671 Phil. 454
On 01 December 2000, respondent Standard Insurance Co., Inc. (STANDARD) filed an amended complaint against the petitioners Flor Bola Mangoba and RCJ Bus Lines, Inc. (docketed as Civil Case No. 153566-CV before the Metropolitan Trial Court of Manila, Branch 29). Said amended complaint alleged, among others:"2. On June 19, 1994 along the National Highway at Brgy. Amlang, Rosario, La Union, defendant Flor B. Mangoba while driving [sic] an RCJ HINO BLUE RIBBON PASSENGER BUS bearing Plate No. NYG-363 in a reckless and imprudent manner, bumped and hit a 1991 Mitsubishi Lancer GLX bearing Plate No. TAJ-796, a photocopy of the police report is attached hereto and made an integral part hereof as Annex `A.'
3. The subject Mitsubishi Lancer which is owned by Rodelene Valentino was insured for loss and damage with plaintiff [Standard Insurance Co. Inc.] for P450,000.00, a photocopy of the insurance policy is attached hereto and made an integral part hereof as Annex `B.'
4. Defendant RCJ Bus Lines, Inc. is the registered owner of the Passenger Bus bearing Plate No. NYG-363 while defendant Flor Mangoba was the driver of the subject Passenger Bus when the accident took place.
5. As a direct and proximate cause of the vehicular accident, the Mitsubishi Lancer was extensively damaged, the costs of repairs of which were borne by the plaintiff [Standard Insurance Co. Inc.] at a cost of P162,151.22.
6. By virtue of the insurance contract, plaintiff [Standard Insurance Co. Inc.] paid Rodelene Valentino the amount of P162,151.22 for the repair of the Mitsubishi Lancer car.
7. After plaintiff [Standard Insurance Co. Inc.] has complied with its obligation under the policy mentioned above, plaintiff's assured executed in plaintiff's favor a Release of Claim thereby subrogating the latter to all his rights of recovery on all claims, demands and rights of action on account of loss, damage or injury as a consequence of the accident from any person liable therefor.
8. Despite demands, defendants have failed and refused and still continue to fail and refuse to reimburse plaintiff the sum of P162,151.22. A photocopy of the demand letter is attached hereto and made an integral part hereof as Annex `C.'
9. As a consequence, plaintiff [Standard Insurance Co. Inc.] has been compelled to resort to court action and thereby hire the services of counsel as well as incur expenses of litigation for all of which it should be indemnified by the defendant in the amount of at least P30,000.00.
10. In order that it may serve as a deterrent for others and by way of example for the public good, defendants should be adjudged to pay plaintiff [Standard Insurance Co. Inc.] exemplary damages in the amount of P20,000.00."
Thus, STANDARD prayed:"WHEREFORE, plaintiff respectfully prays that after due trial on the issues, this court render judgment against the defendants adjudging them jointly and severally liable to pay plaintiff the following amounts:
1. The principal claim of P162,151.22 with interest at 12% per annum from September 1, 1995 until fully paid.
2. P30,000.00 as and by way of indemnification for attorney's fees.
3. P25,000.00 as exemplary damages.
Plaintiff prays for such further or other reliefs as may be deemed just and equitable under the premises."
In its answer, RCJ Bus Lines, Inc. maintained:"1. That the complaint states no cause of action against it;
2. That venue was improperly laid; and,
3. That the direct, immediate and proximate cause of the accident was the negligence of the driver of the Mitsubishi Lancer when, for no reason at all, it made a sudden stop along the National Highway, as if to initiate and/or create an accident."
Flor Bola Mangoba, in his own answer to the complaint, also pointed his finger at the driver of the Mitsubishi Lancer as the one who caused the vehicular accident on the time, date and place in question.
For his failure to appear at the pre-trial despite notice, Flor Bola Mangoba was declared in default on 14 November 1997. Accordingly, trial proceeded sans his participation.
At the trial, the evidence adduced by the parties established the following facts:In the evening of 19 June 1994, at around 7:00 o'clock, a Toyota Corolla with Plate No. PHU-185 driven by Rodel Chua, cruised along the National Highway at Barangay Amlang, Rosario, La Union, heading towards the general direction of Bauan, La Union. The Toyota Corolla travelled at a speed of 50 kilometers per hour as it traversed the downward slope of the road, which curved towards the right.
The Mitsubishi Lancer GLX with Plate No. TAJ-796, driven by Teodoro Goki, and owned by Rodelene Valentino, was then following the Toyota Corolla along the said highway. Behind the Mitsubishi Lancer GLX was the passenger bus with Plate No. NYG-363, driven by Flor Bola Mangoba and owned by RCJ Bus Lines, Inc. The bus followed the Mitsubishi Lancer GLX at a distance of ten (10) meters and traveled at the speed of 60 to 75 kilometers per hour.
Upon seeing a pile of gravel and sand on the road, the Toyota Corolla stopped on its tracks. The Mitsubishi Lancer followed suit and also halted. At this point, the bus hit and bumped the rear portion of the Mitsubishi Lancer causing it to move forward and hit the Toyota Corolla in front of it.
