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Pleyto v.

Lomboy
G.R. No. 148737 – June 16, 2004
J. Quisumbing

Topic: Death by Crime or Quasi-Delict – Loss of earning capacity


Petitioners: Ernesto Pleyto and Philippine Rabbit Bus Lines Inc.
Respondents: Maria Lomboy and Carmela Lomboy

Summary:

FACTS:
 May 16, 1995: At approximately 11:30 am, a PRBL bus driven by Pleyto was travelling along
MacArthur Hway in Tarlac. It was drizzling and the road was wet.
o Right in front of the bus was a tricycle driven by Rodolfo Esguerra
o According to a witness and one of the passengers of the bus, Pleyto tried to overtake
Esguerra’s tricycle, but hit it instead. Pleyto then swerved into the left opposite lane where
he hit a Mitsubishi Lancer, driven by Arnulfo Asuncion
 Arnulfo, and passenger Ricardo Lomboy were both killed. Meanwhile, the
passengers in the back, Carmela and Rhino suffered injuries
o According to Pleyto and PRBL, Pleyto was driving slowly and that he examined that the
bus was in good condition prior to the trip
 Pleyto reasoned out that the tricycle suddenly stopped, and so to avoid it, he
stepped on the brakes but lost speed and skidded towards the direction of the
Lancer
 RTC: In favor of Lomboys. Defendants to pay solidarily.
o Found Pleyto negligent, and had clearly violated traffic rules and regulations, thus,
negligent under Art. 2185
o PRBL equally liable under Art. 2180
 P50K as indemnification for death of Ricardo;
 P1.642M for lost earnings of Ricardo;
 P59K as actual damages for the funeral, wake, religious services, etc.;
 P52K for the medical treatment and medicine of Carmela;
 P500K for moral damages for the wife and children excluding Carmela; and
 P50K as moral damages for Carmela
 CA: Affirmed RTC but with modification
 P39K for actual damages;
 P27K for medical expenses of Carmela; and
 P1.152M for loss of earning capacity of Ricardo

ISSUES + HELD:
1. W/N the CA erred in ruling that Pleyto and PRBL were negligent – NO
 Because the petitioners are essentially asking for a review of facts, the SC noted that since the RTC
and CA have arrived at the same conclusion, under Rule 45, only questions of law, not of fact, may
be raised before the SC
o Indeed, Pleyto violated traffic rules and regulations when he overtook the tricycle despite
the presence of an oncoming car in the other lane  Art. 2185 lays down the presumption
that a person driving a motor vehicle has been negligent if at the time of the mishap, he
was violating any traffic regulation. As found by both lower courts, the petitioners failed
to present any convincing proof rebutting such presumption
o PRBL  liable under Art. 2180
 Even though PRBL could have rebutted the presumption through evidence, all they
presented were documents to show that Pleyto underwent various tests and pre-
qualification requirements  they did not adequately show that they exercised due
diligence in the supervision of Pleyto’s work

2. W/N CA correctly calculated Ricardo’s loss of earning capacity – YES


 Petitioners argue that the award of loss of earning capacity to respondents is devoid of legal basis.
They claim that the CA erred in pegging the monthly living expenses at 50% of gross earnings
since, they claim, this runs contrary to Villa Rey Transit v. CA which held that:
o “the amount recoverable is not loss of the entire earning, but rather the loss of that portion
of the earnings which the beneficiary would have received.”
o Petitioners also claim that the Lomboys failed to prove the gross income of Ricardo, thus,
making the computations of the lower courts doubtful
 SC: Petitioners misread our decision in Villa Rey  we emphasized that earning capacity, as an
element of damages to one’s estate for his death by wrongful act is necessarily his net earning
capacity or his capacity to acquire money, “less the necessary expense for his own living.”
o Stated otherwise, the amount recoverable is not loss of the entire earning, but rather the
loss of that portion of the earnings which the beneficiary would have received
o In other words, only net earnings, not gross earning, are to be considered that is the total
of the earnings less expenses necessary in the creation of such earnings or income and less
living and other incidental expenses
 In the case at bar, the amount of net earnings was arrived at after deducting the necessary expenses
(pegged at 50% of gross income) from the gross annual income
 Petitioner’s claim of no substantial proof also lacks merit. Failure to present documentary evidence
to support a claim for loss of earning capacity is NOT FATAL to the cause
o Testimonial evidence suffices to establish a basis for which the court can make a fair and
reasonable estimate of the loss of earning capacity
 Hence, testimony of widow that her husband was earning a monthly income of P8k
is sufficient to establish a basis for an estimate of damages for loss of earning
capacity
 It is well-settled in jurisprudence that the factors that should be taken into account in determining
the compensable amount of lost earnings are: (1) number of years for which the victim would have
lived; and (2) the rate of loss sustained by the heirs of the deceased
o Jurisprudence provides that the first factor, life expectancy, is computed by using the
formula (2/3 x [80 – age at death]) (Adopted in the American Expectancy Table of
Mortality or the Actuarial Combined Experience Table of Mortality
o For the second factor, it is computed by multiplying the life expectancy by the net earnings
of the deceased  the total earnings less expenses necessary in the creation of such
earnings or income and less living and other incidental expenses
 The net earning is ordinarily computed at 50% of the gross earnings
o THUS, the formula used by this Court is:
Net earning capacity = [2/3 s (80 – age at the time of death) x (gross annual income –
reasonable and necessary living expenses)]
 Ricardo was 44 years old when he died, and was earning a monthly income of P8k or a gross annual
income of P96k
o Using the cited formula, the CA correctly computed the Loss of Net Earning Capacity as
P1.152M, net of and after considering a reasonable and necessary living expenses of 50%
of the gross annual income, or P48K
 Thus, no reversible error may be attributed to the CA for fixing the loss of earning capacity at said
amount
 However, the SC modified the following award of damages:
o P500K award of moral damages was excessive – under the circumstances of the case, an
award of P100K to the heirs of Ricardo would be justified and in keeping with the purpose
of the law and jurisprudence in allowing moral damages

RULING: “WHEREFORE, the assailed Decision of the CA is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION…”