Bar Q and A #44

a. The source of obligation is quasi-delict because there was no pre-existing contractual relations between Mrs. A and Mr. X who are strangers and there was damage done. For Quasi-Delict to become a source of an obligation these elements should concur (1) there was damage to the plaintiff, (2) there is negligence by act or omission of which defendant or some person for whose acts he must respond was guilty, (3) in connection of cause and effect between such negligence and damage, (4) there must be no pre-existing contract. In this case there was a claim for quasi delict because all of the elements mentioned above concur.

b. Yes, Mrs. A can claim actual damages amounting to P500,000. Under Art. 2199 of the NCC it provides that except as provided by law or by stipulation, one is entitled to actual or compensatory damages only for such pecuniary loss suffered by him as he has duly proved. The medical fees totaling P400,000 were duly substantiated by official receipts, Article 2200 of the Civil Code also provides that indemnification for damages shall comprehend not only the value of the loss suffered, but also that of the profits which the obligee failed to obtain. The rate of her salary was established at P50,000 per month; thus, her inability to report for work and earn salary for two months entitled her to a total of P100,000. Mrs. A, therefore, can claim her expenses for medical fees and two months’ worth of salary the total of which is P500.000.

c. No, Mrs. A cannot claim damages on behalf of her unborn baby. Birth determines personality. The Court has held that an action for pecuniary damages on account of personal injury or death pertains primarily to the one injured, and if no action for such damages could be instituted on behalf of the unborn child on account of the injuries it received, no such right of action could derivatively accrue to its parents or heirs.

Yes. As a general rule, a public officer is not liable for acts performed in the discharge of his duties. The exceptions are when he acted with malice, bad faith, or gross negligence in the performance of his duty, or when his act is in violation of the constitutionally guaranteed rights and liberties of a person under Art. 32.

The public officer is not automatically considered to have violated the rights or liberties of a person simply because the rule the public officer issued was declared invalid by the Court. The complainant must still allege and prove the particular injury or prejudice he has suffered from the violation of his constitutional right by the issuance of the invalidated rule.

The problem does not state any fact from which any malice, bad faith or gross negligence on the part of Vinzons-Chato may be inferred, or the particular injury or prejudice the complainant may have suffered as a result of the violation of his constitutional rights. Hence, she cannot be held liable. The facts presented are similar to the facts of the case of Vinzons-Chato v. Fortune, (G.R. No. 141309, December 23, 2008).

Yes, Tony may file an action against Premium Bank for damages under Art. 2176. Even if there exists a contractual relationship between Tony and Premium Bank, an action for quasi-delict may nonetheless prosper. The Supreme Court has consistently ruled that the act that breaks the contract may also be a tort. There is a fiduciary relationship between the bank and the depositor, imposing utmost diligence in managing the accounts of the depositor. The dishonor of the check adversely affected the credit standing of Tony, hence, he is entitled to damages. (Singson v. BPI, G.R. No. L-24932, June 27, 1968; American Express International, Inc. v. IAC,    G.R.    No.    72383,    November    9,    1988; Consolidated Bank and Trust v. CA, G.R.No.L- 70766 November 9,1998)

Yes, there is a presumption of negligence on the part of the employer. However, such presumption is rebuttable. The liability of the employer shall cease when they prove that they observed the diligence of a good father of a family to prevent damage. (Art. 2180) When the employee causes damage due to his own negligence while performing his own duties, there arises the juris tantum presumption that the employer is negligent, rebuttable only by proof of observance of the diligence of a good father of a family.  (Metro Manila Transit v. CA, G.R.    No.    104408,   June    21, 1993; Delsan Transport Lines v. C&A Construction, G.R. No. 156034, October 1, 2003) Likewise, if the driver is charged and convicted in a criminal case for criminal negligence, BT is subsidiarily liable for the damages arising from the criminal act.

The motion to dismiss should be granted, AVIS is not the employer of Silvestre; hence, there is no right of action against AVIS under Art. 2180. Not being the employer, AVIS has no duty to supervise Silvestre. Neither has AVIS the duty to observe due diligence in the selection of its customers. Besides, it was given in the problem that the cause of the accident was the negligence of Silvestre.

No, there was no valid waiver of the right to sue the school. A waiver to be valid must have three requisites: 1) existence of the right; 2) legal capacity of the person waiving the right and 3) the waiver must not be contrary to law, morals, good customs, public order or public policy or prejudicial to a third person with a right recognized by law. In the case presented, the waiver may be considered contrary to public policy as it exonerates the school from liability for future negligence. The waiver in effect allows the school to not exercise even ordinary diligence.

1. Yes, Dennis can file an independent civil action against Carlos and his father for damages based on quasi-delict there being an act or omission causing damage to another without contractual obligation. Under Sec. 1 of Rule 111 of the 2000 Rules on Criminal Procedure, what is deemed instituted with the criminal action is only the action to recover civil liability arising from the act or omission punished by law. An action based on quasi-delict is no longer deemed instituted and may be filed separately. (Sec. 3, Rule 111, Rules of Criminal Procedure)

2. No, Benjamin cannot raise the defense that the vehicle is not registered in his name. His liability, vicarious in character, is based on Art. 2180 because he is the father of a minor who caused damage due to negligence. While the suit will prosper against the registered owner, it is the actual owner of the private vehicle who is ultimately liable. (See Duavit v. CA, G.R. No. L- 29759, May 18, 1989) The purpose of car registration is to reduce difficulty in identifying the party liable in case of accidents. (Villanueva v. Domingo, G.R. No. 144274, September14, 2004).

1. It depends. If the civil action is based on a quasi-delict the taxicab owners may raise the defense of diligence of a good father of a family in the selection and supervision of the driver; if the action against is based on culpa contractual or civil liability arising from a crime, they cannot raise the defense.

2. It depends. If the separate civil action is to recover damages arising from the criminal act, reservation is necessary. If the civil action against the taxicab owners is based on culpa contractual, or on quasi-delict, there is no need for reservation.

No one is liable. The possessor of an animal or whoever may make use of the same is responsible for the damage it may cause, although it may escape or be lost. This responsibility shall cease only in case the damage should come from force majeure or from the fault of the person who has suffered damage. (Art. 2183)