Southeastern College Inc. vs. Court of Appeals

G.R. No. 126389 – July 10, 1998

FACTS:

Private respondents are owners of a house near the petitioner’s four-story school building along the same road. During a typhoon, the roof of the petitioner’s building was partly ripped off and blown away by strong winds, landing on and destroying portions of the roofing of private respondents’ house. In the aftermath, an ocular inspection of the destroyed building was spearheaded by the city building official. In his report, he imputed negligence to the petitioner for the structural defect of the building and improper anchorage of trusses to the roof beams which caused the roof be ripped off the building, thereby causing damage to the property of respondents. Respondents filed an action before the RTC for recovery of damages based on culpa aquiliana. Petitioner contested that it had no liability, attributing the damage to a fortuitous event. RTC ruled in favor of respondents which was affirmed by the CA. Hence present petition.’

ISSUE:

Whether or not the damage, in legal sense, can be attributed to a fortuitous event.

RULING:

Yes. The court ruled that petitioner is not liable, the damage being attributable to a fortuitous event.

Art 1174 of the Civil Code states that: “Except in cases expressly specified by the law, or when it is otherwise declared by stipulation, or when the nature of the obligation requires the assumption of risk, no person shall be responsible for those events which could not be foreseen, or which, though foreseen, were inevitable”

To be liable for a fortuitous event, the respondent must prove that petitioners were negligent, with which they fall short, merely relying on the report of the city building official. This is the same official that have approved the building plans of petitioner, who made clear that there were no prior complaints regarding the building. Since storms are common in the country, the part of the building in question should have failed against stronger typhoons that preceded said storm, which it had not. Furthermore, petitioner was able to present evidence that regular maintenance was carried out. Respondents also failed to support the claim of the actual loss they suffered, merely relying on estimates without considering that wear and tear of respondents’ home which may have had a contributory effect to the damage. Petition is granted and challenged decision is reversed.

 * Case digest by Ariel Acopiado, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018

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