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Torts and Damages Case Digest: US v. Pineda (1918)

G.R. No. L-12858            January 22, 1918
Lessons Applicable: Experts and Professionals (Torts and Damages)

  • Feliciano Santos, having some sick horses, presented a copy of a prescription obtained from Dr. Richardson, and which on other occasions Santos had given to his horses with good results, at Pineda's drug store for filling. (Santiago Pineda, the defendant, is a registered pharmacist)
  • Under the supervision of Pineda, the prescription was prepared and returned to Santos in the form of 6 papers marked Botica Pineda
    • Santos, under the belief that he had purchased the potassium chlorate which he had asked for, put two of the packages in water the doses to two of his sick horses. 
    • Another package was mixed with water for another horse, but was not used. The two horses, to which had been given the preparation, died shortly afterwards. 
    • Santos, thereupon, took the three remaining packages to the Bureau of Science for examination. Drs. Peña and Darjuan, of the Bureau of Science, on analysis found that the packages contained not potassium chlorate but barium chlorate. 
    • At the instance of Santos, the two chemists also went to the drug store of the defendant and bought potassium chlorate, which when analyzed was found to be barium chlorate. (Barium chlorate, it should be noted, is a poison; potassium chlorate is not.) 
    • Dr. Buencamino, a veterinarian, performed an autopsy on the horses, and found that death was the result of poisoning
    • RTC: held Pineda liable
ISSUE: W/N Pineda should be liable for negligence

HELD: YES. The judgment of the lower court, sentencing the defendant to pay a fine of P100, with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, and to pay the costs, is affirmed with the cost of this instance against the appellant, without prejudice to any civil action which may be instituted
  • Every pharmacist shall be responsible for the quality of all drugs, chemicals, medicines, and poisons he may sell or keep for sale; and it shall be unlawful for any person whomsoever to manufacture, prepare, sell, or administer any prescription, drug, chemical, medicine, or poison under any fraudulent name, direction, or pretense, or to adulterate any drug, chemical, medicine, or poison so used, sold or offered for sale. Any drug, chemical, medicine, or poison shall be held to be adulterated or deteriorated within the meaning of this section if it differs from the standard of quality or purity given in the United States Pharmacopoeia.
    • The same section of the Pharmacy Law also contains the following penal provision: "Any person violating the provisions of this Act shall, upon conviction, be punished by a fine of not more than five hundred dollar." The Administrative Code, section 2676, changes the penalty somewhat by providing that: Any person engaging in the practice of pharmacy in the Philippine Islands contrary to any provision of the Pharmacy Law or violating any provisions of said law for which no specific penalty s provided shall, for each offense, be punished by a fine not to exceed two hundred pesos, or by imprisonment for not more than ninety days, or both, in the discretion of the court.
  • As a pharmacist, he is made responsible for the quality of all drugs and poisons which he sells. And finally it is provided that it shall be unlawful for him to sell any drug or poison under any "fraudulent name." It is the one word "fraudulent" which has given the court trouble. What did the Legislature intend to convey by this restrictive adjective?
  • Were we to adhere to the technical definition of fraud, which the appellant vigorously insists upon, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to convict any druggist of a violation of the law. The prosecution would have to prove to a reasonable degree of certainty that the druggist made a material representation; that it was false; that when he made it he knew that it was false or made it recklessly without any knowledge of its truth and as positive assertion; that he made it with the intention that it should be acted upon by the purchaser; that the purchaser acted in reliance upon it, and that the purchased thereby suffered injury.
  • Under one conception, and it should not be forgotten that the case we consider are civil in nature, the question of negligence or ignorance is irrelevant. The druggist is responsible as an absolute guarantor of what he sells.  Instead of caveat emptor, it should be caveat venditor