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D.M. Consunji v. CA | GR No.

137873 | April 20, 2001


Petitioner: DM Consunji, Inc. (DMCI)
Respondents: Court of Appeals and Maria Juego
Topic: Waiver of Rights

I. Facts
 Jose Juego was a construction worker under the employment of herein petitioner DMCI. On November 2, 1990, he
was working inside an elevator shaft 14 floors up, aboard a platform suspended by cable wires to a chain block.
Suddenly, the bolt connecting the platform to the chain block got loose, causing the platform to crash. Juego died
because of the incident.
 His wife Maria Juego now claims damages against DMCI on the basis of negligence1. The latter, however, maintains
that since she has already availed of the death benefits from the Employees’ Compensation Commission (ECC) under
the Labor Code, she is now precluded from claiming further damages covered by the Civil Code.

Art. 6, New Civil Code. Rights may be waived,


unless the waiver is contrary to law, public
II. Issue
order, public policy, morals, or good customs or
 WON Maria Jose is precluded from claiming damages covered by the prejudicial to a third person with a right
Civil Code; WON her availing of the death benefits covered by the Labor recognized by law.
Code constitutes a valid waiver of damages under the Civil Code (NO)
Art. 173, Labor Code. Unless otherwise
provided, the liability of the State Insurance
III. Ruling Fund under this Title shall be exclusive and in
 In Pacana v. Cebu Autobus Company, the SC ruled that as regards the place of all other liabilities of the employer to
right of to claim damages, the claimant has a choice of remedies the employee, his dependents or anyone
between what is provided under the Workmen’s Compensation Act and otherwise entitled to receive damages on
behalf of the employee or his dependents.
what is covered by the Civil Code. This is subject to the rule that a choice
of one will preclude a claim for additional benefits under the other *Sec. 5, Workmen’s Compensation Act. The
remedy. However, an exception may arise on the basis of supervening rights and remedies granted by this Act to an
facts or developments after the claimant already made his choice, the employee by reason of personal injury entitling
reason being knowledge of such facts or development may be material him to compensation shall exclude all other
rights and remedies accruing to the employee,
to his choice. his personal representatives, dependents or
 With the foregoing, the SC ruled that the case of Maria falls under the nearest of kin against the employer under the
exception. It is true that she already filed a death benefits claim with the Civil Code and other laws because of said injury.
ECC. However, she was not aware that her husband died because of
DMCI’s negligence; days after her filing with the ECC, she received the *Precursor to Art. 173, Labor Code
prosecutor’s memo that a civil liability may ensue from DMCI’s negligence. In
relation to this, she was also not aware of her two options for damages.
 When a party having knowledge of the facts makes a choice between two or more remedies, such choice is final and
precludes any action opposing the elected remedy. The doctrine of election of remedies is designed to be equitable
for all parties involved. The choice results to a waiver of election.
 Waiver is an intentional relinquishment of a known right. It is an act of understanding that presupposes that a party
has knowledge of its rights, but voluntarily chooses not to assert them. When one lacks knowledge of a right or a
material fact, there is no basis upon which the waiver can rest. Ignorance of a material fact negates waiver, and
waiver cannot be established under a mistake or misapprehension of fact.

1
The rule of res ipsa loquitur (“the thing speaks for itself) is applied where evidence is absent or not readily available. Its requisites are
(1) the accident does not ordinarily occur unless someone is negligent, (2) the instrumentality or agency which caused the injury was
under the exclusive control of the person charged with negligence, and (3) injury suffered was not a result of any voluntary action or
contribution on the part of the injured person. With all three present, it is reasonably presumed that DMCI is guilty of negligence.