Liability of the employer for the acts or omissions of the employee

Once again, the SC in Mercury Drug, et al. v. Sps. Huang, et al., G.R. No. 172122, June 22, 2007, (Puno, J) had the occasion to rule on the liability of the employer for the negligent act of the employee while in the performance of his duties and functions.

The liability of the employer under Art. 2180 of the Civil Code is direct or immediate. It is not conditioned on a prior recourse against the negligent employee, or a prior showing of insolvency of such employee. It is also joint and solidary with the employee. (Art. 2194, NCC).

To be relieved of liability, the employer should show that it exercised the diligence of a good father of a family, both in the selection of the employee and in the supervision of the performance of his duties. Thus, in the selection of its prospective employees, the employer is required to examine them as to their qualifications, experience, and service records. (Estacion v. Bernardo, G.R. No. 144723, February 27, 2006, 483 SCRA 222; Campo v. Camarote, 100 Phil. 459 (1056)). With respect to the supervision of its employees, the employer should formulate standard operating procedures, monitor their implementation, and impose disciplinary measures for their breach. To establish compliance with these requirements, employers must submit concrete proof, including documentary evidence. (Victory Liner, Inc. v. Heirs of Andres Malecdan, G.R. No. 154278, December 27, 2002, 394 SCRA 520).

In this case, the employer, Mercury Drug presented testimonial evidence on its hiring procedure. According to Mrs. Merlie Caamic, the Recruitment and Training Manager of petitioner Mercury Drug, applicants are required to take theoretical and actual driving tests, and psychological examination. In the case of employee, however, Mrs. Caamic admitted that he took the driving tests and psychological examination when he applied for the position of Delivery Man, but not when he applied for the position of Truck Man. Mrs. Caamic also admitted that employee used a Galant which is a light vehicle, instead of a truck during the driving tests. Further, no tests were conducted on the motor skills development, perceptual speed, visual attention, depth visualization, eye and hand coordination and steadiness of the employee. No NBI and police clearances were also presented. Lastly, he attended only three driving seminars. In effect, the only seminar he attended before the accident which occurred in 1996 was held twelve years ago in 1984.

Furthermore, in this case, the employer did back-up driver for long trips. At the time of the accident, the employee has been out on the road for more than thirteen hours, without any alternate. The witness admitted that she did not know of any company policy requiring back-up drivers for long trips.

The employer likewise failed to show that it exercised due diligence on the supervision and discipline over its employees. In fact, on the day of the accident, the employee was driving without a license. He was holding a TVR for reckless driving. He testified that he reported the incident to his superior, but nothing was done about it. He was not suspended or reprimanded. No disciplinary action whatsoever was taken against him. Thus, the employer failed to discharge its burden of proving that it exercised due diligence in the selection and supervision of its employee.

Damage recoverable.

Liability of the employer for the acts or omissions of the employee

With regard to actual damages, Art. 2199 of the Civil Code provides that “Except as provided by law or by stipulation one is entitled to an adequate compensation only for such pecuniary loss suffered by him as he has duly proved x x x.” In this case, the actual damages claimed were supported by receipts. The amount of P2,973,000.00 represented cost of hospital expenses, medicines, medical services and supplies, and nursing care services provided on the victim of the vehicular accident.

Petitioners are also liable for all damages which are the natural and probable consequences of the act or omission complained of. (Art. 2202, NCC). The doctors who attended to the victim are one in their prognosis that his chances of walking again and performing basic body functions are nil. For the rest of his life, he will need continuous rehabilitation and therapy to prevent further complications such as pneumonia, bladder and rectum infection, renal failure, sepsis and severe bed sores, osteoporosis and fractures, and other spinal cord injury-related conditions. He will be completely dependent on the care and support of his family, hence, the award of P23,461,062.00 for the life care cost of the victim was uphold based on his average monthly expense and the actuarial computation of the remaining years that he is expected to live; and the conservative amount of P10,000,000.00, for the loss or impairment of his earning capacity, (Art. 2205, NCC), considering his age, probable life expectancy, the state of his health, and his mental and physical condition before the accident. He was only seventeen years old, nearly six feet tall and weighed 175 pounds. He was in fourth year high school, and a member of the school varsity basketball team. He was also class president and editor-in-chief of the school annual. He had shown very good leadership qualities. He was looking forward to his college life, having just passed the entrance examinations of the University of the Philippines, De La Salle University, and the University of Asia and the Pacific. The University of Sto. Tomas even offered him a chance to obtain an athletic scholarship, but the accident prevented him from attending the basketball try-outs. Without doubt, he was an exceptional student. He excelled both in his academics and extracurricular undertakings. He is intelligent and motivated, a go-getter. Had the accident not happened, he had a rosy future ahead of him. He wanted to embark on a banking career, get married and raise children. Taking into account his outstanding abilities, he would have enjoyed a successful professional career in banking. But, now, it is highly unlikely for someone like respondent to ever secure a job in a bank.