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Transportation Case Digest: PAL v. CA (1981)

G.R. No. L-46558 July 31, 1981
Lessons Applicable: Exceptions to Contracting Parties (Transportation)


  • December 1950, he complained toPAL through its authorized official about the slow reaction and poor judgment of Captain Bustamante. Notwithstanding said complaint, defendant allowed the pilot to continue flying.
  • January 8, 1951: Jesus V. Samson flew as co-pilot on a regular flight from Manila to Legaspi with stops at Daet, Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur, with Captain Bustamante as commanding pilot of a PAL C-47 plane
    • on attempting to land the plane at Daet airport, Captain Bustamante due to his very slow reaction and poor judgment overshot the airfield and as a result, notwithstanding the diligent efforts of the Samson to avert an accident, the airplane crashlanded beyond the runway; that the jolt caused the head of the plaintiff to hit and break through the thick front windshield of the airplane causing him severe brain concussion, wounds and abrasions on the forehead with intense pain
      • instead of expert and proper medical treatment called for by the nature and severity of his injuries, PAL simply referred him to a company physician, a general medical practitioner, who limited the treatment to the exterior injuries without examining the severe brain concussion 
  • several days after the accident, PAL called back the Samson to active duty as co-pilot, and was never given any examination
    • he had been having periodic dizzy spells and had been suffering from general debility and nervousness 
  • December 21, 1953:  he was discharged due to his physical disabilityCFI: PAL to pay the Samson
    • P1988,000.00 as unearned income or damages
    • P50,000.00 for moral damages
    • P20,000.00 as attorney’s fees 
    • P5,000.00 as expenses of litigation
  • CA: modified entitled to the legal rate of interest n unearned income
ISSUE: W/N PAL was negligent and was liable

HELD: YES. affirmed with slight modification in that the correct amount of compensatory damages is P204,000.00
  • Even the doctors presented by PAL admit vital facts about the brain injury. Dr. Bernardo and Dr. Reyes admits that due to the incident, the plaintiff continuously complained of his fainting spells, dizziness and headache everytime he flew as a co-pilot and everytime he went to the clinic no less than 25 times
  • We also find the imputation of gross negligence by respondent court to PAL for having allowed Capt. Delfin Bustamante to fly on that fateful day of the accident on January 8, 1951 to be correct
    • Bustamante was sick. He admittedly had tumor of the nasopharynx (nose)
  • The fact that the complaint was not in writing does not detract anything from the seriousness thereof, considering that a miscalculation would not only cause the death of the crew but also of the passengers.
  • One month prior to the crash-landing, when the pilot was preparing to land in Daet, plaintiff warned him that they were not in the vicinity of Daet but above the town of Ligao. The plane hit outside the airstrip. In another instance, the pilot would hit the Mayon Volcano had not Samson warned him. 
  • At least, the law presumes the employer negligent imposing upon it the burden of proving that it exercised the diligence of a good father of a family in the supervision of its employees.
  • PAL would want to tie Samson to the report he signed about the crash-landing. The report was prepared by his pilot and because the latter pleaded that he had a family too and would have nowhere to go if he lost his job, Samson’s compassion would not upturn the truth about the crash-landing

Art. 1733. Common carriers, from the nature of their business and for reasons of public policy, are bound to observe extraordinary diligence in the vigilance over the goods and for the safety of the passengers transported by them, according to all the circumstances of each case.
Such extraordinary diligence in the vigilance over the goods is further expressed in Articles 1734, and 1745, Nos. 5, 6, and 7, while the extraordinary diligence for the safety of the passengers is further set forth in articles 1755 and 1756.
Art. 1755. A common carrier is bound to carry the passenger safely as far as human care and foresight can provide, using the utmost diligence of very cautious persons, with a due regard for all the circumstances.
Art. 1756. In case of death of or injuries to passengers, common carriers are presumed to have been at fault or to have acted negligently, unless they prove that they observed extraordinary diligence as prescribed in Articles 1733 and 1755.

Article 2205 of the New Civil Code of the Philippines “damages may be recovered for loss or impairment of earning capacity in cases of temporary or permanent personal injury."

Art. 1711. Owners of enterprises and other employers are obliged to pay compensation for the death or injuries to their laborers, workmen, mechanics or other employees, even though the event may have been purely accidental or entirely due to a fortuitous cause, if the death or personal injury arose out of and in the course of the employment. The employer is also liable for compensation if the employee contracts any illness or disease caused by such employment or as the result of the nature of the employment. If the mishap was due to the employee’s own notorious negligence, or voluntary act, or drunkenness, the employer shall not be liable for compensation. When the employee’s lack of due care contributed to his death or injury, the compensation shall be equitably reduced.
Art. 1712. If the death or injury is due to the negligence of a fellow-worker, the latter and the employer shall be solidarily liable for compensation. If a fellow-worker’s intentional or malicious act is the only cause of the death or injury, the employer shall not be answerable, unless it should be shown that the latter did not exercise due diligence in the selection or supervision of the plaintiffs fellow-worker.
Articles 1169, 2209 and 2212 of the Civil Code govern when interest shall be computed. 
  • The correct amount of compensatory damages upon which legal interest shall accrue from the filing of the complaint is P204,000.00 as herein computed and not P198,000.00