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STRICT LIABILITY

Introduction 4) Product Liability (Article 2183


and Consumer Act)
Strict liability is defined by 5) Interference with Contractual
Black’s Law Dictionary as “liability without fault”. Relations (Article 1314)
A case is one of strict liability “when neither care 6) Liability of Local Government
nor negligence, neither good nor bad faith, neither Units / Municipal Corporations (Article 2189)
knowledge nor ignorance will save the defendant”. 7) Liability of Proprietors of
Buildings (Article 2190 and 2191)
According to Aquino, there is
strict liability if one is made liable independent of
fault, negligence, or intent after establishing Liability of Possessor of Animals
certain facts specified by law. (Aquino, Torts &
Damages, page 694) Under Article 2183 of the Civil
Code, the possessor of an animal or whoever may
Aquino further stated that strict make use of the same is responsible for the damage
liability tort can be committed even if reasonable which it may cause, although it may escape or be
care was exercised and regardless of the state of lost. It further states that this responsibility shall
mind of the actor at that time. cease only in case the damage should come from
force majeure or from the fault of the person who
has suffered damage.
History of Strict Liability Tort
It can be gleamed from the
Most of the strict liability tort provision that liability is imposed upon the
found scattered in the Civil Code originated from possessor of an animal or whoever makes use of
Roman law. Some legal writers believe that the the same for damage it may cause, despite no fault
“strict” nature of the liability is the common of his own.
characteristic of all the acts considered quasi-ex
delicto in the Institutes of Roman law. (Aquino, In the case of Vestil vs. IAC, the
Torts & Damages, pp. 694) court upheld the liability of the Purita and Agustin
Vestil as possessor of the dog “Andoy”, who bit a
One example is the principle of three-year old child while the latter was playing
unjust enrichment under Article 22 of the Civil with the spouses’ child in the house inherited by
Code. On the other hand, our nuisance laws came the wife from her father.
from American law.
An action for damages was filed
by the parents of the three-year old child,
Specific Strict Liability Torts anchoring their argument on Article 2183 of the
Civil Code.
This report will focus on the
following specific strict liability torts found in the To counter, some of the defenses
Civil Code and other special laws: of Spouses Vestil was that the dog “Andoy” was
not owned by them, the same with the house, but
1) Possessor of Animals (Article by the defendant wife’s father, who earlier died,
2183) and no partition had been done as yet.
2) Falling Objects (Article 2193)
3) Liability of Employers for The Court rejected the defendant-
Death or Injuries in the Course of Employment petitioner by stating that “what must be determined
(Article 1711 and 1712) is the possession of the dog that admittedly was
staying in the house in question, regardless of the animal or whoever makes use of the same does not
ownership of the dog or the house.” incur liability, although it may be escape or be lost,
if the damage “should come from” force majeure
The Court then ruled based on or from the fault of the person who has suffered
evidence that the spouses Vestil was in actual damage.
possession of the house, including the dog, which
was owned by the deceased father of the wife.
Liability for Falling Objects
Another argument of the
petitioners was that they could not be expected to Article 2193 provides:
exercise remote control of the dog. The Court took
the argument as “unacceptable” as Article 2183 of The head of a family that lives in
the Civil Code holds the possessor liable even if a building or a part thereof, is responsible for
the animal should “escape or be lost” and so be damages caused by things thrown or falling from
removed from his (possessor’s) control. the same.

As for the argument that the dog Article 2193 ascribes liability to
was a tame dog, the Court clarified that “the law the head of a family that lives in a building or part
does not speak only of vicious animals but covers thereof for damages caused by things thrown or
even tame ones as long as they cause injury”. falling from the said building or part thereof.

