December 2016 - Philippine Supreme Court Decisions/Resolutions
Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence > Year 2016 > December 2016 Decisions > G.R. No. 218014, December 07, 2016 - EDDIE CORTEL Y CARNA AND YELLOW BUS LINE, INC., Petitioners, v. CECILE GEPAYA-LIM, Respondent.:
G.R. No. 218014, December 07, 2016 - EDDIE CORTEL Y CARNA AND YELLOW BUS LINE, INC., Petitioners, v. CECILE GEPAYA-LIM, Respondent.
G.R. No. 218014, December 07, 2016
EDDIE CORTEL Y CARNA AND YELLOW BUS LINE, INC., Petitioners, v. CECILE GEPAYA-LIM, Respondent.
D E C I S I O N
Petitioners Eddie Cortel y Carna (Cortel) and Yellow Bus Line, Inc. (Yellow Bus Line) assail the 16 October 2014 Decision1 and 21 April 2015 Resolution2 of the Court of Appeals Cagayan de Oro City in CA-G.R. CV No. 02980. The Court of Appeals affirmed with modification the Judgment,3 dated 27 April 2012, of the Regional Trial Court of Midsayap, Cotabato, Branch 18 (trial court), finding petitioners jointly and severally liable to the heirs of SP03 Robert C. Lim (Lim) for the latter's death.chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
The Court of Appeals narrated the facts as follows:cralawlawlibrary
On 29 October 2004, Cartel was driving a bus, operated by Yellow Bus Line, which was on its way from Marbel, Koronadal to Davao City. At around 9:45 in the evening, as the bus was traversing Crossing Rubber in the Municipality of Tupi, South Cotabato, Cortel noticed two trucks with glaring headlights coming from the opposite direction. Cortel stated that he was driving at a speed of 40 to 50 kilometers per hour. He claimed that upon noticing the trucks, he reduced his speed to 20 kilometers per hour. However, the bus hit a black motorcycle which allegedly had no tail light reflectors. The impact dragged the motorcycle at a distance of three meters before it came to a full stop. Lim, who was riding the motorcycle, was thrown upward and then slammed into the bus, hitting the base of its right windshield wiper. The motorcycle got entangled with the broken bumper of the bus. According to Cortel, Lim was wearing a black jacket and was riding without a helmet at the time of the accident.
Felix Larang (Larang), the bus conductor, alighted from the bus to aid Lim. Larang gave instructions to Cortel to move back to release Lim and the motorcycle from the front bumper of the bus. Two bystanders proceeded to the scene to assist Lim. After reversing the bus and freeing Lim and the motorcycle, Cortel drove the bus away and went to a nearby bus station where he surrendered to authorities. Cortel claimed that he left the scene of the incident because he feared for his life.
Respondent Cecile Gepaya-Lim, Lim's widow, filed a complaint for damages against petitioners. The case was docketed as Civil Case No. 05-010.
During trial, SPO4 Eddie S. Orencio (SPO4 Orencio), the officer who investigated the incident, testified that Lim was driving a DT Yamaha 125 black motorcycle when the accident took place. Cortel's bus and the motorcycle were going in the same direction. SPO4 Orencio testified that that the bus bumped the motorcycle from behind. The motorcycle's engine and chassis were severely damaged, while its rear rim was totally damaged by the accident.
Yellow Bus Line presented and offered in evidence photographs showing that the bus' right front windshield and wiper were damaged. The bus' lower right side bumper was also perforated. During the preliminary conference, Yellow Bus Line also presented Cortel's certificates showing that he attended the following seminars: (1) Basic Tire Care Seminar; (2) Basic Tire Knowledge and Understanding Retreading; and (3) Traffic Rules and Regulations, Defensive Driving and Road Courtesy Seminar.
However, the certificates were not offered in evidence during trial.
In its 27 April 2012 Judgment, the trial court established that Cortel was at fault. The trial court found that the bus was running fast when it bumped the motorcycle ridden by Lim. The trial court ruled that the accident is the proximate cause of Lim's death. The trial court also ruled that Yellow Bus Line failed to present sufficient evidence to prove that it exercised due diligence in the selection and supervision of Cortel.
