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LASAM VS.

SMITH
45 PHIL 657
FACTS:
The defendant was the owner of a public garage in the town of San Fernando, La Union, and engaged
in the business of carrying passengers for hire from one point to another in the Province of La Union
and the surrounding provinces. Defendant undertook to convey the plaintiffs from San Fernando to
Currimao, Ilocos Norte, in a Ford automobile. On leaving San Fernando, the automobile was
operated by a licensed chauffeur, but after having reached the town of San Juan, the chauffeur
allowed his assistant, Bueno, to drive the car. Bueno held no drivers license, but had some
experience in driving. The car functioned well until after the crossing of the Abra River in Tagudin,
when, according to the testimony of the witnesses for the plaintiffs, defects developed in the steering
gear so as to make accurate steering impossible, and after zigzagging for a distance of about half
kilometer, the car left the road and went down a steep embankment. The automobile was overturned
and the plaintiffs pinned down under it. Mr. Lasam escaped with a few contusions and a dislocated
rib, but his wife, Joaquina, received serious injuries, among which was a compound fracture of one of
the bones in her left wrist. She also suffered nervous breakdown from which she has not fully
recovered at the time of trial. The complaint was filed about a year and a half after and alleges that
the accident was due to defects in the automobile as well as to the incompetence and negligence of
the chauffeur. The trial court held, however, that the cause of action rests on the defendants breach
of the contract of carriage and that, consequently, articles 1101-1107 of the Civil Code, and not article
1903, are applicable. The court further found that the breach of contact was not due to fortuitous
events and that, therefore the defendant was liable in damages
ISSUE:
Is the trial court correct in its findings that the breach of contract was not due to a fortuitous event?

RULING:
Yes. It is sufficient to reiterate that the source of the defendants legal liability is the contract of
carriage; that by entering into that contract he bound himself to carry the plaintiffs safely and
securely to their destination; and that having failed to do so he is liable in damages unless he shows
that the failure to fulfill his obligation was due to causes mentioned in article 1105 of the Civil Code,
which reads: No one shall be liable for events which could not be foreseen or which, even if
foreseen, were inevitable, with the exception of the cases in which the law expressly provides
otherwise and those in which the obligation itself imposes such liability.
As will be seen, some extraordinary circumstances independent of the will of the obligor, or of his
employees, is an essential element of a caso fortuito. In the present case, this element is lacking. It is
not suggested that the accident in question was due to an act of God or to adverse road conditions
which could have been foreseen. As far as the record shows, the accident was caused either by defects
in the automobile or else through the negligence of its driver. That is not a caso fortuito.