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Torts and Damages Case Digest: Pantranco North Express, Inc. v. Maricar Baesa (1989)

G.R. 79050-51    November 14, 1989
Lessons Applicable: Last Clear Chance (Torts and Damages)

  • Spouses Baesa, their 4 children, the Ico spouses and their son and 7 other people boarded a passenger jeep driven by David Ico to go to a picnic in Isabela, to celebrate the 5th wedding anniversary of the Baesa spouses
  • While they were proceeding towards Malalam River at a speed of about 20 kph, a speeding PANTRANCO bus from Aparri, on a route  to Manila, encroached on the jeepney’s lane while negotiating a curve, and collided with it.
  • As a result, the entire Baesa family, except for their daughter Maricar Baesa, as well as David Ico, died, and the rest suffered from injuries. Maricar Baesa, through her guardian filed separate actions for damages arising from quasi-delict against PANTRANCO. 
    • PANTRANCO: alleged David Ico's negligence as a proximate cause of the accident and invoked the defense of due diligence in the selection and supervision of its driver.
  • CA upheld RTC: favor of Baesa
ISSUE: W/N the last clear chance applies thereby making David Ico who had the chance to avoid the collision negligent in failing to utilize with reasonable care and competence 

  • Generally, the last clear change doctrine is invoked for the purpose of making a defendant liable to a plaintiff who was guilty of prior or antecedent negligence, although it may also be raised as a defense to defeat claim for damages
  • For the last clear chance doctrine to apply, it is necessary to show that the person who allegedly has the last opportunity to avert the accident was aware of the existence of the peril, or should, with exercise of due care, have been aware of it
    • there is nothing to show that the jeepney driver David Ico knew of the impending danger
      • When he saw at a distance that the approaching bus was encroaching on his lane, he did not immediately swerve the jeepney to the dirt shoulder on his right since he must have assumed that the bus driver will return the bus to its own lane upon seeing the jeepney approaching form the opposite direction
      • Even assuming that the jeepney driver perceived the danger a few seconds before the actual collision, he had no opportunity to avoid it
  • 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