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Phoenix Construction v.

At about 1:30 a.m. on November 15, 1975, private respondent Leonardo
Dionisio was on his way home from cocktails and dinner meeting with his
boss. He was proceeding down General Lacuna Street when he saw a Ford
dump truck parked askew, partly blocking the way of oncoming traffic, with
no lights or early warning reflector devices. The truck was driven earlier by
Armando Carbonel, a regular driver of the petitioner company. Dionisio tried
to swerve his car to the left, but it was too late. He suffered some physical
injuries and nervous breakdown. Dionision filed an action for damages
against Carbonel and Phoenix Insurance. Petitioners countered the claim by
imputing the accident to respondents own negligence in driving at high
speed without curfew pass and headlights, and while intoxicated. The trial
court and the Court of Appeals ruled in favor of private respondent.
Whether the collision was brought about by the way the truck was parked, or
by respondents own negligence
We find that private respondent Dionisio was unable to prove possession of a
valid curfew pass during the night of the accident and that the
preponderance of evidence shows that he did not have such a pass during
that night. It is the petitioners' contention that Dionisio purposely shut off his
headlights even before he reached the intersection so as not to be detected
by the police in the police precinct which he (being a resident in the area)
knew was not far away from the intersection. We believe that the petitioners'
theory is a more credible explanation than that offered by private respondent
Dionisio, i.e., that he had his headlights on but that, at the crucial moment,
these had in some mysterious if convenient way malfunctioned and gone off,
although he succeeded in switching his lights on again at "bright" split
seconds before contact with the dump truck. We do not believe that this
evidence is sufficient to show that Dionisio was so heavily under the influence
of liquor as to constitute his driving a motor vehicle per se an act of reckless
imprudence. The conclusion we draw from the factual circumstances outlined
above is that private respondent Dionisio was negligent the night of the
accident. He was hurrying home that night and driving faster than he should
have been. Worse, he extinguished his headlights at or near the intersection
of General Lacuna and General Santos Streets and thus did not see the dump
truck that was parked askew and sticking out onto the road lane.
Nonetheless, we agree with the Court of First Instance and the Intermediate
Appellate Court that the legal and proximate cause of the accident and of
Dionisio's injuries was the wrongful or negligent manner in which the dump
truck was parked in other words, the negligence of petitioner Carbonel. The

collision of Dionisio's car with the dump truck was a natural and foreseeable
consequence of the truck driver's negligence.
The distinctions between "cause" and "condition" which the 'petitioners would
have us adopt have already been "almost entirely discredited. If the
defendant has created only a passive static condition which made the
damage possible, the defendant is said not to be liable. But so far as the fact
of causation is concerned, in the sense of necessary antecedents which have
played an important part in producing the result it is quite impossible to
distinguish between active forces and passive situations, particularly since,
as is invariably the case, the latter are the result of other active forces which
have gone before. Even the lapse of a considerable time during which the
"condition" remains static will not necessarily affect liability. "Cause" and
"condition" still find occasional mention in the decisions; but the distinction is
now almost entirely discredited. So far as it has any validity at all, it must
refer to the type of case where the forces set in operation by the defendant
have come to rest in a position of apparent safety, and some new force
intervenes. But even in such cases, it is not the distinction between "cause"
and "condition" which is important but the nature of the risk and the
character of the intervening cause.
We believe, secondly, that the truck driver's negligence far from being a
"passive and static condition" was rather an indispensable and efficient
cause. The improper parking of the dump truck created an unreasonable risk
of injury for anyone driving down General Lacuna Street and for having so
created this risk, the truck driver must be held responsible. In our view,
Dionisio's negligence, although later in point of time than the truck driver's
negligence and therefore closer to the accident, was not an efficient
intervening or independent cause.
The defendant cannot be relieved from liability by the fact that the risk or a
substantial and important part of the risk, to which the defendant has
subjected the plaintiff has indeed come to pass. Foreseeable intervening
forces are within the scope original risk, and hence of the defendant's
negligence. The courts are quite generally agreed that intervening causes
which fall fairly in this category will not supersede the defendant's
responsibility. Thus, a defendant who blocks the sidewalk and forces the
plaintiff to walk in a street where the plaintiff will be exposed to the risks of
heavy traffic becomes liable when the plaintiff is run down by a car, even
though the car is negligently driven; and one who parks an automobile on the
highway without lights at night is not relieved of responsibility when another
negligently drives into it. We hold that private respondent Dionisio's
negligence was "only contributory," that the "immediate and proximate
cause" of the injury remained the truck driver's "lack of due care" and that
consequently respondent Dionisio may recover damages though such
damages are subject to mitigation by the courts.
Petitioners also ask us to apply what they refer to as the "last clear chance"
doctrine. The common law notion of last clear chance permitted courts to
grant recovery to a plaintiff who had also been negligent provided that the

