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Torts and Damages Case Digest: Miranda-Ribaya v. Carbonell (1980)

G.R. No. L-49390  January 28, 1980

Lessons Applicable: Proof and Proximate Cause (Torts and Damages)
Laws Applicable: 


  • April 23, 1968: Mrs. Josefina Roco-Robles, agent of Mrs. Ribaya, told her that Marino Bautista, a millionaire logger was interested to buy diamonds.  Mrs. Ribaya went to the spouses Bautista's home to sell 10 pieces of jewelry for P224,000 which was haggled down to P222,000. 
    • A receipt was signed by Marino Bautista and he issued in exchange of 2 Equitable Banking Corporation checks of P112,000 and P110,000.  Mrs. Ribaya then issued a voucher evidencing the check payment 
  • April 24, 1968Mrs. Ribaya accompanied by Ms. Narcisa Gosioco requested the check of P110,000 to be divided since some were owned by her. 4 checks of Bank of America with amounts of P64,000 to Mrs. Ribaya and P34,000 to Gosioco postdated on June 23, 1968. Mrs. Ribaya also sold 4 more pieces of jewelry for P94,000 in exchange for four checks by Bank of America.  This was transacted at the office of Mr. Bautista at Bank of Philippine Islands Building
  • May 15, 1968: Mrs. Ribaya wanted to replace the 3 pieces sold by her because the owners want them back.  She left it at the Bautista's residence but instead of returning the 3 pieces, Mr. Bautista issued her a check of P45,000 by Bank of America since the 3 pieces were already given as gifts to bank officers.
  • When the maturity dates came, she tried to contact Mr. Bautista but failed because he was on a logging concession so she deposited the checks to her account and it was dishonored due to closed accounts.  She also discovered that her jewelries were pawned to different pawnshops in Manila in the name of the driver, secretary of the daughter of Bautista and a certain Balagot.  Some of which were pawned the same day it was bought.
  • Mrs. Ribaya was able to retrieve one-by-one the pawn tickets of the jewelries she sold and other 3 tickets of jewelries not owned by her.  In order to retrieve them, she had to close down her shop.  But there is still a balance of P125,460.79 excluding those of Ms. Gosioco.  Mrs. Ribaya also promised her attorney 25% of the unpaid obligation.
  • RTC: favored Mrs. Ribaya for P125,460.79 plus 25% attorney's fees but did not grant moral and exemplary damages
  • CA: affirmed RTC
ISSUE: W/N Mrs. Ribaya should be entitled to moral and exemplary damages

HELD: YES. further awarded moral and exemplary damages 25% of P125,460.79

  • In awarding moral damages, there should be pleading and proof of moral suffering, mental anguish, fright
    • does not need to be the precise legal terms or "sacramental phrases" of "mental anguish, fright, serious anxiety, wounded feelings or moral shock" and the like
    • Niceta vividly portrayed in simple terms the moral shock and suffering she underwent as a result of respondents' wanton abuse of her good faith and confidence.
      • petitioners' testimonial evidence to the effect that petitioner Niceta suffered "extremely" and that for three months she could not sleep was a clear demonstration of her physical suffering, mental anguish and serious anxiety and similar injury, resulting from respondents' malevolent acts that show her to be clearly entitled to moral damages
  • having established the moral damages are entitled in addition thereto, to exemplary damages
  • The wantonness and malevolence through which respondents defrauded petitioners, deceitfully incurring and then evading settlement of their just liability certainly justifies the award of exemplary damages by way of example and correction for the public good and also to serve as a deterrent to the commission of similar misdeeds by others, even if the transaction were viewed as a breach of civil contract
  • Here, of course, there was more than wanton refusal to pay a plainly valid and just contractual debt, but a malicious defraudation and gross abuse of petitioners' good faith, whereby petitioners were wantonly "paid" with bouncing postdated checks and besides not being paid what was due them, had to undergo trauma and travail to redeem with their own and borrowed funds from the pawnshops some of the jewelries in order to return them to their owners