and driven by Cresencio Rivera came from Davao City
on its way to Cagayan de Oro City passing Butuan City.
– While at Tabon-Tabon, Butuan City, the bus picked up a passenger and about 15 mins later, a passenger at the
rear portion suddenly stabbed a PC soldier which caused commotion and panic among the passengers.
– When the bus stopped, passengers Ornominio Beter and Narcisa Rautraut were found lying down the road, the
former already dead as a result of head injuries and the latter also suffering from severe injuries which caused her
death later.
– The passenger assailant alighted from the bus and ran toward the bushes but was killed by the police. Thereafter,
the heirs of Ornominio Beter and Narcisa Rautraut, private respondents herein the parents of Beter and Rautraut.
– RTC dismissed the complaint. Upon appeal, the decision was reversed and set aside. CA found BEI and Rivera
solidarily liable to pay the private respondents herein.

ISSUE:

1. What was the proximate cause of the whole incident?


2. Whether or not the petitioner’ common carrier observed extraordinary diligence to safeguard the lives of its
passengers? NO

RULING:

1. Petitioner, in order to overcome the presumption of fault/negligence under the law, states that the vehicular incident
resulting in the death of the passengers Beter and Rautraut was caused by force majeure/casa fortuito.

The following essential characteristics of casa fortuito are: (1) The cause of the unforeseen and unexpected
occurrence, or of the failure of the debtor to comply with his obligation, must be independent of the human will; (2) It
must be impossible to foresee the event which constitutes the caso fortuito, or if it can be foreseen, it must be
impossible to avoid; (3) The occurrence must be such as to render it impossible for the debtor to fulfill his obligation
in a normal manner. and (4) the obligor (debtor) must be free from any participation in the aggravation of the injury
resulting to the creditor.

The running amuck of the passenger was the proximate cause of the incident as it triggered off a commotion and
panic among passengers started running to the sole exit shoving each other resulting in the falling off the passengers
Beter and Rautraut causing them fatal injuries. The sudden act of the passenger who stabbed another passenger in
the bus is within context of force majeure.
Yobido v. Court of Appeals
G.R. No. 113003, 17 October 1997, 281 SCRA 1

FACTS:

In 1988, spouses Tito and Leny Tumboy and their minor children named Ardee and Jasmin, boarded at Mangagoy,
Surigao del Sur, a Yobido Liner bus bound for Davao City.
Along the way, the left front tire of the bus exploded causing it to fall into a ravine around three (3) feet from the road
and struck a tree. The incident resulted in the death of 28-year-old Tito Tumboy and physical injuries to other
passengers.

As a consequence thereof, a complaint for breach of contract of carriage, damages and attorneys fees was filed by
Leny and her children against Alberta Yobido, the owner of the bus, and Cresencio Yobido, its driver, before the RTC
of Davao City.
When the defendants therein filed their answer to the complaint, they raised the affirmative defense of caso fortuito.

In 1991, the lower court rendered a decision dismissing the action for lack of merit. On the issue of whether or not the
tire blowout was a caso fortuito, it found that the falling of the bus to the cliff was a result of no other outside factor
than the tire blow-out.

Dissatisfied, the plaintiffs appealed to the Court of Appeals. They ascribed to the lower court the following errors: (a)
finding that the tire blowout was a caso fortuito; (b) failing to hold that the defendants did not exercise utmost and/or
extraordinary diligence required of carriers under Article 1755 of the Civil Code, and (c) deciding the case contrary to
the ruling in Juntilla v. Fontanar, and Necesito v. Paras.

In 1993, the Court of Appeals rendered the Decision reversing that of the lower court.
Proving that the tire that exploded is a new Goodyear tire is not sufficient to discharge defendant’s burden. As
enunciated in Necesito vs. Paras, the passenger has neither choice nor control over the carrier in the selection and
use of its equipment, and the good repute of the manufacturer will not necessarily relieve the carrier from liability.

The defendants filed a motion for reconsideration of said decision which was denied by the Court of Appeals. Hence,
the instant petition asserting the position that the tire blowout that caused the death of Tito Tumboy was a caso fortuito.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the explosion of a newly installed tire of a passenger vehicle is a fortuitous event that exempts the
carrier from liability for the death of a passenger.

