In their complaint, the respondents alleged that the proximate cause of the fatalities and serious physical injuries sustained by the victims of the accident was the petitioners’ gross negligence in not providing adequate safety measures to prevent injury to persons and properties. The Decision of the Court of Appeals dated July 21, 2009 in CA-G.R. The doctrine of last clear chance is not applicable. The last clear chance doctrine is a frequently litigated and extremely confusing exception to Maryland’s contributory negligence law. It concurred with the trial court's conclusion that petitioner PNR's failure to install sufficient safety devices in the area, such as flagbars or safety railroad bars and signage, was the proximate cause of the accident. 90021, which affirmed with modification the Decision2 dated March 20, 2007 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 40, Palayan City, and Resolution3 dated October 26, 2009, which denied the petitioners’ motion for reconsideration. At this age of modern transportation, it behooves the PNR to exert serious efforts to catch up with the trend, including the contemporary standards in railroad safety. I am still on constant medication to be able to sleep and to be able to perform my duties effectively in my job but it does not take away the pain of loss.70, In People v. Teehankee, Jr.,71 and in Metro Manila Transit Corporation v. Court of Appeals,72 we awarded moral damages in the amount of ₱1,000,000.00 to the heirs of the deceased. 667, 680 (1997), citing LBC Air Cargo, Inc. v. CA, 311 Phil. The last clear chance doctrine is a legal concept that is used in certain jurisdictions depending on the model that the particular location uses to evaluate the fault of different parties involved in a lawsuit. But if his negligence was only contributory, the immediate and proximate cause of the injury being the defendant’s lack of due care, the plaintiff may recover damages, but the courts shall mitigate the damages to be awarded. 740, 748 (2000). The doctrine of last clear chance “contemplates a last ‘clear’ chance, not a last ‘possible’ chance to avoid the accident; it must have been such a chance as would have enabled a reasonably prudent man in like position to have acted effectively.” Battle v. Chavis, 266 N.C. 778, 781, 147 S.E.2d 387, 390 (1966). Moral damages are not punitive in nature, but are designed to compensate and alleviate in some way the physical suffering, mental anguish, fright, serious anxiety, besmirched reputation, wounded feelings, moral shock, social humiliation, and similar injury unjustly caused a person. 63 Consolidated Bank and Trust Corporation v. Court of Appeals, G.R. 58 Philippine National Railway v. Intermediate Appellate Court, G.R. absence of flagbars or safety railroad bars; (2.) It insisted that there were adequate, visible, and clear warning signs strategically posted on the sides of the road before the railroad crossing. :1 "The basis of recovery is the negligence of the defendant, that is the breach of some duty imposed by law, common or statute. Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, it is hereby certified that the conclusions in the above Decision were reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division. 30 Cusi v. Philippine National Railways, 179 Phil. Text; News Annotations Related Statutes (1) The doctrine of last clear chance is abolished. The doctrine of last clear chance, stated broadly, is that the negligence of the plaintiff does not preclude a recovery for the negligence of the defendant where it appears that the defendant, by exercising reasonable care and prudence, might have avoided injurious consequences to the plaintiff notwithstanding the plaintiff’s negligence. Moreover, every corporation constructing or operating a railway shall make and construct at all points where such railway crosses any public road, good, sufficient, and safe crossings, and erect at such points, at sufficient elevation from such road as to admit a free passage of vehicles of every kind, a sign with large and distinct letters placed thereon, to give notice of the proximity of the railway, and warn persons of the necessity of looking out for trains. He avers that between him and Iran, the latter had the last clear chance to avoid the collision, hence Iran must be held liable. Hence, the earlier finding of contributory negligence on the part of Mercelita, which generally has the effect of mitigation of liability, does not apply. 146635, December 14, 2005, 477 SCRA 740, 759. 3 . While crossing the railroad track in Tiaong, Quezon, a Philippine National Railways (PNR) train, then being operated by respondent Japhet Estranas (Estranas), suddenly turned up and rammed the passenger jeepney. The record is, likewise, bereft of any allegation and proof as to the relationship between Mercelita (the driver) and Rhonda Brunty. inadequacy of the installed warning signals; and (3.) There are four possible cases in which the rule of last clear chance can be applied. High above a wide river is a railroad trestle. 