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Category Archives: Civil Law

Dr. Solidum v. People, G.R. No. 192123, 10 March 2014.

[BERSAMIN, J.]

FACTS: Gerald Albert Gercayo (Gerald) was born with an imperforate anus. Two days after his birth, Gerald underwent colostomy, a surgical procedure to bring one end of the large intestine out through the abdominal wall, enabling him to excrete through a colostomy bag attached to the side of his body. When Gerald was three years old, he was admitted at the Ospital ng Maynila for a pull-through operation Dr. Leandro Resurreccion headed the surgical team, and was assisted by Dr. Joselito Luceño, Dr. Donatella Valeña and Dr. Joseph Tibio. The anesthesiologists included Dr. Marichu Abella, Dr. Arnel Razon and petitioner Dr. Fernando Solidum (Dr. Solidum). During the operation, Gerald experienced bradycardia, and went into a coma. His coma lasted for two weeks, but he regained consciousness only after a month. He could no longer see, hear or move.

A criminal complaint for Reckless Imprudence Resulting in Serious Physical Injuries was filed against Dr. Solidum. The RTC rendered a judgment of conviction against Dr. Solidum with Ospital ng Maynila jointly and severally liable. The CA affirmed the RTC judgment. The SC ruled that Dr. Solidum must be acquitted because the prosecution did not prove beyond reasonable doubt that Dr. Solidum had been recklessly imprudent in administering the anesthetic agent to Gerald.  Indeed, Dr. Vertido’s findings did not preclude the probability that other factors related to Gerald’s major operation, which could or could not necessarily be attributed to the administration of the anesthesia, had caused the hypoxia and had then led Gerald to experience bradycardia. Dr. Vertido revealingly concluded in his report, instead, that “although the anesthesiologist followed the normal routine and precautionary procedures, still hypoxia and its corresponding side effects did occur.

ISSUE#1: Will the acquittal of Dr. Solidum exempt him from civil liability arising from the crime?

HELD#2: NO, it does not follow.

We have to clarify that the acquittal of Dr. Solidum would not immediately exempt him from civil liability. But we cannot now find and declare him civilly liable because the circumstances that have been established here do not present the factual and legal bases for validly doing so. His acquittal did not derive only from reasonable doubt. There was really no firm and competent showing how the injury to Gerard had been caused. That meant that the manner of administration of the anesthesia by Dr. Solidum was not necessarily the cause of the hypoxia that caused the bradycardia experienced by Gerard. Consequently, to adjudge Dr. Solidum civilly liable would be to speculate on the cause of the hypoxia. We are not allowed to do so, for civil liability must not rest on speculation but on competent evidence.

ISSUE#2: Is the decree that Ospital ng Maynila is jointly and severally liable with Dr. Solidum correct?

HELD#2: NO, the decree is not correct.

For one, Ospital ng Maynila was not at all a party in the proceedings. Hence, its fundamental right to be heard was not respected from the outset. The R TC and the CA should have been alert to this fundamental defect. Verily, no person can be prejudiced by a ruling rendered in an action or proceeding in which he was not made a party. Such a rule would enforce the constitutional guarantee of due process of law.

Moreover, Ospital ng Maynila could be held civilly liable only when subsidiary liability would be properly enforceable pursuant to Article 103 of the Revised Penal Code. But the subsidiary liability seems far-fetched here. The conditions for subsidiary liability to attach to Ospital ng Maynila should first be complied with. Firstly, pursuant to Article 103 of the Revised Penal Code, Ospital ng Maynila must be shown to be a corporation “engaged in any kind of industry.” The term industry means any department or branch of art, occupation or business, especially one that employs labor and capital, and is engaged in industry.

However, Ospital ng Maynila, being a public hospital, was not engaged in industry conducted for profit but purely in charitable and humanitarian work. Secondly, assuming that Ospital ng Maynila was engaged in industry for profit, Dr. Solidum must be shown to be an employee of Ospital ng Maynila acting in the discharge of his duties during the operation on Gerald. Yet, he definitely was not such employee but a consultant of the hospital. And, thirdly, assuming that civil liability was adjudged against Dr. Solidum as an employee (which did not happen here), the execution against him was unsatisfied due to his being insolvent.

