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Culion Ice, Fish & Electric Co. Inc., (plaintiff-appellee) v.

Philippine Motors Corporation (defendant-appellant)


Street, J.
3 November 1930
G.R. No. 32611
Doctrine
When a person holds himself out as being competent to do things requiring professional skill, he will be held liable for
negligence if he fails to exhibit the care and skill of one ordinarily skilled in the particular work which he attempts to do.
Summary
The Gwendoline, a motor schooner owned by Culion, was lost due to a fire that broke out while it was being tested as
modifications were made to its engine by the defendant. The Court ruled that Quest, its manager, held himself out as
being competent to do the repairs but he did not use the skill that would have been ordinarily exhibited by an expert in
making such kind of repairs on boats. As such, the accident would not have occurred if not for his carelessness or lack
of skill.
Facts
Culion was the registered owner of the motor schooner Gwendoline used in the fishing trade.
In January 1925, H.D. Cranston (Culions representative in Manila) decided to have the engine on it converted
from a gasoline consumer to a crude oil burner to lower costs.
He was referred to Philippine Motors Corporation (PMC). It was engaged in the automobile business but had
authority to deal in all sorts of machinery engines and motors. Quest was the manager.
While it was anchored in the Pasig River, work commenced under the supervision of Quest and a mechanic he
took with him. The crew was also directed by Cranston to follow Quests directions.
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After inspecting the engine, Quest decided that they should install a new Zenith carburetor . With gasoline as
fuel, they started the engine and it worked satisfactorily.
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Afterwards, they introduced baser fuel into the carburetor. The fuel mixture was contained in a tank placed on
deck, above the engine compartment. It was connected to the carburetor using a piece of tubing that was not
fitted well to the tank, causing fuel to leak to the engine compartment.
It was arranged in this was to enable the operator to start the engine on gasoline then switch to the baser fuel
mixture after the engine was already running well.
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During preliminary work, the carburetor was flooding and fuel was trickling from the carburetor to the floor.
Quest did not think much of it, thinking it would cease when the engine was running well.
In the evening of 30 January 1925, it was taken out to the bay for a trial run. There were no untoward incidents
other than the engine stopping a few times due to the improper mix of fuel.
INCIDENT: At around 7:30PM, near Cavite, the engine stopped again and the gasoline line was attached to
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start the engine. After the tube connected to the baser fuel was switched back, a backfire occurred in the
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cylinder chamber which caused a fire. While they were able to escape the boat, the Gwendoline was reduced
to a mere hulk.
The value of the boat at the time was P10,000. However, only P150 was recovered from the salvage of the
ship. An action was instituted in CFI Manila to recover P11,350 from PMC.
CFI DECISION: For the plaintiff. Recover from the defendant P9,850, 6% p.a. from 24 March 1927.
Issues/Ratio
W/N defendant PMC/Quest was free from blame (NO)
HOW IT BURST INTO FLAMES: The temporary tank installed on deck was too elevated from the carburetor.
So when the fuel line from the baser fuel tank was opened, the hydrostatic pressure in the carburetor was
greater than what its delicate parts could sustain, causing it to flood. When the backfire occurred, the
carburetor was already soaked in fuel so it burst into flames. The backfire may have been due to the improper
fuel mixture or an early spark in the cylinder chamber.
DOCTRINE: When a person holds himself out as being competent to do things requiring professional skill, he
will be held liable for negligence if he fails to exhibit the care and skill of one ordinarily skilled in the particular
work which he attempts to do.
HOLDING + RATIO: The loss of the boat was chargeable to the negligence and lack of skill of Quest.
Ordinarily, a backfire would not cause this kind of a disaster but the leak and the flooding created a dangerous
situation, which a prudent mechanic versed in repairs of such nature would have taken precautions to avoid.
While Quest had ample experience in fixing automobile and tractor engines, it did not appear that he had the
same experience working on boats. The danger of the flooding of the carburetor and the dripping of fuel was
not conveyed to his mind.
A person skilled in that sort of work would have been warned from those circumstances and would have taken
greater and adequate precautions. Quest did not use the skill that would have been ordinarily exhibited by an
expert in making such repairs on boats. This constitutes negligence.

A carburetor a device that blends air and fuel for an internal combustion engine.
Low grade of oil mixed with distillate. Distillate is a general classification of the petroleum products produced in the refining process. It includes
diesel fuels used for diesel engines, such as those in trucks and automobiles, as well as railroad locomotives and agricultural machinery.
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Carburetor flooding is a common problem with engines which are fed with fuel through a carburetor. A flooded engine is an engine that has been fed
an excessively rich air-fuel mixture that cannot be ignited. A severe form of flooding occurs when excessive liquid fuel enters the combustion chamber.
4 The conventional remedy on a carbureted engine is to steadily hold the throttle wide open (full throttle) while cranking (starting) the engine. This
permits the maximum flow of air through the engine, flushing the excess fuel out the exhaust. If the exhaust system is hot, this results in a backfire.
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A combustion chamber is that part of an internal combustion engine in which the fuel/air mix is burned.
2

The accident would not have occurred if not for his carelessness of lack of skill. The origin of the fire was not
so inscrutable as to make the Court say that it was a fortuitous event.
I.

[really not important] W/N the trial court was correct in saying that PMC was a bailee (NO)
The trial court proceeded on the idea that the defendant PMC was in the position of a bailee and that, as a
consequence, the burden of proof was on PMC to exculpate itself from responsibility by proving that the
accident was not due to the fault of Quest.
SC: The proof shows that by a clear preponderance of evidence, the accident and the damages are
chargeable to the negligence or lack of skill of Quest.

Holding

Judgment AFFIRMED.

The throttle valve controls the flow of air through the carburetor throat and thus the quantity of
air/fuel mixture the system will deliver, thereby regulating engine power and speed.
The correct fuel level in the bowl (the tank on the left) is maintained by means of a float
controlling an inlet valve, in a manner very similar to that employed in the tank of a toilet. As
fuel is used up, the float drops, opening the inlet valve and admitting fuel. As the fuel level
rises, the float rises and closes the inlet valve.
The goal of a carburetor is to mix just the right amount of gasoline with air so that the engine
runs properly. If there is not enough fuel mixed with the air, the engine will either not run or
become damages. If there is too much fuel mixed with the air, the engine "runs rich" and
either will not run (it floods), runs very smoky, runs poorly (bogs down, stalls easily), or at the
very least wastes fuel.

When the engine compresses this mix of fuel and air and ignites it at the proper time, you get
an explosion. This explosion pushes on the piston and crankshaft to develop power.