RULING:

No.
As a rule, when a passenger boards a common carrier, he takes the risks incidental to the mode of travel he has
taken. After all, a carrier is not an insurer of the safety of its passengers and is not bound absolutely and at all events
to carry them safely and without injury. However, when a passenger is injured or dies while travelling, the law
presumes that the common carrier is negligent. Thus, the Civil Code provides:

Art. 1756. In case of death 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.

Article 1755 also provides that a common carrier is bound to carry the passengers safely as far as human care and
foresight can provide, using the utmost diligence of very cautious persons, with a due regard for all the circumstances.
Accordingly, in culpa contractual, once a passenger dies or is injured, the carrier is presumed to have been at fault or
to have acted negligently. This disputable presumption may only be overcome by evidence that the carrier had
observed extraordinary diligence as prescribed by Articles 1733, 1755 and 1756 of the Civil Code or that the death or
injury of the passenger was due to a fortuitous event. Consequently, the court need not make an express finding of
fault or negligence on the part of the carrier to hold it responsible for damages sought by the passenger.

In view of the foregoing, petitioners contention that they should be exempt from liability because the tire blowout was
no more than a fortuitous event that could not have been foreseen, must fail. In other words, the explosion of the new
tire may not be considered a fortuitous event because there are human factors involved in the situation.

The fact that the tire was new did not imply that it was entirely free from manufacturing defects or that it was properly
mounted on the vehicle. Neither may the fact that the tire bought and used in the vehicle is of a brand name noted for
quality, resulting in the conclusion that it could not explode within five days use. Be that as it may, it is settled that an
accident caused either by defects in the automobile or through the negligence of its driver is not a caso fortuito that
would exempt the carrier from liability for damages.

Moreover, a common carrier may not be absolved from liability in case of force majeure or fortuitous event alone. The
common carrier must still prove that it was not negligent in causing the death or injury resulting from an accident.

While it may be true that the tire that blew-up was still good because the grooves of the tire were still visible, this fact
alone does not make the explosion of the tire a fortuitous event. No evidence was presented to show that the accident
was due to adverse road conditions or that precautions were taken by the jeepney driver to compensate for any
conditions liable to cause accidents.

The sudden blowing-up, therefore, could have been caused by too much air pressure injected into the tire coupled by
the fact that the jeepney was overloaded and speeding at the time of the accident.
Isaac v Al Ammen Transpo

Topic: Obligations of the parties, Assumption of Risk


Docket: G.R. no. L-9671

Facts:

 On May 31, 1951, plaintiff boarded said bus as a passenger from Ligao, Albay bound for Pili,
Camarines Sur, but before reaching his destination, the bus collided with a motor vehicle of the pick-up
type coming from the opposite direction, as a result of which plaintiff’s left arm was completely severed
and the severed portion fell inside the bus.
 Due to the multiple operation he was in, he incurred expenses amounting to P623.40, excluding
medical fees which were paid by defendant. Plaintiff then brought an action for damages against the
defendant.
 Defendant set up as special defense that the injury suffered by plaintiff was due entirely to the fault or
negligence of the driver of the pick-up car which collided with the bus driven by its driver and to the
contributory negligence of plaintiff himself. Defendant further claims that the accident which resulted in
the injury of plaintiff is one which defendant could not foresee or, though foreseen, was inevitable.
 Plaintiff contends in his appeal that when an action is based on a contract of carriage, as in this case,
all that is necessary to sustain recovery is proof of the existence of the contract of the breach thereof by
act or omission

Issue: Whether or not defendant should be held liable

Held: No. 1) There are three pronouncements of the Court herein, to wit:

1. The liability of a carrier is contractual and arises upon breach of its obligation. There is breach if it fails
to exert extraordinary diligence according to all circumstances of each case;
2. A carrier is obliged to carry its passenger with the utmost diligence of a very cautious person, having
due regard for all the circumstances;
3. A carrier is presumed to be at fault or to have acted negligently in case of death of, or injury to,
passengers, it being its duty to prove that it exercised extraordinary diligence; However, the carrier is
not an insurer against all risks of travel.

