Bachelor Express, Inc. v. Court of Appeals

G.R. No. 85691, 31 July 1990, 188 SCRA 216

FACTS:

– On Aug 1980, a bus owned by Bachelor Express, Inc. (BEI) and driven by Cresencio Rivera came from Davao City on its way to Cagayan de Oro City passing Butuan City.
– While at Tabon-Tabon, Butuan City, the bus picked up a passenger and about 15 mins later, a passenger at the rear portion suddenly stabbed a PC soldier which caused commotion and panic among the passengers.
– When the bus stopped, passengers Ornominio Beter and Narcisa Rautraut were found lying down the road, the former already dead as a result of head injuries and the latter also suffering from severe injuries which caused her death later.
– The passenger assailant alighted from the bus and ran toward the bushes but was killed by the police. Thereafter, the heirs of Ornominio Beter and Narcisa Rautraut, private respondents herein the parents of Beter and Rautraut.
– RTC dismissed the complaint. Upon appeal, the decision was reversed and set aside. CA found BEI and Rivera solidarily liable to pay the private respondents herein.

ISSUE:

1. What was the proximate cause of the whole incident?
2. Whether or not the petitioner’ common carrier observed extraordinary diligence to safeguard the lives of its passengers? NO

RULING:

1. Petitioner, in order to overcome the presumption of fault/negligence under the law, states that the vehicular incident resulting in the death of the passengers Beter and Rautraut was caused by force majeure/casa fortuito.

The following essential characteristics of casa fortuito are: (1) The cause of the unforeseen and unexpected occurrence, or of the failure of the debtor to comply with his obligation, must be independent of the human will; (2) 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; (3) The occurrence must be such as to render it impossible for the debtor to fulfill his obligation in a normal manner. and (4) the obligor (debtor) must be free from any participation in the aggravation of the injury resulting to the creditor.

The running amuck of the passenger was the proximate cause of the incident as it triggered off a commotion and panic among passengers started running to the sole exit shoving each other resulting in the falling off the passengers Beter and Rautraut causing them fatal injuries. The sudden act of the passenger who stabbed another passenger in the bus is within context of force majeure.

*Case digest by Peregrino Varquez, LLB-IV, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2018-2019

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