As for the argument that the dog As can be discerned from the
was provoked to probably invoke the exception in provision, the liability is absolute as it does not
Article 2183 (fault of the person who has suffered indicate a presumption or admit proof of care.
damage), the Court emphasized that the victim was (Aquino, Torts & Damages, pp. 697)
only three years old at the time she was attacked by
the dog, thus “could hardly be faulted for whatever Head of the Family
she might have done to the animal”.
The import of the case Dingcong v
In this case, the Court had the Kanaan, 72 Phil 14, shows that the phrase “head of
occasion to state that, quoting Manresa, the a family” is not limited to the owner of the building
obligation imposed by Article 2183 of the Civil and it may even include the lessee thereof.
Code is not based on the negligence or on the
presumed lack of vigilance of the possessor or user In this case, Dingcong, a co-lessee
of the animal causing the damage. It said, it is in a building was made liable for the act of his
based on natural equity and on the principle of guest who left the faucet open causing water to fall
social interest that he who possesses animals for from the second floor, damaging the goods of
utility, pleasure, or service, must answer for the Kanaan in the floor below.
damage which such animal may cause.
However, although the basis for
According to Manresa (as quoted the liability was Article 1910 of the Old Civil
by Aquino, citing Torts & Damages by Francisco), Code, from which Article 2183 of the New Civil
the reason for the law imputing liability to the Code was derived, the Court then anchored the
possessor is that by “having his possession said liability on the failure of the petitioner to exercise
animal, or in using it, the possessor already knew diligence of a good father of a family.
what they may be exposed to.”

Exception Liability of Employers for Death/Injuries


of Employees In the Course of Employment
Article 2183, nevertheless, admits
of exception, that is, that the possessor of the
Article 1711 of the New Civil in the latter case, the fellow worker and the
Code was derived from Section 2 of Act 3428, or employer are solidarily liable. (Article 1712, New
otherwise known as the Philippine Workmen’s Civil Code)
Compensation Act, which provides:
However, the employer is
“When any employee receives a exempted from liability if the death or injury
personal injury from any accident due to and in the (mishap was the term used) was due to employee’s
pursuance of the employment, or contracts any own notorious negligence, voluntary act, or
illness directly caused by such employment or the drunkenness.
result of the nature of such employment, his
employer shall pay compensation in the sums and But if the employee’s lack of due
to the persons hereinafter specified.” care contributed to his death or injury, the
compensation shall be equitably reduced.
As it stands, Article 1711 imposes
an obligation to pay compensation by the In sum, if the employee died or
employers for the death or injury of their was injured in the course of employment, or
employees, when such death or injury arose out of became ill or contracted illness as a result of the
and in the course of the employment, as well as for nature of the employment, without fault on his part,
any illness or disease caused by such employment the employer bears the burden to compensate such
or as a result of the nature of the employment. death, injury, illness, or sickness. This is strict
liability.
The obligation of the owners of
enterprises and other empbloyers to pay If the death or injury was attended
compensation is even present despite the event at the same time by the employee’s own lack of due
which caused the death or injury of their care, the liability of the employer is reduced
employees being purely accidental or entirely due equitably.
to a fortuitous cause, so long as the death or injury
arouse out of or in the course of employment. If the death or injury was due to
the employee’s own notorious negligence,
The liability of the employers, voluntary act, or drunkenness, the employer has no
however, may be tempered or extinguished, obligation to compensate.
depending on the presence of other circumstances.
If the death or injury of the
If the death or injury of the employee was the result of the negligence of a
employee was due to the negligence of a fellow fellow worker, the employer and the fellow worker
worker, such fellow worker and the employer are solidarily liable.
become solidarily liable for compensation.
However, if the fellow worker’s intentional or If the death or injury was a result of the
malicious act was the only cause of the death or fellow worker’s intentional or malicious act alone,
injury of the employee, the employer does not only he bears the burden, if it can be shown that the
incur liability and the fellow worker bears the full employer exercised due diligence in the selection
burden of compensating for the death or injury, and supervision of said fellow worker. If the
provided that the employer is shown to have employer did not exercise due diligence in the
exercised due diligence in the selection or selection and supervision of said fellow worker,
supervision of said fellow worker. If it can be both the employer and the fellow worker are
shown that the employer did not exercise due solidarily liable.
diligence in the selection and supervision of said
fellow worker, and the intentional or malicious act In the case Afable vs Singer
of the fellow worker was the only cause of the Sewing Machine, 58 Phil 39, the phrase “arise out
death or injury, the employer shall also be of or in the course of employment” does not cover
answerable for compensation. It is understood that the period of “going to or returning from place of
work”, such that personal injuries that befalls an the employee is exposed in a special degree by
employee while going to or returning from work reason of such employment. Risks to which all
does not entitle him to recover from his employer, persons similarly situated are equally exposed and
as stipulated in Section 2 of Article 3428, or the not traceable in some special degree to the
Workmen’s Compensation Act particular employment are excluded.”