 The trial court had already found that the bus had already exercised extraordinary diligence on its
judgement in facing the speeding pickup truck on the opposite lane. In affirming this view, the Court
ruled that where a carrier’s employee is confronted with a sudden emergency, the fact that he is
obliged to act quickly and without a chance for deliberation must be taken into account, and he is held
to the some degree of care that he would otherwise be required to exercise in the absence of
such emergency but must exercise only such care as any ordinary prudent person would
exercise under like circumstances and conditions, and the failure on his part to exercise the best
judgement the case renders possible does not establish lack of care and skill on his part which
renders the company liable.
Calalas v. CA

Facts:

Private respondent Eliza Jujeurche G. Sunga took a passenger jeepney owned and operated by petitioner
Vicente Calalas. As the jeepney was already full, Calalas gave Sunga an stool at the back of the door at the rear
end of the vehicle. Along the way, the jeepney stopped to let a passenger off. Sunga stepped down to give way
when an Isuzu truck owned by Francisco Salva and driven by Iglecerio Verena bumped the jeepney. As a result,
Sunga was injured. Sunga filed a complaint against Calalas for violation of contract of carriage. Calalas filed a
third party complaint against Salva. The trial court held Salva liable and absolved Calalas, taking cognisance of
another civil case for quasi-delict wherein Salva and Verena were held liable to Calalas. The Court of Appeals
reversed the decision and found Calalas liable to Sunga for violation of contract of carriage.

Issues:

(1) Whether the decision in the case for quasi delict between Calalas on one hand and Salva and Verena on the
other hand, is res judicata to the issue in this case

(2) Whether Calalas exercised the extraordinary diligence required in the contract of carriage

(3) Whether moral damages should be awarded

Held:

(1) The argument that Sunga is bound by the ruling in Civil Case No. 3490 finding the driver and the owner of
the truck liable for quasi-delict ignores the fact that she was never a party to that case and, therefore, the principle
of res judicata does not apply. Nor are the issues in Civil Case No. 3490 and in the present case the same. The
issue in Civil Case No. 3490 was whether Salva and his driver Verena were liable for quasi-delict for the damage
caused to petitioner's jeepney. On the other hand, the issue in this case is whether petitioner is liable on his
contract of carriage. The first, quasi-delict, also known as culpa aquiliana or culpa extra contractual, has as its
source the negligence of the tortfeasor. The second, breach of contract or culpa contractual, is premised upon
the negligence in the performance of a contractual obligation. Consequently, in quasi-delict, the negligence or
fault should be clearly established because it is the basis of the action, whereas in breach of contract, the action
can be prosecuted merely by proving the existence of the contract and the fact that the obligor, in this case the
common carrier, failed to transport his passenger safely to his destination. In case of death or injuries to
passengers, Art. 1756 of the Civil Code provides that common carriers are presumed to have been at fault or to
have acted negligently unless they prove that they observed extraordinary diligence as defined in Arts. 1733 and
1755 of the Code. This provision necessarily shifts to the common carrier the burden of proof. It is immaterial
that the proximate cause of the collision between the jeepney and the truck was the negligence of the truck
driver. 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.

(2) We do not think so. First, the jeepney was not properly parked, its rear portion being exposed about two
meters from the broad shoulders of the highway, and facing the middle of the highway in a diagonal
angle. Second, it is undisputed that petitioner's driver took in more passengers than the allowed seating capacity
of the jeepney. The fact that Sunga was seated in an "extension seat" placed her in a peril greater than that to
which the other passengers were exposed. Therefore, not only was petitioner unable to overcome the
presumption of negligence imposed on him for the injury sustained by Sunga, but also, the evidence shows he
was actually negligent in transporting passengers. We find it hard to give serious thought to petitioner's
contention that Sunga's taking an "extension seat" amounted to an implied assumption of risk. It is akin to arguing
that the injuries to the many victims of the tragedies in our seas should not be compensated merely because
those passengers assumed a greater risk of drowning by boarding an overloaded ferry. This is also true of
petitioner's contention that the jeepney being bumped while it was improperly parked constitutes 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. Petitioner
should have foreseen the danger of parking his jeepney with its body protruding two meters into the highway.

(3) As a general rule, moral damages are not recoverable in actions for damages predicated on a breach of
contract for it is not one of the items enumerated under Art. 2219 of the Civil Code. As an exception, such
damages are recoverable: (1) in cases in which the mishap results in the death of a passenger, as provided in
Art. 1764, in relation to Art. 2206(3) of the Civil Code; and (2) in the cases in which the carrier is guilty of fraud
or bad faith, as provided in Art. 2220. In this case, there is no legal basis for awarding moral damages since
there was no factual finding by the appellate court that petitioner acted in bad faith in the performance of the
contract of carriage.