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Torts and Damages Case Digest: PNOC v. CA (1998)

G.R. No. 107518  October 8, 1998
Lessons Applicable: Kinds of Damages (Torts and Damages)
Laws Applicable: 


  • September 21, 1977 early morning: M/V Maria Efigenia XV, owned by Maria Efigenia Fishing Corporation on its way to Navotas, Metro Manila collided with the vessel Petroparcel owned by the Luzon Stevedoring Corporation (LSC)
  • Board of Marine Inquiry, Philippine Coast Guard Commandant Simeon N. Alejandro found Petroparcel to be at fault 
  • Maria Efigenia sued the LSC and the Petroparcel captain, Edgardo Doruelo praying for an award of P692,680.00 representing the value of the fishing nets, boat equipment and cargoes of M/V Maria Efigenia XV  with interest at the legal rate plus 25% as attorney’s fees and later on amended to add the lost value of the hull  less the P200K insurance and unrealized profits and lost business opportunities 
  • During the pendency of the case, PNOC Shipping and Transport Corporation sought to be substituted in place of LSC as it acquired Petroparcel
  • Lower Court: against PNOC ordering it to pay P6,438,048 value of the fishing boat with interest plus P50K attorney's fees and cost of suit
  • CA: affirmed in toto
ISSUE: W/N the damage was adequately proven

HELD: YES. affirming with modification actual damages of  P6,438,048.00 for lack of evidentiary bases therefor. P2M nominal damages instead.

  • in connection with evidence which may appear to be of doubtful relevancy or incompetency or admissibility, it is the safest policy to be liberal, not rejecting them on doubtful or technical grounds, but admitting them unless plainly irrelevant, immaterial or incompetent, for the reason that their rejection places them beyond the consideration of the court.  
    • If they are thereafter found relevant or competent, can easily be remedied by completely discarding or ignoring them
  • two kinds of actual or compensatory damages: 
    • loss of what a person already possesses (daño emergente)
    • failure to receive as a benefit that which would have pertained to him
  • in the case of profit-earning chattels, what has to be assessed is the value of the chattel to its owner as a going concern at the time and place of the loss, and this means, at least in the case of ships, that regard must be had to existing and pending engagements
  • If the market value of the ship reflects the fact that it is in any case virtually certain of profitable employment, then nothing can be added to that value in respect of charters actually lost, for to do so would be pro tanto to compensate the plaintiff twice over.
  • if the ship is valued without reference to its actual future engagements and only in the light of its profit-earning potentiality, then it may be necessary to add to the value thus assessed the anticipated profit on a charter or other engagement which it was unable to fulfill.
  • damages cannot be presumed and courts, in making an award must point out specific facts that could afford a basis for measuring whatever compensatory or actual damages are borne
  • proven through sole testimony of general manager without objection from LSC
  • Admissibility of evidence refers to the question of whether or not the circumstance (or evidence) is to considered at all. On the other hand, the probative value of evidence refers to the question of whether or not it proves an issue
    • Hearsay evidence whether objected to or not has no probative value.
  • In the absence of competent proof on the actual damage suffered, private respondent is `entitled to nominal damages which, as the law says, is adjudicated in order that a right of the plaintiff, which has been violated or invaded by defendant, may be vindicated and recognized, and not for the purpose of indemnifying the plaintiff for any loss suffered
    • awarded in every obligation arising from law, contracts, quasi-contracts, acts or omissions punished by law, and quasi-delicts, or in every case where property right has been invaded.
    • damages in name only and not in fact
    • amount to be awarded as nominal damages shall be equal or at least commensurate to the injury sustained by private respondent considering the concept and purpose of such damages
  • Ordinarily, the receipt of insurance payments should diminish the total value of the vessel quoted by private respondent in his complaint considering that such payment is causally related to the loss for which it claimed compensation.
  • Its failure to pay the docket fee corresponding to its increased claim for damages under the amended complaint should not be considered as having curtailed the lower court’s jurisdiction since the unpaid docket fee should be considered as a lien on the judgment