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Syquia v CA and The Manila Memorial Park Cemetery, Inc.

FACTS:
1. Petitioners were the parents and siblings of the deceased Vicente Juan Syquia. In August 27, 1969, the
Syquia’s bought a cemetery lot in MMPCI and on July 21, 1978 they entered into an interment contract
for the interment of Vicente Juan on July 28, 1978 in accordance with MMPCI’s interment procedures. On
September 4, 1978, in preparation for the transfer of the said remains to a newly purchased family lot in
the same cemetery, the concrete vault encasing the coffin of Vicente was removed where the Syquia’s
discovered that the concrete vault had a 3-inch hole. Upon opening the vault, it became apparent that
there was evidence of total flooding, the coffin was entirely damaged and the exposed parts of the
deceased’s remains were damaged.

2. Due to the alleged unlawful and malicious breach by MMPCI the Syquia’s filed a complaint in the CFI
against MMPCI for recovery of damages arising from breach of contract for failing to deliver a defect-free
concrete vault designed to protect the remains of the deceased and for gross negligence under Art
2176(quasi-delict).

3. The RTC dismissed the complaint saying that Manila Memorial did not guarantee a waterproof vault and
that Mr. Juan Syquia chose the gravesite despite knowing that said area had to be constantly sprinkled
with water. There was also no quasi-delict because Manila Memorial was not guily of any fault or
negligence as there was a pre-existing contractual relationship between the Syquia’s and Manila
Memorial. The trial court likewise accepted the defense that "The hole had to be bored through the
concrete vault because if it has no hole the vault will (sic) float and the grave would be filled with water
and the digging would caved (sic) in the earth, the earth would caved (sic) in the (sic) fill up the grave."
The CA affirmed dismissal.

ISSUE: whether the Manila Memorial Park Cemetery, Inc., breached its contract with petitioners; or, alternatively,
whether private respondent was guilty of a tort.

RULING: NO, there was no negligent act on the part of the cemetery. Decision of CA AFFIRMED.

1. Although a pre-existing contractual relation between the parties does not preclude the existence of a
culpa aquiliana, We find no reason to disregard the respondent's Court finding that there was no
negligence. “Art. 2176. Whoever by act or omission causes damage to another, there being fault or
negligence, is obliged to pay for the damage done. Such fault or negligence, if there is no pre-existing
contractual relation between the parties, is called a quasi- delict.”

2. Syquias and the Manila Memorial Park Cemetery, Inc., entered into a contract entitled "Deed of Sale and
Certificate of Perpetual Care" on August 27, 1969. That agreement governed the relations of the parties
and defined their respective rights and obligations. Hence, had there been actual negligence on the part
of the Manila Memorial Park Cemetery, Inc., it would be held liable not for a quasi-delict or culpa
aquiliana, but for culpa contractual as provided by Article 1170 of the Civil Code, to wit: “Those who in
the performance of their obligations are guilty of fraud, negligence, or delay, and those who in any manner
contravene the tenor thereof, are liable for damages.” There was no stipulation in the Deed of Sale and
Certificate of Perpetual Care and in the Rules and Regulations of the Manila Memorial Park Cemetery, Inc.
that the vault would be waterproof.

3. The law defines negligence as the "omission of that diligence which is required by the nature of the
obligation and corresponds with the circumstances of the persons, of the time and of the place." In the
absence of stipulation or legal provision providing the contrary, the diligence to be observed in the
performance of the obligation is that which is expected of a good father of a family. Private respondent
has exercised the diligence of a good father of a family in preventing the accumulation of water inside the
vault which would have resulted in the caving in of earth around the grave filling the same with earth.