As an exception, moral damages may be awarded in case of breach of contract of carriage that results in the death of a passenger

           As a general rule, moral damages are not recoverable in actions for damages predicated on a breach of contract, unless there is fraud or bad faith.[8] As an exception, moral damages may be awarded in case of breach of contract of carriage that results in the death of a passenger,[9] in accordance with Article 1764, in relation to Article 2206 (3), of the Civil Code, which provide:

       Article 1764. Damages in cases comprised in this Section shall be awarded in accordance with Title XVIII of this Book, concerning Damages. Article 2206 shall also apply to the death of a passenger caused by the breach of contract by a common carrier.

Article 2206. The amount of damages for death caused by a crime or quasi-delict shall be at least three thousand pesos, even though there may have been mitigating circumstances. In addition:

(1) The defendant shall be liable for the loss of the earning capacity of the deceased, and the indemnity shall be paid to the heirs of the latter; such indemnity shall in every case be assessed and awarded by the court, unless the deceased on account of permanent physical disability not caused by the defendant, had no earning capacity at the time of his death;

(2) If the deceased was obliged to give support according to the provisions of article 291, the recipient who is not an heir called to the decedent’s inheritance by the law of testate or intestate succession, may demand support from the person causing the death, for a period not exceeding five years, the exact duration to be fixed by the court;

(3) The spouse, legitimate and illegitimate descendants and ascendants of the deceased may demand moral damages for mental anguish by reason of the death of the deceased. 

          The foregoing legal provisions set forth the persons entitled to moral damages. The omission from Article 2206 (3) of the brothers and sisters of the deceased passenger reveals the legislative intent to exclude them from the recovery of moral damages for mental anguish by reason of the death of the deceased. Inclusio unius est exclusio alterius.[10] The solemn power and duty of the courts to interpret and apply the law do not include the power to correct the law by reading into it what is not written therein.[11] Thus, the CA erred in awarding moral damages to the respondents.

          The petitioner has correctly relied on the holding in Receiver for North Negros Sugar Company, Inc. v. Ybañez,[12] to the effect that in case of death caused by quasi-delict, the brother of the deceased was not entitled to the award of moral damages based on Article 2206 of the Civil Code.

          Essentially, the purpose of moral damages is indemnity or reparation, that is, to enable the injured party to obtain the means, diversions, or amusements that will serve to alleviate the moral suffering he has undergone by reason of the tragic event. According to Villanueva v. Salvador,[13] the conditions for awarding moral damages are: (a) there must be an injury, whether physical, mental, or psychological, clearly substantiated by the claimant; (b) there must be a culpable act or omission factually established; (c) the wrongful act or omission of the defendant must be the proximate cause of the injury sustained by the claimant; and (d) the award of damages is predicated on any of the cases stated in Article 2219 of the Civil Code.

To be entitled to moral damages, the respondents must have a right based upon law. It is true that under Article 1003[14] of the Civil Code they succeeded to the entire estate of the late Dr. Curso in the absence of the latter’s descendants, ascendants, illegitimate children, and surviving spouse.  However, they were not included among the persons entitled to recover moral damages, as enumerated in Article 2219 of the Civil Code, viz:

Article 2219. Moral damages may be recovered in the following and analogous cases:

(1)   A criminal offense resulting in physical injuries;

(2)   Quasi-delicts causing physical injuries;

(3)   Seduction, abduction, rape or other lascivious acts;

(4)   Adultery or concubinage;

(5)   Illegal or arbitrary detention or arrest;

(6)   Illegal search;

(7)   Libel, slander or any other form of defamation;

(8)   Malicious prosecution;

(9)   Acts mentioned in article 309;

(10) Acts and actions referred to in articles 21, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 32, 34 and 35.

The parents of the female seduced, abducted, raped or abused referred to in No. 3 of this article, may also recover moral damages.

The spouse, descendants, ascendants and brothers and sisters may bring the action mentioned in No. 9 of this article, in the order named.

Article 2219 circumscribes the instances in which moral damages may be awarded. The provision does not include succession in the collateral line as a source of the right to recover moral damages. The usage of the phrase analogous cases in the provision means simply that the situation must be held similar to those expressly enumerated in the law in question[15] following the ejusdem generis rule. Hence, Article 1003 of the Civil Code is not concerned with recovery of moral damages.

          In fine, moral damages may be recovered in an action upon breach of contract of carriage only when: (a) where death of a passenger results, or   (b) it is proved that the carrier was guilty of fraud and bad faith, even if death does not result.[16] Article 2206 of the Civil Code entitles the descendants, ascendants, illegitimate children, and surviving spouse of the deceased passenger to demand moral damages for mental anguish by reason of the death of the deceased.[17]

          WHEREFORE, the petition for review on certiorari is granted, and the award made to the respondents in the decision dated September 16, 2002 of the Court of Appeals of moral damages amounting to P100,000.00 is deleted and set aside.


About Erineus

Born on December 28, 1965, Surallah, South Cotabato, Southern Mindanao, Philippines.
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