MAKATI SHANGRI-LA vs. HARPER G.R. No. 189998, August 29, 2012

Fact:

In the first week of November 1999, Christian Harper came to Manila on a business trip. He checked in at the Shangri-La Hotel. In the early morning of that date, however, he was murdered inside his hotel room by an unidentified malefactors.

Due to a call from the bank of Christian Harper for suspicious usage of his credit card. Harper’s family in Norway must tried to called him at his hotel room to inform him about the attempt to use his American Express card. Not getting any response from the room, his family requested the Duty Manager of the Shangri-La Hotel, to check on Harper’s room. He and a security personnel went to the Room and were shocked to discover Harper’s lifeless body on the bed.

On August 30, 2002, respondents commenced this suit in the RTC to recover various damages from petitioner for damages. The RTC rendered judgment finding the defendant hotel to be remiss in its duties and thus liable for the death of Christian Harper.

Petitioner appealed to the CA which affirmed the judgment of the RTC. Hence this case.

Issue:

Whether the Petitioner was liable due to its own negligence for the death of Harper?

Held:

Yes, As the action is predicated on negligence, the relevant law is Article 2176 of the Civil Code, which states that “Whoever by act or omission causes damage to another, there being fault or negligence, is obliged to pay for the damage done. 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.”

Negligence is defined as the omission to do something which a reasonable man, guided by those considerations which ordinarily regulate the conduct of human affairs, would do, or the doing of something which a prudent and reasonable man would not do. The Supreme Court likewise ruled that negligence is want of care required by the circumstances. 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. In determining whether or not there is negligence on the part of the parties in a given situation, jurisprudence 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? If not, the person is guilty of negligence. 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 test of negligence is objective. WE measure the act or omission of the tortfeasor with a perspective as that of an ordinary reasonable person who is similarly situated. The test, as applied to the extant case, is whether or not defendant-appellant, under the attendant circumstances, used that reasonable care and caution which an ordinary reasonable person would have used in the same situation.

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