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Torts and Damages Case Digest: Federico Ylarde v. Edgardo Aquino (1988)

G.R. No. L-33722 July 29, 1988
Lessons Applicable: Good Father of a Family (Torts and Damages)

  • 1962: Sergio Banez started burying huge stones which were remnants of the old school shop that was destroyed in World War II because they were serious hazards to the schoolchildren
  • October 7, 1963: Edgardo Aquino gathered 18 of his male pupils, aged 10 to 11, after class dismissal and ordered them to dig beside a one-ton concrete block in order to make a hole wherein the stone can be buried. 
    • The work was left unfinished. 
  • October 8, 1963: Aquino called Reynaldo Alonso, Francisco Alcantara, Ismael Abaga and Novelito Ylarde of the original 18 pupils to continue the digging
    • they dug until the excavation was 1 meter and 40 centimeters deep
    • Aquino alone continued digging while the pupils remained inside the pit throwing out the loose soil that was brought about by the digging
    • When the depth was right enough to accommodate the concrete block, they got out of the hole
    • Aquino left the children to level the loose soil around the open hole while he went to see Banez who was about 30 meters away to key to the school workroom where he could get some rope
  • A few minutes after Aquino left, Alonso, Alcantara and Ylarde, playfully jumped into the pit. 
    • without any warning at all, Abaga jumped on top of the concrete block causing it to slide down towards the opening. 
  • Alonso and Alcantara were able to scramble out of the excavation on time
    • unfortunately for Ylarde, the concrete block caught him before he could get out, pinning him to the wall in a standing position
    • Ylarde sustained the following injuries:
1. Contusion with hematoma, left inguinal region and suprapubic region.
2. Contusion with ecchymosis entire scrotal region.
3. Lacerated wound, left lateral aspect of penile skin with phimosis
4. Abrasion, gluteal region, bilateral.
5. Intraperitoneal and extrapertitoneal extravasation of blood and urine about 2 liters.
6. Fracture, simple, symphesis pubis
7. Ruptured (macerated) urinary bladder with body of bladder almost entirely separated from its neck.
  • 3 days later, Novelito Ylarde died.
  • Ylarde's parents filed a suit for damages against both Aquino and Soriano, principal
  • lower court: 
  1. digging done by the pupils is in line with their course called Work Education
  2. Aquino exercised the utmost diligence of a very cautious person
  3. demise of Ylarde was due to his own reckless imprudence
  • CA: affirmed
ISSUE: W/N Aquino and Soriano should be held liable for negligence

HELD: YES. the petition GRANTED. Edagardo Aquino to pay petitioners the following:
(1) Indemnity for the death of Child Ylarde P30,000.00
(2) Exemplary damages 10,000.00
(3) Moral damages 20,000.00

Art. 2176. Whoever by act or omission causes damage to another, there being fault or negligence, is obliged to pay for the damage done. Such fault or negligence, if there is no pre- existing contractual relation between the parties, is called a quasi-delict and is governed by the provisions of this Chapter.

Art. 2180. x x x
xxx xxx xxx
Lastly, teachers or heads of establishments of arts and trades shall be liable for damages caused by their pupils and students or apprentices, so long as they remain in their custody.
  • As regards the principal, We hold that he cannot be made responsible for the death of the child Ylarde, he being the head of an academic school and not a school of arts and trades
    • Soriano did not give any instruction regarding the digging
  • GR: teachers shall be liable for the acts of their students 
  • EX: where the school is technical in nature, in which case it is the head thereof who shall be answerable
  • Aquino acted with fault and gross negligence when he: 
    (1) failed to avail himself of services of adult manual laborers 
    (2) required the children to remain inside the pit even after they had finished digging, knowing that the huge block was lying nearby and could be easily pushed or kicked aside by any pupil who by chance may go to the perilous area
    (3) ordered them to level the soil around the excavation when it was so apparent that the huge stone was at the brink of falling
    (4) went to a place where he would not be able to check on the children's safety
    (5) left the children close to the excavation, an obviously attractive nuisance.
  • negligent act of Aquino in leaving his pupils in such a dangerous site has a direct causal connection to the death of the child Ylarde
    • it was but natural for the children to play around
    • the child Ylarde would not have died were it not for the unsafe situation created by Aquino 
  • the excavation should not be placed in the category of school gardening, planting trees, and the like as these undertakings do not expose the children to any risk that could result in death or physical injuries
  • A reasonably prudent person would have foreseen that bringing children to an excavation site, and more so, leaving them there all by themselves, may result in an accident. An ordinarily careful human being would not assume that a simple warning "not to touch the stone" is sufficient to cast away all the serious danger that a huge concrete block adjacent to an excavation would present to the children. Moreover, a teacher who stands in loco parentis to his pupils would have made sure that the children are protected from all harm in his company.