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MANILA STEAMSHIP CO V. ABDULHAMAN 2.

WON Manila Steamship is liable for the negligence


of his agents and employees?
FACTS: 3. WON Lim Hong To (owner of Consuelo V) should
1. On may 4, 1948 at around 7pm, Consuelo V also be held liable?
laden with cargoes and passengers and cargoes
left Zamboanga for Siokon. Among the passengers HELD:
were Abdulhaman and his wife and five children. First Issue: NO.
2. On the same night, rain began to fall which cause 1. While it is true that Abdulhammanfs action
lashing waves. It lasted for an hour and the against Petitioner is based on a tort or quasi-
weather was becoming normal. delict, the tort in question is not a civil tort under
3. Suddenly, Consuelo V collided with Bowline Knot. the Civil Code but a maritime tort resulting in a
Consuelo capsized and the passengers found collision at sea, governed by Articles 826-939 of
themselves swimming and floating. 9 passengers the Code of Commerce.
were dead and missing and all the cargoes were 2. Under Article 827 of the Code of Commerce, in
lost. case of collision between two vessels imputable to
4. Among the passengers that died were the family both of them, each vessel shall suffer her own
of Abdulhaman. damage and both shall be solidarily liable for the
5. Board of Marine Inquiry: The commanding officer damages occasioned to their cargoes.
of the colliding vessels had both been negligent in 3. The characteristic language of the law in making
operating their respective vessels. the vessels solidarily liable for the damages due
6. CA: affirmed. Both vessels are solidarily liable to to the maritime collision emphasizes the direct
Abdulhamman for the damages cause to him nature of the responsibilities on account of the
under Article 827 of the Code of Commerce. collision incurred by the shipowner under
a. It also exempted Lim Hong To from liability maritime law, as distinguished from the civil law
by reason of the sinking and total loss of his and mercantile law in general.
vessel, the M/L Consuelo V a. This direct responsibility is recognized in
7. Manila Steamship appeals contending that: Article 618 of the Code of Commerce under
a. It is exempt from any liability under Article which the captain shall be civilly liable to
1903 because it had exercised the diligence the ship agent, and the latter is the one
of a good father of a family in the selection liable to third persons.
of its employees, particularly Ilagan, the b. In fact, it is a general principle, well
officer in command of Bowline. established maritime law and custom, that
b. It should not be held liable for the shipowners and ship agents are civilly liable
negligence of his agents and employees. for the acts of the captain and for the
indemnities due the third persons.
ISSUES:
1. WON Manila Steamship is exempted from any Second Issue: YES.
liability under Art. 1903?
1. The doctrines cited by the Appellant in support of 1. By operating with an unlicensed master, Lim Hong
his theory have reference to the relations between To deliberately increased the risk to which the
principal and agent in general, but not to the passengers and shippers of cargo aboard the
relations between ship agent and his agents and Consuelo V would be subjected.
employees; this reason they cannot be applied in 2. In his desire to reap greater benefits in the
the present case. maritime trade, Lim Hong To willfully augmented
2. It is easy to see that to admit the defense of due the dangers and hazards to his vessels unwarry
diligence of a bonus paterfamilias (in the selection passengers, who would normally assume that the
and vigilance of the officers and crew) as launch officers possessed the necessary skill and
exempting the shipowner from any liability for experience to evade the perils of the sea.
their faults, would render nugatory the solidary 3. Hence, the liability of said Respondent cannot be
liability established by Article 827 of the Code of the identical to that of a shipowner who bears in
Commerce for the greater protection of injured mind the safety of the passengers and cargo by
parties. employing duly licensed officers. To hold, as the
a. Shipowners would be able to escape liability Court of Appeals has done, that Lim Hong To may
in practically every case, considering that limit his liability to the value of his vessels, is to
the qualifications and licensing of ship erase all difference between compliance with law
masters and officers are determined by the and the deliberate disregard thereof. To such
State, and that vigilance is practically proposition we cannot assent.
impossible to exercise over officers and 4. The international rule is to the effect that the right
crew of vessels at sea. of abandonment of vessels, as a legal limitation of
b. To compel the parties prejudiced to look to a shipowners liability, does not apply to cases
the crew for indemnity and redress would be where the injury or the average is due to
an illusory remedy for almost always its shipowners own fault.
members are, from captains down, mere 5. That Lim Hong To understood that he would incur
wage earners. greater liability than that normally borne by
3. The present case, on the other hand, involves shipowners, is clear from his assumption of full
tortious conduct resulting in a maritime collision; risk and responsibility for all the consequences of
the liability of the shipowner is, as already stated, the operation of the M/L Consuelo V;
governed by the provisions of the Code of responsibility expressly assumed in his letter, and
Commerce and not by the Civil Code. imposed in his special permit, in addition to the
vessel itself being held answerable.
Third Issue: YES