Thursday, February 23, 2012

Alitalia v. Intermediate Appellate Court (192 SCRA 9 )

Facts: Dr. Felipa Pablo, a professor from UP was invited to attend a meeting by the United Nations in Ispra, Italy. She was to read a paper regarding foreign substances in food and the agriculture environment which she had specialized knowledge of. She booked a flight to Italy with Alitalia airlines, petitioner herein. She had arrived in Milan the day before the meeting however her luggage did not arrive with her. The airline informed her that her luggage was delayed because it was placed in one of the succeeding flights to Italy. She never got her luggage. 

When she got back to Manila she demanded that Alitalia compensate her for the damages that she suffered. Petitioner herein offered free airline tickets in order to compensate for the alleged damages, however she rejected this offer and instead filed a case. Subsequently it was found out that the luggages of Dr. Pablo were not placed in the succeeding flights. She received her luggage 11 months after and after she had already instituted a case against Alitalia. 

The lower court rendered a decision in favor of Dr. Pablo and ordered plaintiff to pay damages. On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision and even increased the amount of damages to be awarded to Dr. Pablo. Hence this petition for certiorari. 

Issue: Whether or not Alitalia is liable for damages incurred by Dr. Pablo. 

Held: The Court held that Alitalia is liable to pay Dr. Pablo for nominal damages. The Warsaw Convention provides that an air carrier is made liable for damages when: (1) the death, wounding or other bodily injury of a passenger if the accident causing it took place on board the aircraft or in the course of its operations of embarking or disembarking; (2) the destruction or loss of, or damage to, any registered luggage or goods, if the occurrence causing it took place during the carriage by air"; and (3) delay in the transportation by air of passengers, luggage or goods. However, the claim for damages may be brought subject to limitations provided in the said convention. 

In this case, Dr. Pablo did not suffer any other injury other than not being able to read her paper in Italy. This was due to the fact that Alitalia misplaced her luggage. There was no bad faith or malice on the part of Alitalia in the said delay in the arrival of her luggage. Dr. Pablo received all her things which were returned to her in good condition although 11 months late. Therefore she shall receive nominal damages for the special injury caused.

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