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Torts and Damages Case Digest: Roberto Juntilla v. Clemente Fontanar

G.R. No. L-45637 May 31, 1985
Lessons Applicable: Fortuitous Event (Torts and Damages)

  • Jeepney was driven by Berfol Camoro from Danao City to Cebu City.  It was Clemente Fontanar but was actually owned by defendant Fernando Banzon.
  • When the jeepney reached Mandaue City, the right rear tire exploded causing the vehicle to turn turtle.  Roberto Juntilla was sitting at the front seat was thrown out of the vehicle.
    • Upon landing on the ground, he momentarily lost consciousness.  When he came to his senses, he found that he had a lacerated wound on his right palm.  He also injured his left arm, right thigh and on his back.
  • Because of his shock and injuries, he went back to Danao City but on the way, he discovered that his "Omega" wrist watch worth P 852.70 was lost.  Upon his arrival in Danao City, he immediately entered the Danao City Hospital to attend to his injuries, and also requested his father-in-law to proceed immediately to the place of the accident and look for the watch.
  • Roberto Juntilla filed for breach of contract with damages 
    • Respondents: beyond the control since tire that exploded was newly bought and was only slightly used
  • RTC: favored Roberto Juntilla 
  • CA: Reversed since accident was due to fortuitous event
ISSUE: W/N there is a fortuitous event

HELD: NO. CA reversed, RTC reinstated.
  • passenger jeepney was running at a very fast speed before the accident
    • at a regular and safe speed will not jump into a ditch when its right rear tire blows up
  • passenger jeepney was overloaded
    • 3 passengers in the front seat  
    • 14 passengers in the rear
  • caso fortuito presents the following essential characteristics: 
  • (1) The cause of the unforeseen and unexpected occurrence, or of the failure of the debtor to comply with his obligation, must be independent of the human will. 
  • (2) It must be impossible to foresee the event which constitutes the caso fortuito, or if it can be foreseen, it must be impossible to avoid. 
  • (3) The occurrence must be such as to render it impossible for the debtor to fulfill his obligation in a normal manner.
  • (4) the obligor (debtor) must be free from any participation in the aggravation of the injury resulting to the creditor. 
  • In the case at bar, the cause of the unforeseen and unexpected occurrence was not independent of the human will. The accident was caused either through the negligence of the driver or because of mechanical defects in the tire. Common carriers should teach their drivers not to overload their vehicles, not to exceed safe and legal speed limits, and to know the correct measures to take when a tire blows up thus insuring the safety of passengers at all times
  • the source of a common carrier's legal liability is the contract of carriage, and by entering into the said contract, it binds itself to carry the passengers safely as far as human care and foresight can provide, using the utmost diligence of a very cautious person, with a due regard for all the circumstances. The records show that this obligation was not met by the respondents
  • respondents likewise argue that the petitioner cannot recover any amount for failure to prove such damages during the trial
    • findings of facts of the City Court of Cebu