defendant had the last clear chance to avoid the casualty and failed to do so.
Accordingly, it is difficult to see what role, if any, the common law last clear
chance doctrine has to play in a jurisdiction where the common law concept
of contributory negligence as an absolute bar to recovery by the plaintiff, has
itself been rejected, as it has been in Article 2179 of the Civil Code of the
Philippines. Under Article 2179, the task of a court, in technical terms, is to
determine whose negligence - the plaintiff's or the defendant's - was the legal
or proximate cause of the injury. The relative location in the continuum of
time of the plaintiff's and the defendant's negligent acts or omissions, is only
one of the relevant factors that may be taken into account. Of more
fundamental importance are the nature of the negligent act or omission of
each party and the character and gravity of the risks created by such act or
omission for the rest of the community. Our law on quasi-delicts seeks to
reduce the risks and burdens of living in society and to allocate them among
the members of society. To accept the petitioners' pro-position must tend to
weaken the very bonds of society.
We believe that the demands of substantial justice are satisfied by allocating
most of the damages on a 20-80 ratio. Thus, 20% of the damages awarded by
the respondent appellate court, except the award of P10,000.00 as exemplary
damages and P4,500.00 as attorney's fees and costs, shall be borne by
private respondent Dionisio; only the balance of 80% needs to be paid by
petitioners Carbonel and Phoenix who shall be solidarity liable therefor to the
former. The award of exemplary damages and attorney's fees and costs shall
be borne exclusively by the petitioners. Phoenix is of course entitled to
reimbursement from Carbonel. 18 We see no sufficient reason for disturbing
the reduced award of damages made by the respondent appellate court
PLDT v. CA and Sps. Antonio and Gloria Esteban
1989 / Regalado / Petition for review on certiorari of CA resolution
Defenses against charge of negligence > Plaintiffs negligence is proximate
Sps. Esteban were riding their jeep along the inside lane of Lacson Street
where they resided [at 25km/hr as Antonio Esteban claimed; CA said jeep ran
fast; if the jeep braked at that speed, the spouses would not have been
thrown against the windshield]. The jeep abruptly swerved from the inside
lane, then it ran over a mound of earth and fell into an open trench, an
excavation allegedly undertaken by PLDT for the installation of its
underground conduit system. Antonio failed to notice the open trench which
was left uncovered because of the darkness and the lack of any warning light
or signs. The spouses were thrown against the windshield. Gloria Esteban
allegedly sustained injuries on her arms, legs and face, leaving a permanent
scar on her cheek, while Antonio suffered cut lips. The jeeps windshield was
also shattered.

PLDT denies liability, contending that the injuries sustained by the

spouses were due to their own negligence, and that it should be the
independent contractor L.R. Barte and Co. [Barte] who should be held
liable. PLDT filed a third-party complaint against Barte, alleging that under
the terms of their agreement, PLDT should not be answerable for any
accident or injuries arising from the negligence of Barte or its employees.
Barte claimed that it was not aware, nor was it notified of the accident, and
that it complied with its contract with PLDT by installing the necessary and
appropriate signs.
RTC ruled in favor of the spouses. CA reversed RTC and dismissed the
spouses complaint, saying that the spouses were negligent. Later, it set
aside its earlier decision and affirmed in totoRTCs decision. (SC declared this
later decision null and void. The first decision already became final and
executory because no appeal was taken seasonably.)
WON PLDT is liable for the injuries sustained by Sps. Esteban. NO
The accident which befell the spouses was due to the lack of diligence of
Antonio, and was not imputable to the negligent omission on the part of
PLDT. If the accident did not happen because thejeep was running quite fast
on the inside lane and for some reason or other it had to swerve suddenly to
the right and had to climb over the accident mound, then Antonio had not
exercised the diligence of a good father of a family to avoid the accident.
With the drizzle, he should not have run on dim lights, but should have put on
his regular lights which should have made him see the accident mound in
time. The mound was relatively big and visible, being 2-3 ft high and 1-1/2 ft
wide. Also, he knew of the existence and location of the mound, having seen
it many previous times.
The negligence of Antonio was not only contributory to his and his
wifes injuries but goes to thevery cause of the occurrence of the
accident, as one of its determining factors, and therebyprecludes their
right to recover damages. The perils of the road were known to the
spouses. By exercising reasonable care and prudence, Antonio could have
avoided the injurious consequences of his act, even assuming arguendo that
there was some alleged negligence on the part of PLDT.
The omission to perform a duty, such as the placing of warning
signs on the site of the excavation, constitutes the proximate cause only
when the doing of the said omitted act would have prevented the
injury. As a resident of Lacson Street, he passed on that street almost
everyday and had knowledge of the presence and location of the excavations
there; hence, the presence of warning signs could not have completely
prevented the accident. Furthermore, Antonio had the last clear chance to
avoid the accident, notwithstanding the negligence he imputes to PLDT.
A person claiming damages for the negligence of another has
the burden of proving the existence of such fault or negligence
causative thereof, otherwise, his action must fail. The facts constitutive of

