Barredo vs. Garcia

Facts

In 1936, 16 year old Faustino Garcia died in an accident caused by the collision of the taxi driven by Pedro Fontanilla. Action was filed in CFI, Fontanilla was convicted and sentenced. Right for civil action was reserved.

The parents of the deceased brought an action in CFI Manila against Barredo, the sole proprietor of the taxi that employed Fontanilla. CFI awarded damages in favor of the parents.

CA held Taxi Proprietor Barredo liable for damages for the death of child Faustino Garcia caused by the negligence of driver Fontanilla. CA reduced the damages.

Parent Garcia’s theory is governed by RPC where Barredo’s liability is subsidiary since no civil action was filed against driver Fontanilla.

Barredo’s defense: Fontanilla has been sued in a civil action and his property has not been exhausted.

Issue

Can the parents of the victim bring this separate civil action against the owner of the taxi driven by the convicted driver?

Ruling

Yes. Because of the Barredo’s (taxi proprietor) presumed negligence.

  • Employees should be carefully chosen and supervised in order to avoid injury to the public. It is the masters that reap from the services of the servants, it is but right that they should guarantee the servants’ careful conduct.
  • An example of independent negligence on the part of the employer (Barredo) → “when he was careless in employing Fontanilla who had been caught several times for violation of the Automobile Law and speeding (Exhibit A) — a violation which appeared in the records of the Bureau of Public Works (LTO now or DPWH?) available to the public and to himself.” Quasi-delict. 

In remedial law, the parents’ action against the taxi owner is a form of an alternative cause of action. Rule 2, Section 5: ”A party may assert as many alternative causes of action against the opposing party…”

Barredo’s contention that ”the taxi driver’s property must be exhausted first” would tantamount to a cumbersome method of obtaining relief. It is common knowledge that drivers don’t have sufficient means to pay damages.

Other possible alternative causes of action

  • Breach of contract of carriage – failure of the taxi driver to fulfill the contract of bringing the passenger to his destination
  • Civil liability or quasi-delict or culpa aquiliana against the driver
  • Cause of action against the manufacturer of the car
  • against the insurance

Limitations under of joinder of alternative causes of actions, Rule 2 Sec. 5

  • Joinder is only allowed for ordinary civil actions, not to be joined with special civil actions and special proceedings.

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