As a result of the incident, the Mitsubishi Lancer sustained damages amounting to P162,151.22, representing the costs of its repairs. Under the comprehensive insurance policy secured by Rodelene Valentino, owner of the Mitsubishi Lancer, STANDARD reimbursed to the former the amount she expended for the repairs of her vehicle. Rodelene then executed a Release of Claim and Subrogation Receipt, subrogating STANDARD to all rights, claims and actions she may have against RCJ Bus Lines, Inc. and its driver, Flor Bola Mangoba.
WHEREFORE, consistent with Section 1, Rule 131 and Section 1, Rule 133 of the Revised Rules on Evidence, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the plaintiff, ordering defendants Flor Bola Mangoba and RCJ Bus Lines, Inc.:
1. To pay the principal sum of ONE HUNDRED SIXTY TWO THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED FIFTY ONE PESOS and 22/100 (P162,151.22), with legal rate of interest at 12% per annum from September 1, 1995 until full payment;
2. To pay the sum of TWENTY THOUSAND PESOS (P20,000.00) as exemplary damages;
3. To pay the sum of TWENTY THOUSAND PESOS (P20,000.00) as reasonable attorney's fees; and
4. To pay the costs of suit.
For want of merit, the separate Counterclaim is hereby DISMISSED.
WHEREFORE, the Decision dated May 27, 2008 is partially reconsidered and the Decision of the court a quo dated July 12, 2000 is MODIFIED. Appellant RCJ Bus Lines, Inc. and defendant Flor Bola Mangoba are ordered to pay jointly and severally the appellee [Standard Insurance Co., Inc.] the following:
1. ONE HUNDRED SIXTY TWO THOUSAND ONE FIFTY ONE PESOS and 22/100 (P162,151.22), with legal rate of interest at 6% per annum from September 1, 1995 until full payment;
2. TWENTY THOUSAND PESOS (P20,000.00) as reasonable attorney's fees; and
3. Cost of suit.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition for review is DENIED. The assailed Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 37, in Civil Case No. 00-99410 is hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION that the legal interest that should be imposed on the actual damages awarded in favor of respondent Standard Insurance, Co., Inc. should be at the rate of 6% per annum computed from the time of extra judicial demand until the finality of the 12 July 2000 Decision of the MeTC and thereafter, the legal interest shall be at the rate of 12% per annum until the full payment of the actual damages. The award of attorney's fees is DELETED.
1. The Court of Appeals erroneously awarded the amount of P162,151.22 representing actual damages based merely on the proof of payment of policy/insurance claim and not on an official receipt of payment of actual cost of repair;
2. The Court of Appeals erroneously disregarded the point that petitioner RCJ's defense of extraordinary diligence in the selection and supervision of its driver was made as an alternative defense;
3. The Court of Appeals erroneously disregarded the legal principle that the supposed violation of Sec. 35 of R.A. 4136 merely results in a disputable presumption; and
4. The Court of Appeals erroneously held that petitioner RCJ is vicariously liable for the claim of supposed actual damages incurred by respondent Standard Insurance.
To repel the idea of negligence, defendant [RCJ] bus company's operations manager at the Laoag City Terminal was presented on the witness stand on January 5, 2000 in regard to the company's seminars and dialogues with respect to its employees, and the absence of any record of a vehicular accident involving the co-defendant driver [Mangoba] (TSN, January 5, 2000, pp. 2-17; TSN, February 16, 2000, pp. 2-9). As the last witness of defendant [RCJ] bus company, Noel Oalog, bus conductor who was allegedly seated to the right side of the bus driver during the incident, was presented on March 22, 2000 (TSN, March 22, 2000, page 2). He confirmed on direct examination and cross examination that it was defendant's bus, then running at 60-75 [kph] and at a distance of 10 meters, which bumped a Mitsubishi Lancer without a tail light. According to him, the incident occurred when the driver of the Toyota Corolla, which was ahead of the Lancer, stepped on the brakes due to the pile of gravel and sand in sight (TSN, Vide at pp. 3-11). Subsequent to the proffer of exhibits (TSN, Vide, at page 14), and in default of any rebuttal, the parties were directed to file the Memoranda within thirty days from March 23, 2000.
To be sure, had not the passenger bus been speeding while traversing the downward sloping road, it would not have hit and bumped the Mitsubishi Lancer in front of it, causing the latter vehicle to move forward and hit and bump, in turn, the Toyota Corolla. Had the bus been moving at a reasonable speed, it could have avoided hitting and bumping the Mitsubishi Lancer upon spotting the same, taking into account that the distance between the two vehicles was ten (10) meters. As fittingly opined by the MeTC, the driver of the passenger bus, being the rear vehicle, had full control of the situation as he was in a position to observe the vehicle in front of him. Had he observed the diligence required under the circumstances, the accident would not have occurred.
Art. 2207. If the plaintiff's property has been insured and he has received indemnity from the insurance company for the injury or loss arising out of the wrong or breach of contract complained of, the insurance company shall be subrogated to the rights of the insured against the wrongdoer or the person who has violated the contract. If the amount paid by the insurance company does not fully cover the injury or loss, the aggrieved party shall be entitled to recover the deficiency from the person causing the loss or injury.