528 Phil. 1019
CARPIO MORALES, J.:
x x x xPetitioner denied the consignee's claim by letter of September 30, 1985 as the cargo claimed to have been damaged was, per its records of discharge, intact and in good condition.
Please be informed that as per survey report of Audemus Adjustment Corporation, two (2) wooden cases out of the subject shipment arrived in bad order condition. [H]owever, from damaged case No. 4, Fourteen (14) packages were torn on sides, contents partly exposed. The entire 15 packages each containing 30 pieces printing plates are not usable for the purpose intended, hence we are declaring our claim for total loss.
Per commercial invoice, packing list, certificate of weight and measurement, marine risk note, B.O. turnover Nos. 58744 and 58755 [sic] and Bad Order Survey No. 31166 and B/L No. YMA-14:
14 cartons each of 30 pieces = 420 pcs. "ALMAX"
Nega, AAN 621x915x.30mm @ US$3.62 = US$ 1,520.40
@ exchange rate P18.68= P28,401.07
Add: Proportionate share on:Customs duty P89,007.00
Compensating tax 44,679.00
Import fee 250.00
Insurance Premium 4,522.98
Doc. Stamp 487.50
$1,520.40 x P142,025 =
$17,050.00 12,664.81Our Claim - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - P41,065.88
x x x x (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
In this case, there is no proof adduced to show that the carrier had indeed exercised the foresight required by law. Instead, defendant Eastern sought to escape liability on the defense that the damages attending the shipment occurred, or were discovered, when the same were already discharged from the vessel and were already in the custody of the consignee.Accordingly, the appellate court disposed as follows:
A review of the evidence presented shows, however, that contrary to the defendant's[-herein petitioner's] claim, the two (2) cases of pre-sensitized plates were damaged while they were under the responsibility of the carrier, and were reported in bad order at the time they were discharged.
Upon leaving the vessel's tackle, prior to discharging the consignee's property, two cases containing the imported plates were reported to be in bad order by R and R Industrial Surveyors Inc., the cargo surveyors employed by defendant Eastern. (Exhibits "9" and "10") One of the cases were reported as "broken at one side" while the other was "badly broken." It must be remarked that the cargo inside the broken cases consisted of pre-sensitized plates used for printing purposes. They are light sensitive, such that any unwanted exposure to light will render them unsuitable for further use. The slightest damage to their cases would necessarily result in their damage.
Apart from this, the arrastre operator Metroport Services, Inc. reported that two cases of the subject shipment "were discharged in bad order from the vessel and loss or damage arising therefrom is the vessel's responsibility." (Exhibit "F") (Underscoring supplied)
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant appeal from the Judgment of the Regional Trial Court is hereby GRANTED. The defendant-appellee Eastern Shipping Lines is hereby ORDERED to pay the plaintiff N.V. The Netherlands Insurance Company; (a) the sum of P35,501.38 with legal interest at the rate of 6% per year counted from the date of entry of the Court's judgment; and (b) the sum equivalent of 25% of the principal award abovesaid as attorney's fees. (Underscoring supplied)By Resolution of December 8, 2000, the appellate court denied petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration, hence, the present petition which posits that:
While in a petition for review before this Court, only questions of law may be raised, there are instances when factual findings of the Court of Appeals may be reviewed. Thus in Insular Life Assurance Company, Ltd v. Court of Appeals, this Court stressed:I
THE TRIAL COURT'S DECISION HAS SOUND FACTUAL AND LEGAL BASES.II
THE COURT OF APPEALS INCORRECTLY APPLIED THE STATUTORY PRESUMPTION OF NEGLIGENCE TO THE PRESENT CASE.
It is a settled rule that in the exercise of the Supreme Court's power of review, the Court is not a trier of facts and does not normally undertake the re-examination of the evidence presented by the contending parties during the trial of the case considering that the findings of facts of the C[ourt of] A[ppeals] are conclusive and binding on the Court. However, the Court had recognized several exceptions to this rule, to wit: (1) when the findings are grounded entirely on speculation, surmises or conjectures; (2) when the inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurd or impossible; (3) when there is grave abuse of discretion; (4) when the judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts; (5) when the findings of facts are conflicting; (6) when in making its findings the Court of Appeals went beyond the issues of the case, or its findings are contrary to the admissions of both the appellant and the appellee; (7) when the findings are contrary to the trial court; (8) when the findings are conclusions without citation of specific evidence on which they are based; (9) when the facts set forth in the petition as well as in the petitioner's main and reply briefs are not disputed by the respondent; (10) when the findings of fact are premised on the supposed absence of evidence and contradicted by the evidence on record; and (11) when the Court of Appeals manifestly overlooked certain relevant facts not disputed by the parties, which, if properly considered, would justify a different conclusion. x x x (Emphasis supplied; italics in the original.)Petitioner draws attention to the consignee's demand letter to it which was earlier quoted, it pointing out that the documents therein mentioned referred to Cases Nos. 3 and 5, not to Case No. 4 the damage to which is the subject of the present claim.
