G.R. No. 154259, 28 February 2005
There are two versions of the story:
Mr. Reyes: On the eve of October 13, 1994, Mr. Reyes while having coffee at the lobby of Nikko Hotel was approached by Dr. Violet Filart, a friend several years back. According to Mr. Reyes, Dr. Filart invited him to join a birthday party at the penthouse for the hotel’s former General Manager, Mr. Tsuruoka. Plaintiff agreed as Dr. Filart agreed to vouch for him and carried a basket of fruits, the latter’s gift. He lined up at the buffet table as soon as it was ready but to his great shock, shame and embarrassment, Ruby Lim, Hotel’s Executive Secretary, asked him to leave in a loud voice enough to be heard by the people around them. He was asked to leave the party and a Makati policeman accompanied him to step-out the hotel. All these time, Dr.Filart ignored him adding to his shame and humiliation.
Ms. Ruby Lim: She admitted asking Mr. Reyes to leave the party but not in the manner claimed by the plaintiff. Ms. Lim approached several people including Dr. Filart’s sister, Ms. ZenaidaFruto, if Dr. Filart did invite him as the captain waiter told Ms. Lim that Mr. Reyes was with Dr. Filart’s group. She wasn’t able to ask it personally with Dr. Filart since the latter was talking over the phone and doesn’t want to interrupt her. She asked Mr. Reyes to leave because the celebrant specifically ordered that the party should be intimate consisting only of those who part of the list. She even asked politely with the plaintiff to finish his food then leave the party.
During the plaintiff’s cross-examination, he was asked how close Ms. Lim was when she approached him at the buffet table. Mr. Reyes answered “very close because we nearly kissed each other”. Considering the close proximity, it was Ms. Lim’s intention to relay the request only be heard by him. It was Mr. Reyes who made a scene causing everybody to know what happened.
The trial court dismissed the complaint, giving more credence to the testimony of Ms. Lim that she was discreet in asking Mr. Reyes to leave the party. The trial court likewise ruled that Mr. Reyes assumed the risk of being thrown out of the party as he was uninvited. However, the Court of Appeals reversed the ruling of the trial court as it found more commanding of belief the testimony of Mr. Reyes that Ms. Lim ordered him to leave in a loud voice within hearing distance of several guests. CA held petitioner liable for damages to Roberto Reyes aka “AmangBisaya”, an entertainment artist.
Hence, this petition.
Whether or not petitioners acted abusively in asking Mr. Reyes to leave the party.
No. Supreme Court held that petitioners did not act abusively in asking Mr. Reyes to leave the party. Plaintiff failed to establish any proof of ill-motive on the part of Ms. Lim who did all the necessary precautions to ensure that Mr. Reyes will not be humiliated in requesting him to leave the party.
Art. 19. of the Civil Code states that: “Every person must, in the exercise of his rights and in the performance of his duties, act with justice, give everyone his due, and observe honesty and good faith”. When a right is exercised in a manner which does not conform with the norms enshrined in Article and results in damage to another, a legal wrong is thereby committed for which the wrongdoer must be responsible. The object of this article, therefore, is to set certain standards which must be observed not only in the exercise of one’s rights but also in the performance of one’s duties. These standards are the following: act with justice, give everyone his due and observe honesty and good faith. Its antithesis, necessarily, is any act evincing bad faith or intent to injure. Its elements are the following: (1) There is a legal right or duty; (2) which is exercised in bad faith; (3) for the sole intent of prejudicing or injuring another.
Art. 21. of the Civil Code also states that: “Any person who willfully causes loss or injury to another in a manner that is contrary to morals, good customs or public policy shall compensate the latter for the damage”.Article 2165 refers to acts contra bonus mores and has the following elements: (1) There is an act which is legal; (2) but which is contrary to morals, good custom, public order, or public policy; and (3) it is done with intent to injure.
As applied to herein case Mr. Reyes has not shown that Ms. Lim was driven by animosity against him. The manner by which Ms. Lim asked Mr. Reyes to leave was likewise acceptable and humane under the circumstances. Ms. Lim having been in the hotel business for twenty years wherein being polite and discreet are virtues to be emulated, the testimony of Mr. Reyes that she acted to the contrary does not inspire belief and is indeed incredible. Thus, the lower court was correct. Considering the closeness of defendant Lim to plaintiff when the request for the latter to leave the party was made such that they nearly kissed each other, the request was meant to be heard by him only and there could have been no intention on her part to cause embarrassment to him.
Ms. Lim, not having abused her right to ask Mr. Reyes to leave the party to which he was not invited, cannot be made liable to pay for damages under Articles 19 and 21 of the Civil Code. Necessarily, neither can her employer, Hotel Nikko, be held liable as its liability springs from that of its employees.
* Case digest by Frillin M. Lomosad, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018