Zenith Insurance Corp. v. Court of Appeals

G.R. No. 85296, 14 May 1990, 185 SCRA 398


On January 25, 1983, private respondent Lawrence Fernandez insured his car for “own damage” under private car Policy No. 50459 with petitioner Zenith Insurance Corporation. On July 6, 1983, the car figured in an accident and suffered actual damages in the amount of P3,640.00. After allegedly being given a run around by Zenith for two (2) months, Fernandez filed a complaint with the Regional Trial Court of Cebu for sum of money and damages resulting from the refusal of Zenith to pay the amount claimed. The complaint was docketed as Civil Case No. CEB-1215. Aside from actual damages and interests, Fernandez also prayed for moral damages in the amount of P10,000.00, exemplary damages of P5,000.00, attorney’s fees of P3,000.00 and litigation expenses of P3,000.00.
On September 28, 1983, Zenith filed an answer alleging that it offered to pay the claim of Fernandez pursuant to the terms and conditions of the contract which, the private respondent rejected. On November 14, 1983, the trial court terminated the pre-trial. Subsequently, Fernandez presented his evidence. Petitioner Zenith, however, failed to present its evidence in view of its failure to appear in court, without justifiable reason, on the day scheduled for the purpose. The trial court issued an order on August 23, 1984 submitting the case for decision without Zenith’s evidence (pp. 10-11, Rollo). Petitioner filed a petition for certiorari with the Court of Appeals assailing the order of the trial court submitting the case for decision without petitioner’s evidence.


Whether it is proper to award of moral damages, exemplary damages and attorney’s fees to the private respondent


Under the Insurance Code, in case of unreasonable delay in the payment of the proceeds of an insurance policy, the damages that may be awarded are: 1) attorney’s fees; 2) other expenses incurred by the insured person by reason of such unreasonable denial or withholding of payment; 3) interest at twice the ceiling prescribed by the Monetary Board of the amount of the claim due the injured; and 4) the amount of the claim.
As regards the award of moral and exemplary damages, the rules under the Civil Code of the Philippines shall govern.
On the other hand, exemplary or corrective damages are imposed by way of example or correction for the public good (Art. 2229, New Civil Code of the Philippines). In the case of Noda v. Cruz-Arnaldo, G.R. No. 57322, June 22,1987; 151 SCRA 227, exemplary damages were not awarded as the insurance company had not acted in wanton, oppressive or malevolent manner. The same is true in the case at bar.
The amount of P5,000.00 awarded as attomey’s fees is justified under the circumstances of this case considering that there were other petitions filed and defended by private respondent in connection with this case.
As regards the actual damages incurred by private respondent, the amount of P3,640.00 had been established before the trial court and affirmed by the appellate court. Respondent appellate court correctly ruled that the deductions of P250.00 and P274.00 as deductible franchise and 20% depreciation on parts, respectively claimed by petitioners as agreed upon in the contract, had no basis. Respondent court ruled:

*Case digest by Ana Azalea O. Adraincem, LLB-IV, Andres Bonifacio Law School, S.Y 2018-2019

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