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D.M. Consunji, Inc. vs.

Court of Appeals and Maria Juego

G.R. No. 137873

Facts:

A construction worker of D.M. Consunji, Inc. named Jose Juego, fell from the 14th floor to the ground in
the Renaissance Tower, Pasig City, leading to his death. He was then crushed to death due to the falling
of the platform in which he was then on board and performing his work. Later, it was found out that the
chain block and platform where he was performing his work, didn’t have a safety lock.

The deceased widow, Maria Juego filed a complaint for damages against the deceased employer, D.M.
Consunji, Inc. in the Regional Trial Court. However, the petitioner raised the widow’s prior availment of
the benefits from the State Insurance Fund. It also argued that in the case of Floresca, the claimants may
invoke either the Workmen’s Compensation Act or the provisions of the Civil Code, subject to the
consequence that the choice of one remedy will exclude the other and that the acceptance of
compensation under the remedy chosen will preclude a claim for additional benefits under the other
remedy. The exception is where a claimant who has already been paid under the Workmen’s
Compensation Act may still sue for damages under the Civil Code on the basis of supervening facts or
developments occurring after he opted for the first remedy. Thus, the petitioner claimed that private
respondent cannot claim ignorance of the Court’s ruling in the case of Floresca allowing a choice of
remedies as it is against Article 3 of the Civil Code.

Issue:

Whether or not private respondent, Maria Juego, is already barred from claiming the damages under the
Civil Code pursuant to its Article 3 “Ignorance of the law excuses no one from compliance therewith”

Ruling:

No. The court ruled that the application to the provision of Article 3 is only limited to mandatory and
prohibitory laws. This may be deduced from the language of the provision, which, notwithstanding a
person’s ignorance, does not excuse his or her compliance with the laws. Also, the rule in the case of
Floresca allowing private respondent a choice of remedies is neither mandatory nor prohibitory. Hence,
Maria Juego’s ignorance thereof cannot be held against her.

There is also no proof that private respondent has knowledge that her husband died in the elevator crash
when she accomplished her application for benefits from the ECC on November 15, 1990. Accordingly, it
was found out that the police investigation was date on November 25, 1990, 10 days after her
accomplishment of the form. Petitioner then filed the application on her behalf 2 days after. There is also
no showing that she knew the remedies available to her when the claim before ECC was filed.