In this case, the widow and To come within the term “injury
children of Leopoldo Madlangbayan brought an received in the course of the employment”, it must
action against Singer Sewing Machine for burial be shown that the injury originated in the work,
expenses and compensation under Act 3428, and, further, that it was received by the employee
alleging that the deceased died due to and in while engaged in or about the furtherance of the
pursuance of the employment. affairs of the employer. If it be conceded that the
injury originated in the work…it would still be
The deceased, who was a necessary to show that the employee was engaged
Collector of Singer Sewing Machine, met his in the furtherance of his employer’s business.
untimely death when, on his way home riding a
bicycle, he was run over by a truck driven by In this case, Madlangbayan met
Vitaliano Sumoay. The truck driver was later his death on a Sunday, on his way home.
convicted of reckless imprudence resulting to Madlangbayan’s area of collection was in the
homicide and ordered to pay the heirs Php 1,000.00 district of San Francisco del Monte, where he also
as indemnity. used to live. Unknown to his employer, he
transferred his residence in Manila, where the
At the time of the accident, Act accident happened resulting to his death. The
3428 was not yet amended, hence the said law used company, however, neither required him or the
the phrase “due to and in pursuance of the former’s employee to work on said day, nor
employment”. Less than a month after the accident, furnished or required its agents to use bicycles.
said phrase was changed to “arising out of and in
the course of employment.” Under the facts obtaining, the
Court said that even if he made collections on that
Rejecting the contention of the Sunday, he did not do so in pursuance of his
petitioner widow, the Court ruled that the words employment, hence, Singer Sewing Machine was
“arising out of” refer to the origin or cause of the not liable for any injury sustained by him.
accident, and are descriptive of its character, while
the words “in the course of” refer to the time, place, The Court, however, opined that
and circumstances under which the accident takes they did not imply that the employee can never
place. recover for injuries suffered while on his way to or
from work, which would depend on the nature of
Quoting the Supreme Court of the employment.
Illinois in the case Mueller Construction Co. vs
Industrial Board, the Court ruled:
Product Liability
“By the use of these words it was
not the intention of the legislature to make the In Coca-Cola Bottler’s
employer an insurer against all accidental injuries Philippines vs Court of Appeals, the Supreme
which might happen to an employee while in the Court defined product liability law as the law that
course of the employment, but only for such governs the liability of manufacturers and sellers
injuries arising from or growing out of the risks for damages resulting from defective products.
peculiar to the nature of the work in the scope of Liability for defective products may be based on
the workman's employment or incidental to such fraud, warranty, or strict liability.
employment, and accidents in which it is possible
to trace the injury to some risk or hazard to which Constitutional Basis
3. Contractual relation between the
Article XVI, Section 9 of the 1987 manufacturers and processors on the one
Constitution provides that the State “shall protect hand and the consumers on the other hand
the consumers from trade malpractices and from is not necessary.
substandard and hazardous products”.
According to Casis, the provision does not
According to Father Joaquin require that the manufacturer or processor
Bernas, the State policy to protect consumers “is knowingly or intentionally use the noxious or
intended not only against traders but also harmful substance. (Torts & Quasi-Delicts, 2012
manufacturers who dump defective, substandard, Edition, pp. 479)
or even hazardous products in the market”. (The
Intent of the 1986 Constitutional Writers, 1995 Casis further stated that Article 2187
Edition, citing Records of the Constitutional “appears to be intended to provide a remedy for the
Commission, Volume V, pp-231-235, as cited by injured consumer regardless of how he came to be
Aquino, Torts & Damages, pp. 712). in possession and use of the product”. (Torts &
Quasi-Delicts, 2012 Edition, pp. 479)
Prior to the enactment of RA 7394 RA 7394
or the Consumer Act of the Philippines, there were
special laws passed by the legislature which protect The Consumer Act of the Philippines was
consumers and impose liability to manufacturers promulgated on 13 April 1992. The law reiterates
and sellers. the State policy to “protect the interests of the
consumer, promote his general welfare, and
In particular, Article 2187 of the Civil establish standards of conduct for business and
Code provides for the strict liability of industry.” (Section 2)
manufacturers and processors of products under
certain circumstances. For purposes of this report, the discussant
will only focus on the pertinent provisions of RA
Article 2187 provides: 7394 on product and service liability, specifically,
Articles 97, 99, 106, and 107.
“Manufacturers and processors of
foodstuffs, drinks, toilet articles, and similar goods Privity of Contract Not Required Under
shall be liable for the death or injuries caused by Articles 97 and 99.
any noxious or harmful substances used, although
no contractual relation exists between them and the Privity of contract is not required under
consumers.” Article 97 and 99 because the responsibility of the
manufacturers is owed to the consumer.
From the provision, the following
can be deduced: Under Article 4 (n), consumer is defined as
any natural person who is a purchaser, lessee,
1. The liability under Article 2187 is recipient or prospective purchaser, lessor or
only for manufacturers and processors of recipient of consumer products, services or credit.
foodstuffs, drinks, toilet articles, and
similar goods, and does not include the According to Aquino, the term “recipient”
vendors. is broad enough to cover any person who might use
the product even if he was not the one who
2. The liability extends for the death purchased the same. (Torts & Damages, 2016
or injuries caused by any noxious or m Edition, pp. 731)
harmful substances used in foodstuffs,
drinks, toilet articles, and similar goods. Article 97