 

N.B.

In criminal prosecutions, the civil action for the recovery of civil liability that is deemed instituted with the criminal action refers only to that arising from the offense charged. It is puzzling, therefore, how the RTC and the CA could have adjudged Ospital ng Maynila jointly and severally liable with Dr. Solidum for the damages despite the obvious fact that Ospital ng Maynila, being an artificial entity, had not been charged along with Dr. Solidum. The lower courts thereby acted capriciously and whimsically, which rendered their judgment against Ospital ng Maynila void as the product of grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction.

 

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Spouses Fermin v. Court of Appeals, et al., G.R. No. 95146, 06 May 1991.

[GANCAYCO, J.]

FACTS: A reading of the lease agreement shows that it is for a term of ten (10) years and that the lease shall be renewable for another term of 10 years upon mutual agreement of the parties. The agreed rental is P5,000.00 per annum with the escalation clause that the rental shall be increased by 10% at the end of each five-year period counted from the effectivity of the lease agreement. After the 10-year term and during the renewal period, the lessee may, at his/their own option and discretion, terminate the lease, after giving the lessors a previous written notice in advance, at least 180 days from the effective date of termination. Upon termination of the lease after the first 10 years, all improvements which are permanent in nature that may have been constructed by the lessee on the leased properties, shall become properties of the lessors, their heirs or assigns, without any further obligation to reimburse the lessees. The lessee has the priority to purchase the property if the lessors decide to sell said property.

Before the expiration of the 10 year term of the lease, private respondents manifested their desire to renew the lease when they sent petitioners’ representative a prepared lease agreement already signed by them but it was never signed nor returned by petitioners. Petitioners would be willing to renew said lease if the rentals are increased to P2,000.00 monthly. Petitioners acquiesced on private respondents’ occupation for more than 15 days after the expiration of the lease agreement. Private respondents now contend that there is an implied renewal of lease agreement for another 10 years.

 

ISSUE: Is the contention that implied renewal of a lease agreement originally for 10 year term be for another 10 years correct?

 

HELD: NO, the contention is not correct.

From the foregoing set of facts, it cannot be said that the lease agreement had been effectively renewed for another 10 years. The stipulation of the parties is clear in that such a renewal is subject to the mutual agreement of the parties. While there is no question that private respondents expressed their desire to renew the lease by another 10 years at the rate of the rental stipulated in the lease agreement, apparently petitioners would be willing to renew said lease if the rentals are increased to P2,000.00 monthly. Obviously, there was no meeting of the minds as to the rate of the rental. As there was no agreement reached, then the term of the lease may not be considered to have been renewed for another 10 years.

However, since after the expiration of the lease agreement, the private respondents continued to occupy the premises for more than 15 days with the acquiescence of petitioners, then it is understood that there is an implied new lease, not for the period of the original contract, but from year to year. Article 1670 of the Civil Code so provides for this situation.

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2017 in Case Digests, Lease

 

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Doromal, et al. v. Court of Appeals and Javellana, G.R. No. L-36083, 05 September 1975.

[BARREDO, J.]

FACTS:

Private respondent (plaintiff) Javellana filed an action for redemption of a co-owned property against petitioners Doromal, et al. (defendants). The Court of First Instance (CFI) dismissed the action for having been made out of time.  The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s decision and held that although respondent Javellana was informed of her co-owners’ proposal to sell the land in question to petitioners she was, however, “never notified … least of all, in writing”, of the actual execution and registration of the corresponding deed of sale, hence, said respondent’s right to redeem had not yet expired at the time she made her offer for that purpose thru her letter of June 10, 1968 delivered to petitioners on even date.