28 Philippine National Railways v. Court of Appeals, G.R. They asseverate that right before the collision, Estranas was driving the train at a moderate speed. 388, 398 (2006); Lambert v. Heirs of Ray Castillon, 492 Phil. 60 Estacion v. Bernardo, supra note 51, at 235; Añonuevo v. Court of Appeals, G.R. The appellate court affirmed the findings of the RTC as to the negligence of the PNR. We note that the damages awarded by the appellate court consist of (1) ₱50,000.00 as indemnity for the death of Rhonda Brunty; (2) ₱1,000,000.00 as actual and moral damages due the heirs of Rhonda Brunty; and (3) ₱50,000.00 as and by way of attorney’s fees. LAST CLEAR CHANCE: A TRANSITIONAL DOCTRINE By FLEMING JAMES, Jr.t THE RULE that a plaintiff, though negligent himself, may neverthe- less recover from a defendant who had the last clear chance to avoid injuring him, is no more to be accounted for by the legal reasoning generally used to sustain it than is any other rule of law. Also known as the Doctrine of discovered peril or the Humanitarian doctrine. They pointed out that there was no flagbar or red light signal to warn motorists who were about to cross the railroad track, and that the flagman or switchman was only equipped with a hand flashlight.10 Plaintiffs likewise averred that PNR failed to supervise its employees in the performance of their respective tasks and duties, more particularly the pilot and operator of the train.11 They prayed for the payment of the following damages: 1.) The plumber was injured in the accident and sued the … Prior to her departure, she, together with her Filipino host Juan Manuel M. Garcia, traveled to Baguio City on board a Mercedes Benz sedan with plate number FU 799, driven by Rodolfo L. Mercelita. The Lawphil Project. 23 Philippine National Railways v. Brunty, G.R. 19 Picart v. Smith, 37 Phil. The petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration11 of the decision of the CA. They are entitled to great weight and respect, even finality, especially when, as in this case, the CA affirmed the factual findings arrived at by the trial court.20. MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENOAssociate Justice. The harshness of the rule gave rise to the doctrine of last clear chance. Contributory negligence is conduct on the part of the injured party, contributing as a legal cause to the harm he has suffered, which falls below the standard to which he is required to conform for his own protection.59 To hold a person as having contributed to his injuries, it must be shown that he performed an act that brought about his injuries in disregard of warning or signs of an impending danger to health and body.60 To prove contributory negligence, it is still necessary to establish a causal link, although not proximate, between the negligence of the party and the succeeding injury. Attorney’s fees equivalent to at least 15% of the total award to plaintiffs herein.12, In its Answer,13 PNR claimed that it exercised the diligence of a good father of a family not only in the selection but also in the supervision of its employees.14 By way of special and affirmative defense, it stressed that it had the right of way on the railroad crossing in question, and that it has no legal duty to put up a bar or red light signal in any such crossing. The doctrine of “last clear chance” applies in a limited number of situations with very special circumstances, in which the defendant, despite plaintiff’s own negligence, had the last clear chance to avoid the collision. In so many ways, she was my life. It is our opinion that the rules governing all aspects of the last clear chance doctrine are best stated in the Restatement of the Law, Torts, 2d, §§ 479, 480. Finally, the CA correctly ruled that the doctrine of last clear chance is not applicable in the instant case. At any rate, the records bear out that the factual circumstances of the case were meticulously scrutinized by both the RTC and the CA before arriving at the same finding of negligence on the part of the petitioners, and we found no compelling reason to disturb the same. 550, 561 (2004). 