RCPI vs Court of Appeals

July 23, 2011
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143 SCRA 657 – Civil Law – Torts and Damages – Human Relations – Article 19 and 20 of the Civil Code – Negligence

Loreto Dionela received a telegram via the Radio Communications of the Philippines, Inc. (RCPI). However, at the end of the telegram were the following:

SA IYO WALANG PAKINABANG DUMATING KA DIYAN WALA KANG PADALA DITO KAHIT BULBUL MO

The said portion of the telegram was not intended for Loreto. Loreto sued RCPI for damages based on Article 19 and 20 of the Civil Code which provides:

ART. 19.- Every person must, in the exercise of his rights and in the performance of his duties, act with justice, give everyone his due, and observe honesty and good faith.

ART. 20.-Every person who, contrary to law, wilfully or negligently causes damage to another, shall indemnify the latter for the same.

In its defense, RCPI averred that there was no intention to malign Loreto and that the attached message was an insider joke between RCPI employees which was not meant to be attached. RCPI also disclaimed liability as it insisted it should be held liable for the libelous acts of its employees.

Loreto however averred that the said message was read by his employees and it affected greatly his business reputation. The trial court ruled in favor of Loreto. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court.

ISSUE: Whether or not the Court of Appeals erred in holding that the liability of RCPI is predicated under Article 19 and 20 of the Civil Code.

HELD: No. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the appellate court. The cause of action of private respondent is based on Articles 19 and 20 of the new Civil Code as well as respondent’s breach of contract thru negligence of its own employees. RCPI is not being sued for its subsidiary liability.

RCPI was negligent as it failed to take the necessary or precautionary steps to avoid the occurrence of the humiliating incident now complained of. The company had not imposed any safeguard against such eventualities and this void in its operating procedure does not speak well of its concern for their clientele’s interests. Negligence here is very patent. This negligence is imputable to appellant and not to its employees. RCPI should be held liable for the acts of its employees. As a corporation, RCPI acts and conducts its business through its employees. It cannot now disclaim liability for the acts of its employees. To hold that the RCPI is not liable directly for the acts of its employees in the pursuit of its business is to deprive the general public availing of the services of RCPI of an effective and adequate remedy.

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