Thursday, February 23, 2012

Aboitiz Shipping Corporation vs. Court of Appeals (188 SCRA 387 )

Facts: Anacleto Viana was a passenger of M/V Antonia bound for Manila which was owned by defendant Aboitiz. After the said vessel has landed, the Pioneer Stevedoring Corp., as the arrastre operator, took over the exclusive control of the cargoes loaded on it. One hour after the passengers had disembarked, Pioneer Stevedoring started operation by unloading the cargoes using its crane. Viana who had already disembarked remembered that some of his cargoes were still inside the vessel. While pointing to the crew of the vessel the place where his cargoes were, the crane hit him, pinning him between the side of the vessel and the crane which resulted to his death. Viana’s wife filed a complaint for damages against Aboitiz for breach of contract f carriage. Aboitiz, however filed a third party complaint against Pioneer since it had control completely over the vessel during the incident. Furthermore, petitioner contends that one hour has already elapsed from the time Viana disembarked, thus he has already ceased to be a passenger. 

Issue: Whether or not Aboitiz is liable for the death of Viana. 

Held: The Supreme Court held that the failure of Aboitiz to exercise extraordinary diligence for the safety of its passengers makes Aboitiz liable. It has been recognized as a rule that the relation of the carrier and passenger does not cease the moment the passenger alights from the carrier’s vehicle, but continues until the passenger has had a reasonable time or a reasonable opportunity to leave the carrier’s premises. A reasonable time or a reasonable delay within this rule is to be determined from all the circumstances. The primary factor to be considered is the existence of a reasonable cause as will justify the presence of the victim on or near the petitioner’s vessel. In the case at bar, such justifiable cause exists because he had to come back for his cargo. Aboitiz has failed to safeguard its passenger with extraordinary diligence in requiring or seeing to it that precautionary measures were strictly and actually enforced to subserve their purpose of preventing entry into a forbidden area. 

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