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G.R. No. L-2075 – 85 Phil. 67 – Civil Law – Torts and Damages – Liability of possessors or users of animals – Assumption of Risk
Loreto Afialda was a caretaker of the carabaos owned by Basilio Hisole. In March 1947, without any fault from Afialda or any force majeure, one of the carabaos gored him thereby causing his death. Afialda’s sister, Margarita Afialda, sued Hisole arguing that under the Civil Code, “The possessor of an animal, or the one who uses the same, is liable for any damages it may cause, even if such animal should escape from him or stray away. This liability shall cease only in case, the damage should arise from force majeure or from the fault of the person who may have suffered it.”
ISSUE: Whether or not Hisole is liable in the case at bar as owner of the carabao which killed Afialda.
HELD: No. The law uses the term “possessor and user of the animal”. Afialda was the caretaker of the animal and he was tasked and paid to tend for the carabaos. He, at the time of the goring, is the possessor and the user of the carabao and therefore he is the one who had custody and control of the animal and was in a position to prevent the animal from causing damage. It would have been different had Afialda been a stranger. Obviously, it was the caretaker’s business to try to prevent the animal from causing injury or damage to anyone, including himself. And being injured by the animal under those circumstances was one of the risks of the occupation which he had voluntarily assumed and for which he must take the consequences.
This action could have been more appropriately raised in court under the provisions of the Workmens Compensation Act as the risk involve was one of occupational hazards.