Dec 4, 2009

Civil Law 2- ObliCon- JACINTO TANGUILIG doing business under the name and style J.M.T Engineering and General Merchandising vs. Court of Appeals and Vicente Herce Jr.

This case is with regard to ART 1174 of the NCC - Fortuitous Events

Case of JACINTO TANGUILIG doing business under the name and style J.M.T. ENGINEERING AND GENERAL MERCHANDISING vs COURT OF APPEALS and VICENTE HERCE JR.

G.R.No. 125994 29June2001

FACTS OF THE CASE:

Herce contracted Tanguilig to construct a windmill system for him, for consideration of 60,000.00. Pursuant to the agreement Herce paid the downpayment of 30,000.00 and installment of 15,000.00 leaving a 15,000.00 balance.

Herce refused to pay the balance because he had already paid this amount to SPGMI which constructed a deep well to which the windmill system was to be connected since the deepwell, and assuming that he owed the 15,000.00 this should be offset by the defects in the windmill system which caused the structure to collapse after strong winds hit their place. According to Tanguilig, the 60,000.00 consideration is only for the construction of the windmill and the construction of the deepwell was not part of it. The collapse of the windmill cannot be attributed to him as well, since he delivered it in good and working condition and Herce accepted it without protest. Herce contested that the collapse is attributable to a typhoon, a force majeure that relieved him of liability.

The RTC ruled in favor of Tanguilig, but this decision was overturned by the Court of Appeals which ruled in favor of Herce


ISSUES OF THE CASE:

Can the collapse of the windmill be attributed to force majeure? Thus, extinguishing the liability of Tanguilig?

- Yes, in order for a party to claim exemption from liability by reason of fortuitous event under Art 1174 of the Civil Code the event should be the sole and proximate cause of the loss or destruction of the object of the contract.
- In Nakpil vs. Court of Appeals, the S.C. held that 4 requisites must concur that there must be a (a) the cause of the breach of the obligation must be independent of the will of debtor (b) the event must be either unforeseeable or unavoidable; (c) the event be such to render it impossible for the debtor to fulfill his obligation in a normal manner; and (d) the debtor must be free from any participation in or aggravation of the injury to the creditor.
- Tanguilig merely stated that there was a strong wind, and a strong wind in this case is not fortuitous, it was not unforeseeable nor unavoidable, places with strong winds are the perfect locations to put up a windmill, since it needs strong winds for it to work.

HELD:

WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is MODIFIED. Respondent VICENTE HERCE JR. is directed to pay petitioner JACINTO M. TANGUILIG the balance of P15,000.00 with interest at the legal rate from the date of the filing of the complaint. In return, petitioner is ordered to "reconstruct subject defective windmill system, in accordance with the one-year guaranty" and to complete the same within three (3) months from the finality of this decision.

Obligations and Contracts Terms:

Fortuitous Events- Refers to an occurrence or happening which could not be foreseen, or even if foreseen, is inevitable. It is necessary that the obligor is free from negligence. Fortuitous events may be produced by two (2) general causes: (1) by Nature, such as but not limited to, earthquakes, storms, floods, epidemics, fires, and (2) by the act of man, such as but not limited to, armed invasion, attack by bandits, governmental prohibitions, robbery, provided that they have the force of an imposition which the contractor or supplier could not have resisted.


I hope this helps.

Jeff David

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