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Torts and Damages Case Digest: Taylor v. Manila Electric Railroad and Light Co.(1910)

G.R. No. L-4977            March 22, 1910
Lessons Applicable:
Elements of quasi-delict (Torts and Damages)
Good Father of a Family (Torts and Damages)

  • September 30, 1905 Sunday afternoonDavid Taylor, 15 years of age, the son of a mechanical engineer, more mature than the average boy of his age, and having considerable aptitude and training in mechanics with a boy named Manuel Claparols, about 12 years of age, crossed the footbridge to the Isla del Provisor, for the purpose of visiting Murphy, an employee of the defendant, who and promised to make them a cylinder for a miniature engine
  • After leaving the power house where they had asked for Mr. Murphy, they walked across the open space in the neighborhood of the place where the company dumped in the cinders and ashes from its furnaces
    • they found some twenty or thirty brass fulminating caps scattered on the ground
      • These caps are approximately of the size and appearance of small pistol cartridges and each has attached to it 2 long thin wires by means of which it may be discharged by the use of electricity
      • They are intended for use in the explosion of blasting charges of dynamite, and have in themselves a considerable explosive power
  • the boys picked up all they could find, hung them on stick, of which each took end, and carried them home
    • After crossing the footbridge, they met Jessie Adrian, less than 9 years old, and they went to Manuel's home
  • The boys then made a series of experiments with the caps
    •  trust the ends of the wires into an electric light socket - no result
    • break the cap with a stone - failed
    • opened one of the caps with a knife, and finding that it was filled with a yellowish substance they got matches
      • David held the cap while Manuel applied a lighted match to the contents
        • An explosion followed, causing more or less serious injuries to all three
          • Jessie, who when the boys proposed putting a match to the contents of the cap, became frightened and started to run away, received a slight cut in the neck
          • Manuel had his hand burned and wounded
          • David was struck in the face by several particles of the metal capsule, one of which injured his right eye to such an extent as to the necessitate its removal by the surgeons
  • Trial Court: held Manila Electric Railroad And Light Company liable

1. W/N the elemnents of quasi-delict to make Manila Electric Railroad And Light Company liable  - NO
2. W/N Manila Electric Railroad and Light Co. sufficiently proved that they employed all the diligence of a good father of a family to avoid the damage - NO

HELD:  reversing the judgment of the court below

ART. 1089 Obligations are created by law, by contracts, by quasi-contracts, and illicit acts and omissions or by those in which any kind of fault or negligence occurs.

ART. 1902 A person who by an act or omission causes damage to another when there is fault or negligence shall be obliged to repair the damage so done.

ART. 1903 The obligation imposed by the preceding article is demandable, not only for personal acts and omissions, but also for those of the persons for whom they should be responsible.

The father, and on his death or incapacity the mother, is liable for the damages caused by the minors who live with them.
xxx             xxx             xxx
Owners or directors of an establishment or enterprise are equally liable for damages caused by their employees in the service of the branches in which the latter may be employed or on account of their duties.
xxx             xxx             xxx
The liability referred to in this article shall cease when the persons mentioned therein prove that they employed all the diligence of a good father of a family to avoid the damage.

ART. 1908 The owners shall also be liable for the damage caused —
1 By the explosion of machines which may not have been cared for with due diligence, and for kindling of explosive substances which may not have been placed in a safe and proper place.

  • in order to establish his right to a recovery, must establish by competent evidence:
  1. Damages to the plaintiff
  2. Negligence by act or omission of which defendant personally, or some person for whose acts it must respond, was guilty.
  3. The connection of cause and effect between the negligence and the damage.
  • while we hold that the entry upon the property without express invitation or permission would not have relieved Manila Electric from responsibility for injuries incurred, without other fault on his part, if such injury were attributable to his negligence, the negligence in leaving the caps exposed on its premises was not the proximate cause of the injury received
    • cutting open the detonating cap and putting match to its contents was the proximate cause of the explosion and of the resultant injuries inflicted 
      • Manila Electric is not civilly responsible for the injuries thus incurred
  • 2 years before the accident, David spent 4 months at sea, as a cabin boy on one of the interisland transports. Later he took up work in his father's office, learning mechanical drawing and mechanical engineering. About a month after his accident he obtained employment as a mechanical draftsman and continued in that employment for 6 months at a salary of P2.50 a day; and it appears that he was a boy of more than average intelligence, taller and more mature both mentally and physically than most boys of 15 
    • The series of experiments made by him in his attempt to produce an explosion, as described by Jessie who even ran away
  • True, he may not have known and probably did not know the precise nature of the explosion which might be expected from the ignition of the contents of the cap, and of course he did not anticipate the resultant injuries which he incurred; but he well knew that a more or less dangerous explosion might be expected from his act, and yet he willfully, recklessly, and knowingly produced the explosion. It would be going far to say that "according to his maturity and capacity" he exercised such and "care and caution" as might reasonably be required of him, or that defendant or anyone else should be held civilly responsible for injuries incurred by him under such circumstances.
  • The law fixes no arbitrary age at which a minor can be said to have the necessary capacity to understand and appreciate the nature and consequences of his own acts, so as to make it negligence on his part to fail to exercise due care and precaution in the commission of such acts; and indeed it would be impracticable and perhaps impossible so to do, for in the very nature of things the question of negligence necessarily depends on the ability of the minor to understand the character of his own acts and their consequences
  • he was sui juris in the sense that his age and his experience qualified him to understand and appreciate the necessity for the exercise of that degree of caution which would have avoided the injury which resulted from his own deliberate act; and that the injury incurred by him must be held to have been the direct and immediate result of his own willful and reckless act, so that while it may be true that these injuries would not have been incurred but for the negligence act of the defendant in leaving the caps exposed on its premises, nevertheless plaintiff's own act was the proximate and principal cause of the accident which inflicted the injury
  • rule of the Roman law was: Quod quis ex culpa sua damnum sentit, non intelligitur sentire
    • just thing is that a man should suffer the damage which comes to him through his own fault, and that he can not demand reparation therefor from another
  • Negligence is not presumed, but must be proven by him who alleges it.