Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Robles vs. Santos

Facts: Plaintiff boarded the vehicle operated by the defendant as a common carrier. Plaintiff had with her as baggage a large buri containing 2 bales of cloth valued at P400.00 and other goods valued at P50.00, or a total of P450.00. She had the bag with her in the front seat, but the defendant placed it in the rubble-seat. The plaintiff did not want to give up her bag at first, but the defendant assured her that the rubble-seat would be locked. The defendant gave the bag to his assistant who placed the bag in the rubble-seat which was never locked. When the car reached Manila, the plaintiff found that her bag was gone. 

Issue: Whether the defendant could be held liable. 

Held: Yes. Under Art. 349 of the Code of Commerce, the operator of a public utility vehicle engaged in transporting for the public, is bound and governed by the Code of Commerce in his relations and responsibility to his passengers and their baggage or goods. There is nothing in the said article which exempts a carrier from liability incurred in case of loss of goods transported due to his own negligence. The last paragraph of the article which places upon the carrier the burden of proof to show that the loss or injury was caused by a fortuitous event or the inherent nature and defect of the goods, implies that if the damage or loss was not due to any of these circumstances, but was traceable to his negligence, then he is liable. 

In the case at hand, the loss of the baggage can be easily attributed to the defendant. The loss would have never happened had the defendant allowed the plaintiff to keep her bag. The baggage compartment had to be opened every time a passenger disembarked from the vehicle. It is presumably misdelivered or taken by a passenger by mistake. In other words, there was misdelivery on the part of the defendant. The defendant as a carrier failed to exercise the necessary supervision and care to prevent the loss. The defendant is liable to pay the contents of the bag.

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