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Transportation Digest: LRTA v. Navidad (2003)

G.R. No. 145804   February 6, 2003
Lessons Applicable: Actionable Document (transportation)
Laws Cited: Art. 1755,Art. 1756,Art. 1759,Art. 1763

  • October 14, 1993, 7:30 p.m. : Drunk Nicanor Navidad (Nicanor) entered the EDSA LRT station after purchasing a “token”. 
    • While Nicanor was standing at the platform near the LRT tracks, the guard Junelito Escartin approached him.
    • Due to misunderstanding, they had a fist fight
      • Nicanor fell on the tracks and killed instantaneously upon being hit by a moving train operated by Rodolfo Roman
  • December 8, 1994: The widow of Nicanor, along with her children, filed a complaint for damages against Escartin, Roman, LRTA, Metro Transit Org. Inc. and Prudent (agency of security guards) for the death of her husband. 
    • LRTA and Roman filed a counter-claim against Nicanor and a cross-claim against Escartin and Prudent
      • Prudent: denied liability – averred that it had exercised due diligence in the selection and surpervision of its security guards
      • LRTA and Roman: presented evidence
      • Prudent and Escartin: demurrer contending that Navidad had failed to prove that Escartin was negligent in his assigned task
  • RTC: In favour of widow and against Prudent and Escartin, complaint against LRT and Roman were dismissed for lack of merit
  • CA: reversed by exonerating Prudent and held LRTA and Roman liable

ISSUE: W/N LRTA and Roman should be liable according to the contract of carriage

HELD: NO.  Affirmed with Modification: (a) nominal damages is DELETED (CANNOT co-exist w/ compensatory damages) (b) Roman is absolved.
  • Law and jurisprudence dictate that a common carrier, both from the nature of its business and for reasons of public policy, is burdened with the duty off exercising utmost diligence in ensuring the safety of passengers
  • Civil Code:
    • Art. 1755.  A common carrier is bound to carry the passengers 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 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
    • Art. 1759.  Common carriers are liable for the death of or injuries to passengers through the negligence or wilful acts of the former’s employees, although such employees may have acted beyond the scope of their authority or in violation of the orders of the common carriers

This liability of the common carriers does NOT cease upon proof that they
                   Exercised all the diligence of a good father of a family in the selection and
                    supervision of their employees

    • Art. 1763. A common carrier is responsible for injuries suffered by a passenger on account of the wilful acts or negligence of other passengers or of strangers, if the common carrier’s employees through the exercise of the diligence of a good father of a family could have prevented or stopped the act or omission.
  • Carriers presumed to be at fault or been negligent and by simple proof of injury, the passenger is relieaved of the duty to still establish the fault or negligence of the carrier or of its employees and the burden shifts upon the carrier to prove that the injury is due to an unforeseen event or to force majeure
  • Where it hires its own employees or avail itself of the services of an outsider or an independent firm to undertake the task, the common carrier is NOT relieved of its responsibilities under the contract of carriage
  • GR: Prudent can be liable only for tort under Art. 2176 and related provisions in conjunction with Art. 2180 of the Civil Code. (Tort may arise even under a contract, where tort [quasi-delict liability] is that which breaches the contract)
    • EX: if employer’s liability is negligence or fault on the part of the employee, employer  can be made liable on the basis of the presumption juris tantum that the employer failed to exercise diligentissimi patris families in the selection and supervision of its employees. 
    • EX to the EX: Upon showing due diligence in the selection and supervision of the employee 
  • Factual finding of the CA: NO link bet. Prudent and the death of Nicanor for the reason that the negligence of Escartin was NOT proven
  • NO showing that Roman himself is guilty of any culpable act or omission, he must also be absolved from liability
    • Contractual tie bet. LRT and Nicanor is NOT itself a juridical relation bet. Nicanor and Roman
      • Roman can be liable only for his own fault or negligence