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Marikina Auto Line Transport Corp. vs.

People ordered the MALTC and Suelto to pay P150,000 as reasonable compensation
G.R. No. 152040 March 31, 2006 sustained by Valdellon, P20,000 for compensatory and exemplary damages,
Vallejo, Sr., J.: P20,000 for attorney’s fees.
• On appeal, CA affirmed the RTC’s decision with modification as to the amount of
Background: Suelto (Petitioner) is a regular bus driver of Marikina Auto Line damages from P150,000 reduced to P150,000.00
Transport Corp (MALTC) (Petitioner) who drove a bus along Kamuning Q.C where it
• Hence this petition.
hit the Apartment owned by Valdellon damaging the terrace of the said apartment.
Hence, Valdellon claims for damages. • MALTC and Suelto, now petitioners, filed the instant petition reiterating its
submissions in the CA: (a) the prosecution failed to prove the crime charged
Facts: against petitioner Suelto; (b) the prosecution failed to adduce evidence to prove
that respondent suffered actual damages in the amount of P100,000.00; and (c)
the trial court erred in sentencing petitioner Suelto to one (1) year prison term.
• On Oct 3 1992, Suelto was driving a bus along Kamuning going EDSA where it
suddenly swerved to the right hitting the terrace of the commercial apartment
Issue: Whether or not Valdellon is entitled to the amount of sought.
owned by Valdellon.
• Upon inspection of the City Engineer Pontiveros, he recommended that the Held: No. Only entitled to the actual damages.
building be demolished because of the damages it sustained to ensure safety.
• Engr. Regal estimated the cost and submitted an estimate of P171,088.46 • Under Art. 2199 of NCC,
• Valdellon then demanded the amount of P148,440 to MALTC and Suelto to be • ACTUAL DAMAGES: include all the natural and probable consequence of the act
paid within 10 day. MALTC and Suelto refused and offered a settlement or commission complained of, classified as one for the loss of what a person
amounting to P30,000 which Valdellon refused. already possesses (dao emergente) and the other, for the failure to receive, as a
• Valdellon then filed a criminal complaint for reckless imprudence resulting in benefit, that which would have pertained to him (lucro cesante)
damage to property and a separate civil complaint against Suelto and MALTC • Under Article 2199 of the Civil Code, actual or compensatory damages are those
praying among others; awarded in satisfaction of, or in recompense for, loss or injury sustained. They
• The she be paid a total sum of P171,088.46 for the expenses of the repair proceed from a sense of natural justice and are designed to repair the wrong
of the damages terrace that has been done, to compensate for the injury inflicted and not to impose a
penalty. In actions based on torts or quasi-delicts, actual damages include all the
• P20,000 for compensatory and exemplary damages
natural and probable consequences of the act or omission complained of.
• P20,000 as attorneys fees and P1,000 for each appearance of Valdellon’s
counsel
• There are two kinds of actual or compensatory damages: one is the loss of what
• MALTC and Suelto then offered that they repair and restore the terrace to its a person already possesses (dao emergente), and the other is the failure to
original state however Valdellon refused receive as a benefit that which would have pertained to him (lucro cesante).
• During trial, Valdellon testified on the damage caused on the terrace of her
apartment supported by a receipt amounting to P35,000 for the repair, • Actual damages are not presumed. The claimant must prove the actual amount
manpower and materials. (Important: Actual Damage) of loss with a reasonable degree of certainty premised upon competent proof
• Engr. Regal Jr testified that he inspected the damages and estimated the cost of and on the best evidence obtainable. Specific facts that could afford a basis for
damage at P171,088.46. However Arch. Galapaate testified that the cost of the measuring whatever compensatory or actual damages are borne must be
repair of the damaged terrace amounted to P55,000.00. pointed out.
• RTC rendered its judgment favouring Valdellon finding Suelto guilty beyond • While claimants bare testimonial assertions in support of their claims for
reasonable doubt as to the criminal action instituted against him, RTC also damages should not be discarded altogether, however, the same should be
admitted with extreme caution. Their testimonies should be viewed in light of • petitioners failed to prove that petitioner acted on an emergency
claimants self-interest, hence, should not be taken as gospel truth. Such caused by the sudden intrusion of a passenger jeepney into the
assertion should be buttressed by independent evidence. lane of the bus he was driving.
• It was the burden of petitioners herein to prove petitioner Sueltos
• An estimate of the damage cost will not suffice: defense that he acted on an emergency, that is, he had to swerve
• It is not enough that the damage be capable of proof but must be actually the bus to the right to avoid colliding with a passenger jeep
proved with a reasonable degree of certainty, pointing out specific facts coming from EDSA that had overtaken another vehicle and
that afford a basis for measuring whatever compensatory damages are intruded into the lane of the bus.
borne. • In addition to this, the accused has made conflicting statements
in his counter-affidavit and his testimony in court. In the former,
• We note, however, that petitioners adduced evidence that, in their view, the he stated that the reason why he swerved to the right was
cost of the damage to the terrace of private respondent would amount to because he wanted to avoid the passenger jeepney in front of him
P55,000.00. Accordingly, private respondent is entitled to P55,000.00 actual that made a sudden stop. But, in his testimony in court, he said
damages. that it was to avoid a passenger jeepney coming from EDSA that
• In the present case, the only damage caused by petitioner Sueltos act was to the was overtaking by occupying his lane. Such glaring inconsistencies
terrace of private respondents apartment, costing P55,000.00. Consequently, on material points render the testimony of the witness doubtful
petitioners contention that the CA erred in awarding P100,000.00 by way of and shatter his credibility.
actual damages to private respondent is correct. We agree that private
respondent is entitled to exemplary damages, and find that the award given by Res Ipsa Loquitur (Just in case it may be asked)
the trial court, as affirmed by the CA, is reasonable. Considering the attendant
circumstances, we rule that private respondent Valdellon is entitled to only In its Brief for the People of the Philippines, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG)
P20,000.00 by way of exemplary damages. submitted that the appealed decision should be affirmed with modification. On
Sueltos claim that the prosecution failed to prove his guilt for the crime of reckless
imprudence resulting in damage to property, the OSG contended that, applying the
IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is PARTIALLY GRANTED. The joint principle of res ipsa loquitur, the prosecution was able to prove that he drove the bus
decision of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City is AFFIRMED WITH THE with negligence and recklessness. The OSG averred that the prosecution was able to
MODIFICATION that petitioner Suelto is sentenced to pay a fine of P55,000.00 with prove that Sueltos act of swerving the bus to the right was the cause of damage to
subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency. Petitioners are ORDERED to pay to the terrace of Valdellons apartment, and in the absence of an explanation to the
Erlinda V. Valdellon, jointly and severally, the total amount of P55,000.00 by way of contrary, the accident was evidently due to appellants want of care. Consequently,
actual damages, and P20,000.00 by way of exemplary damages. the OSG posited, the burden was on the appellant to prove that, in swerving the bus
to the right, he acted on an emergency, and failed to discharge this burden.
As to the Issue of Emergency Rule:

• Suelto argued that he acted on emergency in swerving to the right because a


passenger jeep suddenly swerve to his lane and to avoid hitting the jeep Suelto
swerved to the right thereby hitting the apartment.
• The Court held that: