Consequences for Breach of Obligations

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Liability for damages – The debtor is liable for damages if in the performance of his obligations: (a) the debtor is guilty of fraud, negligence, or delay, and (b) the debtor contravenes in any manner the tenor of the obligation.[1]

Responsibility for fraud; Waiver for future fraud prohibited – Any responsibility arising from fraud is demandable in all obligations.[2] Waiver of an action for future fraud is prohibited.[3]

Responsibility for fault or negligence – Fault or negligence of the debtor consists in “the omission of that diligence which is required by the nature of the obligation and corresponds with the circumstances of the persons, of the time and of the place.”[4]

Same; Liability for negligence, particularly if with bad faith – Any responsibility arising from negligence is demandable in all obligations.[5] If bad faith is established along with negligence,[6] the debtor is liable for “all damages, which may be reasonably attributed to the non-performance of the obligation.”[7] However, the courts may mitigate or regulate the liability depending on the circumstances.[8]

Rules on fortuitous events – A person is not responsible for fortuitous events or those “which could not be foreseen, or which, though foreseen, were inevitable”[9] except: (1) when it is otherwise expressly specified by law; (2) when otherwise declared and stipulated by the parties; or (3) when the nature of the obligation requires assumption of risk.[10]

Afialda v. Hisole
G.R. No. L-2075, 29 November 1949

Margarita Afialda, heir of decedent Lorito Afialda, instituted a Complaint to recover damages against defendant Basilio Hisole. Previously, defendant tasked decedent Afialda to take care of a carabao. The decedent Afialda was gored to death by the said animal.

HELD: Defendant Hisole was not liable. Being injured by the animal was one of the risks of the occupation which Afialda had voluntarily assumed and for which he must take the consequences. When damage is an assumed risk from plaintiff’s (voluntarily assumed) occupation, he alone is liable.

In the present case, the animal was in custody and under the control of the caretaker, who was paid for his work as such. Obviously, it was the caretaker’s business to try to prevent the animal from causing injury or damage to anyone, including himself. And being injured by the animal under those circumstances, was one of the risks of the occupation which he had voluntarily assumed and for which he must take the consequences.”

The Ilocos Norte Electric Company v. Court of Appeals
G.R. No. L-53401, 06 November 1989

Complainants, heirs of deceased Isabel Lao Juan, initiated a Complaint to recover damages from defendant The Ilocos Norte Electric Company. Previously, Isabel Lao Juan was on her way to her store to check for damage to her merchandise when she was electrocuted while wading through waist-deep water caused by recent typhoon “Gening.” There was a dangling electric wire “moving in snake-like fashion in the water.” As a defense, the company claimed that the unfortunate incident was a result of fortuitous event and that the decedent assumed the risk when she waded through the water.

HELD: Ilocos Norte Electric was liable. The cause of the death of the decedent was the failure of the Company to repair the damage brought by the typhoon. When a storm occurs that is liable to prostate the wires, due care requires prompt efforts to discover and repair broken lines. No assumption of risk attributable to Isabel since she was responding to an emergency to protect her property.

Indeed, under the circumstances of the case, [the Company] was negligent in seeing to it that no harm is done to the general public… ‘considering that electricity is an agency, subtle and deadly, the measure of care required of electric companies must be commensurate with or proportionate to the danger. The duty of exercising this high degree of diligence and care extends to every place where persons have a right to be’ x x x. The negligence of petitioner having been shown, it may not now absolve itself from liability by arguing that the victim’s death was solely due to a fortuitous event. ‘When an act of God combines or concurs with the negligence of the defendant to produce an injury, the defendant is liable if the injury would not have resulted but for his own negligent conduct or omission’ x x x”

As for the defense on assumption of risk, the same was not tenable. The doctrine of “volenti non fit injuria” means that when someone voluntarily assents to a known danger then he must abide by the consequences. These are the exceptions: (1) when there is an emergency; (2) protection of one’s life and property; and (3) protection of life and property of another. Here, the decedent was moved to act to protect her property.

[1] Ibid. Article 1170.

[2] Ibid. Article 1171.

[3] Ibid.

[4] CIVIL CODE. Paragraph 1,Article 1173.

[5] Ibid. Article 1172.

[6] Id at 45.

[7] CIVI CODE, Paragraph 2, Article 2201.

[8] Ibid. Article 1172.

[9] Ibid. Article 1174.

[10] Ibid.

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