67 Macalinao v. Ong, G.R. 160709, February 23, 2005, 452 SCRA 285, 290; Pestaño v. Sumayang, G.R. It is the failure to observe for the protection of the interests of another person, that degree of care, precaution, and vigilance which the circumstances justly demand, whereby such other person suffers injury.18 To determine the existence of negligence, the time-honored test was: Did the defendant in doing the alleged negligent act use that reasonable care and caution which an ordinarily prudent person would have used in the same situation? When PNR did not respond, Ethel Brunty and Garcia, filed a complaint9 for damages against the PNR before the RTC of Manila. of the doctrine itself, and by an examination of some recent decisions. The maintenance of safety equipment and warning signals at railroad crossings is equally important as their installation since poorly maintained safety warning devices court as much danger as when none was installed at all. 3, 265. last clear chance doctrine is that of concurring negligence on the part of the plaintiff. Rhonda Brunty, daughter of respondent Ethel Brunty and an American citizen, came to the Philippines for a visit sometime in January 1980. They argue that as a professional driver, Reynaldo is presumed to be familiar with traffic rules and regulations, including the right of way accorded to trains at railroad crossing and the precautionary measures to observe in traversing the same. Garcia, who had suffered severe head injuries, was brought via ambulance to the same hospital. In this article, we'll explain how the "last clear chance" rule works, and how it may still apply in certain types of personal injury cases. To even draw closer attention, the railroad crossing may be equipped with a device which rings a bell or turns on a signal light to signify the danger or risk of crossing. No. No. REALTY CORPORATION, G.R. vs. It was established during the trial that the jeepney carrying the respondents was following a ten-wheeler truck which was only about three to five meters ahead. Such fault or negligence, if there was no pre-existing contractual relation between the parties, is called quasi-delict and is governed by the provisions of this chapter. Considering the circumstances attendant in this case, we find that an award of ₱500,000.00 as moral damages to the heirs of Rhonda Brunty is proper. (4) The award for attorney’s fees in favor of the Appellees as well as the award of P300,000.00 to Appellee PURIFICACION as reimbursement for the value of the jeepney is DELETED. They concluded their complaint with a prayer for actual, moral and compensatory damages, as well as attorney’s fees.6, For their part, the petitioners claimed that they exercised due diligence in operating the train and monitoring its roadworthiness. vs. 68102, July 16, 1992, 211 SCRA 517, 539, citing Layugan v. Intermediate Appellate Court, 167 SCRA 363 (1988). The collision resulted to the instantaneous death of Reynaldo, Cresencio, Crispin, and Samuel. 210, 222 (1995); Tay Chun Suy v. Court of Appeals, G.R. Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the Division Chairperson's Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division. Dalton, the North Carolina Court of Appeals revisited the "last clear chance" doctrine in the context of a moped driver who was using a bicycle light at night and was struck and killed by another motorist. The doctrine of last clear chance is an exception to the rule that a negli-gent plaintiff cannot recover. Resorting to-Bouvier again: "If the plaintiff, by ordinary care, could have avoided the effect of the negligence of the defendant, he is guilty of contributory negli- gence, no matter how … Subsequently, on July 21, 2009, the CA rendered the assailed decision, affirming the RTC decision with modification with respect to the amount of damages awarded to the respondents. No. 784 (2002); Equitable Leasing Corporation v. Suyom, 437 Phil. They arise out of a sense of natural justice, aimed at repairing the wrong done. Application of Doctrine . The doctrine of last clear chance simply means that the negligence of a claimant does not preclude a recovery for the negligence of defendant where it appears that the latter, by exercising reasonable care and prudence, might have avoided injurious consequences to claimant notwithstanding his negligence. The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation. The doctrine of last clear chance states that a person who has the last clear chance or opportunity of avoiding an accident, notwithstanding the negligent acts of his opponent, is considered in law solely responsible for the consequences of the accident. 