The other pivotal issue raised by petitioners on relates to the price which respondent offered for the redemption in question. The decision under review states that notwithstanding the fact that “the consideration of P30,000 only was placed in the deed of sale to minimize the payment of the registration fees, stamps and sales tax” and

ISSUE#1: Is a notice to co-owner(s) of a perfected sale a sufficient notice for the counting of the 30-day right of redemption period by a co-owner?

HELD#1: NO, the notice of perfected sale is not sufficient.

We are of the considered opinion and so hold that for purposes of the co-owner’s right of redemption granted by Article 1620 of the Civil Code, the notice in writing which Article 1623 requires to be made to the other co-owners and from receipt of which the 30-day period to redeem should be counted is a notice not only of a perfected sale but of the actual execution and delivery of the deed of sale. This is implied from the latter portion of Article 1623 which requires that before a register of deeds can record a sale by a co-owner, there must be presented to him, an affidavit to the effect that the notice of the sale had been sent in writing to the other co-owners. A sale may not be presented to the register of deeds for registration unless it be in the form of a duly executed public instrument. Moreover, the law prefers that all the terms and conditions of the sale should be definite and in writing. As aptly observed by Justice Gatmaitan in the decision under review, Article 1619 of the Civil Code bestows unto a co-owner the right to redeem and “to be subrogated under the same terms and conditions stipulated in the contract”, and to avoid any controversy as to the terms and conditions under which the right to redeem may be exercised, it is best that the period therefor should not be deemed to have commenced unless the notice of the disposition is made after the formal deed of disposal has been duly executed. And it being beyond dispute that respondent herein has never been notified in writing of the execution of the deed of sale by which petitioners acquired the subject property, it necessarily follows that her tender to redeem the same made on June 10, 1968 was well within the period prescribed by law. Indeed, it is immaterial when she might have actually come to know about said deed, it appearing she has never been shown a copy thereof through a written communication by either any of the petitioners-purchasers or any of her co-owners-vendees. (Cornejo et al. vs. CA et al., 16 SCRA 775.)

ISSUE#2: Can the contention of the petitioners be sustained that redemption price should be the actual amount paid and not that consideration in the deed of sale which is only P30,000?

HELD#2: No, petitioners’ contention cannot be sustained.

As stated in the decision under review, the trial court found that “the consideration of P30,000 only was placed in the deed of sale to minimize the payment of the registration fees, stamps and sales tax.” With this undisputed fact in mind, it is impossible for the Supreme Court to sanction petitioners’ pragmatic but immoral posture. Being patently violative of public policy and injurious to public interest, the seemingly wide practice of understating considerations of transactions for the purpose of evading taxes and fees due to the government must be condemned and all parties guilty thereof must be made to suffer the consequences of their ill-advised agreement to defraud the state. Verily, the trial court fell short of its devotion and loyalty to the Republic in officially giving its stamp of approval to the stand of petitioners and even berating respondent Javellana as wanting to enrich herself “at the expense of her own blood relatives who are her aunts, uncles and cousins.” On the contrary, said “blood relatives” should have been sternly told, as We here hold, that they are in pari-delicto with petitioners in committing tax evasion and should not receive any consideration from any court in respect to the money paid for the sale in dispute. Their situation is similar to that of parties to an illegal contract.

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2017 in Case Digests, Civil Law, Sales

 

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Arcaina and Banta v. Ingram, G.R. No. 196444, 15 February 2017.

[JARDELEZA, J.]

FACTS: Arcaina is the owner of Lot No. 3230 (property). Arcaina’s attorney-in-fact, Banta, entered into a contract with Ingram for the sale of the property. Banta showed Ingram and the latter’s attorney-in-fact, the metes and bounds of the property and represented that Lot No. 3230 has an area of more or less 6,200 square meters (sq. m.) per the tax declaration covering it. The contract price was P1,860,000.00, with Ingram making installment payments for the property. They also separately executed deeds of absolute sale over the property in Ingram’s favor, dated March 21, 2005 by Banta, and April 13, 2005 by Arcaina. Subsequently, Ingram caused the property to be surveyed and discovered that Lot No. 3230 has an area of 12,000 sq. m. Upon learning of the actual area of the property, Banta allegedly insisted that the difference of 5,800 sq. m. remains unsold. This was opposed by Ingram who claims that she owns the whole lot by virtue of the sale.

