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Transportation Case Digest: Calvo v. UCPB Gen Insurance Co. (2002)

G.R. No.148496     March 19, 2002
Lessons Applicable: Legal Effect (Transportation)

  • At the time material to this case, Transorient Container Terminal Services, Inc. (TCTSI) owned by Virgines Calvo entered into a contract with San Miguel Corporation (SMC) for the transfer of 114 reels of semi-chemical fluting paper and 124 reels of kraft liner board from the Port Area in Manila to SMC's warehouse at the Tabacalera Compound, Romualdez St., Ermita, Manila. 
    • The cargo was insured by respondent UCPB General Insurance Co., Inc.
  • July 14, 1990: arrived in Manila on board "M/V Hayakawa Maru" and later on unloaded from the vessel to the custody of the arrastre operator, Manila Port Services, Inc
  • July 23 to July 25, 1990: Calvo withdrew the cargo from the arrastre operator and delivered it to SMC's warehouse in Ermita, Manila
  • July 25, 1990: goods were inspected by Marine Cargo Surveyors, who found that 15 reels of the semi-chemical fluting paper were "wet/stained/torn" and 3 reels of kraft liner board were likewise torn
  • SMC collected payment from UCPB the total damage of P93,112 under its insurance contract 
  • UCPB brought suit against Calvo as subrogee of SMC
    • Calvo: Art. 1734(4) The character of the goods or defects in the packing or in the containers
      • spoilage or wettage" took place while the goods were in the custody of either the carrying vessel "M/V Hayakawa Maru," which transported the cargo to Manila, or the arrastre operator, to whom the goods were unloaded and who allegedly kept them in open air for 9 days notwithstanding the fact that some of the containers were deformed, cracked, or otherwise damaged
  • Trial Court: Calvo liable
  • CA: affirmed
ISSUE: W/N Calvo can be exempted from liability under Art. 1734(4)

  • mere proof of delivery of goods in good order to a carrier, and of their arrival at the place of destination in bad order, makes out a prima facie case against the carrier, so that if no explanation is given as to how the injury occurred, the carrier must be held responsible
  • extraordinary responsibility lasts from the time the goods are unconditionally placed in the possession of and received by the carrier for transportation until the same are delivered actually or constructively by the carrier to the consignee or to the person who has the right to receive the same
  • Article 1732. Common carriers are persons, corporations, firms or associations engaged in the business of carrying or transporting passengers or goods or both, by land, water, or air for compensation, offering their services to the public."
    The above article makes no distinction between one whose principal business activity is the carrying of persons or goods or both, and one who does such carrying only as an ancillary activity . . . Article 1732 also carefully avoids making any distinction between a person or enterprise offering transportation service on a regular or scheduled basis and one offering such service on an occasional, episodic or unscheduled basis. Neither does Article 1732 distinguish between a carrier offering its services to the "general public," i.e., the general community or population, and one who offers services or solicits business only from a narrow segment of the general population.
  • concept of "common carrier" under Article 1732 may be seen to coincide neatly with the notion of "public service," under the Public Service Act (Commonwealth Act No. 1416, as amended) which at least partially supplements the law on common carriers set forth in the Civil Code
  • Under Section 13, paragraph (b) of the Public Service Act, "public service" includes:
    " x x x every person that now or hereafter may own, operate, manage, or control in the Philippines, for hire or compensation, with general or limited clientele, whether permanent, occasional or accidental, and done for general business purposes, any common carrier, railroad, street railway, traction railway, subway motor vehicle, either for freight or passenger, or both, with or without fixed route and whatever may be its classification, freight or carrier service of any class, express service, steamboat, or steamship line, pontines, ferries and water craft, engaged in the transportation of passengers or freight or both, shipyard, marine repair shop, wharf or dock, ice plant, ice-refrigeration plant, canal, irrigation system, gas, electric light, heat and power, water supply and power petroleum, sewerage system, wire or wireless communications systems, wire or wireless broadcasting stations and other similar public services. x x x" 
  • when Calvo's employees withdrew the cargo from the arrastre operator, they did so without exception or protest either with regard to the condition of container vans or their contents
  • Calvo must do more than merely show the possibility that some other party could be responsible for the damage. It must prove that it used "all reasonable means to ascertain the nature and characteristic of goods tendered for transport and that it exercised due care in the handling