G.R. No. 113003, 17 October 1997, 281 SCRA 1
On 26 April 1988, spouses Tito and Leny Tumboy and their minor children named Ardee and Jasmin, boarded at Mangagoy, Surigao del Sur, a Yobido Liner bus bound for Davao City. Along Picop Road in Km. 17, Sta. Maria, Agusan del Sur, the left front tire of the bus exploded. The bus fell into a ravine around 3 feet from the road and struck a tree. The incident resulted in the death of 28-year-old Tito Tumboy, and physical injuries to other passengers. On 21 November 1988, a complaint for breach of contract of carriage, damages and attorney’s fees was filed by Leny and her children against Alberta Yobido, the owner of the bus, and Cresencio Yobido, its driver, before the RTC of Davao City. When the Yobidos filed their answer to the complaint, they raised the affirmative defense of caso fortuito. They also filed a third-party complaint against Philippine Phoenix Surety and Insurance, Inc. This third-party defendant filed an answer with compulsory counterclaim. At the pre-trial conference, the parties agreed to a stipulation of facts. Upon a finding that the third party defendant was not liable under the insurance contract, the lower court dismissed the third party complaint. No amicable settlement having been arrived at by the parties, trial on the merits ensued. On 29 August 1991, the lower court rendered a decision dismissing the action for lack of merit.
Dissatisfied, the Tumboys appealed to the Court of Appeals. On 23 August 1993, the Court of Appeals rendered the Decision reversing that of the lower court, ordering the Yobidos to pay the Tumboys the sum of P50,000.00 for the death of Tito Tumboy, P30,000.00 in moral damages, and P7,000.00 for funeral and burial expenses. The Yobidos filed a motion for reconsideration of said decision which was denied on 4 November 1993 by the Court of Appeals. Hence, the petition for review on certiorari.
Whether or not the Yobido (bus-owner) be exempt from liability because the tire blowout was no more than a fortuitous event that could not have foreseen.
No. Under the circumstances of the present case, the explosion of the new tire may not be considered a fortuitous event. It is settled that an accident caused either by defects in the automobile or through the negligence of its driver is not a caso fortuito that would exempt the carrier from liability for damages.
A common carrier may not be absolved from liability in case of force majeure or fortuitous event alone. The common carrier must still prove that it was not negligent in causing the death or injury resulting from an accident.
In culpa contractual, once a passenger dies or injured, the carrier is presumed to have been at fault or to have acted negligently. This presumption may only be overcome by evidence that the carrier had observed extraordinary diligence.
The Yobido failed to rebut the testimony of Leny Tumboy that the bus was running so fast that she cautioned the driver to slow down. These contradictory facts must, be resolved in favor of liability in view of the presumption of negligence of the carrier in the law. Coupled with this is the established condition of the road tough, winding and wet due to rain. It was incumbent upon the defense to establish that it took precautionary measures considering partially dangerous condition of the road.
Yobido failed to discharge its duty to overthrow the presumption of negligence with clear and convincing evidence.
The explosion of the new tire is not a fortuitous event. There are human factors involved in the situation. The fact that the tire was new did not imply that it was entirely free from manufacturing defects or that it was properly mounted on the vehicle. Neither may the fact that the tire bought and used is of a brand name noted for quality, resulting in the conclusion that it could not explode within five day’s use. It is settled that an accident caused either by defects in the automobile or through the negligence of its driver is not a caso fortuito.
Moreover, a common carrier may not be absolved from liability in case of force majeure. A common carrier must still prove that it was not negligent in causing the death or injury resulting from the accident. Thus, having failed to overthrow the presumption of negligence with clear and convincing evidence, petitioners are hereby held liable for damages.
*Case digest by Honeyleth Luvie T. Hayag, LLB-4, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2018-2019