ISSUE: Was Lot 3230 sold for a lump sum or for a unit price contract? To what extent of lot area is Ingram entitled to?

HELD: Lot No. 3230 was sold for a lump sum. Ingram is entitled only to 6,200 square meters.

In sales involving real estate, the parties may choose between two types of pricing agreement: a unit price contract wherein the purchase price is determined by way of reference to a stated rate per unit area (e.g., P1,000.00 per sq. m.) or a lump sum contract which states a full purchase price for an immovable the area of which may be declared based on an estimate or where both the area and boundaries are stated (e.g., P1 million for 1,000 sq. m., etc.). Here, the Deed of Sale executed by Banta on March 21, 2005 and the Deed of Sale executed by Arcaina on April 13, 2005 both show that the property was conveyed to Ingram at the predetermined price of P1,860,000.00. There was no indication that it was bought on a per-square-meter basis. Thus, Article 1542 of the Civil Code governs the sale.

In a lump sum contract, a vendor is generally obligated to deliver all the land covered within the boundaries, regardless of whether the real area should be greater or smaller than that recited in the deed. However, in case there is conflict between the area actually covered by the boundaries and the estimated area stated in the contract of sale, he/she shall do so only when the excess or deficiency between the former and the latter is reasonable.

Applying Del Prado to the case before us, we find that the difference of 5,800 sq. m. is too substantial to be considered reasonable. We note that only 6,200 sq. m. was agreed upon between petitioners and Ingram. Declaring Ingram as the owner of the whole 12,000 sq. m. on the premise that this is the actual area included in the boundaries would be ordering the delivery of almost twice the area stated in the deeds of sale. Surely, Article 1542 does not contemplate such an unfair situation to befall a vendor — that he/she would be compelled to deliver double the amount that he/she originally sold without a corresponding increase in price. In Asiain v. Jalandoni, we explained that “[a] vendee of a land when it is sold in gross or with the description ‘more or less’ does not thereby ipso facto take all risk of quantity in the land. The use of ‘more or less’ or similar words in designating quantity covers only a reasonable excess or deficiency.” Therefore, we rule that Ingram is entitled only to 6,200 sq. m. of the property. An area of 5,800 sq. m. more than the area intended to be sold is not a reasonable excess that can be deemed included in the sale.

 
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Posted by on April 14, 2017 in Case Digests, Civil Law, Sales

 

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Suntay III v. Cojuangco-Suntay, G.R. No. 183053, 16 June 2010

[NACHURA, J.]

FACTS 

Petitioner argues that Article 992 of the Civil Code, the successional bar between the legitimate and illegitimate relatives of a decedent, does not apply in this instance where facts indubitably demonstrate the contrary – Emilio III, an illegitimate grandchild of the decedent, was actually treated by the decedent and her husband as their own son, reared from infancy, educated and trained in their businesses, and eventually legally adopted by decedent’s husband, the original oppositor to respondent’s petition for letters of administration.

ISSUE

Whether or not the illegitimate child may inherit from the grandparent, who treated the former like his own son, notwithstanding Article 992 of the Civil Code.

RULING

YES. The factual antecedents of this case accurately reflect the basis of intestate succession, i.e., love first descends, for the decedent, Cristina, did not distinguish between her legitimate and illegitimate grandchildren. Neither did her husband, Federico, who, in fact, legally raised the status of Emilio III from an illegitimate grandchild to that of a legitimate child. The peculiar circumstances of this case, painstakingly pointed out by counsel for petitioner, overthrow the legal presumption in Article 992 of the Civil Code that there exist animosity and antagonism between legitimate and illegitimate descendants of a deceased.

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2017 in Case Digests, Civil Law, Succession

 

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Saludaga v. FEU and De Jesus, G.R. No. 179337, 30 April 2008.

[YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.]

