Del Prado v. Meralco (138) | Negligence | Civil Law (Legal System)

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Del Prado v. Meralco
  Del Prado v. Meralco 075 GR No. L-29462, 7 March 1929, Street, J. Digested by Fonzy ã Law 138  –  Transportation Law Topic: Duration of Responsibility for Carriage of Passengers  Passenger tried to catch up to a motor vehicle to board it but upon reaching the vehicle and while one hand was holding the handle and one foot on the steps to the car, the driver accelerated and the passenger sustained injuries. The liability of the common carrier in transporting passengers extends to persons boarding the car as well as those alighting therefrom. FACTS    Ignacio del Prado sued to recover damages in the amount of P50,000 for personal injuries alleged to have been caused by the negligence of the defendant MERALCO, who operates street cars in the City for the conveyance of passengers.    Teodorico Florenciano, appellant's motorman, was in charge of car No. 74 running from east to west on R. Hidalgo Street o   After the car stopped at its appointed place for taking on and letting off  passengers, it resumed its course at a moderate speed. o   The plaintiff ran across the street to catch up with the car and was able to arrive at its front entrance just when the car was passing by him.    The testimony of the plaintiff Del Prado and of Ciriaco Guevara: Upon approaching the car, he raised his hand to signal his intention to board the car, in response to which, the motorman eased up a little, without stopping. o   Del Prado was able to get hold of the handle at the same time placing his left foot upon the platform. o   However, before the plaintiff's position had become secure, and even before his raised right foot had reached the platform, the motorman applied the power, with the result that the car gave a slight lurch forward. o   This sudden impulse to the car caused the plaintiff's foot to slip, and his hand was  jerked loose from the handpost, He therefore fell to the ground, and his right foot was caught and crushed by the moving car which had to be amputated in the hospital.    Del Prado’s defense was that he did not see Florenciano trying to board the car, he did not accelerate the speed and that he in fact knew nothing of the incident until after the  plaintiff had been hurt and someone called to him to stop. ISSUES & HOLDING (1) Whether the motorman was negligent - Yes.  (2) Whether Meralco is liable for breach of contract of carriage. The liability of the common carrier in transporting passengers extends to persons boarding the car as well as those alighting therefrom. RATIO 1.   Motorman was negligent. Court cannot a  ppreciate Del Prado’s claim of having not seen the appellant trying to board the car They are unable to see how a motorman operating this car could have failed to see a person boarding the car under the circumstances It must  be remembered that the front handpost which, as all witness agree, was grasped by the  plaintiff in attempting to board the car, was immediately on the left side of the motorman. 2.   Yes, Meralco is liable. While there is no obligation on the part of a street railway company to stop its cars to let on intending passengers at other points than those appointed for stoppage , nevertheless, it was the motorman’s  duty not to do an act that would have the effect of increasing the plaintiff's peril while he was attempting to board the car. The premature acceleration of the car was, in our opinion, a breach of this duty. Side issues:    Proof of diligence is irrelevant in view of the fact that the liability involved was derived from a breach of obligation. This defense is not available if the liability of the master arises from a breach of contrauctual duty ( culpa contractual  ) compared liability arising from culpa aquiliana.    The negligence of the plaintiff was, however, contributory to the accident and must  be considered as a mitigating circumstance, and the court held the doctrine of last clear chance applicable in this case, where both parties are negligent, but the  proximate cause of the injury is still the acceleration, and should the driver have not accelerated, the injury would not have been sustained. DISPOSITIVE Judgment is affirmed. Dissent J. Johnson - Meralco not liable: (a) That the motorman managed the car carefully and with ordinary prudence at the moment the alleged accident occured; (b) That the appellee acted with imprudence and lack of due care in attempting to board a street car while the same was in motion; and (c) That he contributed to his own injury, without any negligence or malice or imprudence on the part of the defendant.
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