Civil Law

Butaro Yamada vs Manila Railroad Co. and Bachrach Garage & Taxicab Co.

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G.R. No. L-10073-75 – 33 Phil. 11 – Civil Law – Torts and Damages – Liability of Employers

In January 1913, Butaro Yamada et al hired a taxi owned and operated by Bachrach Garage & Taxicab Co. so that they may travel to Cavite Viejo. The trip was safe going to said place but when they were going back from said place the taxi was hit by a train owned by Manila Railroad Co. Yamada et al sued the driver, Bachrach, and Manila Railroad. They claimed that the driver was negligent as he did not slow down while he was approaching the railroad tracks. The driver said there was no way for him to see the train coming because of the tall growing bushes and trees. Bachrach said that it is not liable as an employer because prior to hiring the driver, the driver has been of good record for 5 years and had had no traffic infractions prior to the collision; and that the negligence of the driver is also imputable to Yamada et al they being the ones in control of the vehicle; that Yamada et al should have controlled the driver and instructed him to slow down. Manila Railroad said that it is not liable as well because its engineers provided proper warning signals on their approach and that there were no tall trees nor bushes at the time of the accident.

Yamada’s counsel presented the president of Bachrach who alleged that all their drivers habitually drove their taxis over railroad crossings without slowing down or investigating whether a train is coming – such practice being allowed and tolerated by Bachrach.

ISSUE: Who are liable for damages in the instant case?

HELD: It was established that the driver was negligent. A prudent driver should have slowed down approaching a railroad crossing regardless if he could see a train or not regardless of the presence of tall bushes.

Manila Railroad and its employees are not negligent as showed by the evidence which were uncontroverted hence no liability can be had against them.

Bachrach Garage however is liable for damages as an employer. Although they did establish that they have done their diligence in properly selecting their driver and in providing said driver with a good car, they have failed to provide proper supervision and control over their employee. Bachrach Garage did not perform its full duty when it furnished a safe and proper car and a driver with a long and satisfactory record. It failed to comply with one of the essential requirements of the law of negligence in this jurisdiction, that of supervision and instruction, including the promulgation of proper rules and regulations and the formulation and publication of proper instructions for their guidance in cases where such rules and regulations and instructions are necessary.

Bachrach’s contention that Yamada et al were also negligent because they failed to properly instruct the driver is untenable. Those on a cab do not become responsible for the negligence of the driver if they exercise no control over him further than to indicate the route they wish to travel or the places to which they wish to go. Note that in order to impute negligence to a passenger, at least one of these two things must exist:

  1. That the driver is actually the passenger’s agent in all respect
  2. The passengers have cooperated in producing the injury complained of.

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