Like us on Facebook

Please wait..10 Seconds Cancel

Torts and Damages Case Digest: Valenzuela v. CA (1996)

G.R.No. 115024  February 7, 1996
Lessons Applicable: 

  • Calculation of Risk (Torts and Damages)
  • Factors in Determining Amount (Torts and Damages)

  • June 24, 1990 2 am: While driving from her restaurant at Araneta avenue towards the direction of Manila, Ma. Lourdes Valenzuela noticed that she had a flat tire so she parked along the sidewalk about 1 1/2 feet away, place her emergency lights and seeked help
    • She was with her companion Cecilia Ramon
  • While she was pointing her tools to the man who will help her fixed the tires, she was suddenly hit by another Mitsubishi Lancer driven by Richard Li who was intoxicated and she slammed accross his windshield and fell to the ground
  • She was sent to UERM where she stayed for 20 days and her leg was amputated and was replaced with an artificial one.
    • Her expenses totalled 147, 000 [120,000 php (confinement) + 27, 000 (aritificial leg)]
  • RTC: Richard Li guilty of gross negligence and liable for damages under Article 2176 of the Civil Code. Alexander Commercial, Inc., Li’s employer, jointly and severally liable for damages pursuant to Article 2180 P41,840 actual damages, P37,500 unrealized profits because of the stoppage of plaintiffs Bistro La Conga restaurant 3 weeks after the accident on June 24, 1990, P20,000 a month as unrealized profits of Bistro La Conga restaurant, from August, 1990 until the date of this judgment, P30,000.00, a month, for unrealized profits in 2 Beauty salons, P1,000,000 in moral damages, P50,000, as exemplary damages, P60,000, as reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.
  • CA: there was ample evidence that the car was parked at the side but absolved Li's employer
    • Li: 55 kph - self serving and uncorraborated
    • Rogelio Rodriguez, the owner-operator of an establishment located just across the scene of the accident: Valenzuela’s car parked parallel and very near the sidewalk and Li was driving on a very fast speed and there was only a drizzle (NOT heavy rain)
1. W/N Li was driving at 55 kph - NO
2. W/N Valenzuela was guilty of contributory negligence - NO
3. W/N Alexander Commercial, Inc. as Li's employer should be held liable - YES
4. W/N the awarding of damages is proper. - YES.

HELD: CA modified with reinstating the RTC decision

1. NO
  • If Li was running at only about 55 kph then despite the wet and slippery road, he could have avoided hitting the Valenzuela by the mere expedient or applying his brakes at the proper time and distance
  • it was not even necessary for him to swerve a little to the right in order to safely avoid a collision with the on-coming car since there is plenty of space for both cars, since Valenzuela car was running at the right lane going towards Manila and the on-coming car was also on its right lane going to Cubao
2. NO.
  • Contributory negligence is conduct on the part of the injured party, contributing as a legal cause to the harm he has suffered, which falls below the standard to which he is required to conform for his own protection
  • emergency rule
    • an individual who suddenly finds himself in a situation of danger and is required to act without much time to consider the best means that may be adopted to avoid the impending danger, is not guilty of negligence if he fails to undertake what subsequently and upon reflection may appear to be a better solution, unless the emergency was brought by his own negligence
      • She is not expected to run the entire boulevard in search for a parking zone or turn on a dark Street or alley where she would likely find no one to help her
      • She stopped at a lighted place where there were people, to verify whether she had a flat tire and to solicit help if needed
      • she parked along the sidewalk, about 1½ feet away, behind a Toyota Corona Car
3. YES.
  • Not the principle of respondeat superior, which holds the master liable for acts of the servant (must be in the course of business), but that of pater familias, in which the liability ultimately falls upon the employer, for his failure to exercise the diligence of a good father of the family in the selection and supervision of his employees
  • Ordinarily, evidence demonstrating that the employer has exercised diligent supervision of its employee during the performance of the latter‘s assigned tasks would be enough to relieve him of the liability imposed by Article 2180 in relation to Article 2176 of the Civil Code. 
    • situation is of a different character, involving a practice utilized by large companies with either their employees of managerial rank or their representatives.
  • Moreover, Li’s claim that he happened to be on the road on the night of the accident because he was coming from a social visit with an officemate in Parañaque was a bare allegation which was never corroborated in the court below. It was obviously self-serving. Assuming he really came from his officemate’s place, the same could give rise to speculation that he and his officemate had just been from a work-related function, or they were together to discuss sales and other work related strategies.
  • Alexander Commercial, Inc. has not demonstrated, to our satisfaction, that it exercised the care and diligence of a good father of the family in entrusting its company car to Li
4. YES.
  • As the amount of moral damages are subject to this Court’s discretion, we are of the opinion that the amount of P1,000,000.00 granted by the trial court is in greater accord with the extent and nature of the injury -. physical and psychological - suffered by Valenzuela as a result of Li’s grossly negligent driving of his Mitsubishi Lancer in the early morning hours of the accident.
    • the damage done to her would not only be permanent and lasting, it would also be permanently changing and adjusting to the physiologic changes which her body would normally undergo through the years. The replacements, changes, and adjustments will require corresponding adjustive physical and occupational therapy. All of these adjustments, it has been documented, are painful.