G.R. No. 141258, April 9, 2003, 401 SCRA 122
Tomasa Sarmiento’s friend, Dra. Virginia Lao, requested her to find someone to reset a pair of diamond earrings into two gold rings. Sarmiento sent Tita Payag with the earrings to Dingding’s Jewelry Shop, owned and managed by spouses Luis and Rose Cabrido, which accepted the job order for P400. Respondent Marilou Sun went on to dismount the diamond from original settings. Unsuccessful, she asked their goldsmith, Zenon Santos, to do it. He removed the diamond by twisting the setting with a pair of pliers, breaking the gem in the process. Petitioner required the respondents to replace the diamond with the same size and quality. When they refused, the petitioner was forced to buy a replacement in the amount of P30,000. Rose Cabrido, manager, denied having any transaction with Payag whom she met only after the latter came to seek compensation for the broken piece of jewelry. Marilou, on the other hand, admitted knowing Payag to avail their services and recalled that when Santos broke the jewelry, Payag turned to her for reimbursement thinking she was the owner. Santos also recalled that Payag requested him to dismount what appeared to him as sapphire and that the stone accidentally broke. He denied being an employee of the Jewelry shop.
1. WoN dismounting of the diamond from its original setting was part of the obligation
2. WoN respondents are liable for damages and moral damages.
Yes. The contemporaneous and subsequent acts of the parties reveal the scope of obligation assumed by the jewelry shop to reset the pair of earrings. Marilou expressed no reservation regarding the dismounting of the diamonds. She could have instructed Payag to have the diamonds dismounted first, but instead, she readily accepted the job order and charged P400. After the new settings were completed, she called petitioner to bring the diamond earrings to be reset. She examined one of them and went on to dismount the diamond from the original setting. After failing to do the same, she delegated it to the goldsmith. Having acted the way she did, she cannot deny that the dismounting was part of the shop’s obligation to reset the pair of earrings.
Yes. Those who, in the performance of their obligations are guilty of fraud, negligence or delay and those who in any manner contravene the tenor thereof, are liable for damages. Santos acted negligently in dismounting the diamond from its original setting. Instead of using a miniature wire, which is the practice of the trade, he used a pair of pliers. Moral damages may also be awarded in a breach of contract when there is proof that defendant acted in bad faith, or was guilty of gross negligence amounting to bad faith, or in wanton disregard of his contractual obligation.
Obligations arising from contracts have the force of law between the contracting parties. Corollarily, those who in the performance of their obligations are guilty of fraud, negligence or delay and those who in any manner contravene the tenor thereof, are liable for damages. The fault or negligence of the obligor consists in the omission of that diligence which is required by the nature of the obligation and corresponds with the circumstances of the persons, of the time and of the place.
* Case digest by Lady Rubyge Denura, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018