184905, August 28, 2009, the issue for resolution by the Philippine Supreme Court was whether petitioner could be held solidarily liable with his driver, Rodel Ilustrisimo, to pay respondent C.O.L. The doctrine of last clear chance provides that where both parties are negligent but the negligent act of one is appreciably later in point of time than that of the other, or where it is impossible to determine whose fault or negligence brought about the occurrence of the incident, the one who had the last clear opportunity to avoid the impending harm but failed to do so, is chargeable with the consequences arising therefrom. What Is an Example of a Last Clear Chance? Such amounts of moral and exemplary damages as may be warranted by the evidence adduced, to plaintiff Ethel Brunty; 4.) x x x54, Moreover, the CA held that a vehicle coming from the Moncada side would have difficulty in knowing that there is an approaching train because of the slight curve, more so, at an unholy hour as 2:00 a.m. Under the doctrine of last clear chance, a plaintiff who negligently subjects himself to a risk of harm may recover when the defendant discovers or could have discovered the plaintiff�s peril had he exercised due diligence, and thereafter fails to exercise reasonable care to avoid injuring the plaintiff.� Rothrock v. In a long line of cases, the Court held that in order to sustain a claim based on quasi-delict, the following requisites must concur: (1) damage to plaintiff; (2) negligence, by act or omission, of which defendant, or some person for whose acts he must respond was guilty; and (3) connection of cause and effect between such negligence and damage.53 Applying the foregoing requisites, the CA correctly made the following conclusions: It was clearly established that plaintiffs-appellees (respondents herein) sustained damage or injury as a result of the collision. Such failure is evidence of negligence and disregard of the safety of the public, even if there is no law or ordinance requiring it because public safety demands that said device or equipment be installed.58. // The Last Clear Chance Doctrine in Florida Personal Injury Cases by Jeffrey P. Gale, P.A. The doctrine of last clear chance is generally regarded as an ex-ception to the rule that contributory negligence is a defense to an action for negligence. If not, then he is guilty of negligence. Last clear chance is a doctrine in civil law which simply states that if a plaintiff engaged in contributory negligence but the defendant could have taken action to avoid a danger, the plaintiff can still recover damages from the defendant. It states: Article 2176. It is an act or omission amounting to want of ordinary care on the part of the person injured which, concurring with the defendant’s negligence, is the proximate cause of the injury.26 Here, we cannot see how the respondents could have contributed to their injury when they were not even aware of the forthcoming danger. 130003, October 20, 2004, 441 SCRA 24, 44. The “ last clear chance ” doctrine is a legal rule that says: in personal injury cases, in which both the plaintiff and defendant were responsible for causing an injury/accident, the plaintiff can still recover damages from the defendant, if the defendant had a chance to avoid injuring the plaintiff in the final moments before the accident. Yet, it was also established that Mercelita was then driving the Mercedes Benz at a speed of 70 km/hr and, in fact, had overtaken a vehicle a few yards before reaching the railroad track. last clear chance doctrine as developed in the Virginia cases will be made easier, it would seem, by first restating some fundamental principles. Contributory negligence is conduct on the part of the injured party, contributing as a legal cause to the harm he has suffered, which falls below the standard which he is required to conform for his own protection. 165969, November 27, 2008, 572 SCRA 71, 81-82, citing Estacion v. Bernardo, 518 Phil. That there was negligence on the part of PNR is, likewise, beyond cavil. The petitioners’ negligence was the proximate cause of the accident. This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari of the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. Considering the circumstances prevailing at the time of the fatal accident, it ruled that the alleged safety measures installed by the PNR at the railroad crossing were not merely inadequate – they did not satisfy the well-settled safety standards in transportation.36 However, the CA did not agree with the RTC’s findings on the contributory negligence of Mercelita, the driver of the Mercedes Benz. 83-18645. No. ANTONIO T. CARPIOAssociate JusticeChairperson, Second Division. No. Aggrieved, the petitioners filed the present petition for review on certiorari, raising the following grounds: THE CA ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE PROXIMATE CAUSE OF THE ACCIDENT WAS THE NEGLIGENCE OF THE PETITIONERS; THE CA ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE DOCTRINE OF LAST CLEAR CHANCE FINDS NO APPLICATION IN THE INSTANT CASE; THE CA ERRED IN FINDING NEGLIGENCE ON THE PART OF THE PETITIONERS OR ERRED IN NOT FINDING AT THE LEAST, CONTRIBUTORY NEGLIGENCE ON THE PART OF THE RESPONDENTS.13, The petitioners maintain that the proximate cause of the collision was the negligence and recklessness of the driver of the