negligence must be affirmatively established by competent evidence. In

this case, there was insufficient evidence to prove any negligence on the part
of PLDT. What was presented was just the self-serving testimony of Antonio
and the unverified photograph of a portion of the scene of the accident. The
absence of a police report and the non-submission of a medical report from
the hospital where the spouses were allegedly treated have not even been
FACTS: In 1918, Basilio Ilano and Proceso Gayetano took a carromata with a
view to going to a cockpit. When the driver of the carromata had started in
the direction indicated, the defendant, Agaton Araneta, stopped the horse, at
the same time protesting to the driver that he himself had called this
carromata first. The driver, Julio Pagnaya, replied that he had not heard or
seen the call of Araneta. Pagnaya pulled on the reins of the bridle to free the
horse from the control of Araneta, in order that the vehicle might pass on.
Owing to the looseness of the bridle on the horse's head or to the rottenness
of the material of which it was made, the bit came out of the horse's mouth;
and it became necessary for the driver to get out in order to find the bridle.
Meanwhile one of the passengers, Ilano, had alighted but the other,
Gayetano, had unfortunately retained his seat, and after the runaway horse
had proceeded up the street Gayetano jumped or fell from the rig, and in so
doing received injuries from which he soon died.
ISSUE: W/N the proximate cause of the accident was the stopping of the
horse by Araneta.
RULING: Judgement reversed and defendant absolved from the complaint.
RATIO: The stopping of the rig by Araneta was too remote from the accident
that presently ensued to be considered the legal or proximate cause thereof.
Moreover, by getting out and taking his post at the head of the horse, the
driver was the person primarily responsible for the control of the animal, and
the defendant cannot be charged with liability for the accident resulting from
the action of the horse thereafter. The evidence indicates that the bridle was
old, and the leather of which it was made was probably so weak as to be
easily broken. According to the witnesses for the defendant, it was Julio who
jerked the rein, thereby causing the bit to come out of the horse's mouth; and
that after alighting, led the horse over to the curb, and proceeded to fix the
bridle; and that in so doing the bridle was slipped entirely off, when the
horse, feeling himself free from control, started to go away as previously

Honoria Vda. de Gregorio, et. al. vs, Go Chong Bing

No. L-7763. 2 December 1957
Appeal from a judgment of the CFI Davao
Labrador, J.:
Facts: Defendant, owner of trucks, had a driver and a "cargador" by the name
of Francisco Romera. In the afternoon of June 2, 1952, defendant ordered
Romera to drive his tuck with instructions that he follow another truck which
was to be driven by the defendant's driver. On its way, some persons boarded
the truck, one of them was a uniformed polceman by the name of Venana
Orfanel. After a while, Orfanel asked and insisted on driving the truck.
Romera, out of respect and belief that Orfanel knew how to drive well,
allowed Orfanel to take the wheel. While Orfanel was driving, they came to a
truck that was about to park on the left side of the road. To avoid collision,
Orfanel swerved to the right and hit two pedestrians and ran over one of
them named Quirico Gregorio. Orfanel was prosecuted for homicide with
reckless imprudence. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced accordingly. The
heirs of Gregorio brought present case for damages against the defendant,
owner of the truck that ran over Gregorio. The CFI dismissed the case on the
ground that the death of Gregorio was caused by a negligent act/omission of
a person that is not, in any way, related to the defendant.
Issue: WON defendant may be held liable for damages.
Ruling: Judgment affirmed.
Where the death/accident is brought by an act/omission of a person who is
not, in any way, related to the defendant, and the said act is the proximate,
immediate and direct cause of the death of the victim, or accident which is
punishable by law, defendant should be absolved from any civil liability.
The reason is not because the one responsible for the accident had already

indemnified the victim but because there is no direct, causal connection

between the negligence/violation of law by the defendant to the death of the


To be exempt from liability due to an act of God, the
engineer/architect/contractor must not have been negligent in the
construction of the building.

Private respondents Philippine Bar Association (PBA) a non-profit
organization formed under the corporation law decided to put up a building in
Intramuros, Manila. Hired to plan the specifications of the building were Juan
Nakpil & Sons, while United Construction was hired to construct it. The
proposal was approved by the Board of Directors and signed by the President,
Ramon Ozaeta. The building was completed in 1966.

In 1968, there was an unusually strong earthquake which caused the building
heavy damage, which led the building to tilt forward, leading the tenants to
vacate the premises. United Construction took remedial measures to sustain
the building.

PBA filed a suit for damages against United Construction, but United
Construction subsequently filed a suit against Nakpil and Sons, alleging
defects in the plans and specifications.

Technical Issues in the case were referred to Mr. Hizon, as a court appointed
Commissioner. PBA moved for the demolition of the building, but was
opposed. PBA eventually paid for the demolition after the building suffered
more damages in 1970 due to previous earthquakes. The Commissioner
found that there were deviations in the specifications and plans, as well as
defects in the construction of the building.


Whether or not an act of God (fortuitous event) exempts from liability parties
who would otherwise be due to negligence?

Art. 1723 dictates that the engineer/architect and contractor are liable for
damages should the building collapse within 15 years from completion.

Art. 1174 of the NCC, however, states that no person shall be responsible for
events, which could not be foreseen. But to be exempt from liability due to an
act of God, the ff must occur:

1) cause of breach must be independent of the will of the debtor

2) event must be unforeseeable or unavoidable
3) event must be such that it would render it impossible for the debtor to
fulfill the obligation
4) debtor must be free from any participation or aggravation of the industry
to the creditor.

