G.R. No. L-12986, March 31, 1966, 16 SCRA 448


On March 18, 1948 a fire broke out at the Caltex service station at the corner of Antipolo street and Rizal Avenue, Manila St. all started while a gasoline was being hosed from a tank truck into the underground storage, right at the opening of the receiving tank where the nozzle of the hose was inserted. The fire spread to and burned several neighboring house. The spouse Bernabe and heirs of Domingo Ong herein petitioner, sued respondents Caltex (phils), Inc. and Mateo Boquiren on negligence on the part of both of tyhem was attributed as the cause of the fire.

In the polioce and fire report they started that during the transferring of gasoline to the tank truck an unknown Filipino Citizen lighted a cigarette and threw the burning match stick near the main valve of the of the paid underground tank. Due to gasoline fumes, fire suddenly blazed. The respondents contend that it is not their negligence why the fire broke. But there was no evidence presented to prove this theory and no other explanation can be had as to the reason for the fire. Apparently also, Caltex and the branch owner failed to install a concrete firewall to contain fire if in case one happens.


Whether or not Caltex and Boquiren are liable to pay for damages.


Caltex and Boquiren are liable. Though the one who accuses the other of negligence is the one with burden to prove, in this case the principle of res ipsa loquitor applies. Res ipsa loquitur (the transaction speaks for itself) which states: “where the thing which caused injury, without fault of the injured person, is under the exclusive control of the defendant and the injury is such as in the ordinary course of things does not occur if he having such control use proper care, if affords reasonable evidence, in the absence of the explanation, that the injury arose from defendant1s want of care.” Article 1173 states that, the fault on negligence of the obligation 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. When negligence shows bad faith, the provisions of article 1171 and 2201 paragraph 2 shall apply. a fired occurred therein an spread to and burned the neighboring houses. The person who knew or could have known how the fire started, were Boquiren, Caltex and their employees, but they gave no explanation thereof whatsoever. It is fair and reasonable inference that the incident happened because of want of care.

 * Case digest by Lea Caipang, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018