jeepney. Aside from the absence of a crossing bar, the "Stop, Look and Listen" signage installed in the area was poorly maintained, hence, inadequate to alert the public of the impending danger. ETHEL BRUNTY and JUAN MANUEL M. GARCIA, Respondents. III. Last clear chance is a doctrine in civil law which simply states that if a plaintiff engaged in contributory negligence but the defendant could have taken action to avoid a danger, the plaintiff can still recover damages from the defendant. The last clear chance doctrine is a legal concept that is used in certain jurisdictions depending on the model that the particular location uses to evaluate the fault of different parties involved in a lawsuit. Dalton, the North Carolina Court of Appeals revisited the "last clear chance" doctrine in the context of a moped driver who was using a bicycle light at night and was struck and killed by another motorist. The Doctrine of Last Clear Chance in Virginia The reason and rationale of the doctrine of "last clear chance" is nowhere better stated than by Justice Burks in Gunter's Admn'r v. Southern Rv. 447 (1989). The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation. Likewise, there was no crossing bar to prevent them from proceeding or, at least, a stoplight or signage to forewarn them of the approaching peril. Article 2176 of the New Civil Code prescribes a civil liability for damages caused by a person's act or omission constituting fault or negligence. The unsuspecting driver and passengers of the jeepney did not have any participation in the occurrence of the unfortunate incident which befell them. 280, 319 (1996); Fortune Motors (Phils.) 22 The doctrine necessarily assumes negligence on the … The law, in effect, adopts the standard supposed to be supplied by the imaginary conduct of the discreet pater familias of the Roman law. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT APPLYING THE DOCTRINE OF LAST CLEAR CHANCE IN THE INSTANT CASE.38, Petitioner insists that the proximate cause of the mishap was Mercelita’s disregard of traffic rules and regulations. ; Victory Liner, Inc. v. Heirs of Andres Malecdan, 442 Phil. I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division. Pursuant to Article 217962 of the New Civil Code, the only effect such contributory negligence could have is to mitigate liability, which, however, is not applicable in this case, as will be discussed later.1âwphi1. 47567 and its Resolution2 denying the motion for reconsideration thereof. Or, "As the doctrine usually is stated, a person who has the last clear chance or opportunity of avoiding … It is a relative or comparative, not an absolute, term and its application depends upon the situation of the parties and the degree of care and vigilance which the circumstances reasonably require.49 In determining whether or not there is negligence on the part of the parties in a given situation, jurisprudence50 has laid down the following test: Did defendant, in doing the alleged negligent act, use that reasonable care and caution which an ordinarily prudent person would have used in the same situation? As to whether there was contributory negligence on the part of the respondents, this court rule in the negative. No. In view of recent jurisprudence, indemnity of ₱50,000.00 for the death of Rhonda Brunty and attorney’s fees amounting to ₱50,000.00 is likewise proper. In a legal sense, negligence is contributory only when it contributes proximately to the injury, and not simply a condition for its occurrence.61, The court below found that there was a slight curve before approaching the tracks; the place was not properly illuminated; one’s view was blocked by a cockpit arena; and Mercelita was not familiar with the road. B After trial on the merits, the RTC rendered its Decision19 on May 21, 1990 in favor of plaintiffs. Seventy-Two Thousand Seven Hundred Sixty Pesos (₱72,760.00) Philippine Currency for damages sustained by the Mercedes Benz; 4. The assailed decision affirmed with partial modification the ruling3 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila, Branch 20, directing petitioner Philippine National Railways (PNR) to indemnify respondents Ethel Brunty and Juan Manuel M. Garcia for the death of Rhonda Brunty, and to pay actual and moral damages, attorney’s fees and cost of suit. Actual or compensatory damages are those awarded in order to compensate a party for an injury or loss he suffered. Before this Court is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, seeking to annul and set aside the Decision1 dated July 21, 2009 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. 90021 is hereby AFFIRMED. 