In the case at bar, although the damage was ultimately caused by the
earthquake which was an act of God, the defects in the construction, as well
as the deviations in the specifications and plans aggravated the damage, and
lessened the preventive measures that the building would otherwise have
Facts: The Philippine Bar Association wanted to erect a building in its lot in
Intramuros. They were able to obtain a contract with the United Construction
Company Inc for the construction of the building and the design was obtained
from Juan M. Nakpil & Sons and Juan F. Nakpil. The Building was completed in
June 1966. On August 2, 1968 a massive earthquake hit Manila with an
intensity of about 7.3. This earthquake caused damage to the building and
caused it to lean forward dangerously which led to the vacation of the
building. United Construction Company in turn shored up the building and
incurred 13,661.28 php as costs. The PBA then instituted a case against UCC
for damages due to its negligence regarding the construction of the said
building thru its failure to follow the designs coming from the architects. UCC
then filed a complint against the archetechts (Nakpil & Sons) alleging that it
was the designs that are flawed and that caused the buildings inability to

withstand an earthquake. UCC also included the president of PBA for

including them in their petition. Nakpil & Sons answer that the petitioners
need not to change the defendants in their petition as UCC deviated from the
plans which caused the damages to the building. In the course of the trial a
commissioner was appointed by both parties to give a report regarding the
technical aspects of the case. His report concluded that indeed there were
faults arising from the negligence of both defendants. The report stated that
the design was flawed and that UCC deviated from the designs which
aggravated the problem. The defendants then put up the Act of God defense.
Issue: Whether or not the defendants could escape liability from the building
due to a fortuitous event which is unforeseeable and inevitable even if their
negligence is established
Held: The defendants cannot validly invoke the Act of God defense. This is
because of the report submitted by the appointed Commissioner which
established their negligence. Acceptance of the building, after completion,
does not imply waiver of any of the causes of action by reason of any defect.
To exempt the obligor from its liability these requisites should first concur: (a)
the cause of the breach of the obligation must be independent of the will of
the debtor; (b) the event must be either unforseeable or unavoidable; (c) the
event must be such as to render it impossible for the debtor to fulfill his
obligation in a normal manner; and (d) the debtor must be free from any
participation in, or aggravation of the injury to the creditor. The report of the
Commissioner established that the defects that occurred to the building could
be attributed to the act of man specifically that of the architects and the
engineers as well as the builders. This was because of the fact that UCC
deviated from the plans submitted by the architects and their failure to
observe the required marksmanship in constructing the building as well as
the required degree of supervision. Nakpil & Sons are also liable for the
inadequacies and defect in their submitted plan and specifications. These
circumstances are the proximate causes of the damages that the PBA
building incurred. The costs are to be paid by the defendants amounting to
5M which includes all appreciable damages as well as indemnity plus
100,000php for the atty fee.
One who negligently creates a dangerous condition cannot escape liability for
the natural and probable consequences thereof, although the act of a third
person, or an act of God for which he is not responsible, intervenes to
precipitate the loss.


Facts: On Nov. 4, 1967, a typhoon called Welming hit Central Luzon passing
through NAPOCORs Angat Hydro-Electric Project Dam in Bulacan. The water
level had reach the danger height of 212 meters above sea level and abruptly
opened the spillway gates. This action by NAPOCOR had an extraordinary
large volume of water rushed and hit the installations and construction works
of ECI (Engineering Construction, Inc.) a contractor of NAWASA for its tunnel
in Bulacan. The negligent manner of opening the spillway gates by NAPOCOR
had washed away, lost or destroyed ECIs facilities and structures. NAPOCOR
alleged that the destruction and loss was due to force majeure.
Issue: WON NAPOCOR is liable for the destruction.
Ruling: Petition Dismissed
Ratio: NAPOCOR cannot escape liability because its negligence was the
proximate cause of the loss and damage even though the typhoon was an act
of God. It was undoubtly negligent when it only opened the spillway gates at
the height of typhoon Welming when it knew very well that it was safer to
open it gradually. To be exempt from liability, NAPOCOR must be free from
any previous negligence.
At the height of the typhoon Kading, a flash flood covered the towns near
the Angat Dam, causing deaths and destructions to residents and their
properties. Respondents blamed the tragedy to the reckless and imprudent
opening of the 3 floodgates by petitioner, without prior warning to the
residents within the vicinity of the dam. Petitioners denied the allegations and
contended that they have kept the water at a safe level, that the opening of
floodgates was done gradually, that it exercises diligence in the selection of
its employees, and that written warnings were sent to the residents. It further
contended that there was no direct causal relationship between the damage
and the alleged negligence on their part, that the residents assumed the risk
by living near the dam, and that what happened was a fortuitous event and
are of the nature of damnum absque injuria.

