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VICTORY LINER, INC. vs.

GAMMAD In the instant case, there is no evidence to rebut the statutory presumption
G.R. No. 159636 | November 25, 2004 that the proximate cause of Marie Grace’s death was the negligence of
petitioner. Hence, the courts below correctly ruled that petitioner was guilty of
FACTS: breach of contract of carriage.
Marie Grace Gammad was a passenger of petitioner’s bus when it fell on a
ravine, which resulted to her death. Hence, heirs of the deceased Marie (3) Nevertheless, the award of damages should be modified. Article 1764 in
Grace filed a case for damages against Victory Liner, Inc. for breach of relation to Article 2206, holds the common carrier in breach of its contract of
contract of carriage. Rosalito Gammad, husband of deceased, completed his carriage that results in the death of a passenger liable to pay the following:
testimony and was scheduled for cross-examination. However, counsel of (1) indemnity for death, (2) indemnity for loss of earning capacity, and
peritioner failed to appear even after a reschedule, and thus the court (3) moral damages.
deemed the petitioner to have waived cross-examination. The petitioner’s
counsel also failed to appear at the presentation of evidence. The court In the present case, respondent heirs of the deceased are entitled to
already deemed the case submitted for resolution when it received belatedly indemnity for the death of Marie Grace which under current jurisprudence is
the telegram of petitioner’s counsel requesting for postponement. fixed at P50,000.00.

ISSUE: The award of compensatory damages for the loss of the deceased’s earning
(1) Is the petitioner bound by the negligence of the counsel? capacity should be deleted for lack of basis. As a rule, documentary
(2) Is the petitioner liable for breach of contract of carriage? evidence should be presented to substantiate the claim for damages for
(3) Is the award of damages proper? loss of earning capacity. By way of exception, damages for loss of
earning capacity may be awarded despite the absence of documentary
RULING: evidence when (1) the deceased is self-employed earning less than the
(1) Yes. As a general rule, client is bound by negligence of counsel. Any minimum wage under current labor laws, and judicial notice may be
act performed by a counsel within the scope of his general or implied taken of the fact that in the deceased’s line of work no documentary
authority is regarded as an act of his client. Consequently, the mistake or evidence is available; or (2) the deceased is employed as a daily wage
negligence of counsel may result in the rendition of an unfavorable judgment worker earning less than the minimum wage under current labor laws.
against the client. However, exceptions have been recognized by the court
in cases where reckless or gross negligence of counsel deprives the Here, the award of compensatory damages for loss of earning capacity was
client of due process of law, or when its application will result in based only on the testimony of respondent Rosalito. No other evidence was
outright deprivation of the clients liberty or property or where the presented. The award is clearly erroneous because the deceased’s earnings
interests of justice so require, and accord relief to the client who does not fall within the exceptions. However, the fact of loss having been
suffered by reason of the lawyers gross or palpable mistake or negligence. established, temperate damages in the amount of P500,000.00 should be
awarded to respondents. Under Article 2224, temperate or moderate
The exceptions, however, are not present in this case. Petitioners claim that damages, which are more than nominal but less than compensatory
it was denied due process lacks basis. Petitioner too is not entirely damages, may be recovered when the court finds that some pecuniary
blameless. loss has been suffered but its amount cannot, from the nature of the
case, be proved with certainty.
(2) Petitioner was correctly found liable for breach of contract of carriage. A
common carrier is bound to carry its passengers safely as far as human care Anent the award of moral damages, the same cannot be lumped with
and foresight can provide, using the utmost diligence of very cautious exemplary damages because they are based on different jural foundations.
persons, with due regard to all the circumstances. In a contract of carriage, it These damages are different in nature and require separate determination.
is presumed that the common carrier was at fault or was negligent when a In culpa contractual or breach of contract, moral damages may be recovered
passenger dies or is injured. Unless the presumption is rebutted, the when the defendant acted in bad faith or was guilty of gross negligence
court need not even make an express finding of fault or negligence on (amounting to bad faith) or in wanton disregard of contractual obligations
the part of the common carrier. This statutory presumption may only be and, as in this case, when the act of breach of contract itself constitutes the
overcome by evidence that the carrier exercised extraordinary diligence. tort that results in physical injuries.  By special rule in Article 1764 in relation
to Article 2206, moral damages may also be awarded in case the death of a
passenger results from a breach of carriage. On the other hand, exemplary with reasonable certainty, the interest shall begin to run from the time
damages, which are awarded by way of example or correction for the public the claim is made judicially or extrajudicially (Art. 1169, Civil Code)
good may be recovered in contractual obligations if the defendant acted in but when such certainty cannot be so reasonably established at the
wanton, fraudulent, reckless, oppressive, or malevolent manner. time the demand is made, the interest shall begin to run only from
the date the judgment of the court is made (at which time the
Respondents in the instant case should be awarded moral damages to quantification of damages may be deemed to have been reasonably
compensate for the grief caused by the death of the deceased resulting from ascertained). The actual base for the computation of legal
the petitioner’s breach of contract of carriage. Furthermore, the petitioner interest shall, in any case, be on the amount finally adjudged.
failed to prove that it exercised the extraordinary diligence required for
common carriers, it is presumed to have acted recklessly. Thus, the award of 3. When the judgment of the court awarding a sum of money
exemplary damages is proper. Under the circumstances, we find it becomes final and executory, the rate of legal interest, whether
reasonable to award respondents the amount of P100,000.00 as moral the case falls under paragraph 1 or paragraph 2, above, shall be
damages and P100,000.00 as exemplary damages. 12% per annum from such finality until its satisfaction, this
interim period being deemed to be by then an equivalent to a
For actual damages, only substantiated and proven expenses or those forbearance of credit.
that appear to have been genuinely incurred in connection with the
death, wake or burial of the victim will be recognized. Hence, actual In the instant case, petitioner should also be held liable for payment of
damages should be further reduced to P78,160.00, which was the amount interest as damages for breach of contract of carriage. Considering that the
supported by official receipts. amounts payable by petitioner has been determined with certainty only in the
instant petition, the interest due shall be computed upon the finality of this
Pursuant to Article 2208, attorney’s fees may also be recovered in the decision at the rate of 12% per annum until satisfaction.
case at bar where exemplary damages are awarded. The Court finds the
award of attorneys fees equivalent to 10% of the total amount adjudged NOTE: Legal interest rate is now fixed at 6%.
against petitioner reasonable.

Finally, when an obligation, regardless of its source (i.e., law, contracts,


quasi-contracts, delicts or quasi-delicts) is breached, the contravenor can
be held liable for payment of interest in the concept of actual and
compensatory damages, subject to the following rules:

1. When the obligation is breached, and it consists in the payment of a


sum of money, i.e., a loan or forbearance of money, the interest due
should be that which may have been stipulated in writing.

Furthermore, the interest due shall itself earn legal interest from the


time it is judicially demanded. In the absence of stipulation, the rate
of interest shall be 12% per annum to be computed from default, i.e.,
from judicial or extrajudicial demand under and subject to the
provisions of Article 1169, Civil Code.

2. When an obligation, not constituting a loan or forbearance of money,


is breached, an interest on the amount of damages awarded may be
imposed at the discretion of the court at the rate of 6%  per annum.
No interest, however, shall be adjudged on unliquidated claims or
damages except when or until the demand can be established with
reasonable certainty. Accordingly, where the demand is established