Under Article 2194 of the New Civil Code, “the responsibility of two or more persons who are liable for a quasi-delict is solidary

Premises considered, the Court is of the view that both Loadmasters and Glodel are jointly and severally liable to R & B Insurance for the loss of the subject cargo. Under Article 2194 of the New Civil Code, “the responsibility of two or more persons who are liable for a quasi-delict is solidary.”

Loadmasters’ claim that it was never privy to the contract entered into by Glodel with the consignee Columbia or R&B Insurance as subrogee, is not a valid defense. It may not have a direct contractual relation with Columbia, but it is liable for tort under the provisions of Article 2176 of the Civil Code on quasi-delicts which expressly provide:

ART. 2176. Whoever by act or omission causes damage to another, there being fault or negligence, is obliged to pay for the damage done. Such fault or negligence, if there is no pre-existing contractual relation between the parties, is called a quasi-delict and is governed by the provisions of this Chapter.

Pertinent is the ruling enunciated in the case of Mindanao Terminal and Brokerage Service, Inc. v. Phoenix Assurance Company of New York,/McGee & Co., Inc.[19] where this Court held that a tort may arise despite the absence of a contractual relationship, to wit:

We agree with the Court of Appeals that the complaint filed by Phoenix and McGee against Mindanao Terminal, from which the present case has arisen, states a cause of action. The present action is based on quasi-delict, arising from the negligent and careless loading and stowing of the cargoes belonging to Del Monte Produce. Even assuming that both Phoenix and McGee have only been subrogated in the rights of Del Monte Produce, who is not a party to the contract of service between Mindanao Terminal and Del Monte, still the insurance carriers may have a cause of action in light of the Court’s consistent ruling that the act that breaks the contract may be also a tort. In fine, a liability for tort may arise even under a contract, where tort is that which breaches the contract. In the present case, Phoenix and McGee are not suing for damages for injuries arising from the breach of the contract of service but from the alleged negligent manner by which Mindanao Terminal handled the cargoes belonging to Del Monte Produce. Despite the absence of contractual relationship between Del Monte Produce and Mindanao Terminal, the allegation of negligence on the part of the defendant should be sufficient to establish a cause of action arising from quasi-delict. [Emphases supplied]

In connection therewith, Article 2180 provides:

ART. 2180. The obligation imposed by Article 2176 is demandable not only for one’s own acts or omissions, but also for those of persons for whom one is responsible.

x x x x

Employers shall be liable for the damages caused by their employees and household helpers acting within the scope of their assigned tasks, even though the former are not engaged in any business or industry.

It is not disputed that the subject cargo was lost while in the custody of Loadmasters whose employees (truck driver and helper) were instrumental in the hijacking or robbery of the shipment. As employer, Loadmasters should be made answerable for the damages caused by its employees who acted within the scope of their assigned task of delivering the goods safely to the warehouse.

Whenever an employee’s negligence causes damage or injury to another, there instantly arises a presumption juris tantum that the employer failed to exercise diligentissimi patris families in the selection (culpa in eligiendo) or supervision (culpa in vigilando) of its employees.[20] To avoid liability for a quasi-delict committed by its employee, an employer must overcome the presumption by presenting convincing proof that he exercised the care and diligence of a good father of a family in the selection and supervision of his employee.[21] In this regard, Loadmasters failed.

Glodel is also liable because of its failure to exercise extraordinary diligence. It failed to ensure that Loadmasters would fully comply with the undertaking to safely transport the subject cargo to the designated destination. It should have been more prudent in entrusting the goods to Loadmasters by taking precautionary measures, such as providing escorts to accompany the trucks in delivering the cargoes. Glodel should, therefore, be held liable with Loadmasters. Its defense of force majeure is unavailing.

At this juncture, the Court clarifies that there exists no principal-agent relationship between Glodel and Loadmasters, as erroneously found by the CA. Article 1868 of the Civil Code provides: “By the contract of agency a person binds himself to render some service or to do something in representation or on behalf of another, with the consent or authority of the latter.” The elements of a contract of agency are: (1) consent, express or implied, of the parties to establish the relationship; (2) the object is the execution of a juridical act in relation to a third person; (3) the agent acts as a representative and not for himself; (4) the agent acts within the scope of his authority.[22]

Accordingly, there can be no contract of agency between the parties. Loadmasters never represented Glodel. Neither was it ever authorized to make such representation. It is a settled rule that the basis for agency is representation, that is, the agent acts for and on behalf of the principal on matters within the scope of his authority and said acts have the same legal effect as if they were personally executed by the principal. On the part of the principal, there must be an actual intention to appoint or an intention naturally inferable from his words or actions, while on the part of the agent, there must be an intention to accept the appointment and act on it.[23] Such mutual intent is not obtaining in this case.

What then is the extent of the respective liabilities of Loadmasters and Glodel? Each wrongdoer is liable for the total damage suffered by R&B Insurance. Where there are several causes for the resulting damages, a party is not relieved from liability, even partially. It is sufficient that the negligence of a party is an efficient cause without which the damage would not have resulted. It is no defense to one of the concurrent tortfeasors that the damage would not have resulted from his negligence alone, without the negligence or wrongful acts of the other concurrent tortfeasor. As stated in the case of Far Eastern Shipping v. Court of Appeals,[24]

X x x. Where several causes producing an injury are concurrent and each is an efficient cause without which the injury would not have happened, the injury may be attributed to all or any of the causes and recovery may be had against any or all of the responsible persons although under the circumstances of the case, it may appear that one of them was more culpable, and that the duty owed by them to the injured person was not the same. No actor’s negligence ceases to be a proximate cause merely because it does not exceed the negligence of other actors. Each wrongdoer is responsible for the entire result and is liable as though his acts were the sole cause of the injury.

There is no contribution between joint tortfeasors whose liability is solidary since both of them are liable for the total damage. Where the concurrent or successive negligent acts or omissions of two or more persons, although acting independently, are in combination the direct and proximate cause of a single injury to a third person, it is impossible to determine in what proportion each contributed to the injury and either of them is responsible for the whole injury. Where their concurring negligence resulted in injury or damage to a third party, they become joint tortfeasors and are solidarily liable for the resulting damage under Article 2194 of the Civil Code. [Emphasis supplied]

The Court now resolves the issue of whether Glodel can collect from Loadmasters, it having failed to file a cross-claim against the latter.

Undoubtedly, Glodel has a definite cause of action against Loadmasters for breach of contract of service as the latter is primarily liable for the loss of the subject cargo. In this case, however, it cannot succeed in seeking judicial sanction against Loadmasters because the records disclose that it did not properly interpose a cross-claim against the latter. Glodel did not even pray that Loadmasters be liable for any and all claims that it may be adjudged liable in favor of R&B Insurance. Under the Rules, a compulsory counterclaim, or a cross-claim, not set up shall be barred.[25] Thus, a cross-claim cannot be set up for the first time on appeal.

For the consequence, Glodel has no one to blame but itself. The Court cannot come to its aid on equitable grounds. “Equity, which has been aptly described as ‘a justice outside legality,’ is applied only in the absence of, and never against, statutory law or judicial rules of procedure.”[26] The Court cannot be a lawyer and take the cudgels for a party who has been at fault or negligent.


About Erineus

Born on December 28, 1965, Surallah, South Cotabato, Southern Mindanao, Philippines.
This entry was posted in Torts and Damages, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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