Sunday, October 6, 2013

Case Digest: G.R. No. L-47745. April 15, 1988

Jose S. Amadora, Loreta A. Amadora, Jose S. Amadora, Jr., Norma A. ylaya, Pantaleon A. Amadora, Jose A. Amdora III, Lucy A. Amadora, Rosalinda A. Amadora, Perfedto A. Amadora, Serreca A. Amadora, Vicente A. Amadora and Maria Tiscalina A. Amdora, petitioners, vs. Court of Appeals, Colegio de San Jose-Recoletos, Victor Lluch Sergio P. Damaso Jr., Celistino Dicon, Aniano Abellana, Pablito Damon thru his parents and natural guardians, Mr. and Mrs. Nicanor Gumban, and Rolando Valencia, thru his guardian, A. Francisco, respondents.
Facts: Alfredo Amadora, seventeen years old was about to graduate, however while in the school, Colegion de San Jose-Recoletos, a classmate, Pablito Damon, fired a gun that mortally hit Alfredo, ending all his expectations and his life as well. Damon was convicted of homicide thru reckless imprudence.Herein petitioners, as the victim's parents, filed a civil action for damages under Article 2180 of the Civil Code against the Colegio de San Jose-Recoletos, its rector the high school principal, the dean of boys, and the physics teacher, together with Damon and two other students, through their respective parents. The complaint against the students was later dropped

The trial court held the remaining defendants liable to the plaintiffs. On appeal to the respondent court, however, the decision was reversed and all the defendants were completely absolved. The petitioners contend that their son was in the school to show his physics experiment as a prerequisite to his graduation; hence, he was then under the custody of the private respondents. The private respondents submit that Alfredo had gone to the school only for the purpose of submitting his physics report and that he was no longer in their custody because the semester had already ended.

Issue: Whether or not Article 2180 covers even establishments which are technically not school of arts and trades, and, if so, when the offending student is supposed to be in its custody.

Ruling: The provision in question should apply to all schools, academic as well as non-academic. Where the school is academic rather than technical or vocational in nature, responsibility for the tort committed by the student will attach to the teacher in charge of such student, following the first part of the provision. This is the general rule. In the case of establishments of arts and trades, it is the head thereof, and only he, who shall be held liable as an exception to the general rule. In other words, teachers in general shall be liable for the acts of their students except where the school is technical in nature, in which case it is the head thereof who shall be answerable. Following the canon ofreddendo singula singulis "teachers" should apply to the words "pupils and students" and "heads of establishments of arts and trades" to the word "apprentices."

In sum, the Court finds under the facts as disclosed by the record and in the light of the principles herein announced that none of the respondents is liable for the injury inflicted by Pablito Damon on Alfredo Amadora that resulted in the latter's death at the auditorium of the Colegio de San Jose-Recoletos. While the court deeply sympathize with the petitioners over the loss of their son under the tragic circumstances here related, the court nevertheless are unable to extend them the material relief they seek, as a balm to their grief, under the law they have invoked. Wherefore, the petition is denied.

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