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Torts and Damages Case Digest: Mr. and Mrs. Amador C. Ong v. Metropolitan Water District (1958)

G.R. No. L-7664             August 29, 1958
Lessons Applicable: Neglignce (Torts and Damages)

  • July 5, 1952 1:45 p.m.: For the 4th or 5th time, Dominador Ong, a 14-year old high school student and boy scout, and his brothers Ruben and Eusebio, went to Metropolitan Water District's recreational swimming pools charging a nominal fee (P0.50 for adults; P0.20 for children)
  • 4:35 p.m.: Dominador Ong told his brothers that he was going to the locker room in an adjoining building to drink a bottle of coke
  • Upon hearing this, Ruben and Eusebio went to the bigger pool leaving Dominador in the small pool and so they did not see the latter when he left the pool to get a bottle of coke.
  • Lifeguards Manuel Abaño (8 am - 12 nn;2 pm - 6 pm) and Mario Villanueva (7:30-11:30 am;2:30 to 4:30 pm) were on duty 
  • 4-5 pm: there were about 20 bathers inside the pool area and Manuel Abaño was going around the pools to observe the bathers in compliance with the instructions of his chief
  • 4:40-4:45 p.m: some boys who were in the pool area informed a bather by the name of Andres Hagad, Jr., that somebody was swimming under water for quite a long time
    • Another boy informed lifeguard Manuel Abaño of the same happening so he immediately jumped into the big swimming pool and retrieved the apparently lifeless body of Dominador Ong from the bottom
  • The body was placed at the edge of the pool and Abaño immediately applied manual artificial respiration
    • Soon after, male nurse Armando Rule came to render assistance, followed by sanitary inspector Iluminado Vicente who, after being called by phone from the clinic by one of the security guards, boarded a jeep carrying with him the resuscitator and a medicine kit, and upon arriving he injected the boy with camphorated oil
      • After the injection, Vicente left on a jeep in order to fetch Dr. Ayuyao from the University of the Philippines
      • Meanwhile, Abaño continued the artificial manual respiration, and when this failed to revive him, they applied the resuscitator until the two oxygen tanks were exhausted
        • Not long thereafter, Dr. Ayuyao arrived with another resuscitator, but the same became of no use because he found the boy already dead. The doctor ordered that the body be taken to the clinic.
  • The autopsy of Dr. Enrique V. de los Santos, Chief, Medico Legal Division of the NBI found that the death was due to asphyxia by submersion in water.
  • lower court: dismissed the complaint
    • Mr. and Mrs. Amador C. Ong: failure of the lifeguard Abaño to immediately respond to their call may and even if it be assumed that the deceased is partly to be blamed for the unfortunate incident, defendants may still be held liable under the doctrine of "last clear chance" for the reason that, having the last opportunity to save the victim, it failed to do so
ISSUE: W/N the death of minor Dominador Ong can be attributed to the negligence of Metropolitan Water District and/or its employees 

HELD: NO. decision appealed from is affirmed
  • Since the present action is one for damages founded on culpable negligence, the principle to be observed is that the person claiming damages has the burden of proving that the damage is caused by the fault or negligence of the person from whom the damage is claimed, or of one of his employees
  •  The last clear chance doctrine can never apply where the party charged is required to act instantaneously, and if the injury cannot be avoided by the application of all means at hand after the peril is or should have been discovered; at least in cases in which any previous negligence of the party charged cannot be said to have contributed to the injury
  • Before closing, we wish to quote the following observation of the trial court, which we find supported by the evidence: "There is (also) a strong suggestion coming from the expert evidence presented by both parties that Dominador Ong might have dived where the water was only 5.5 feet deep, and in so doing he might have hit or bumped his forehead against the bottom of the pool, as a consequence of which he was stunned, and which to his drowning. As a boy scout he must have received instructions in swimming. He knew, or have known that it was dangerous for him to dive in that part of the pool."