(1) Whether the petitioner can be held liable even though the coming of the
typhoon is a fortuitous event
(2) Whether a notice was sent to the residents
(3) Whether the damage suffered by respondents is one of damnum absque
(1) The obligor cannot escape liability, if upon the happening of a fortuitous
event or an act of God, a corresponding fraud, negligence, delay or violation
or contravention in any manner of the tenor of the obligation as provided in
Article 1170 of the Civil Code which results in loss or damage. Even if there
was no contractual relation between themselves and private respondents,
they are still liable under the law on quasi-delict. Article 2176 of the Civil
Code explicitly provides "whoever by act or omission causes damage to
another there being fault or negligence is obliged to pay for the damage
done." Act of God or force majeure, by definition, are extraordinary events
not foreseeable or avoidable, events that could not be foreseen, or which,
though foreseen, are inevitable. It is therefore not enough that the event
should not have been foreseen or anticipated, as is commonly believed, but it
must be one impossible to foresee or to avoid. The principle embodied in the
act of God doctrine strictly requires that the act must be occasioned solely by
the violence of nature. Human intervention is to be excluded from creating or
entering into the cause of the mischief. When the effect is found to be in part
the result of the participation of man, whether due to his active intervention
or neglect or failure to act, the whole occurrence is then humanized and
removed from the rules applicable to the acts of God. In the case at bar,
although the typhoon "Kading" was an act of God, petitioners can not escape
liability because their negligence was the proximate cause of the loss and
(2) The letter itself, addressed merely "TO ALL CONCERNED", would not strike
one to be of serious importance, sufficient enough to set alarm and cause
people to take precautions for their safety's sake. The notices were not
delivered, or even addressed to responsible officials of the municipalities
concerned who could have disseminated the warning properly. They were
delivered to ordinary employees and policemen. As it happened, the said
notices do not appear to have reached the people concerned, which are the
residents beside the Angat River. The plaintiffs in this case definitely did not
receive any such warning. Indeed, the methods by which the defendants
allegedly sent the notice or warning was so ineffectual that they cannot
claim, as they do in their second assignment of error, that the sending of said
notice has absolved them from liability.
(3) We cannot give credence to petitioners' third assignment of error that the
damage caused by the opening of the dam was in the nature ofdamnum
absque injuria, which presupposes that although there was physical damage,
there was no legal injury in view of the fortuitous events. There is no question

that petitioners have the right, duty and obligation to operate, maintain and
preserve the facilities of Angat Dam, but their negligence cannot be
countenanced, however noble their intention may be. The end does not
justify the means, particularly because they could have done otherwise than
simultaneously opening the spillways to such extent. Needless to say,
petitioners are not entitled to counterclaim.


Medina is the owner and operator of a bus. This bus, on Sept. 13, 1952
around 2:00AM somewhere in Imus, Cavite, crashed and fell into a ditch.
Apparently, its front tire burst, zig-zagged and turned turtle into the ditch.
Bataclan was one of the 18 passengers. Most of the passengers were able to
get out, but Bataclan and 3 others were trapped. It appears that the bus
drivers and the passengers who already got out did not try to help Bataclan
et al get out, instead, about 10 of the locals in the area came to their aid,
they were carrying a burning torch for illumination, but then a fierce fire
started and engulfed the bus and killed Bataclan et al. It appears that there
was a gas leak from the bus and it caught fire from the torch the would-be
rescuers were using.
The heirs of Bataclan sued Medina.
The trial court found that there was a breach of a contract of carriage where
Medina undertook to take Bataclan to his destination safely. The trial court
also found that there was negligence on the part of Medina since at the time
of the blow-out, the bus was speeding. There is no question that under the
circumstances, the defendant carrier is liable. The only question is to what
degree. The trial court argued that Medina is only liable for the injuries
suffered by Bataclan and not by his death, the proximate cause of which was
the fire, which was not caused by Medina.
ISSUE: Whether or not it was the negligence of Medina, owner of the bus
company, which was the proximate cause of the death of Bataclan.
Yes. In this case, the proximate cause of the death was the overturning of the
bus, because of the overturning, it leaked gas which is not unnatural or
unexpected. The locals coming to the aid of the trapped passengers was
most likely because the driver and the conductor went out looking for help. It
is only natural that the would-be rescuers bring with them a torch because it
was 2:30AM and the place was unlit. The fire could also be attributed to the
bus driver and conductor because he should have known, from the
circumstances, and because he should have been able to smell gasoline and
therefore he should have warned the rescuers not to bring the torch. Said
negligence on the part of the agents of the carrier come under the codal
provisions above-reproduced, particularly, Articles 1733, 1759 and 1763.
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. And more
comprehensively, the proximate legal cause is that acting first and producing
the injury, either immediately or by setting other events in motion, all
constituting a natural and continuous chain of events, each having a close

