Solidum vs. People, – G.R. No. 192123, March 10, 2014

Facts:
This appeal is taken by a physician-anesthesiologist who has been pronounced guilty of reckless imprudence resulting in serious physical injuries by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) and the Court of Appeals He had been part of the team of anesthesiologists during the surgical pull-through operation conducted on a three-year old patient born with an imperforate anus.

On May 17, 1995, Gerald, then three years old, was admitted at the Ospital ng Maynila for a pull-through operation. Dr. Leandro Resurreccion headed the surgical team, and was assisted by Dr. Joselito Luceño, Dr. Donatella Valeña and Dr. Joseph Tibio. The anesthesiologists included Dr. Marichu Abella, Dr. Arnel Razon and petitioner Dr. Fernando Solidum (Dr. Solidum). During the operation, Gerald experienced bradycardia, and went into a coma.8 His coma lasted for two weeks, but he regained consciousness only after a month.10 He could no longer see, hear or move.

Agitated by her son’s helpless and unexpected condition, Ma. Luz Gercayo (Luz) lodged a complaint for reckless imprudence resulting in serious physical injuries with the City Prosecutor’s Office of Manila against the attending physicians.

On July 19, 2004, the RTC rendered its judgment finding Dr. Solidum guilty beyond reasonable doubt of reckless imprudence resulting to serious physical injuries and ordered to pay the complainant civil indemnities.

On January 20, 2010, the CA affirmed the conviction of Dr. Solidum. Dr. Solidum filed a motion for reconsideration, but the CA denied his motion on May 7, 2010. Hence, this appeal.

Issue:
Whether the petitioner is liable to indemnity the complainant?

Held:
No, SC clarify that the acquittal of Dr. Solidum would not immediately exempt him from civil liability. But we cannot now find and declare him civilly liable because the circumstances that have been established here do not present the factual and legal bases for validly doing so. His acquittal did not derive only from reasonable doubt. There was really no firm and competent showing how the injury to Gerard had been caused. That meant that the manner of administration of the anesthesia by Dr. Solidum was not necessarily the cause of the hypoxia that caused the bradycardia experienced by Gerard. Consequently, to adjudge Dr. Solidum civilly liable would be to speculate on the cause of the hypoxia. We are not allowed to do so, for civil liability must not rest on speculation but on competent evidence.

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