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Amadora vs CA

In April 1972, while the high school students of Colegio de San Jose-Recoletos were in the
school auditorium, a certain Pablito Daffon fired a gun. The stray bullet hit Alfredo Amadora.
Alfredo died. Daffon was convicted of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide. The parents of
Alfredo sued the school for damages under Article 2180 of the Civil Code because of the
schools negligence.

The trial court ruled in favor of Amadora. The trial court ruled that the principal, the dean of
boys, as well as the teacher-in-charge are all civilly liable. The school appealed as it averred that
when the incident happened, the school year has already ended. Amadora argued that even
though the semester has already ended, his son was there in school to complete a school
requirement in his Physics subject. The Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the school. The CA
ruled that under the last paragraph of Article 2180, only schools of arts and trades (vocational
schools) are liable not academic schools like Colegio de San Jose-Recoletos.

ISSUE: Whether or not Colegio de San Jose-Recoletos, an academic school, is liable under
Article 2180 of the Civil Code for the tortuous act of its students.

HELD: Yes. The Supreme Court made a re-examination of the provision on the last paragraph
of Article 2180 which provides:

Lastly, teachers or heads of establishments of arts and trades shall be liable for damages caused
by their pupils and students or apprentices so long as they remain in their custody.

The Supreme Court said that it is time to update the interpretation of the above law due to the
changing times where there is hardly a distinction between schools of arts and trade and
academic schools. That being said, the Supreme Court ruled that ALL schools, academic or not,
may be held liable under the said provision of Article 2180.

The Supreme Court however clarified that the school, whether academic or not, should not be
held directly liable. Its liability is only subsidiary.

For non-academic schools, it would be the principal or head of school who should be directly
liable for the tortuous act of its students. This is because historically, in non-academic schools,
the head of school exercised a closer administration over their students than heads of academic
schools. In short, they are more hands on to their students.

For academic schools, it would be the teacher-in-charge who would be directly liable for the
tortuous act of the students and not the dean or the head of school.

The Supreme Court also ruled that such liability does not cease when the school year ends or
when the semester ends. Liability applies whenever the student is in the custody of the school
authorities as long as he is under the control and influence of the school and within its premises,
whether the semester has not yet begun or has already ended at the time of the happening of the
incident. As long as it can be shown that the student is in the school premises in pursuance of a
legitimate student objective, in the exercise of a legitimate student right, and even in the
enjoyment of a legitimate student right, and even in the enjoyment of a legitimate student
privilege, the responsibility of the school authorities over the student continues. Indeed, even if
the student should be doing nothing more than relaxing in the campus in the company of his
classmates and friends and enjoying the ambience and atmosphere of the school, he is still within
the custody and subject to the discipline of the school authorities under the provisions of Article
2180.

At any rate, the REMEDY of the teacher, to avoid direct liability, and for the school, to avoid
subsidiary liability, is to show proof that he, the teacher, exercised the necessary precautions to
prevent the injury complained of, and the school exercised the diligence of a bonus pater
familias.

In this case however, the Physics teacher in charge was not properly named, and there was no
sufficient evidence presented to make the said teacher-in-charge liable. Absent the direct liability
of the teachers because of the foregoing reason, the school cannot be held subsidiarily liable too.

This case abandoned fully the cases of Exconde vs Capuno and Mercado vs Court of Appeals.

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Read Chronology of Supreme Court Decisions Regarding Liability of Schools for the Tortious
Act of their Students/Employees