causal connection with its immediate predecessor, the final event in the chain
immediately effecting the injury as a natural and probable result of the cause
which first acted, under such circumstances that the person responsible for
the first event should, as an ordinarily prudent and intelligent person, have
reasonable ground to expect at the moment of his act or default that an
injury to some person might probably result therefrom.
FACTS: Pass-midnight in September 1952, Juan Bataclan rode a bus owned
by Mariano Medina from Cavite to Pasay. While on its way, the driver of the
bus was driving fast and when he applied the brakes it cause the bus to be
overturned. The driver, the conductor, and some passengers were able to
free themselves from the bus except Bataclan and 3 others. The passengers
called the help of the villagers and as it was dark, the villagers brought torch
with them. The driver and the conductor failed to warn the would-be helpers
of the fact that gasoline has spilled from the overturned bus so a huge fire
ensued which engulfed the bus thereby killing the 4 passengers trapped
inside. It was also found later in trial that the tires of the bus were old.
ISSUE: Whether or not the proximate cause of the death of Bataclan et al
was their burning by reason of the torches which ignited the gasoline.
HELD: No. The proximate cause was the overturning of the bus which was
caused by the negligence of the driver because he was speeding and also he
was already advised by Medina to change the tires yet he did not. Such
negligence resulted to the overturning of the bus. The torches carried by the
would-be helpers are not to be blamed. It is just but natural for the villagers
to respond to the call for help from the passengers and since it is a rural area
which did not have flashlights, torches are the natural source of lighting.
Further, the smell of gas could have been all over the place yet the driver and
the conductor failed to provide warning about said fact to the villagers.
Proximate cause is 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.
And more comprehensively, the proximate legal cause is that acting first and
producing the injury, either immediately or by setting other events in motion,
all constituting a natural and continuous chain of events, each having a close
causal connection with its immediate predecessor, the final event in the chain
immediately effecting the injury as a natural and probable result of the cause
which first acted, under such circumstances that the person responsible for

the first event should, as an ordinary prudent and intelligent person, have
reasonable ground to expect at the moment of his act or default that an
injury to some person might probably result therefrom.

Rakes v. The Atlantic Gulf and Pacific Company

Rakes, respondents employee, was at work transporting iron rails from a
barge in the harbour to the companys yard. At a certain spot near the
waters edge, the track sagged, the car canted, the rails slid off and caught
Rakes. He was amputated at about the knee. Rakes claims that only one hand
car was used in his work. Atlantic has proved that there were two, so that the
end of the rails lay upon sills secured to the cars, but without side pieces to
prevent them from slipping off.
Whether there is contributory negligence on the part of petitioner
While Atlantic was negligent in failing to repair the bed of the track, Rakes
was guilty of contributory negligence in walking at the side instead of being
in front or behind. The amount of damages should be reduced.

Taylor v. Manila Electric Railroad and Light Co.

Plaintiff David Taylor was 15 years old at the time he received the injuries
that gave rise to this complaint. On September 30, 1905, plaintiff and Manuel
Claparols, about 12 years of age, went to the power plant owned by the
defendant to visit one Murphy, an employee. Not being able to find Murphy
on inquiry, the boys for curiosity wandered around the premises and reached
the place where the company dumped in the cinders and ashes from its
furnaces. There they found some 20-30 fulminating caps scattered on the
ground. The caps are intended for explosion of dynamites, and have in
themselves explosive power. The boys picked up the caps and carried them
home. Along the way they met Jessie Adrian, a 9-year old girl. The 3 went to
Manuels house and performed a little experiment. They opened the caps and
found yellowish substance. They lighted a match and applied it on the
contents. The girl became frightened and ran away. The substance exploded,
causing a slight cut on Jessies neck, burns on Manuel, and loss of Davids
eyesight. Plaintiff sued the company for damages.
Whether the company could be faulted for the allowing the children to be
exposed to the harmful substances
Fulminating caps or detonators for the discharge by electricity of blasting
charges by dynamite are not articles in common use by the average citizen,
and under all the circumstances, and in the absence of all evidence to the

contrary, we think that the discovery of twenty or thirty of these caps at the
place where they were found by the plaintiff on defendant's premises fairly
justifies the inference that the defendant company was either the owner of
the caps in question or had the caps under its possession and control. We
think also that the evidence tends to disclose that these caps or detonators
were willfully and knowingly thrown by the company or its employees at the
spot where they were found, with the expectation that they would be buried
out of the sight by the ashes which it was engaged in dumping in that
neighborhood, they being old and perhaps defective; and, however this may
be, we are satisfied that the evidence is sufficient to sustain a finding that the
company or some of its employees either willfully or through an oversight left
them exposed at a point on its premises which the general public, including
children at play, where not prohibited from visiting, and over which the
company knew or ought to have known that young boys were likely to roam
about in pastime or in play.
It is clear that the accident could not have happened and not the fulminating
caps been left exposed at the point where they were found, or if their owner
had exercised due care in keeping them in an appropriate place; but it is
equally clear that plaintiff would not have been injured had he not, for his
own pleasure and convenience, entered upon the defendant's premises, and
strolled around thereon without the express permission of the defendant, and
had he not picked up and carried away the property of the defendant which
he found on its premises, and had he not thereafter deliberately cut open one
of the caps and applied a match to its contents.
Children are actuated by similar childish instincts and impulses. Drawn by
curiosity and impelled by the restless spirit of youth, boys here as well as
there will usually be found whenever the public is permitted to congregate.
The movement of machinery, and indeed anything which arouses the
attention of the young and inquiring mind, will draw them to the
neighborhood as inevitably as does the magnet draw the iron which comes
within the range of its magnetic influence. The owners of premises, therefore,
whereon things attractive to children are exposed, or upon which the public
are expressly or impliedly permitted to enter or upon which the owner knows
or ought to know children are likely to roam about for pastime and in play,
"must calculate upon this, and take precautions accordingly." In such cases
the owner of the premises can not be heard to say that because the child has
entered upon his premises without his express permission he is a trespasser
to whom the owner owes no duty or obligation whatever. The owner's failure
to take reasonable precautions to prevent the child from entering his
premises at a place where he knows or ought to know that children are
accustomed to roam about of to which their childish instincts and impulses
are likely to attract them is at least equivalent to an implied license to enter,
and where the child does enter under such conditions the owner's failure to
take reasonable precautions to guard the child against injury from unknown
or unseen dangers, placed upon such premises by the owner, is clearly a
breach of duty, responsible, if the child is actually injured, without other fault
on its part than that it had entered on the premises of a stranger without his
express invitation or permission. To hold otherwise would be expose all the

