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Philippine Rabbit Bus Lines, Inc. vs.

IAC DOCTRINE: (1) The principle of "the last clear" chance is applicable in a suit between the owners and drivers of the two colliding vehicles. It does not arise where a passenger demands responsibility from the carrier to enforce its contractual obligations. For it would be inequitable to exempt the negligent driver and its owners on the ground that the other driver was likewise guilty of negligence. (2)In culpa contractual, the moment a passenger dies or is injured, the carrier is presumed to have been at fault or to have acted negligently, and this disputable presumption may only be overcome by evidence that he had observed extra-ordinary diligence as prescribed in Articles 1733, 1755 and 1756 of the New Civil Code or that the death or injury of the passenger was due to a fortuitous event. (3) The driver cannot be held jointly and severally liable with the carrier in case of breach of the contract of carriage. Firstly, the contract of carriage is between the carrier and the passenger, and in the event of contractual liability, the carrier is exclusively responsible to the passenger, even if such breach be due to the negligence of his driver. In other words, the carrier can neither shift his liability on the contract to his driver nor share it with him, for his driver's negligence is his. Secondly, that would make the carrier's liability personal instead of merely vicarious and consequently, entitled to recover only the share which corresponds to the driver contradictory to the explicit provision of Article 2181 of the New Civil Code. FACTS: At 11am on December 24, 1966, Catalina Pascua, Caridad Pascua, Adelaida Estomo, Erlinda Meriales, Mercedes Lorenzo, Alejandro Morales and Zenaida Parejas boarded the jeepney owned by spouses Isidro Mangune and Guillerma Carreon and driven by Tranquilino Manalo at Dau, Mabalacat, Pampanga bound for Carmen, Rosales, Pangasinan to spend Christmas with their families for P 24.00. Upon reaching barrio Sinayoan, San Manuel, Tarlac, the right rear wheel of the jeepney detached causing it to run in an unbalanced position. Driver Manalo stepped on the brake, causing the jeepney to make a U-turn, invading and eventually stopping on the opposite lane of the road (the jeepney's front faced the south (from where it came) and its rear faced the north (towards where it was going)). The jeepney occupied and blocked the greater portion of the western lane, which is the right of way of vehicles coming from the north. Petitioner Phil. Rabbit Bus Lines claims that almost immediately after the sudden U-turn the bus bumped the right rear portion of the jeep. Defendants, on the other hand, claim that the bus stopped a few minutes before hitting the jeepney. Either way, as a result of the collision, three passengers of the jeepney (Catalina Pascua, Erlinda Meriales and Adelaida Estomo) died while the other jeepney passengers sustained physical injuries. A criminal complaint was filed against the two drivers for Multiple Homicide. The case against delos Reyes (driver of Phil. Rabbit) was dismissed for insufficieny of evidence. Manalo (jeepney driver), however, was convicted and sentenced to suffer imprisonment. 3 complaints for recovery of damages were then filed before the CFI of Pangasinan. (1) Spouses Casiano Pascua and Juana Valdez sued as heirs of Catalina Pascua while Caridad Pascua sued in her behalf Court of First Instance of Pangasinan. (2) Spouses Manuel Millares and Fidencia Arcica sued as heirs of Erlinda Meriales. And (3) spouses Mariano Estomo and Dionisia Sarmiento sued as heirs of Adelaida Estomo. All three cases impleaded spouses Mangune and Carreon, Manalo (jeepney owners), Rabbit and delos Reyes as defendants. Plaintiffs anchored their suits against spouses Mangune and Carreon and Manalo on their contractual liability. As against Rabbit and delos Reyes, plaintiffs based their suits on their culpability for a quasi-delict. Filriters Guaranty Assurance Corporation, Inc. was also impleaded as additional defendant in the first case only.

