G.R. No. 131621, 28 September 1999, 315 SCRA 339
On November 19, 1984, loadstar received on board its M/V “Cherokee” bales of lawanit hardwood, tilewood and Apitong Bolidenized for shipment, of which the goods were insured for the with the Manila Insurance Company against various risks including “Total Loss by Total Loss of the Vessel”. The vessel sank off at Limasawa Island along with its cargo. As a result of the total loss of its shipment, the consignee made a claim with loadstar which, however, ignored the same. As the insurer, MIC paid to the insured in full settlement of its claim, and the latter executed a subrogation receipt therefor. MIC thereafter filed a complaint against loadstar alleging that the sinking of the vessel was due to fault and negligence of loadstar and its employees.
In its answer, Loadstar denied any liability for the loss of the shipper’s goods and claimed that the sinking of its vessel was due to force majeure. The court a quo rendered judgment in favor of MIC, prompting loadstar to elevate the matter to the Court of Appeals, which however, agreed with the trial court and affirmed its decision in toto. On appeal, loadstar maintained that the vessel was a private carrier because it was not issued a Certificate of Public Convenience, it did not have a regular trip or schedule nor a fixed route, and there was only “one shipper, one consignee for a special cargo”.
Whether or not M/V Cherokee was a private carrier so as to exempt it from the provisions covering Common Carrier?
Loadstar is a common carrier.
The Court held that LOADSTAR is a common carrier. It is not necessary that the carrier be issued a certificate of public convenience, and this public character is not altered by the fact that the carriage of the goods in question was periodic, occasional, episodic or unscheduled. Further, the bare fact that the vessel was carrying a particular type of cargo for one shipper, which appears to be purely co-incidental; it is no reason enough to convert the vessel from a common to a private carrier, especially where, as in this case, it was shown that the vessel was also carrying passengers.
Article 1732 also carefully avoids making any distinction between a person or enterprise offering transportation service on a regular or scheduled basis and one offering such service on an occasional, episodic or unscheduled basis. Neither does Article 1732 distinguish between a carrier offering its services to the “general public,” i.e., the general community or population, and one who offers services or solicits business only from a narrow segment of the general population.
*Case digest by Rosemarie G. Banatanto-Baliquig, LLB-IV, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2018-2019