Rizaldy Quitoriano vs Jebsens Maritime, Inc.

April 8, 2014
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610 SCRA 529 – Labor Law – Social Legislation – Total Permanent Disability

In May 2001, while Rizaldy Quitoriano was on duty as an employee (2nd Officer) aboard the foreign ship MV Trimnes, he experienced some numbness and weakness with severe headache. He was diagnosed with mild stroke.

On May 30, 2001, he was repatriated back to the Philippines and was ordered to see the company-physician, Dr. Nicomedes Cruz. On June 26, 2001, after several tests, Dr. Cruz gave Quitoriano some medications and advised him to come back for further tests.

On November 16, 2001, Quitoriano was declared “fit to work” by Dr. Cruz. However, Quitoriano sought a second and third opinion from two other doctors. The two other doctors found that Quitoriano is suffering from hypertension and cerebral infarction which renders him unfit to work because these conditions will just recur if he’s onboard the ship.

Based on the findings of the two doctors, Quitoriano then filed a claim of $80k (based on their CBA) from Atle Jebsens Management A/S, his employer, and from his employer’s agent here in the Philippines, the Jebsens Maritime, Inc. Jebsens disclaimed liability as it invoked the findings of the company-designated physician. The Labor Arbiter ruled against Quitoriano. This was affirmed by the NLRC as well as the Court of Appeals.

ISSUE: Whether or not Quitoriano is entitled to receive claims for total and permanent disability compensation.

HELD: Yes. He is entitled because he was unable to work for a total of 169 continuous days. Under the law, a  disability is total and permanent if as a result of the injury or sickness the employee is unable to perform any gainful occupation for a continuous period not exceeding 120 days. In this case, Quitoriano was unable to work from May 30, 2001 (date of his repatriation) until November 16, 2001 (declaration of his “fit to work” status). That was a total of 169 days – which exceeded the 120 day period provided for under the law (Section 2, Rule VII of the Implementing Rules of Book V of the Labor Code). This is already regardless of the declaration by the company doctor that Quitoriano was fit to work. Therefore, Quitoriano is entitled to receive the $80k pursuant to their CBA.

 

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