The dispositive portion of the trial court's decision reads:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court hereby renders judgment against Defendants Eddie Cortely Carna and likewise against the owners of the Yellow Bus Line, Inc., numbered bus with Body No. A-96, and bearing Plate No. LWE-614, with PDL No. L05-30-002730; thus pursuant to [A]rticles 2176 and 2180 of the Civil Code of the Philippines[,] said Defendants are ordered to pay jointly and severally to the plaintiffs the following amount:cralawlawlibrarychanrobleslaw
In favor of the heirs of Robert C. Lim represented by Cecile Gepaya Lim as the surviving spouse, and with [a] living child, the death compensation of One Hundred Fifty Thousand Pesos (P150,000.00), plus x x x[:]
a) Funeral and burial expenses of Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00);ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
b) [C]ompensation for loss of earning capacity in the amount of P100,000.00;ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
(c) x x x Damages [to] the motorcycle in the amount of [Fifteen Thousand Pesos] (P15,000.00);ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
d) Attorney's fees of Fifteen Thousand Pesos (P15,000.00);ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
e) Costs of suit.
Petitioners appealed from the trial court's decision.
In its 16 October 2014 Decision, the Court of Appeals applied the doctrine of res ipsa loquitor.
The Court of Appeals ruled that Lim died because of the collision between the bus driven by Cortel and the motorcycle Lim was riding. The Court of Appeals ruled that both vehicles were driving in the same lane and were headed towards the same direction. The Court of Appeals noted that vehicles running on highways do not normally collide unless one of the drivers is negligent. The Court of Appeals further ruled that Cortel had exclusive control and management of the bus he was driving. The Court of Appeals found no evidence that Lim had any contributory negligence in the accident that resulted to his death. The Court of Appeals ruled that petitioners failed to prove that the motorcycle had no headlights or that Lim was not wearing a helmet. The Court of Appeals stated that even if the motorcycle was black and Lim was wearing a black jacket, these were not prohibited by traffic rules and regulations. The Court of Appeals noted that upon impact, Lim's body was thrown upward, indicating that Cortel was driving at high speed. The damages to the motorcycle and the bus also disproved Cortel's allegation that he was only driving at the speed of 20 kilometers per hour.
The Court of Appeals ruled that Yellow Bus Line failed to exercise the care and diligence of a good father of a family in its selection and supervision of its employees. The Court of Appeals ruled that the certificates presented by Yellow Bus Line were not admissible in evidence because the police officer who allegedly signed them was not presented before the trial court. In addition, Yellow Bus Line did not offer the certificates as evidence during trial.
The Court of Appeals modified the amount of damages awarded to the heirs of Lim. Using the formula set by this Court in The Heirs of Poe v. Malayan Insurance Company, Inc.5 and Villa Rey Transit, Inc. v. Court of Appeals,6 the Court of Appeals recomputed Lim's lost earning capacity, as follows:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
Life expectancy = 2/3 x [80- age of deceased at the time of death] 2/3 x (80-41] 2/3 x  FORMULA – NET EARNING CAPACITY (NEC)
Age at time of death of Robert Lim = 41
Monthly Income at time of death = 13,715.00
Gross Annual Income (GAI)= [(P13,715.00) (12)] = P164,580.00
Reasonable/Necessary Living Expenses (R/NLE) – 50% of GAI = P82,290
NEC = [2/3 (80-41)] [164,580-82,290] = [2/3 (39)] [82,290] =  [82,290] = P2,139,540.00
Thus, the Court of Appeals found that the award of 100,000 as death compensation given by the trial court to the heirs of Lim was inadequate. However, the Court of Appeals reduced the amount of death indemnity from 150,000 to 50,000. The Court of Appeals deleted the 15,000 awarded by the trial court for the damages to the motorcycle for absence of proof but awarded 25,000 for funeral and burial expenses. In addition, the Court of Appeals awarded 100,000 as moral damages to the heirs of Lim. The dispositive portion of the Court of Appeals' decision reads:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
WHEREFORE, the Judgment dated 27 April 2012 of the Regional Trial Court (Branch 18), 12th Judicial Region, Midsayap, Cotabato, is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. Defendant-appellants Eddie Cortel and Yellow Bus Line, Inc. are hereby ordered to pay jointly and severally plaintiff-appellee Cecile Gepaya-Lim the following:cralawlawlibrarychanrobleslaw
(1) Funeral and burial expenses of P25,000.00;
(2) Actual damages for loss of earning capacity of P2,139,540.00;
(3) Moral damages amounting to P100,000.00;
(4) Death indemnity of P50,000.00; and
(5) Attorney's fees of P15,000.00
After this decision becomes final and executory, interest at 12% per annum shall additionally be imposed on the total obligation until full payment.
Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration. The Court of Appeals denied the motion in its 21 April 2015 Resolution.
Hence, the recourse before this Court.
Whether the Court of Appeals committed a reversible error m affirming with modifications the decision of the trial court.
We deny the petition.
Petitioners want this Court to review the factual findings of both the trial court and the Court of Appeals. Petitioners allege that the trial court and the Court of Appeals erred in concluding that the bus driven by Cortel was running fast when the accident occurred and in applying the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur in this case.
The rule is that the factual findings of the trial court, when affirmed by the Court of Appeals, are binding and conclusive upon this Court.9 It is also settled that questions regarding the cause of vehicular accident and the persons responsible for it are factual questions which this Court cannot pass upon, particularly when the findings of the trial court and the Court of Appeals are completely in accord.10 While there are exceptions to this rule, the Court finds no justification that would make the present case fall under the exceptions.
As pointed out by the Court of Appeals, the result of the collision speaks for itself. If, indeed, the speed of the bus was only 20 kilometers per hour as Cortel claimed, it would not bump the motorcycle traveling in the same direction with such impact that it threw its rider upward before hitting the base of its right windshield wiper. If Cortel was driving at 20 kilometers per hour, the bus would not drag the motorcycle for three meters after the impact. The Court of Appeals likewise considered the damages sustained by both the motorcycle and the bus which indicated that Cortel was driving fast at the time of the accident. As regards petitioners' allegation that Lim was equally negligent because he was riding without a helmet and the motorcycle had no tail lights, the Court of Appeals correctly found that it was self-serving because petitioner did not present any evidence to prove this allegation.
We agree that res ipsa loquitur applies m this case. The Court explained this doctrine as follows:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
While negligence is not ordinarily inferred or presumed, and while the mere happening of an accident or injury will not generally give rise to an inference or presumption that it was due to negligence on defendant's part, under the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, which means, literally, the thing or transaction speaks for itself, or in one jurisdiction, that the thing or instrumentality speaks for itself, the facts or circumstances accompanying an injury may be such as to raise a presumption, or at least permit an inference of negligence on the part of the defendant, or some other person who is charged with negligence.chanrobleslaw
x x x [W]here it is shown that the thing or instrumentality which caused the injury complained of was under the control or management of the defendant, and that the occurrence resulting in the injury was such as in the ordinary course of things would not happen if those who had its control or management used proper care, there is sufficient evidence, or, as sometimes stated, reasonable evidence, in the absence of explanation by the defendant, that the injury arose from or was caused by the defendant's want of care.
