In the event of deceit, bad faith, malice, or a willful mindset, the obligor is liable for any penalties that can be adequately due to the failure to fulfill the obligation.
G.R. No. 164601, 2006-09-27
Spouses Erlinda Batal and Frank Batal, petitioners, vs. Spouses Luz San Pedro and Kenichiro Tominaga, respondents.
The spouses Luz San Pedro and Kenichiro Tominaga are the owners of a parcel of land, on which their house was erected. The spouses Luz and Kenichiro then contracted the services of Frank Batal who represented himself as a surveyor to conduct a survey of their lot.
As Luz and Kenichiro wanted to enclose their property, they again procured the services of Frank with an additional fee in order to determine the exact boundaries of the same by which they will base the construction of their perimeter fence. Consequently, Frank placed concrete monuments marked P.S. on all corners of the lot which were used as guides by Luz and Kenichiro in erecting a concrete fence.
Sometime in 1996, a complaint was lodged against Luz and Kenichiro before the barangay on the ground that the northern portion of their fence allegedly encroached upon a designated right-of-way.
Upon verification with another surveyor, Luz and Kenichiro found that their wall indeed overlapped the adjoining lot. They also discovered that it was not Frank but his wife Erlinda Batal, who is a licensed geodetic engineer.
During their confrontations before the barangay, Frank admitted that he made a mistake and offered to share in the expenses for the demolition and reconstruction of the questioned portion of Luz and Kenichiro's fence. He however failed to deliver on his word, thus the filing of the instant suit. In their defense, the defendants-spouses Frank and Erlinda Batal submitted that Frank never represented himself to be a licensed geodetic engineer. It was Erlinda who supervised her husband's work and that the house and lot of plaintiffs, Luz and Kenichiro, were already fenced even before they were contracted to do a resurvey of the same and the laying out of the concrete monuments. The spouses Frank and Erlinda also refuted the spouses Luz's and Kenichiro's allegation of negligence and averred that the subject complaint was instituted to harass them.
1. Whether or not the proximate cause of the damage had been respondents' own negligence such that the fencing was done unilaterally and solely by them without the prior approval and supervision of the petitioners.
2. Whether or not spouses Erlinda Batal and Frank Batal are in culpa aquiliana or culpa contractual.
1. No. In concurring with the findings of the Regional Trial Court, the Court of Appeals in addition held that the petitioners cannot claim that the error of the construction of the fence was due to the unilateral act of respondents in building the same without their consent, since the former gave their word that the arrangement of the monuments of title accurately reflected the boundaries of the lot. However, respondents committed negligence. According to article 1172 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, “Responsibility arising from negligence in the performance of every kind of obligation is also demandable, but such liability may be regulated by the courts, according to the circumstances.” Hence, the petitioners cannot be held liable.
2. Spouses Erlinda Batal and Frank Batal were in culpa contractual. It is clear that the petitioners, in carrying out their contractual obligations, failed to exercise the requisite diligence in the placement of the markings for the concrete perimeter fence that was later constructed. The placement of the markings had been done solely by petitioner Frank Batal who is not a geodetic engineer. It was later discovered that it was not he but his wife, petitioner Erlinda Batal, who is the licensed geodetic engineer and who is, therefore, the one qualified to do the work. Petitioner Frank Batal's installation of the concrete cyclone monuments had been done without the adequate supervision of his wife, Erlinda. As a result, the placement of the monuments did not accurately reflect the dimensions of the lot. Culpa Contractual was governed by the Civil Code, Articles 1170-1174.
The respondents, spouses Frank and Erlinda Batal, committed a culpa contractual which is a mistake or negligence event in the execution of an already established contract that raises the liability from that obligation, and they are solely liable to the inconvenience. The petitioners, spouses Luz and Kenichiro Tominaga, cannot be held liable.
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