Civil Law

E.M. Wright vs Manila Electric R.R. & Light Co.

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G.R. No. L-7760 – 28 Phil. 122 – Civil Law –┬áTorts and Damages – Drunkenness is not Negligence per se

In August 1909, E.M. Wright was driving his calesa going home. He had drunk more wine than he customarily does. Before he could be home, he would have to cross the railroad tracks by Manila Electric. The tracks were left unmaintained by Manila Electric so much so that their elevation above the ground is quite high. And while the calesa was crossing the tracks, the horse tripped and the whole calesa fell down and Wright was thrown off it. The lower court found that Wright and Manila Electric were both negligent and as per the ruling in Rakes vs Atlantic Gulf the lower court apportioned the damage awarded to Wright.

ISSUE: Whether or not Wright’s intoxication is the primary cause of his injuries.

HELD: No. Manila Electric, and as even ruled by the lower court, argued that had Wright been sober, he would have not been thrown off the calesa. This is mere guesswork and is not given credence by the SC because it’s just a presumption that a sober man could have avoided such accident. Intoxication is not negligence per se. It is the general rule that it is immaterial whether a man is drunk or sober if no want of ordinary care or prudence can be imputed to him, and no greater degree of care is required than by a sober one. If one’s conduct is characterized by a proper degree of care and prudence, it is immaterial whether he is drunk or sober.

JUSTICE CARSON dissenting:

The records of the case were incomplete. There were two trials in the lower court and only records of the 1st trial were submitted. And since the SC did not require such missing records to be submitted, the SC should not have disturbed the finding of facts by the trial court. The lower court so found that Wright was negligent and there is nothing that warrants the disturbance of such findings of facts. It should have been given due credence.

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