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Asian Terminals, Inc. v. Daehan Fire and Marine Insurance Co.

4 February 2010, Nachura
Doosan Corp shipped26 boxes of printed aluminum sheets to Manila and consigned
to Access International. The goods were insured by Daehan. Upon arrival in Manila,
the containerized van was discharged and unloaded in apparent good condition as
no survey and exceptions were noted in the Equipment Interchange Receipt (EIR)
issued by Asian Terminals, Inc. (ATI), an arrastre operator. The container van was
stored in the container yard of the port. Access requested ATI and the licensed
customs broker, Ms. Lazo, a joint survey of the shipment at the place of storage but
no inspection was conducted.
Thereafter, Ms. Lazo withdrew and ATI released the shipment and delivered to
Access warehouse. The shipment was then inspected and it was discovered that 12
boxes were missing and only 14 remained. Access filed a claim against Lazo and ATI
for the amount of the missing shipment. Both refused payment. Access sought
indemnification from Daehan and the latter paid accordingly. Daehan was
subsequently subrogated to all the rights of Access.
Daehan filed a claim against the ship owner, the shipper, Lazo and ATI. The
complaint against the ship owner and shipper was subsequently dismissed. Lazo
and ATI were held jointly liable up to the CA. Only ATI brought the case to the SC.
Issue: WON ATI is liable for the loss of goods
Held/Ratio: YES
The relationship, therefore, between the consignee and the arrastre operator must
be examined. This relationship is akin to that existing between the consignee
and/or the owner of the shipped goods and the common carrier, or that between a
depositor and a warehouseman. In the performance of its obligations, an arrastre
operator should observe the same degree of diligence as that required of a common
carrier and a warehouseman.
Being the custodian of the goods discharged from a vessel, an arrastre operators
duty is to take good care of the goods and to turn them over to the party entitled to
their possession. In a claim for loss filed by the consignee or in the insurer, the
burden of proof to show compliance with the obligation to deliver the goods to the
appropriate party devolves upon the arrastre operator. Since the safekeeping of the
goods is its responsibility, it must prove that the losses were not due to its
negligence or that of its employees.
To prove the exercise of diligence in handling the subject cargoes, ATI must do more
than merely show the possibility that some other party could be responsible for the
loss or the damage. It must prove that it exercised due care in the handling
thereof. ATI failed to do this.