Sunday, November 23, 2014
Vicarious Liability of Employers and Other Persons Responsible for Acts of the Author of Negligence for Damage, Injury, or Death Caused by the Negligent Person
THE HEIRS OF THE LATE RUBEN REINOSO, SR vs. COURT OF APPEALS, et al. G.R. No. 116121 July 18, 2011
Vicarious liability of an employer under Art. 2180, in relation to Art. 2176 of the New Civil Code.
If you are an owner of a commercial vehicle or even private vehicle driven by an employee or a helper acting within the scope of his or her assigned tasks, you may be held liable for damages caused by negligence of said employee.
The bigger problem is, in the event of an accident where the negligence of your employee has been determined, there arises a presumption of negligence on your part, as employer, in the selection and supervision of your employees. To overthrow the presumption, you have to convince the court that you exercised the diligence of a good father of a family in the selection and supervision of your employees.
In the case below, the Court provided a curt, but insightful illustration of what constitutes diligence of a good father of a family in denying the defendant’s claim that he exercised the required diligence.
“The Court likewise sustains the finding of the RTC that the truck owner, Guballa, failed to rebut the presumption of negligence in the hiring and supervision of his employee. Article 2176, in relation to Article 2180 of the Civil Code, provides:
Art. 2176. 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.
Art. 2180. The obligation imposed by Art. 2176 is demandable not only for one’s own acts or omissions but also for those of persons for whom one is responsible.
Employers shall be liable for the damage 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 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.
Whenever an employee’s negligence causes damage or injury to another, there instantly arises a presumption juris tantum that the employer failed to exercise diligentissimi patris families in the selection or supervision of his employee.23 Thus, in the selection of prospective employees, employers are required to examine them as to their qualification, experience and service record. With respect to the supervision of employees, employers must formulate standard operating procedures, monitor their implementation, and impose disciplinary measures for breaches thereof. These facts must be shown by concrete proof, including documentary evidence.24 Thus, the RTC committed no error in finding that the evidence presented by respondent Guballa was wanting. It ruled:
x x x. As expected, defendant Jose Guballa, attempted to overthrow this presumption of negligence by showing that he had exercised the due diligence required of him by seeing to it that the driver must check the vital parts of the vehicle he is assigned to before he leaves the compound like the oil, water, brakes, gasoline, horn (9 tsn, July 17, 1986); and that Geronimo had been driving for him sometime in 1976 until the collision in litigation came about (5-6 tsn, ibid); that whenever his trucks gets out of the compound to make deliveries, it is always accompanied with two (2) helpers (16-17 tsn, ibid). This was all which he considered as selection and supervision in compliance with the law to free himself from any responsibility. This Court then cannot consider the foregoing as equivalent to an exercise of all the care of a good father of a family in the selection and supervision of his driver Mariano Geronimo."25
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The May 20, 1994 Decision and June 30, 1994 Resolution of the Court of Appeals are REVERSED and SET ASIDE and the March 22, 1988 Decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 8, Manila, is REINSTATED.
SO ORDERED." (emphasis added)