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Torts and Damages Case Digest: Natividad V. Andamo, et al., v. Intermediate Appellate Court et al. (1990)

G.R. No. 74761 November 6, 1990
Lessons Applicable: Elements of Quasi-Delict (Torts and Damages)

  • Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette, Inc., a religious corporation, built through its agents, waterpaths, water conductors and contrivances including an artificial lake within its land
    • inundated and eroded the spouses Emmanuel and Natividad Andamo's land, caused a young man to drown, damaged petitioners' crops and plants, washed away costly fences, endangered the lives of petitioners and their laborers during rainy and stormy seasons, and exposed plants and other improvements to destruction
  • July 1982:spouses instituted a criminal action
  • February 22, 1983: spouses filed a civil case for damages
  • CA affirmed trial court issued an order suspending further hearings in Civil Case until after judgment in the related Criminal Case
    • spouses contend that the trial court and the Appellate Court erred in dismissing Civil Case since it is predicated on a quasi-delict
ISSUE: W/N there is quasi-delict even if done in private propety

  • All the elements of a quasi-delict are present, to wit: 
    • (a) damages suffered by the plaintiff
    • (b) fault or negligence of the defendant, or some other person for whose acts he must respond
    • (c) the connection of cause and effect between the fault or negligence of the defendant and the damages incurred by the plaintiff
  • While the property involved in the cited case belonged to the public domain and the property subject of the instant case is privately owned, the fact remains that petitioners' complaint sufficiently alleges that petitioners have sustained and will continue to sustain damage due to the waterpaths and contrivances built by respondent corporation
  • It must be stressed that the use of one's property is not without limitations. Article 431 of the Civil Code provides that "the owner of a thing cannot make use thereof in such a manner as to injure the rights of a third person."  SIC UTERE TUO UT ALIENUM NON LAEDAS.  Moreover, adjoining landowners have mutual and reciprocal duties which require that each must use his own land in a reasonable manner so as not to infringe upon the rights and interests of others. Although we recognize the right of an owner to build structures on his land, such structures must be so constructed and maintained using all reasonable care so that they cannot be dangerous to adjoining landowners and can withstand the usual and expected forces of nature. If the structures cause injury or damage to an adjoining landowner or a third person, the latter can claim indemnification for the injury or damage suffered.
  • Article 2177. Responsibility for fault or negligence under the preceding article is entirely separate and distinct from the civil liability arising from negligence under the Penal Code. But the plaintiff cannot recover damages twice for the same act or omission of the defendant.
  • whether it be conviction or acquittal would render meaningless the independent character of the civil action and the clear injunction in Article 31, that his action may proceed independently of the criminal proceedings and regardless of the result of the latter