Ernesto Pleyto and Philippine Rabbit Bus Lines, Inc. vs Maria D. Lomboy and Carmela Lomboy

Posted: March 24, 2017 in Uncategorized

Ernesto Pleyto and Philippine Rabbit Bus Lines, Inc. vs Maria D. Lomboy and Carmela Lomboy

GR No. 148737, June 16, 2004

 

FACTS:

 

A head-on collision between a bus and a car along McArthur Highway in Gerona, Tarlac happened on May 16, 1995 at around 11:30am.

 

Petitioner Philippine Rabbit Bus Lines, Inc (PRBL), bound for Vigan, Ilocos Sur at the time of the accident,  is engaged in carrying passengers and goods for a fare servicing various routes in Central and Northern Luzon. Its driver was Ernesto Pleyto.

 

Ricardo Lomboy was a passenger to a Mitsubishi Lancer car driven by Arnulfo Asuncion, Ricardo’s brother-in-law. Carmela, the daughter of Ricardo, also a passenger to said car, suffered injuries requiring hospitalization. But her father Ricardo Lomboy died.

 

Ricardo’s heirs filed an action for damages against Pleyto and PRBL.

 

A witness and one of the bus passengers, Rolly Orpilla, testified that Pleyto tried to overtake a tricycle but hit it instead. Pleyto then swerved in to the left opposite lane and smashed the Manila-bound car killing Arnulfo and Ricardo Lomboy while the other passengers, Carmela and friend Rhino Daba suffered injuries.

 

According to Pleyto, the tricycle suddenly stopped without warning to which Pleyto stepped on the brakes and bus lost speed but swerved to the other lane to avoid hitting the tricycle. Unfortunately, it collided with the Manila-bound Mitsubishi car.

 

The trial court rendered decision in favor of the plaintiffs awarding P1,642,521.00 for lost earnings of Ricardo Lomboy. It found that Pleyto is negligent and lacked precaution when he overtook the tricycle disregarding completely the approaching car in the other lane. Pleyto should have been more prudent in overtaking considering the slippery road. The court held that Pleyto violated traffic rules and regulations and was negligent under Article 2185 of the Civil Code and PRBL liable as owner of the bus and as employer of Pleyto under Article 2180 of the Civil Code for its failure to observe the required diligence in its supervision of its employees and the safe maintenance of its buses.

 

CA affirmed the trial court’s decision with modification in the award of damages reducing the award for loss of earning capacity to P1,152,000.00 and took note of the amounts that were duly supported by receipts only.

 

Petitioners moved for reconsideration but the appellate court denied it. Hence, this petition.

 

ISSUE:

 

Whether the CA erred in pegging the monthly living expenses at 50% of gross earnings considering that no substantial proof was presented to prove Lomboy’s gross income

 

HELD:

 

No reversible error may be attributed to the court in fixing the loss of earning capacity at the amount P1,152,000.00.

 

In considering the earning capacity of the victim as an element of damages, the net earnings, which is computed by deducting necessary expenses from the gross earnings, and not the gross earnings, is to be utilized in the computation.  The amount of net earnings was arrived at after deducting the necessary expenses (pegged at 50% of gross income) from the gross annual income. This computation is in accord with settled jurisprudence. (Villa Rey case)

 

The testimony of the wife, Maria Lomboy, that her husband was earning a monthly income of P8,000.00 is sufficient to establish a basis for an estimate of damages for loss of earning capacity.

 

Jurisprudence provides that the factors that should be taken into account in determining the compensable amount of lost earnings are:

 

  • the number of years for which the victim would otherwise have lived; and,
  • the rate of loss sustained by the heirs of the deceased.

 

Factor No. 1

 

Life expectancy is computed by applying the formula (2/3 x [80-age at death]) adopted from the American Expectancy Table of Mortality or the Actuarial Combined Experience Table of Mortality.

 

Factor No. 2

 

Multiply the life expectancy by the net earnings of the deceased, i.e, the total earnings less expenses necessary in the creation of such earnings or income and less living and other incidental expenses.  The net earning is ordinarily computed at fifty percent of the gross earnings.

 

Thus, in the given case, the formula used by this Court in computing loss of earning capacity is:

 

Net Earning Capacity = [2/3 x (80 – age at the time of death) x (gross annual income – reasonable and necessary living expenses)]

 

= [2/3 x (80 – 44)] x [(P96,000 – 50%of P96,000)]

= [2/3 x (36)] x [(P96,000 – P48,000)]

= 24 x P48,000

= P1,152,000.00

 

 

Moral damages are awarded to enable the injured party to obtain means, diversions or amusements that will serve to alleviate the moral suffering he/she has undergone, by reason of the defendant’s culpable action. Its award is aimed at restoration of the spiritual proportionate to the suffering inflicted.

 

Thus, moral damages of P500,000 is reduced to P100,000 in keeping with the purpose of the law and jurisprudence in allowing moral damages.

 

WHEREFORE, the assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-GR CV No. 61300 is AFFIRMED, with the sole MODIFICATION that the award of moral damages to the heirs of Ricardo Lomboy is reduced from P500,000.00 to P100,000.00. No pronouncement as to costs.

 

SO ORDERED.

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