G.R. No. 113003, October 17, 1997, 281 SCRA 1
On April 26, 1988, spouses Tito and Leny Tumboy and their minor children named Ardee and Jasmin, boarded at Mangagoy, Surigao del Sur, a Yobido Liner bus bound for Davao City. Along Picop Road in Km. 17, Sta. Maria, Agusan del Sur, the left front tire of the bus exploded. The bus fell into a ravine around three (3) feet from the road and struck a tree. The incident resulted in the death of 28-year-old Tito Tumboy and physical injuries to other passengers. On November 21, 1988, a complaint for breach of contract of carriage, damages and attorneys fees was filed by Leny and her children against Alberta Yobido, the owner of the bus, and Cresencio Yobido, its driver, before the Regional Trial Court of Davao City. When the defendants therein filed their answer to the complaint, they raised the affirmative defense of caso fortuito. They also filed a third-party complaint against Philippine Phoenix Surety and Insurance, Inc. This third-party defendant filed an answer with compulsory counterclaim. Defendants contented that they exerted due diligence such that the bus was not full that time and that the tire was new. On August 29, 1991, the lower court rendered a decision dismissing the action for lack of merit. However, on August 23, 1993, the Court of Appeals rendered the Decision reversing that of the lower court. Hence this case.
1. Whether or not the tire blowout was a fortuitous event.
2. Whether or not defendants did not exercise utmost and/or extraordinary diligence required of carriers under Article 1755 of the Civil Code
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeals, reiterating provisions of the Civil Code.
Art. 1756. In case of death or injuries to passengers, common carriers are presumed to have been at fault or to have acted negligently, unless they prove that they observed extraordinary diligence as prescribed in articles 1733 and 1755.
Article 1755 provides that (a) common carrier is bound to carry the passengers safely as far as human care and foresight can provide, using the utmost diligence of very cautious persons, with a due regard for all the circumstances. Accordingly, in culpa contractual, once a passenger dies or is injured, the carrier is presumed to have been at fault or to have acted negligently. This disputable presumption may only be overcome by evidence that the carrier had observed extraordinary diligence as prescribed by Articles 1733, 1755 and 1756 of the Civil Code or that the death or injury of the passenger was due to a fortuitous event. Consequently, the court need not make an express finding of fault or negligence on the part of the carrier to hold it responsible for damages sought by the passenger
A fortuitous event is possessed of the following characteristics: (a) the cause of the unforeseen and unexpected occurrence, or the failure of the debtor to comply with his obligations, must be independent of human will; (b) it must be impossible to foresee the event which constitutes the caso fortuito, or if it can be foreseen, it must be impossible to avoid; (c) the occurrence must be such as to render it impossible for the debtor to fulfill his obligation in a normal manner; and (d) the obligor must be free from any participation in the aggravation of the injury resulting to the creditor.
Under the circumstances of this case, the explosion of the new tire may not be considered a fortuitous event. There are human factors involved in the situation. The fact that the tire was new did not imply that it was entirely free from manufacturing defects or that it was properly mounted on the vehicle. Neither may the fact that the tire bought and used in the vehicle is of a brand name noted for quality, resulting in the conclusion that it could not explode within five days use. Be that as it may, it is settled that an accident caused either by defects in the automobile or through the negligence of its driver is not a caso fortuito that would exempt the carrier from liability for damages. As stated above, proof that the tire was new and of good quality is not sufficient proof that it was not negligent. Petitioners should have shown that it undertook extraordinary diligence in the care of its carrier, such as conducting daily routinary check-ups of the vehicles parts.
* Case digest by Jason Olasiman, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018