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 DIGESTS  (2013  –  2014)                      ATTY.  VIVENCIO  ABANO    

G.R.  No.  157906                          November  2,  2006   The   Cardañas   averred   that   petitioner’s   gross   negligence   and  
  lack   of   foresight   caused   the   death   of   their   daughter,   because  
CAPILI  v.  CARDANA   despite  her  knowledge  that  the  tree  was  dead  and  rotting,  she  
  did  not  exercise  reasonable  care  and  caution.  
Plaintiffs:  JOAQUINITA  P.  CAPILI   Petitioner’s  Arguments  
  • Capili   said   that   at   that   time   Lerios   had   only   offered   to   buy   the  
Defendant:  SPS.  DOMINADOR  CARDAÑA  and  ROSALITA  CARDAÑA   tree,   and   she   presented   witnesses   who   attested   that   she  
  brought   up   Lerios’   offer   during   a   meeting,   and   had   assigned  
CASE:  Respondents  daughter,  Jasmin  Cardaña,  was  killed  after  a  branch   Remedios  Palaña  to  negotiate  the  sale.  
of  a  rotting  caimito  tree  fell  on  her  while  she  was  walking  in  the  school   • She   also   denied   knowing   that   the   tree   was   dead   and   rotting,  
premises   of   which   herein   petitioner   is   the   principal.   The   parents   aver   claiming   that   despite   her   physical   inspection   of   the   school  
that  petitioner  was  negligent  as  she  did  not  take  proper  notice  or  action   grounds,   she   did   not   observe   any   indication   that   the   tree   was  
concerning   the   rotten   state   of   tree   and   which   poses   a   danger   to   already   rotten   nor   did   any   of   her   15   teachers   inform   her   that  
persons.  Respondent  on  the  other  hand  claim  that  there  were  no  signs   the  tree  was  already  rotten  
that  the  tree  was  rotten,  and  that  no  one  had  told  her  it  was  such.    
The   Court   ruled   that   petitioner   was   negligent   because,   as   principal,   it   1. Whether  or  not  petitioner  is  negligent  and  liable  for  the  death.  
was   her   duty   to   ensure   the   maintenance   and   safety   of   the   school    
grounds.   The   doctrine   of   res   ipsa   loquitur   applies   in   this   case   and   RESOLUTIONS  AND  ARGUMENTS  
therefore   gave   rise   to   the   presumption   of   the   principal’s   negligence.   It   ISSUE   1   à   Whether   or   not   petitioner   is   negligent   and   liable   for   the  
may,  be  rebutted  by  evidence,  but  the  petitioner  failed  to  do  so.   death  of  Jasmin  Cardaña  à  YES.  The  probability  that  the  branches  of  a  
  dead   and   rotting   tree   could   fall   and   harm   someone   is   clearly   a   danger  
DOCTRINE:  See  Major  Point  2  for  the  doctrine  of  res  ipsa  loquitur.   that   is   foreseeable.   As   the   school   principal,   petitioner   was   tasked   to   see  
  to   the   maintenance   of   the   school   grounds   and   safety   of   the   children  
BACKGROUND:   within  the  school  and  its  premises.  That  she  was  unaware  of  the  rotten  
— February   1,   1993   à   Jasmin   Cardaña   was   walking   along   the   state   of   a   tree   whose   falling   branch   had   caused   the   death   of   a   child  
perimeter   fence   of   the   San   Roque   Elementary   School   when   a   speaks  ill  of  her  discharge  of  the  responsibility  of  her  position.  
branch  of  a  caimito  tree  located  within  the  school  premises  fell    
on  her,  causing  her  instantaneous  death.     MAJOR  POINT  1:  The  Court  finds  this  case  as  falling  within  the  exception  
— Her  parents  -­‐  Dominador  and  Rosalita  Cardaña  -­‐  filed  a  case  for   of   the   general   rule   that   facts   as   ruled   by   the   lower   court   is   binding   on  
damages  against  the  school’s  principal,  Joaquinita  Capili.   the  Supreme  Court.  
Respondents’  Arguments   • GENERAL   RULE:   Whether   petitioner   was   negligent   or   not   is   a  
— Respondents   alleged   that   as   early   as   December   15,   1992,   a   question   of   fact   which   is   generally   not   proper   in   a   petition   for  
resident   of   the   barangay,   Eufronio   Lerios,   reported   on   the   review,  and  when  this  determination  is  supported  by  substantial  
possible  danger  the  tree  posed  to  passersby.   evidence,  it  becomes  conclusive  and  binding  on  this  Court.    

