Francisco Hermosisima vs Court of Appeals

July 23, 2011
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103 Phil 629 – Civil Law – Torts and Damages – Breach of Promise to Marry – Moral Damages

In 1950, Soledad Cagigas, 33 years old (then a school teacher, later she became an insurance underwriter), and Francisco Hermosisima, 23 years old (apprentice ship pilot), fell in love with each other. Since 1953, both had a refular intimate and sexual affair with each other. In 1954, Soledad got pregnant. Francisco then promised to marry Soledad. In June 1954, Soledad gave birth to a baby girl. The next month, Francisco got married but with a different woman named Romanita Perez.

Subsequently, Soledad filed an action against Francisco for the latter to recognize his daughter with Soledad and for damages due to Francisco’s breach of his promise to marry Soledad. The trial court ruled in favor of Soledad. The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the trial court and even increased the award of damages. The Court of Appeals reasoned that Francisco is liable for damages because he seduced Soledad. He exploited the love of Soledad for him in order to satisfy his sexual desires – that being, the award of moral damages is proper.

ISSUE: Whether or not moral damages are recoverable under our laws for breach of promise to marry.

HELD: No. Breach of promise to marry is not an actionable wrong per se. The Court of Appeals based its award of damages on Article 2219 of the Civil Code which says in part that “Moral damages may be recovered from… (3) Seduction, xxx…” However, it must be noted that the “Seduction” being contemplated in the said Civil Code provision is the same “Seduction” being contemplated in Article 337 and 338 of the Revised Penal Code. Such “seduction” is not present in this case.

Further, it cannot be said that Francisco morally seduced (in lieu of criminal seduction) Soledad given the circumstances of this case. Soledad was 10 years older than Francisco. Soledad had a better job experience and a better job overall than Francisco who was a mere apprentice. Further still, it was admitted by Soledad herself that she surrendered herself to Francisco and that she wanted to bind “by having a fruit of their engagement even before they had the benefit of clergy.”

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