Article 97 provides:
3. Presentation defect – defects
Article 97. Liability for the resulting from handling, making up,
Defective Products. – Any Filipino or foreign presentation, or packing of the product
manufacturer, producer, and any importer, shall be
liable for redress, independently of fault, for 4. Absence of appropriate warning –
damages caused to consumers by defects resulting defect resulting from the insufficient or
from design, manufacture, construction, assembly inadequate information on the use and
and erection, formulas and handling and making hazards of the products.
up, presentation or packing of their products, as
well as for the insufficient or inadequate Manufacturing Defect
information on the use and hazards thereof.
A manufacturing or production defect is
A product is defective when it one that differs from the manufacturer’s intended
does not offer the safety rightfully expected of it, result or from other ostensibly identical units of the
taking relevant circumstances into consideration, same product line. (Aquino, Torts & Damages,
including but not limited to: 2016 Edition, pp. 733)

a) presentation of product; Design Defect

b) use and hazards reasonably In determining whether or not there is a


expected of it; design defect, the defective product should not be
compared to the manufacturer’s design as it will
c) the time it was put into circulation. reflect the same design. Design defects can be
established by comparing it with standards
Under this provision, liability is established by law or government agencies.
attached to any Filipino of foreign manufacturer,
producer, and importer. In the US, there are two main competing
tests used to determine whether or not there is a
A “manufacturer” is defined as design defect:
any person who manufactures, assembles or
processes consumer products, except that if the 1. Consumer Expectation Test;
goods are manufactured, assembled or processed or
for another person who attaches his own brand 2. Risk Utility Test
name to the consumer products, the latter shall be
deemed the manufacturer. In case of imported
products, the manufacturer's representatives or, in Consumer Expectation Test
his absence, the importer, shall be deemed the
manufacturer. (Article 4[as]) Under the consumer expectation test, a
product may be found defective in design if the
Article 97 contemplates four kinds plaintiff demonstrates that the product failed to
of defects in products: perform as safely as an ordinary consumer would
expect when used in an intended or reasonably
1. Manufacturing defect – defects foreseeable manner.
resulting from manufacture, construction,
assembly, and erection.
Risk Utility Test
2. Design defect – defects resulting
from the design and formulas The Risk Utility Test was propounded by
Professor Wade in his article “On the Nature of
Strict Tort Liability for Products” published in
1973. This test is embraced in the American Law
Institute’s “Restatement (Third) of the Law on 2. the product has no defect, even
Torts: Product Liability”. though it did place the product on the
market; and
According to the Restatement, a product is 3. the consumer or a third party is
defective in design when the foreseeable risks of solely at fault
harm posed by the product could have been
reduced or avoided by the adoption of a reasonable
The burden of proving above rests with the
alternative design by the seller or other distributor,
manufacturer. The plaintiff need only to establish
or a predecessor in the commercial chain of
that the defendant manufactured the product.
distribution, and the omission of the alternative
design renders the product not reasonably safe.
Article 99
The Consumer Act adopts the consumer
expectation test, as shown by the second paragraph
