Civil Law

California Clothing, Inc. vs Shirley Quiñones

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G.R. No. 175822 – 708 SCRA 420 – Civil Law – General Principles – Article 19; Abuse of Right

In July 2001, Shirley Quiñones, after receiving an official receipt from the cashier as proof of payment for a pair of jeans, went out of the Guess USA Boutique (California Clothing, Inc.) located in Robinsons Cebu. A few moments later, Michelle Ybañez and another Guess employee ran after Quiñones. When they caught up with her, they asked Quiñones if she already paid for the pair of jeans. Quiñones said she did as she even has the receipt and the pair of jeans.

Unconvinced, the Guess employees wrote a letter to Quiñones’ employer (Cebu Pacific) and its human resources department seeking help and accusing Quiñones of not paying for the pair of jeans.

Due to these incidents, Quiñones felt humiliated and so she sued Guess and its employees for moral damages.

ISSUE: Whether or not there was abuse of right on the part the Guess employees.

HELD: Yes. The employees, when they initially cannot locate the payment made by Quiñones, had the right to confront Quiñones if she indeed paid the pair of jeans – they have the right to do so despite the fact that Quiñones was holding a receipt and the pair of jeans.

What constituted abuse of right was their act of writing the employer of Quiñones as well as the employer’s HR Office. A reading of the letter revealed it to be accusatory and and its tenor showed that the Guess employees intended not only to ask for assistance in collecting the disputed amount but to tarnish the reputation of Quiñones in the eyes of her employer. To malign Quiñones without substantial evidence and despite the latter’s possession of enough evidence in her favor, is clearly impermissible.

The rule is: a person should not use his right unjustly or contrary to honesty and good faith, otherwise, he opens himself to liability. Every person must, in the exercise of his rights and in the performance of his duties, act with justice, give everyone his due and observe honesty and good faith.

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