PROPERTY  DIGESTS  (2013  –  2014)                      ATTY.  VIVENCIO  ABANO    
• EXCEPTION:   When   the   findings   of   the   Court   of   Appeals   are   • Where   it   is   shown   that   the   thing   or   instrumentality   which  
incongruent  with  the  findings  of  the  lower  court,  as  in  this  case.1   caused   the   injury   complained   of   was   under   the   control   or  
  management   of   the   defendant,   and   that   the   occurrence  
MAJOR   POINT   2:   The   fact,   however,   that   respondents’   daughter,   resulting   in   the   injury   was   such   as   in   the   ordinary   course   of  
Jasmin,  died  as  a  result  of  the  dead  and  rotting  tree  within  the  school’s   things   would   not   happen   if   those   who   had   its   control   or  
premises  shows  that  the  tree  was  indeed  an  obvious  danger  to  anyone   management  used  proper  care,  there  is  sufficient  evidence,  or,  
passing  by  and  calls  for  application  of  the  principle  of  res  ipsa  loquitur.   as   sometimes   stated,   reasonable   evidence,   in   the   absence   of  
• The  doctrine  of  res  ipsa  loquitur  applies  where     explanation   by   the   defendant,   that   the   injury   arose   from   or   was  
(1) The   accident   was   of   such   character   as   to   warrant   an   inference   caused  by  the  defendant’s  want  of  care.  
that   it   would   not   have   happened   except   for   the   defendant’s   • As  school  principal,  petitioner  is  expected  to  oversee  the  safety  
negligence;     of   the   school’s   premises.   The   fact   that   she   failed   to   see   the  
(2) The   accident   must   have   been   caused   by   an   agency   or   immediate   danger   posed   by   the   dead   and   rotting   tree   shows  
instrumentality   within   the   exclusive   management   or   control   of   she   failed   to   exercise   the   responsibility   demanded   by   her  
the  person  charged  with  the  negligence  complained  of;  and     position.  
(3) The  accident  must  not  have  been  due  to  any  voluntary  action  or    
contribution  on  the  part  of  the  person  injured.   MAJOR  POINT  3:  Moral  damages  cannot  be  awarded  because  petitioner  
• The  procedural  effect  of  the  doctrine  of  res  ipsa  loquitur  is  that   was   not   motivated   by   bad   faith   or   ill   motive   vis-­‐à-­‐vis   respondents’  
petitioner’s   negligence   is   presumed   once   respondents   daughter’s  death.  
established   the   requisites   for   the   doctrine   to   apply.   Once   • Moral   damages   are   awarded   if   the   following   elements   exist   in  
respondents   made   out   a   prima   facie   case   of   all   requisites,   the   the  case:    
burden   shifts   to   petitioner   to   explain.   The   presumption   or   (1) An  injury  clearly  sustained  by  the  claimant;    
inference  may  be  rebutted  or  overcome  by  other  evidence  and,   (2) A  culpable  act  or  omission  factually  established;    
under   appropriate   circumstances   a   disputable   presumption,   (3) A   wrongful   act   or   omission   by   the   defendant   as   the   proximate  
such   as   that   of   due   care   or   innocence,   may   outweigh   the   cause  of  the  injury  sustained  by  the  claimant;  and    
inference.   (4) The  award  of  damages  predicated  on  any  of  the  cases  stated  in  
Article  2219  of  the  Civil  Code.    
• However,   the   person   claiming   moral   damages   must   prove   the  
                                                                                                                existence  of  bad  faith  by  clear  and  convincing  evidence  for  the  
1  The  trial  court  gave  credence  to  the  claim  of  petitioner  that  she  had  no  knowledge  that  the  

tree   was   already   dead   and   rotting   and   that   Lerios   merely   informed   her   that   he   was   going   to  
law   always   presumes   good   faith.   It   is   not   enough   that   one  
buy   the   tree   for   firewood.   It   ruled   that   petitioner   exercised   the   degree   of   care   and   vigilance   merely   suffered   sleepless   nights,   mental   anguish,   and   serious  
which  the  circumstances  require  and  that  there  was  an  absence  of  evidence  that  would  require   anxiety   as   the   result   of   the   actuations   of   the   other   party.  
her  to  use  a  higher  standard  of  care  more  than  that  required  by  the  attendant  circumstances.  
The   Court   of   Appeals,   on   the   other   hand,   ruled   that   petitioner   should   have   known   of   the   Invariably,   such   action   must   be   shown   to   have   been   willfully  
condition  of  the  tree  by  its  mere  sighting  and  that  no  matter  how  hectic  her  schedule  was,  she   done  in  bad  faith  or  with  ill  motive.  
should  have  had  the  tree  removed  and  not  merely  delegated  the  task  to  Palaña.  The  appellate  
court   ruled   that   the   dead   caimito   tree   was   a   nuisance   that   should   have   been   removed   soon    
after  petitioner  had  chanced  upon  it.   NO  SEPARATE  OPINIONS