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Torts and Damages Case Digest: Joaquinita P. Capili v. Sps. Dominador and Rosalita Cardana (2006)

G.R. No. 157906   November 2, 2006

Lessons Applicable: Res ipsa loquitur (Torts and Damages)
Laws Applicable: Article 2176 of the Civil Code


  • February 1, 1993: Jasmin Cardaa was walking along the San Roque Elementary School when a branch of a caimito tree located within the school premises fell on her, causing her instantaneous death.  Her parents Dominador and Rosalita Cardaa filed a case for damages against the school principal Joaquinita Capili knowing that the tree was dead and rotting did not dispose of it
  • RTC: dismissed for failing to show negligence on the part of Capili
  • CA: reversed. Awarded P50,000 as indemnity for the death of Jasmin and P15,010 as reimbursement of her burial expenses, moral damages P50,000 and attorney's fees and litigation P10,000
ISSUE: W/N Capili can be held liable for damages under Res ipsa loquitur 


  • negligent act
    • inadvertent(unintentional) act
    • may be merely carelessly done from a lack of ordinary prudence and may be one which creates a situation involving an unreasonable risk to another because of the expectable action of the other, a third person, an animal, or a force of nature
    • an ordinary prudent person in the actor's position, in the same or similar circumstances, would foresee such an appreciable risk of harm to others as to cause him not to do the act or to do it in a more careful manner
  • The probability that the branches of a dead and rotting tree could fall and harm someone is clearly a danger that is foreseeable.  As school principal, she was tasked to see to the maintenance of the school grounds and safety of the children within the school and its premises.  Moreover, even if petitioner had assigned disposal of the tree to another teacher, she exercises supervision over her assignee
  • Jasmin, died as a result of the dead and rotting tree within the school's premises shows that the tree was indeed an obvious danger to anyone passing by and calls for application of the principle of res ipsa loquitur.  
  • Once respondents made out a prima facie case of all requisites, the burden shifts to petitioner to explain.The presumption or inference may be rebutted or overcome by other evidence and, under appropriate circumstances a disputable presumption, such as that of due care or innocence, may outweigh the inference
  • Under the circumstances, we have to concede that petitioner was not motivated by bad faith or ill motive vis--vis respondents' daughter's death.The award of moral damages is therefore not proper.