children in the community to unknown perils and unnecessary danger at the

whim of the owners or occupants of land upon which they might naturally and
reasonably be expected to enter.
But while we hold that the entry of the plaintiff upon defendant's property
without defendant's express invitation or permission would not have relieved
defendant from responsibility for injuries incurred there by plaintiff, without
other fault on his part, if such injury were attributable to the negligence of
the defendant, we are of opinion that under all the circumstances of this case
the negligence of the defendant in leaving the caps exposed on its premises
was not the proximate cause of the injury received by the plaintiff, which
therefore was not, properly speaking, "attributable to the negligence of the
defendant," and, on the other hand, we are satisfied that plaintiffs action in
cutting open the detonating cap and putting match to its contents was the
proximate cause of the explosion and of the resultant injuries inflicted upon
the plaintiff, and that the defendant, therefore is not civilly responsible for the
injuries thus incurred.
As was said in case of Railroad Co. vs. Stout, "While it is the general rule in
regard to an adult that to entitle him to recover damages for an injury
resulting from the fault or negligence of another he must himself have been
free from fault, such is not the rule in regard to an infant of tender years. The
care and caution required of a child is according to his maturity and capacity
only, and this is to be determined in each case by the circumstances of the
case." In the case at bar, plaintiff at the time of the accident was a wellgrown youth of 15, more mature both mentally and physically than the
average boy of his age. The evidence of record leaves no room for doubt that,
despite his denials on the witness stand, he well knew the explosive
character of the cap with which he was amusing himself. The series of
experiments made by him in his attempt to produce an explosion admit of no
other explanation. His attempt to discharge the cap by the use of electricity,
followed by his efforts to explode it with a stone or a hammer, and the final
success of his endeavors brought about by the application of a match to the
contents of the caps, show clearly that he knew what he was about.
We are satisfied that the plaintiff in this case had sufficient capacity and
understanding to be sensible of the danger to which he exposed himself
when he put the match to the contents of the cap; that he was sui juris in the
sense that his age and his experience qualified him to understand and
appreciate the necessity for the exercise of that degree of caution which
would have avoided the injury which resulted from his own deliberate act;
and that the injury incurred by him must be held to have been the direct and
immediate result of his own willful and reckless act, so that while it may be
true that these injuries would not have been incurred but for the negligence
act of the defendant in leaving the caps exposed on its premises,
nevertheless plaintiff's own act was the proximate and principal cause of the
accident which inflicted the injury.

David Taylor was a 15 year old boy who spent time as a cabin boy at sea; he
was also able to learn some principles of mechanical engineering and
mechanical drawing from his dads office (his dad was a mechanical
engineer); he was also employed as a mechanical draftsman earning P2.50 a
day all said, Taylor was mature well beyond his age.
One day in 1905, he and another boy entered into the premises of Manila
Electric power plant where they found 20-30 blasting caps which they took
home. In an effort to explode the said caps, Taylor experimented until he
succeeded in opening the caps and then he lighted it using a match which
resulted to the explosion of the caps causing severe injuries to his companion
and to Taylor losing one eye.
Taylor sued Manila Electric alleging that because the company left the caps
exposed to children, they are liable for damages due to the companys
ISSUE: Whether or not Manila Electric is liable for damages.
HELD: No. The SC reiterated the elements of quasi delict as follows:
(1) Damages to the plaintiff.
(2) Negligence by act or omission of which defendant personally, or some
person for whose acts it must respond, was guilty.
(3) The connection of cause and effect between the negligence and the
In the case at bar, it is true that Manila Electric has been negligent in
disposing off the caps which they used for the power plant, and that said
caps caused damages to Taylor. However, the causal connection between the
companys negligence and the injuries sustained by Taylor is absent. It is in
fact the direct acts of Taylor which led to the explosion of the caps as he
even, in various experiments and in multiple attempts, tried to explode the
caps. It is from said acts that led to the explosion and hence the injuries.
Taylor at the time of the accident was well-grown youth of 15, more mature
both mentally and physically than the average boy of his age; he had been to
sea as a cabin boy; was able to earn P2.50 a day as a mechanical draftsman

thirty days after the injury was incurred; and the record discloses throughout
that he was exceptionally well qualified to take care. The evidence of record
leaves no room for doubt that he well knew the explosive character of the
cap with which he was amusing himself. The series of experiments made by
him in his attempt to produce an explosion admit of no other explanation. His
attempt to discharge the cap by the use of electricity, followed by his efforts
to explode it with a stone or a hammer, and the final success of his
endeavors brought about by the applications of a match to the contents of
the cap, show clearly that he knew what he was about. Nor can there be any
reasonable doubt that he had reason to anticipate that the explosion might
be dangerous.
The just thing is that a man should suffer the damage which comes to him
through his own fault, and that he cannot demand reparation therefor from

