G.R. No. L-47745, 15 April 1988
Alfredo Amadora, while in the auditorium of the school, was mortally hit by a gun by PablitoDaffon resulting to the former’s death. Daffon was convicted of homicide through reckless imprudence. The victim’s parents, herein petitioners, filed a civil action for damages against Colegio de San Jose-Recoletos, its rectors, high school principal, dean of boys, the physics teacher together with Daffon and 2 other students. Complaints against the students were dropped. Respondent Court absolved the defendants completely and reversed CFI Cebu’s decision for the following reasons: 1. Since the school was an academic institution of learning and not a school of arts and trades 2. Those students were not in the custody of the school since the semester has already ended 3. There was no clear identification of the fatal gun, and 4. In any event, defendants exercised the necessary diligence through enforcement of the school regulations in maintaining discipline. Petitioners on the other hand claimed their son was under school custody because he went to school to comply with a requirement for graduation (submission of Physics reports).
Whether or not Collegio de San Jose-Recoletos should be held liable.
No. Collegio de San Jose-Recoletos should not be held liable.
Article 2180 of the Civil Code states that “teachers or heads of establishments of arts and trades shall be liable for damages caused by their pupils and students or apprentices, so long as they remain in their custody. Responsibility shall cease when the persons herein mentioned prove that they observed all the diligence of a good father of a family to prevent damage.”
Even though at the time Alfredo was fatally shot, he was in the custody of the authorities of the school notwithstanding classes had formally ended when the incident happened; it was immaterial if he was in the school auditorium to finish his physics requirement. What was important is that he was there for a legitimate purpose. On the other hand, the rector, high school principal and the dean of boys cannot be held liable because none of them was the teacher-in-charge as defined in the provision. Each was exercising only a general authority over the students and not direct control and influence exerted by the teacher placed in-charge of particular classes.
In the absence of a teacher- in charge, dean of boys should probably be held liable considering that he had earlier confiscated an unlicensed gun from a student and later returned to him without taking disciplinary action or reporting the matter to the higher authorities. Though it was clear negligence on his part, no proof was shown to necessarily link this gun with the shooting incident.
Collegio San Jose-Recoletos cannot directly be held liable under the provision because only the teacher of the head of school of arts and trade is made responsible for the damage caused by the student. Hence, under the facts disclosed, none of the respondents were held liable for the injury inflicted with Alfredo resulting to his death.
* Case digest by Frillin M. Lomosad, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018