|Case Number||Issued by Eastern Shipping Lines||Issued by Metro Port||Issued by R & R Surveyors|
|Case No. 1||Good Order Cargo Receipt No. 152795 dated July 21, 1985 (Exh. "5")|| || |
|Case No. 2||Good Order Cargo Receipt No. 152795 dated July 21, 1985 (Exh. "5")|| || |
|Case No. 3||Bad Order Cargo Receipt No. 10226 dated July 21, 1985 (Exh. "7")||Turnover of Survey of Bad Cargoes Receipt No. 58744 dated July 23, 1985 (Exh. "4")||Bad Order Cargo Inspected on Board Prior to Discharge/ After Leaving Ship's Tackle dated July 23, 1985 (Exh. "9")|
|Case No. 4||Good Order Cargo Receipt No. 152999 dated July 22, 1985 (Exh. "6")|| || |
|Case No. 5||Bad Order Cargo Receipt No. 10227 dated July 22, 1985 (Exh. "8")||Turnover of Survey of Bad Cargoes Receipt No. 58745 dated July 23, 1985 (Exh. "3")||Bad Order Cargo Inspected on Board Prior to Discharge/ After Leaving Ship's Tackle dated July 23, 1985 (Exh. "10")|
As between the aforementioned two documentary exhibits, the Court is more inclined to give credence to the cargo receipts. Said cargo receipts were signed by a checker of defendant NGSC and a representative of Metro Port. It is safe to presume that the cargo receipts accurately describe the quantity and condition of the shipment when it was discharged from the vessel. Metro Port's representative would not have signed the cargo receipts if only four (4) packages were discharged from the vessel and given to the possession and custody of the arrastre operator. Having been signed by its representative, the Metro Port is bound by the contents of the cargo receipts.The trial court's above-quoted findings were cited with approval by this Court.
On the other hand, the Metro Port's shortlanded certificate could not be given weight considering that, as correctly argued by counsel for defendant NGSC, it was issued by Metro Port alone and was not countersigned by the representatives of the shipping company and the consignee. Besides, the certificate was prepared by Atty. Servillano V. Dolina, Second Deputy General Manager of Metro Port, and there is no proof on record that he was present at the time the subject shipment was unloaded from the vessel and received by the arrastre operator. Moreover, the shortlanded certificate bears the date of March 15, 1982, more than three months after the discharge of the cargo from the carrying vessel. (Underscoring supplied)
x x x xAs in Hartford Fire Insurance, in the present case, the July 26, 1985 Request for Bad Order Survey issued by Metro Port which was signed by its representative and that of the consignee did not cover or refer to Case No. 4.
Of crucial significance is the condition of the cargo as described in defendant[-arrastre operator]'s Request for Bad Order Survey prepared before the release of the goods to the consignee's broker as follows:
"3 drums brake fluid, in apparent good order, contents complete except each dented at rims."
The said Certificate was signed not only by defendant's inspector but also by the consignee's representative. It shows that while the rims of the drums were dented the contents thereof were complete. If, as the marine survey showed, "it was evident that the contents had leaked as shown by stain marks on various parts of the containers," then, those stain marks should have been evident as well when defendant's Bad Order Certificate was prepared. The consignee's representative would surely have noticed it and would have caused a notation to that effect to have been made in the Bad Order Certificate. The fact that the Certificate was silent on that point but that instead it specifically indicated that the contents, as detected upon survey at the consignee's warehouse, must have occurred after the cargo had left defendant's custody. x x x (Italics in the original; underscoring supplied)
xxx 2. The two (2) cases covered by our B.O. Examination Report(s) No. (s) 31166 was/were discharged in bad order from the vessel and loss or damage arising therefrom is the vessel's responsibility,cannot be given weight since above-cited B.O. Examination Report No. 31166 refers to Turnover of Survey of Bad Cargoes Receipt Nos. 58744 and 58745 covering Cases Nos. 3 and 5, respectively, as the above tabulation clearly shows.
Q [Atty. Namit] : When this shipment was inspected, aside from you, who were present?
A: The representative from Audemus Adjuster and our technicians from Liwayway Publishing, Inc.
Q: No more?
A: Yes, Sir.
x x x x
Q: Did you also inform Eastern Shipping Lines?
A: No, Sir.
Q: So, the inspection was made without any representative from Eastern Shipping Lines?
A: Yes, Sir.
Q: And as a matter of fact, you did not even notify that an inspection shall be conducted on the shipment?
A: No, Sir.