Civil Law

Jose Ortaliz vs Conrado Echarri

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G.R. No. 9331 – 101 Phil. 947 – 54 O.G. 1831 – Civil Law – Torts and Damages – Employer Liable for Damages Caused by Employee Although not Engaged in Business or Industry

In December 1953, Segundino Estanda was driving the Studebaker Sedan car owned by Conrado Echarri when he hit the son of Jose Ortaliz thereby causing injuries to the child. Estanda was sued and he pleaded guilty. Ortaliz subsequently sued Echarri as the employer of Estanda for damages for the hospital expenses as well as for moral damages because of the mental anguish, serious anxiety, and wounded feelings he suffered due to the incident. Echarri refused to pay alleging among others that he is not engaged in any business or industry in conjunction with which he has at any time used the said car, much less on the occasion of the alleged accident, nor was he had at any time put out the said car for hire; that, under Article 103 of the Revised Penal Code, it is essential, in order for an employer to be liable subsidiarily for felonies committed by his employee, that the former be engaged in some kind of industry, and that the employee had committed the crime in the discharge of his duties in connection with such industry.

ISSUE: Whether or not Echarri can be held liable.

HELD: Yes. The applicable civil code provisions are:

ART. 2180. The obligation imposed by article 2176 is demandable not only for one’s own acts or omission but also for those of persons for whom one is responsible.

Employers shall be liable for the damages caused by their employees and household helpers acting within the scope of their assigned tasks, even though the former are not engaged in any business or industry.

and Article 2184 in its last paragraph provides:

If the owner was not in the motor vehicle, the provisions of Article 2180 are applicable.

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