x x x x
The res ipsa loquitur doctrine is based in part upon the theory that the defendant in charge of the instrumentality which causes the injury either knows the cause of the accident or has the best opportunity of ascertaining it and that the plaintiff has no such knowledge, and therefore is compelled to allege negligence in general terms and to rely upon the proof of the happening of the accident in order to establish negligence. The inference which the doctrine permits is grounded upon the fact that the chief evidence of the true cause, whether culpable or innocent, is practically accessible to the defendant but inaccessible to the injured person.11
The elements of res ipsa loquitur are: (1) the accident is of such character as to warrant an inference that it would not have happened except for the defendant's negligence; (2) the accident must have been caused by an agency or instrumentality within the exclusive management or control of the person charged with the negligence complained of; and (3) the accident must not have been due to any voluntary action or contribution on the part of the person injured.12
In this case, Cortel had the exclusive control of the bus, including its speed. The bus and the motorcycle were running in the same traffic direction and as such, the collision would not have happened without negligence on the part of Cortel. It was established that the collision between the bus and the motorcycle caused Lim's death. Aside from bare allegations that petitioners failed to prove, there was nothing to show that Lim had contributory negligence to the accident.
The rule is when an employee causes damage due to his own negligence while performing his own duties, there arises a presumption that his employer is negligent.13 This presumption can be rebutted only by proof of observance by the employer of the diligence of a good father of a family in the selection and supervision of its employees. In this case, we agree with the trial court and the Court of Appeals that Yellow Bus Line failed to prove that it exercised due diligence of a good father of a family in the selection and supervision of its employees. Cortel's certificates of attendance to seminars, which Yellow Bus Line did not even present as evidence in the trial court, are not enough to prove otherwise.
We sustain the Court of Appeals in its award of loss of earning capacity and damages to respondent. The increase in the award for loss of earning capacity is proper due to the computation of the award in accordance with the following formula:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
Net earning capacity Life Expectancy x [Gross Annual Income- Living Expenses (50% of gross annual income)], where life expectancy 2/3 (80 - the age of the deceased).14chanrobleslaw
We note that the Court of Appeals clearly intended to award to respondent temperate damages amounting to P25,000 for burial and funeral expenses, instead of the P15,000 representing the actual damage to the motorcycle awarded by the trial court, because no evidence was presented to prove the same. However, the term "temperate damages" was inadvertently omitted in the dispositive portion of the Court of Appeals' decision although it was stated that the amount was for funeral and burial expenses. We reduce the interest rate to 6% per annum on all damages awarded from the date of finality of this Decision until fully paid.
WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition. We AFFIRM with MODIFICATION the 16 October 2014 Decision and 21 April 2015 Resolution of the Court of Appeals Cagayan de Oro City in CA-G.R. CV No. 02980. We ORDER petitioners Eddie Cortel y Carna and Yellow Bus Line, Inc. to pay jointly and severally respondent Cecile Gepaya-Lim the following:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
(1) Award for loss of earning capacity amounting to P2,139,540;chanrobleslaw
(2) Temperate damages amounting to P25,000;
(3) Death indemnity amounting to P50,000;
(4) Moral damages amounting to P100,000; and
(5) Attorney's fees amounting to P15,000
We impose an interest rate of 6% per annum on all damages awarded from the date of finality of this Decision until fully paid.
Brion, Del Castillo, Mendoza, and Leonen, JJ., concur.
1 Rollo, pp. 32-44. Penned by Associate Justice Edgardo T. Lloren, with Associate Justices Edward B. Contreras and Rafael Antonio M. Santos concurring.
2 Id. at 64-66.
3 Id. at 67-79. Penned by Presiding Judge George C. Jabido.
4 Id. at 79.
5 602 Phil. 564 (2009).
6 142 Phil. 494 (1970).
7Rollo, p. 41.
8 Id. at 43-44.
9Bormaheco, Inc. v. Malayan Insurance Company, Inc., 639 Phil. 322 (2010).
10DST Movers Corporation v. People's Genera/Insurance Corporation, G.R. No. 198627, 13 January 2016.
11Malayan Insurance Company, Inc. v. Alberto, 680 Phil. 813, 824-825 (2012).
12Josefa v. Manila Electric Company, G.R. No. 182705, 18 July 2014, 730 SCRA 126.
13Davao Holiday Transport Services Corporation v. Emphasis, G.R. No. 211424, 26 November 2014, 743 SCRA 299.
14People v. Casas, G.R. No. 212565, 25 February 2015, 752 SCRA 94.