 

FACTS: Petitioner Joseph Saludaga was a sophomore law student of respondent Far Eastern University (FEU) when he was shot by Alejandro Rosete (Rosete), one of the security guards on duty at the school premises on August 18, 1996. Petitioner was rushed to FEU-Dr. Nicanor Reyes Medical Foundation (FEU-NRMF) due to the wound he sustained. Meanwhile, Rosete was brought to the police station where he explained that the shooting was accidental. Saludaga  thereafter filed a complaint for damages against respondents on the ground that they breached their obligation to provide students with a safe and secure environment and an atmosphere conducive to learning. Respondents, in turn, filed a Third-Party Complaint against Galaxy Development and Management Corporation (Galaxy), the agency contracted by respondent FEU to provide security services within its premises and Mariano D. Imperial (Imperial), Galaxys President, to indemnify them for whatever would be adjudged in favor of petitioner, if any; and to pay attorneys fees and cost of the suit.

 

ISSUE#1: What is the source of FEU’s obligation to indemnify Saludaga? What is needed to prove that this obligation of FEU exists?

ISSUE#2: In the alternative, is FEU vicariously liable under Article 2180 of the Civil Code.

 

HELD#1: Culpa contractual.

It is settled that in culpa contractual, the mere proof of the existence of the contract and the failure of its compliance justify, prima facie, a corresponding right of relief. In the instant case, we find that, when petitioner was shot inside the campus by no less the security guard who was hired to maintain peace and secure the premises, there is a prima facie showing that respondents failed to comply with its obligation to provide a safe and secure environment to its students.

HELD#2: NO.

[R]espondents cannot be held liable for damages under Article 2180 of the Civil Code because respondents are not the employers of Rosete. The latter was employed by Galaxy. The instructions issued by respondents Security Consultant to Galaxy and its security guards are ordinarily no more than requests commonly envisaged in the contract for services entered into by a principal and a security agency. They cannot be construed as the element of control as to treat respondents as the employers of Rosete.

 

 

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Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) v. Adil, Confesor and Villafuerte, et al., G.R. No. L-48889, 11 May 1989.

[GANCAYCO, J.]

FACTS: On February 10, 1940 spouses Patricio Confesor and Jovita Villafuerte obtained an agricultural loan from the Agricultural and Industrial Bank (AIB), now the Development of the Philippines (DBP), in the sum of P2,000.00, Philippine Currency, as evidenced by a promissory note of said date whereby they bound themselves jointly and severally to pay the account in ten (10) equal yearly amortizations. As the obligation remained outstanding and unpaid even after the lapse of the aforesaid ten-year period, Confesor, who was by then a member of the Congress of the Philippines, executed a second promissory note on April 11, 1961 expressly acknowledging said loan and promising to pay the same on or before June 15, 1961. The trial court ordered the spouses to pay the loan but this was reversed on appeal.

 

ISSUE#1: Does prescription operate to discharge a debt even if it there was acknowledgment of the debtor?

ISSUE#2: Is the conjugal partnership of Confesor and Villafuerte bound by the execution of the second promissory note?

 

 

HELD#1: NO.

This is not a mere case of acknowledgment of a debt that has prescribed but a new promise to pay the debt. The consideration of the new promissory note is the pre-existing obligation under the first promissory note. The statutory limitation bars the remedy but does not discharge the debt. A new express promise to pay a debt barred … will take the case from the operation of the statute of limitations as this proceeds upon the ground that as a statutory limitation merely bars the remedy and does not discharge the debt, there is something more than a mere moral obligation to support a promise, to wit a – pre-existing debt which is a sufficient consideration for the new the new promise; upon this sufficient consideration constitutes, in fact, a new cause of action.

HELD#2: YES.

Under Article 165 of the Civil Code, the husband is the administrator of the conjugal partnership. As such administrator, all debts and obligations contracted by the husband for the benefit of the conjugal partnership, are chargeable to the conjugal partnership. No doubt, in this case, respondent Confesor signed the second promissory note for the benefit of the conjugal partnership. Hence the conjugal partnership is liable for this obligation.

 

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