G.R. No. 108897, 2 October 1997, 280 SCRA 58
On August 31, 1984, Fatima boarded petitioner’s bus from Manila to Legazpi. Her belongings consisting of three (3) bags were kept at the baggage compartment of the bus, but during the stopover in Daet, it was discovered that only one remained. The others might have dropped along the way. Other passengers suggested having the route traced, but the driver ignored it. Fatima immediately told the incident to her mother, who went to petitioner’s office in Legazpi and later in Manila. Petitioner offered P1,000 for each bag, but she turned it down. Disapointed, she sought help from Philtranco bus drivers and radio stations. One of the bags was recovered. She was told by petitioner that a team is looking for the lost luggage. After nine months of fruitless waiting, respondents filed a case to recover the lost items, as well as moral and exemplary damages, attorney’s fees and expenses of litigation. The trial court ruled in favor of respondents, which decision was affirmed with modification by the Court of Appeals, deleting moral and exemplary damages.
Whether petitioner is liable for the loss of the luggage.
Under the Civil Code, common carriers, from the nature of their business and for reasons of public policy, are bound to observe extraordinary diligence in the vigilance over the goods transported by them, and this liability lasts from the time the goods are unconditionally placed in the possession of, and received by the carrier for transportation until the same are delivered, actually or constructively, by the carrier to the person who has a right to receive them, unless the loss is due to any of the excepted causes under Article 1734 thereof.
Where the common carrier accepted its passenger’s baggage for transportation and even had it placed in the vehicle by its own employee, its failure to collect the freight charge is the common carrier’s own lookout. It is responsible for the consequent loss of the baggage. In the instant case, defendant appellant’s employee even helped Fatima Minerva Fortades and her brother load the luggages/baggages in the bus’ baggage compartment, without asking that they be weighed, declared, receipted or paid for. Neither was this required of the other passengers.
*Case digest by Honeyleth Luvie T. Hayag, LLB-4, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2018-2019