Gillaco v. Manila Railroad Company

G.R. No. L-8034, 18 November 1955, 97 Phil 884

FACTS:

That at about 7:30 a.m., on the morning of April 1, 1946, lieut. Tomas Gillaco, husband of the plaintiff, was a passenger in the early morning train of the Manila Railroad Company from Calamba, Laguna to Manila;

That when the train reached the Paco Railroad station, Emilio Devesa, a train guard of the Manila Railroad Company assigned in Manila-San Fernando, La Union Line, happened to be in said station waiting for the same train which would take him to Tutuban Station, where he was going to report for duty;

That Devesa’s tour of duty on that day was from 9:00 a.m., until the train to which he was assigned reached La Union at 7:00 p.m. of the same days;

That Emilio Devesa had a long standing personal grudge against Tomas Gillaco, same dating back during the Japanese occupation;

That because of this personal grudge, Devesa shot Gillaco with the carbine furnished to him by the Manila Raildroad Company for his use as such train guard, upon seeing him inside the train coach;

That Tomas Gillaco died as a result of the wound which he sustained from the shot fired by Divesa. It is also undisputed that Devesa was convicted of homicide by final judgment of the Court of Appeals. Appelant’s contention is that, on the foregoing facts, no liability attaches to it as employer of the killer.

ISSUE:

Whether or not Manila Railroad Company is liable for the intentional assault committed by its employee.

HELD:

No while the a passenger is entitled to protection from personal violence by the carrier or its agents or employees by virtue of the contract of carriage, this responsibility extends only to those that the carrier could foresee or avoid through the exercise of the degree of care and diligence required of it.

The act of guard Devesa in shooting passenger Gillaco because of personal grudge was entirely unforeseeable by the Manila Railroad Company. The latter had no means to ascertain or anticipate that the two would meet, nor could it reasonably foresee every personal rancor that might exist between each one of its many employees and anyone of the thousands of eventual passengers riding in its trains. The shooting in question was therefore” caso fortuito” within the definition of the old civil code, being both unforeseeable and inevitable under the given circumstances and pursuant to established doctrine, the resulting breach of the appellant’s contract of safe carriage with the late Tomas Gillaco was excused thereby. Moreover, when the crime took place, the guard Devesa had no duties to discharge in connection with the transportation of the deceased from Calamba to Manila. When Devesa shot and killed Gillaco, Devesa was assigned to guard the Manila-San Fernando La Union trains, and he was in the Paco Station awaiting transportation to Tutuban, the starting point of the train that he was engaged to guard. In fact, his tour of duty was to start at 9:00 a.m., two hours after the commission of the crime. Devesa therefore under no obligation to safeguard the passenger of the Calamba-Manila train, where the deceased was riding and the killing of Gillaco was not done in line of duty.

The position of Devesa at the time was that of another would be passenger, a stranger also awaiting transportation, and not that of an employee assigned to discharge any of the duties that the railroad had assumed by its contract with the deceased. As a result, Devesa’s assault can not be deemed in law a breach of Gillaco’s contract of transportation by a servant or employee of the carrier.

*Case digest by AG Himang, LLB-IV, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2018-2019

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