Posted: April 12, 2017 in case digests, civil law, torts


GR No. 151866

September 9, 2004


FACTS: Respondent Leonora Valmonte is a wedding coordinator. Michelle del Rosario and Jon Sierra engaged her services for their church weddinng on October 10, 1996. At about 4:30 pm on that day, Valmonte went to the Manila Hotel and when she arrived at Suite 326-A, several persons were already there including Soledad Carpio, the aunt of the bride.


After reporting to the bride, Valmonte went out of the suite to go to the reception hall to give the meal allowance to the band and to pay the suppliers. Upon entering the suite, Valmonte noticed the people staring at her and it was at this juncture that Soledad Carpio allegedly uttered the following words to Valmonte: “Ikaw lang ang lumabas ng kwarto, nasaan ang dala mong bag? Saan ka pumunta? Ikaw lang ang lumabas ng kwarto, ikaw ang kumuha” It turned out that after Valmonte left the room to attend to her duties, petitioner discovered that the pieces of jewelry which she placed ins i de the comfort room in a paper bag were lost and these include diamond rings, earrings, bracelet and diamong necklace with a total value of about 1M pesos. Valmonte was allegedly bodily searched, interrogated and trailed by the police officers, but the pe titioner kept on saying the words “Siya lang ang lumabas ng kwarto.” Valmonte’s car was also searched but the search yielded nothing.


Few days after the incident, petitioner received a letter from Valmonte demanding a formal letter of apology which she wanted to be circulated to the newlyweds’ relatives and guests to redeem her smeared reputation but the petitioner did not respond. Valmonte filed a suit for damages.


The trial court dismissed the complaint and ruled that when sought investigation for the loss of her jewelry, she was merely exercising her right and if damage results from a person exercising his legal right, it is damnum absque injuria. It added that no proof was presented by Valmonte to show that petitioner acted maliciously and in bad fai th in pointing to her as the culprit.

The CA ruled out differently and opined that Valmonte has clearly established that she was singled out by the petitioner as the one responsible for the loss of her jewelry. However, the court find no sufficient evidence to justify the award of actual damages.


Hence, this petition.


ISSUE: Whether the respondent is entitled to the award of actual and moral damages


HELD: The Court ruled that the respondent in entitled to moral damages but not to actual damages.


In the sphere of our law on human relations, one of the fundamental precepts is the principle known as “abuse of rights” under Article 19 of the Civil Code. To find existence of an abuse of right, the following elements must be present: 1) there is legal right or duty; 2) which is exercised in bad faith; 3) for the sole intent or prejudicing or injuring another. Thus, a person should be protected only when he acts in the legitimate exercise of his right, that is when he acts with prudence and good faith; but not when he acts with negligence or abuse.


The Court said that petitioner’s verbal reproach against respondent was certainly uncalled for considering that by her own account nobody knew that she brought such kind and amount of jewelry inside the paper bag. This being the case, she had no right to attack respondent with her innuendos which were not merely inquisitve but outrightly accusatory. By openly accusing respondent as the only person who went out of the room before the loss of the jewelry in the presence of all the guests therein, and ordering that she be immediately bodily searched, petitioner virtually branded respondent as the thief. Petitioner had willfully caused injury to respondent in a manner which is contrary to morals and good customs. Certainly, petitioner transgressed the provisions of Article 19 in relation to Article 20 for which she should be held accountable.


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