The trial court ruled in favour of then plaintiffs, finding defendants negligent and having breached the contract of carriage with their passengers and ordering them, jointly and severally, to pay the plaintiffs damages. The IAC reversed the ruling of the trial court, applying primarily (1) the doctrine of last clear chance, (2) the presumption that drivers who bump the rear of another vehicle guilty and the cause of the accident unless contradicted by other evidence, and (3) the substantial factor test (which concluded that bus driver delos Reyes, NOT jeepney driver Manalo, was negligent). Issue: Who are liable for the death and injuries of the passenger? - Trial court decision reinstated with modification. Only Isidro Mangune, Guillerma Carreon and Filriters Guaranty Assurance Corporation, Inc. are liable to the victims or their heirs. RATIO: (1) The principle of "the last clear" chance is applicable in a suit between the owners and drivers of the two colliding vehicles. It does not arise where a passenger demands responsibility from the carrier to enforce its contractual obligations. For it would be inequitable to exempt the negligent driver of the jeepney and its owners on the ground that the other driver was likewise guilty of negligence. (2) The IAC erred in applying the presumption that the driver who bumps the rear of another vehicle is guilty and the cause of the accident, unless contradicted by other evidence. This presumption is based on the responsibility given to a rear vehicle of avoiding a collision with the front vehicle for it is the rear vehicle who has full control of the situation as it is in a position to observe the vehicle in front of it. Such presumption is rebutted by the evidence that shows that the jeepney, which was then traveling on the eastern shoulder, making a straight, skid mark of approximately 35 meters, crossed the eastern lane at a sharp angle, making a skid mark of approximately 15 meters from the eastern shoulder to the point of impact. (Basically, the U-turn was sudden and delos Reyes could not have reasonably anticipated it even though he was the rear vehicle) (3) Likewise, the bus cannot be made liable under the substantial factor test (that if the actor's conduct is a substantial factor in bringing about harm to another, the fact that the actor neither foresaw nor should have foreseen the extent of the harm or the manner in which it occurred does not prevent him from being liable). Contrary to the findings of the appellate court, the bus was travelling within the speed limit allowed in highways. He also had only a few seconds to react to the situation. To require delos Reyes to avoid the collision is to ask too much from him. Aside from the time element involved, there were no options available to him to have avoided the collision. The proximate cause of the accident was the negligence of jeepney driver Manalo and spouses Mangune and Carreon. They all failed to exercise the precautions that are needed precisely pro hac vice. In culpa contractual, the moment a passenger dies or is injured, the carrier is presumed to have been at fault or to have acted negligently, and this disputable presumption may only be overcome by evidence that he had observed extra-ordinary diligence as prescribed in Articles 1733, 1755 and 1756 of the New Civil Code or that the death or injury of the passenger was due to a fortuitous event. The negligence of Manalo was proven during the trial by the unrebutted testimonies of Caridad Pascua, the police who arrived on the scene, his (Manalo's) conviction and the application of the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur supra. Spouses Mangune and Carreon alleged that their mechanic regularly maintains the jeepney and on the day before the collision, the mechanic actually checked the vehicle and even tightened the bolts, thus the incident was caused by a caso fortuito. The SC upheld

the trial courts findings that "in an action for damages against the carrier for his failure to safely carry his passenger to his destination, an accident caused either by defects in the automobile or through the negligence of its driver, is not a caso fortuito which would avoid the carriers liability. The SC modified the decision holding spouses Mangune and Carreon jointly and severally liable with Manalo. The driver cannot be held jointly and severally liable with the carrier in case of breach of the contract of carriage. Firstly, the contract of carriage is between the carrier and the passenger, and in the event of contractual liability, the carrier is exclusively responsible to the passenger, even if such breach be due to the negligence of his driver. In other words, the carrier can neither shift his liability on the contract to his driver nor share it with him, for his driver's negligence is his. Secondly, that would make the carrier's liability personal instead of merely vicarious and consequently, entitled to recover only the share which corresponds to the driver contradictory to the explicit provision of Article 2181 of the New Civil Code.