St. Louis Realty Corp. v. Court of Appeals

G.R. No. L-46061, 14 November 1984

FACTS:

Dr. ConradoAramil, a neuropsychiatrist and member of the faculty of UE Ramon Magsaysay Medical Center, seek to recover damage for a wrongful advertisement in the Sunday Times where St Louis Realty Corp. misrepresented his house with Mr. Arcadio.

St. Louis published an ad on December 15, 1968 with the heading “where the heart is”. This was republished on January 5, 1969. In the advertisement, the house featured was DrAramil’s house and not Mr. Arcadio with whom the company asked permission and the intended house to be published. After DrAramil noticed the mistake, he wrote a letter to St. Louis demanding an explanation 1 week after such receipt. No rectification or apology was published despite that it was received by Ernesto Magtoto, the officer in charge of the advertisement. This prompted Dr. Aramil’s counsel to demand actual, moral and exemplary damages. On March 18, 1969, St Louis published an ad now with Mr. Arcadio’s real house but nothing on the apology or explanation of the error. DrAramil filed a complaint for damages on March 29. During the April 15 ad, the notice of rectification was published.

ISSUE:

Whether St. Louis is liable to pay damages to Dr. Aramil.

RULING:

Yes. St Louis was grossly negligent in mixing up residences in a widely circulated publication. Furthermore, it never made any written apology and explanation of the mix-up. It just contented itself with a cavalier “rectification “.

Article 21 of the Civil Code provides that “Any person who wilfully 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 26 of the Civil Code provides that“Every person shall respect the dignity, personality, privacy and peace of mind of his neighbors and other persons. The following and similar acts, though they may not constitute a criminal offense, shall produce a cause of action for damages, prevention and other relief:

(1) Prying into the privacy of another’s residence:
(2) Meddling with or disturbing the private life or family relations of another;

(3) Intriguing to cause another to be alienated from his friends;

(4) Vexing or humiliating another on account of his religious beliefs, lowly station in life, place of birth, physical defect, or other personal condition.

In the case at bar, the act of St. Louis Realty is an actionable quasi-delict under Articles 21 and 26 of the Civil Code, Hence,St. Louis Realty is entitled to compensate for both actual and moral damages to Dr. Aramil.

Persons, who know the residence of Doctor Aramil, were confused by the distorted, lingering impression that he was renting his residence from Arcadio or that Arcadio had leased it from him. Either way, his private life was mistakenly and unnecessarily exposed. He suffered diminution of income and mental anguish.

The trial court awarded Aramil P8,000 as actual damages, P20,000 as moral damages and P2,000 as attorney’s fees. When St. Louis Realty appealed to the Court of Appeals, CA affirmed the judgement for the reason that “St. Louis Realty committed an actionable quasi-delict under articles 21 and 26 of the Civil Code because the questioned advertisements pictured a beautiful house which did not belong to Arcadio but to Doctor Aramil who, naturally, was annoyed by that contretemps”.

WHEREFORE, the judgment of the Appellate Court is affirmed. Costs against the petitioner.

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