Article 99, on the other hand, provides for
of Article 97.
liability for defective services. The provision
states:
Packaging and Presentation Defect
“Article 99. Liability for Defective
Services. – The service supplier is liable for
As earlier presented, a presentation defect
redress, independently of fault, for damages caused
may result from handling, making up, presentation,
to consumers by defects relating to the rendering
or packing of the product.
of the services, as well as for insufficient or
inadequate information on the fruition and hazards
Absence of Appropriate Warning
thereof.
Chapter IV of the Consumer Act governs
The service is defective when it does not
Labeling and Fair Packing requirements. It is
provide the safety the consumer may rightfully
policy of the State to impose compulsory labeling
expect of it, taking the relevant circumstances into
and faire packing “to enable the consumer to obtain
consideration, including but not limited to:
accurate information as to the nature, quality and
quantity of the contents of consumer products and
a) the manner in which it is provided;
to facilitate his comparison of the value of such
products”. (Article 74)
b) the result of hazards which may
reasonably be expected of it;
In furtherance of such policy, the law
(Article 77) provides for minimum labeling
c) the time when it was provided.
requirements for consumer products and provide
penalties for violation of provisions under said
A service is not considered defective
Chapter (Article 95).
because of the use or introduction of new
techniques.
Exception/Defenses
The supplier of the services shall not be
held liable when it is proven:
Notwithstanding the strict liability
imposed by Article 97, it also provides for
a) that there is no defect in the
exemption from liability. It provides that a
service rendered;
manufacturer, builder, producer, or importer shall
not be held liable if:
b) that the consumer or third party is
solely at fault.
1. it did not place the product on
the market;
Article 107 provides for penalty in case of
Under Article 99, liability attaches to the violation of Chapter V of RA 7394 or its
service supplier, whose liability is “independently implementing rules and regulations.
of fault”. Its liability extends to damages caused to
consumers: The person liable shall be subject to a fine
of not less than Php 5,000.00 and by imprisonment
1. by defects relating to the rendering of not more than one year or both, upon the
of services; or discretion of the court.
2. insufficient or inadequate
information on the fruition and hazards In case of juridical persons, the penalty
thereof. shall be imposed upon its president, manager or
head.

Under Article 4, service is defined as If the offender is an alien, he shall, after


either: payment of fine and service of sentence, be
deported without further deportation proceedings.
1. services supplied in connection
with a contract for construction,
maintenance, repair, processing, treatment
or cleaning of goods or fixtures on land,
with respect to repair and service firms; or

2. distribution of goods; or

3. transportation of goods.

Prohibition

Article 106 of RA 7394 prohibits any


stipulation in a contract “preventing, exonerating
or reducing the obligation to indemnify for
damages effected” under the Chapter for Liability
for Product and Service (Chapter V of RA 7394).

It also provides a joint liability for the


redress established under this Chapter, in case
there are more than one person responsible for the
cause of the damage.

However, if the damage is caused by a


component or part incorporated in the product or
service, its manufacturer, builder or importer and
the person who incorporated the component or part
are jointly liable.

Penal Provision