Jose Roque, Jr. v. Jaime Torres, et al., G.R. No. 157632, December 6, 2006


In Jose Roque, Jr. v. Jaime Torres, et al., G.R. No. 157632, December 6, 2006, a complaint for damages was filed against the respondent on account of the acts of the security guard employed by him, by shooting the plaintiff resulting in death. Respondent employed security guards to prevent the plaintiff from entering a parcel of land despite knowledge that he did not own the same and that there was a title under the name of the plaintiff’s son. When the latter insisted in entering the land, the guards shoot him. He filed a complaint but there was substitution by his heirs because he subsequently died. In holding the respondent liable, the SC

Held: Article 2176 of the Civil Code states that “whoever by act or omission causes damage to another, there being fault or negligence, is obliged to pay for the damage done.” In the case at bar, respondent cannot feign ignorance of the fact that at the time of the shooting incident, the titles to the disputed property were already registered in the name of petitioner’s son, the cancellation for title case filed by respondent having been dismissed. In fact, during trial, the offer for stipulation of petitioner’s counsel that at the time of shooting incident, there is a valid and existing title in the name of petitioner’s son which was never cancelled by the court, was accepted by the respondent. Therefore, by hiring the security guards to prevent entry, possibly even by the registered owner, to the subject property, titles to which he fully knew he did not possess, respondent blatantly acted in bad faith. His unwarranted act of posting security guards within the property, which he clearly knew is registered in the name of another, unduly placed petitioner at harm and deprived him of his right to fully exercise his privileges and duties as administrator of said property. By his grossly faulty acts, paved the way to the infliction of injuries by the security guards on petitioner.

Furthermore, respondent’s palpable display of bad faith in claiming a superior right to the property over petitioner’s son entitles petitioner to damages resulting therefrom. In order that a plaintiff may maintain an action for the injuries which he sustained, he must establish that such injuries resulted from a breach of duty which the defendant owed to the plaintiff – a concurrence of injury to the plaintiff and legal responsibility by the person causing it. In other words, in order that the law will give redress for an act causing damage, the act must be not only hurtful, but wrongful.

Respondent violated the principle embodied in Article 19 of the Civil Code which mandates that “every person must, in the exercise of his rights and in the performance of his duties, act with justice, give everyone his due, and observe honesty and good faith.” When a right is exercise in a manner which discards these norms resulting in damage to another, a legal wrong is committed for which the actor can be held accountable. If mere fault or negligence in one’s act can make him liable for damages for injury caused thereby, with more reason should abuse or bad faith make him liable. (De Guzman v. NLRC, G.R. No. 90856, July 23, 1992, 211 SCRA 723).

They are awarded only to enable the injured parties to obtain means, diversions or amusements that will serve to alleviate the moral sufferings the injured parties have undergone by reason of defendant’s culpable action. In other words, the award of moral damages is aimed at a restoration within the limits of possible, of the spiritual status quo ante; and therefore it must be proportionate to the suffering inflicted. (Roque, Jr. v. Torre, et al., G.R. 157632, December 6, 2006).

As to exemplary damages, Article 2229 of the Civil Code provides that such damages may be imposed by way of example or correction for the public good, in addition to the moral, temperate, liquidated or compensatory damages. While exemplary damages cannot be recovered as a matter of right, they need not be proved, although plaintiff must show that he is entitled to moral, temperate or compensatory damages before the court may consider the question of whether or not exemplary damages should be awarded. In the case at bar, having determined that petitioner is entitled to the award of actual and moral damages as a result of the wanton act of respondent in stationing security guards in the property, the title of which is under the name of plaintiff’s son, said act ultimately resulting in the paralysis and blindness of plaintiff, the award of exemplary damages to be proper by way of correction for the public good of respondent’s flagrant display of bad faith. (Roque, Jr. v. Torres, et al., G.R. No. 157632, December 6, 2006; Garcia, Jr. v. Salvador, et al., G.R. No. 168512, March 20, 2007).