Thursday, February 23, 2012

Mallari, Sr. v. Court of Appeals (324 SCRA 147)

Facts: Mallari Jr. was the driving a passenger jeepney owned by his father, co-petitioner herein. The jeep collided with the delivery van of Bulletin Publishing Corp. while travelling on the National Highway in Bataan. Mallari Jr. proceeded to overtake a fiera which had stopped in front of him. He negotiated the curve and moved in the opposite lane in order to overtake the fiera. As he passed the vehicle he saw the delivery van of Bulletin and the vehicles collided. The points of collision were the and the left rear portion of the passenger jeepney and the left front side of the delivery van. The 2 right wheels of the delivery van were on the right shoulder of the road and pieces of debris from the accident were found scattered along the shoulder of the road up to a certain portion of the lane travelled by the passenger jeepney. The impact caused the jeepney to turn around and fall on its left side resulting in injuries to its passengers one of whom was Israel Reyes who eventually died due to the gravity of his injuries. 

The widow of Reyes filed a complaint to recover damages from Mallari, Jr. and Sr. and Bulletin as well. The trial court found that the proximate cause of the collision was the negligence of the driver of the Bulletin delivery van, considering the fact that the left front portion of the delivery truck hit and bumped the left rear portion of the passenger jeepney. On appeal, the court reversed the decision of the lower court and held that it was Mallari Jr. who was negligent. Hence this petition. 

Issue: Whether or not petitioners herein should be held liable for the death of Reyes. 

Held: The Court affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeals and held that Mallari Jr. and Sr. who are responsible for the death of Reyes. The collision was caused by the sole negligence of petitioner Alfredo Mallari Jr. who admitted that immediately before the collision and after he rounded a curve on the highway, he overtook a Fiera which had stopped on his lane and that he had seen the van driven by Angeles before overtaking the Fiera. This act of overtaking was in clear violation of Sec. 41, pars. (a) and (b), of RA 4136 as amended, otherwise known as The Land Transportation and Traffic Code. The rule is settled that a driver abandoning his proper lane for the purpose of overtaking another vehicle in an ordinary situation has the duty to see to it that the road is clear and not to proceed if he cannot do so in safety. Article 2185 of the NCC, there is a presumption of negligence on the part of a person driving a motor vehicle if at the time of the mishap he was violating a traffic regulation. Petitioners herein failed to present satisfactory evidence to overcome this legal presumption. Therefore they shall be liable for the loss of Reyes’ life.

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