65 People v. Werba, G.R. 32 Canlas v. Court of Appeals, 383 Phil. * Additional Member in lieu of Associate Justice Arturo D. Brion per Special Order No. As such, it is liable for damages for violating the provisions of Article 2176 of the New Civil Code, viz: Article 2176. The origin of the last clear chance doctrine is traced to Davies v. Mann, 10 M & W 546, 152 Eng.Rep. He did so under the impression that it was safe to proceed. THE FINDINGS OF FACT OF THE COURT OF APPEALS ARE CONTRARY TO THOSE OF THE TRIAL COURT REGARDING CONTRIBUTORY NEGLIGENCE OF THE RESPONDENTS’ DRIVER. 169891, November 2, 2006, 506 SCRA 685, 699. 588 (1842). Finally, the application in this case of the doctrine of last clear chance is likewise in question. Doctrine of Last Clear Chance. In the assailed decision, the CA affirmed the RTC’s finding of negligence on the part of the petitioners. 31. Personal injury law is complex. It is a humane rule, and the reason for its existence, simply stated, is that "One cannot kill another merely because he is negligent. Although incapable of pecuniary computation, moral damages must nevertheless be somehow proportional to and in approximation of the suffering inflicted.68 In the instant case, the moral suffering of the heirs of Rhonda Brunty was sufficiently established by Ethel Brunty in her deposition,69 viz: Q: What have you felt as a result of the death of Rhonda? Last Clear Chance. Questions of fact cannot be entertained.21 To distinguish one from the other, a question of law exists when the doubt or difference centers on what the law is on a certain state of facts. 43 The common law notion of last clear chance permitted courts to grant recovery to a plaintiff who has also been negligent provided that the defendant had the … 809, 813 (1918). It is the responsibility of the railroad company to use reasonable care to keep the signal devices in working order. Even then, the circumstances before the collision negate the imputation of contributory negligence on the part of the respondents. [Formerly 18.475] (formerly 18.475) Notes of Decisions. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN AWARDING ATTORNEY’S FEES TO THE PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES.21, In its Brief, PNR insisted that the sole and proximate cause of the accident was the negligence and recklessness of Garcia and Mercelita.22 It insisted that it had provided adequate warning signals at the railroad crossing23 and had exercised due care in the selection and supervision of its employees.24 The RTC erred in awarding damages to Rhonda Brunty as she cannot be allowed to receive what she is not in a position to give, having been a non-resident alien who did not own a property in the Philippines.25 It likewise questioned the award of damages on the Mercedes Benz as well as the grant of attorney’s fees.26 At the very least, Mercelita was guilty of contributory negligence.27, For their part, appellees countered that appellant was grossly and recklessly negligent in not properly providing the necessary equipment at the railroad crossing in Rizal, Moncada, Tarlac;28 appellant was negligent in not exercising due diligence of a good father of a family in the supervision of its employees, particularly the train operator Alfonso Reyes;29 the car was driven in a careful and diligent manner, and at a moderate speed, with due regard to all traffic rules and regulations at that particular time;30 the doctrine of "last clear chance" is not applicable;31 Ethel Brunty is a non-resident alien who can rightfully file the instant case;32 and they are entitled to recover damages from appellant.33. 315, 324 (2000), citing Philippine Bank of Commerce v. CA, 336 Phil. 29 Id. The case was raffled to Branch 20 and was docketed as Civil Case No. Thus, he carefully proceeded at a speed of twenty-five (25) kilometers per hour, still blowing the train’s horn. 22 Westmont Investment Corporation v. Francia, Jr., G.R. When applied in states with contributory negligence laws, it is often seen as a type of exception or limitation to those laws. The last clear chance doctrine is used in tort law for cases involving negligence and is applied when both the plaintiff and defendant are responsible for an accident that resulted in harm. The “ last clear chance ” doctrine is a legal rule that says: in personal injury cases, in which both the plaintiff and defendant were responsible for causing an injury/accident, the plaintiff can still recover damages from the defendant, if the defendant had a chance to avoid injuring the plaintiff in the final moments before the accident. 83491, August 27, 1990, 189 SCRA 88, 93. 766, pp. Thus, in Cusi v. Philippine National Railways,30 we held: Jurisprudence recognizes that if warning devices are installed in railroad crossings, the travelling public has the right to rely on such warning devices to put them on their guard and take the necessary precautions before crossing the tracks.