Anuran V. Buno (1966)

Lessons Applicable: Last Clear Chance (Torts and Damages)


January 12, 1958 noon: passenger jeepney owned by Pedro Gahol and

Luisa Alcantara and driven by Pepito Buo overloaded with (14-16

passengers) was parked on the road to Taal, Batangas when a
speeding motor truck owned by Anselmo Maligaya and Ceferina
Aro driven by Guillermo Razon negligently bumped it from behind, with
such violence that three passengers died and two others suffered injuries
that required their confinement at the Provincial Hospital for many days
Jeepney was parked to let a passanger alight in such a way that

1/2 of its width (the left wheels) was on the asphalted pavement of the
road and the other half, on the right shoulder of the road
suits were instituted by the representatives of the dead and of the
injured, to recover consequently damages against the driver and the
owners of the truck and also against the driver and the owners of the

CFI: absolving the driver of the jeepney and its owners, but it required
the truck driver and the owners to make compensation
CA: Affirmed exoneration of the jeepney

ISSUE: W/N the doctrine of last clear chance can apply so that truck driver
guilty of greater negligence which was the efficient cause of the collision will
be solely liable

HELD: NO. The three defendants last mentioned are required to pay solidarily
with the other defendants-respondents the amounts fixed by the appealed

New Civil Code requires "utmost diligence" from the carriers (Art. 1755)

who are "presumed to have been at fault or to have acted negligently,

unless they prove that they have observed extraordinary diligence" (Art.
principle about the "last clear chance" would call for application in a
suit between the owners and drivers of the two colliding vehicles. It does
not arise where a passenger demands responsibility from the carrier to
enforce its contractual obligations. For it would be inequitable to exempt
the negligent driver of the jeepney and its owners on the ground that the
other driver was likewise guilty of negligence


G.R. No. L-40570. 30 January 1976.
Petition for certiorari to review the decision of the CFI of Pangasinan.
Esguerra, J.:
Facts: On May 14, 1972, a storm with strong rain hit the Municipality of Alcala
Pangasinan. During the storm, the banana plants standing near the
transmission line of the Alcala Electric Plant (AEP) were blown down and fell
on the electric wire. The live electric wire was cut, one end of which was left
hanging on the electric post and the other fell to the ground. The following
morning, barrio captain saw Cipriano Baldomero, a laborer of the AEP, asked
him to fix it, but the latter told the barrio captain that he could not do it but
that he was going to look for the lineman to fix it. Sometime thereafter, a
small boy of 3 years and 8 months old by the name of Manuel P. Saynes,
whose house is just on the opposite side of the road, went to the place where
the broken line wire was and got in contact with it. The boy was electrocuted

and he subsequently died. It was only after the electrocution that the broken
wire was fixed.
Issues: (1) WON the proximate cause of the boy's death is due to a fortuitous
event- storm; (2) WON boys parents negligence exempts petitioner from
Ruling: Decision affirmed.
(1) A careful examination of the records convinces the SC that a series of
negligence on the part of defendants' employees in the AEP resulted in the
death of the victim by electrocution. With ordinary foresight, the employees
of the petitioner could have easily seen that even in case of moderate winds
the electric line would be endangered by banana plants being blown down.
(2) Art. 2179 CC provides that if the negligence of the plaintiff (parents of the
victim in this case) was only contributory, the immediate and proximate
cause of the injury being the defendants' (petitioners) lack of due care, the
plaintiff may recover damages, but the courts shall mitigate the damages to
be awarded. This law may be availed of by the petitioner but does not
exempt him from liability. Petitioner's liability for injury caused by his
employees negligence is well defined in par. 4, of Article 2180 of the Civil

Teodora Astudillo vs. Manila Electric Co.

G.R. No. L-33380. 17 December 1930.
Malcolm, J.:
Facts: In August, 1928, a young man by the name of Juan Astudillo met his
death through electrocution, when he placed his right hand on a wire
connected with an electric light pole situated near Sta Lucia Gate, Intramuros,
in the City of Manila. Shortly thereafter, the mother of the deceased instituted
an action in the CFI Mla to secure from the defendant, Manila Electric
Company, damages. After trial, judgment was rendered in favor of the
Issue: WON defendant did not exercise due care and diligence so as to render
it liable for damages.
Ruling: The SC concludes that the plaintiff is entitled to damages.
It is well established that the liability of electric light companies for damages
for personal injuries is governed by the rules of negligence. Such companies
are, however, not insurers of the safety of the public. But considering that
electricity is an agency, subtle and deadly, the measure of care required of
electric companies must be commensurate with or proportionate to the
danger. The duty of exercising this high degree of diligence and care extends
to every place where persons have a right to be.
In the case at ber, the cause of the injury was one which could have been
foreseen and guarded against. The negligence came from the act of the

defendant in so placing its pole and wires as to be w/n proximity to a place

frequented by many people, with the possibility ever present of one of them
losing his life by coming in contact with a highly charged and defectively
insulated wire.