Monday, April 7, 2014

An Employer is Solidarily Liable with the Employee for Damages Caused by the Latter

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Petitioners contend that the absence of the Hernandez spouses inside the passenger jeepney at the time of the collision militates against holding them solidarily liable with their co-petitioner, Juan Gonzales, invoking Article 2184 of the Civil Code, which provides:
ARTICLE 2184. In motor vehicle mishaps, the owner is solidarily liable with his driver, if the former, who was in the vehicle, could have, by the use of the due diligence, prevented the misfortune. It is disputably presumed that a driver was negligent, if he had been found guilty of reckless driving or violating traffic regulations at least twice within the next preceding two months.
If the owner was not in the motor vehicle, the provisions of article 2180 are applicable.
The Hernandez spouses argues that since they were not inside the jeepney at the time of the collision, the provisions of Article 2180 of the Civil Code, which does not provide for solidary liability between employers and employees, should be applied.
We are not persuaded.
Article 2180 provides:
ARTICLE 2180. The obligation imposed by article 2176 is demandable not only for one's own acts or omissions, but also for those of persons for whom one is responsible.
The father and, in case of his death or incapacity, the mother, are responsible for the damages caused by the minor children who live in their company.
Guardians are liable for damages caused by the minors or incapacitated persons who are under their authority and live in their company.
The owners and managers of an establishment or enterprise are likewise responsible for damages caused by their employees in the service of the branches in which the latter are employed or on the occasion of their functions.
Employers shall be liable for the damages caused by their employees and household helpers acting within the scope of their assigned tasks, even though the former are not engaged in any business or industry.
The State is responsible in like manner when it acts through a special agent; but not when the damage has been caused by the official to whom the task done properly pertains, in which case what is provided in article 2176 shall be applicable.
Lastly, teachers or heads of establishments of arts and trades shall be liable for damages caused by their pupils and students or apprentices, so long as they remain in their custody.
The responsibility treated of in this article shall cease when the persons herein mentioned prove that they observed all the diligence of a good father of a family to prevent damage. (Underscoring supplied)
On the other hand, Article 2176 provides –
Whoever by act or omission causes damage to another, there being fault or negligence, is obliged to pay for the damage done. Such fault or negligence, if there is no pre-existing contractual relation between the parties, is called a quasi-delict and is governed by the provisions of this Chapter.
While the above provisions of law do not expressly provide for solidary liability, the same can be inferred from the wordings of the first paragraph of Article 2180 which states that the obligation imposed by article 2176 is demandable not only for one's own acts or omissions, but also for those of persons for whom one is responsible.
Moreover, Article 2180 should be read with Article 2194 of the same Code, which categorically states that the responsibility of two or more persons who are liable for quasi-delict is solidary. In other words, the liability of joint tortfeasors is solidary.12 Verily, under Article 2180 of the Civil Code, an employer may be held solidarily liable for the negligent act of his employee.13
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Spouses Francisco M. Hernandez, et al. v. Spouses Lorenzo Dolor, et al.,  G.R. No. 160286, July 30, 2004
Read the full text of the case here.


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